A Path to Professional Tournament Bass Angling

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Many enthusiastic anglers often see professional anglers on television and are intrigued by the potential of fishing as a career path.  At the same time, most people have no idea what it takes to be a professional bass tournament angler.  Beyond the long hours and thousands of miles of travel every year, it is not the easiest profession to break into.  For the major circuits, like FLW Tour and Bassmasters Elite Series, there are qualification requirements.

Fish your Way to the Top

Rich at TBF Tournament

Rich at TBF Tournament

The most important step to take on your way to professional angling is to get out on the water. Along with doing this outside of tournaments, participating as a co-angler in the FLW EverStart, FLW Tour or Opens is a great way to get exposure to new lakes and different fishing techniques from extremely good anglers. But with the reward, you also run the risk of running into a boater that will back boat you—meaning they position the boat in a way that makes it impossible for you to cast to a spot. With this in mind, when you fish as a co-angler you need to go into the tournament just looking to learn something new rather than looking to get the biggest bite.

For each tour there are different levels to start out at, but let’s assume you are just getting started.  And for simplicity let’s focus on the FLW Tour side of the sport.  The first tournament stepping stones for the FLW Tour would be hosted by your local TBF Bass Club and the BFL that have divisions all over the United States.  These are for the most part single-day weekend events. These tournaments can qualify you for regional and national events—ultimately helping you build a name for yourself and win money to invest in larger tournaments.  As an alternative, BASS comparable events are the Bassmaster Weekend Series and BASS Nation tournaments.

Once you succeed in these events, the next level tournaments are the FLW Everstart Series and Bassmaster Opens—these are comparable to Triple A baseball leagues.  Once you succeed at these levels, you can move onto the Tour level or the Majors. This is where the money and time commitment increase, as well as the level of competition.  At the tour level, entry fees and travel expenses can easily exceed $50,000 every year just to play.  Very few anglers do this all with their own money or make a living off tournament winnings alone.

Gain Sponsorship

The second half of the tournament fishing equation is sponsorship and marketing.  To have a long successful career you must be talented and marketing savvy. By combining these assets with your angling skills you’ll be able to form mutually beneficial relationships with sponsoring companies that can assist with tournament entry fees and other expenses along the way.  As part of these sponsorships, when you’re not fishing, you will often write articles and blogs or spend time on the road fulfilling sponsor obligations at sport shows and speaking engagements.

It can be a great life—who wouldn’t want to fish for a living, right?  But behind the fishing tournaments that you see on the television on Sunday afternoon, there is a lot of work and commitment.  If you are passionate about being a tournament angler, my best advice is to start fishing as much as possible!

If you’re interested in becoming a college tournament angler be sure to check out Michaela Anderson’s blog on how to get into the tournament scene.

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing krugerfarms.com and Dobyns Rods among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@HellaBass) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

Rich at EverStart Central Division Tournament

Rich at EverStart Central Division Tournament

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One Response to “A Path to Professional Tournament Bass Angling”

  1. […] Stories and tips from the field and about the KF lifestyle for your enjoyment « A Path to Professional Tournament Bass Angling […]

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