The National Professional Fishing League Set To Launch In The Months To ComePrint This Post
Over the last two years, there has been an immense amount of talk regarding the future of professional bass fishing. Much of these talks have centered around the mass exodus of anglers from B.A.S.S., as MLF’s Bass Pro Tour has continued to grow to an extent well beyond what many would have thought possible.
Now, a new professional fishing league is poised to make their run at notoriety in the year to come. In 2019, word began to spread regarding what appeared to be the imminent launch of yet another professional fishing circuit, known as the National Professional Fishing League. An official press release detailing the matter hit the internet on October 28th of that year, effectively jumpstarting speculation as to what could be expected from this newly founded tour.
What We Know
Luckily for bass fishing fanatics the world over, the National Professional Fishing League’s press release was rather comprehensive in nature and provided a wealth of information for one to stew over. For one, the names of those with a vested interest in the organization were announced. Al McCulloch was revealed to be the National Professional Fishing League’s majority owner, with Brad/ Michelle Fuller and Paul Benson serving as partners.
Much discussion has centered around the National Professional Fishing League’s proposed format, which is set to include a total of 125 anglers. Every member of the 125 angler field will compete on a single given body of water during each tournament, with the winner carrying the heaviest combined 3-day weight.
This is quite the break from tradition, as the National Professional Fishing League’s proposed 125 angler field is substantially larger than that accounted for within B.A.S.S. or MLF’s current field of competition. Will this widen the scope of potential contenders, or water down competition as a whole? It appears only time will provide us with these answers.
Why Make The Switch?
Over the last several years, we have learned to pay close attention when anglers suddenly deviate from one circuit and jump headlong into competition within a competing organization’s series. Anglers, like any other career professionals, are looking to do what makes the most sense for themselves and their families. Therefore, it stands to reason that most anglers anticipate the grass being greener on the other side, when they make such career changes.
So, this begs a natural question. What, of value, is the National Professional Fishing League currently offering anglers, and will it be enough to coax some of the sport’s biggest names? At the current moment, it appears that there is much about the NPFL for anglers to be excited about.
Perhaps the most significant of details, relate to the fact that those joining the National Professional Fishing League sign into a non-exclusive 2-year contract. This is substantial, as it allows anglers to fish multiple circuits to maximize their earnings, and is far from the industry standard, if not unheard of. Anglers are also allowed to opt into a third year of their initial contract, if they see fit.
Anglers who fish within the NPFL will also be granted a say in all league and tournament decisions. A committee of active anglers will act on the field’s behalf and serve as a mediating party between the field itself, and the organization’s ownership group and tournament director. As stated per the organization’s press release, “This ensures the angler always
has a seat at the table.”
Another aspect of worth, that many anglers are likely to consider, is the NPFL’s payout scale. While the payout scales of most organizations reward only those that finish within the top several positions, the NPFL has allowed each tournament’s total payout to trickle further downward. In fact, the payout bracket is structured in a way that 1 in 3 anglers receive a payout at any given tournament.
“Our goal is to make this a lucrative endeavor for those professionals who also hold down a full-time job. We encourage anglers to fish as many other circuits as they desire. To the max extent possible, our schedule will be deconflicted from Bass Opens. Payouts have been vetted through 65 prominent anglers. They spoke and we listened! At their request, the top end of the payout bracket was distributed down. This ensures more anglers make a profit at each event,” states the NPFL’s official press release.
The National Professional Fishing League’s payout scale is set to operate as follows.
6th – 25th: $10,000
26th -44th: $9,000
CHAMPIONSHIP (TOP 25 in points) NO ENTRY FEE
11th -25th: $5,000
What Does This Mean For Fans?
While it certainly appears that the National Professional Fishing League has placed a significant amount of thought into their format, one must also consider the level of appeal offered to fans and sponsors. If the past has taught us anything, it is that loyal fanfare and sponsor support tends to be the catalyst for success, when launching a new circuit in the ultra-competitive realm of professional bass fishing.
At the moment, the NPFL is slated to hold at least 6 qualifying tournaments per year, two of which take place in the spring, two in the summer, and two in the fall. From a spectator’s point of view, this should provide ample opportunity to take in all that the series has to offer, across a wide range of seasonal conditions. It has been announced that all three days of each tournament will be live-streamed, with live in-studio commentary, allowing fans to stay in the loop during every tournament.
It also appears that anglers will be given a chance to place their sponsors front and center, at every event. Trailered weigh-ins will be standard, allowing anglers to pull to the weigh-in stage, displaying their rigs, and bringing attention to all of their sponsors.
A Bright Future?
At a passing glance, it is rather easy to see the level of appeal offered by the National Professional Fishing League, both to anglers and spectators alike. However, the question remains. How will this upstart league fair, upon launch, and in the years to come? If the commentary of NPFL majority owner, Al McCulloch, is any indication, a bright future seems to be in store.
“We want to emphasize that this is a starting point. We are currently in negotiations with endemic and non-endemic sponsors. Our goal is to build an enduring tour with the anglers and their families at the forefront. Our sponsorship goals go deeper than dollars. We are striving for partners that share our values and our passion for the outdoors. This strategy gives us a certain amount of freedom to put the anglers first and build a trail that gets back to what the founders of bass fishing intended it to be,” said McCulloch.
The National Professional Fishing League is set to begin competition in March of 2021