Tournament fishing is an individual sport, similar to golf. And, you certainly never saw Tiger Woods paired with a weekend golfer. Not only could it disrupt his rhythm, but it also could impact the perception of the sport.
“Perception is a big thing, especially for sponsors,” Reese said. “I think [eliminating co-anglers] shows true professionalism and gives more credibility to the sport.”
Sponsors spend a lot of money to have their logos on boats and jerseys. The goal is to get those logos
prominently displayed on television, online videos and photos in a professional manner. Yet, having a co-angler with a competing sponsor in a picture is not a good image.
“We want to work and promote our sponsors to the best of our abilities,” Reese said. “We want to build up their brands, and our personal brands, too.”
WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE
New actually didn’t fish the 2018 FLW Tour schedule, yet he was often at many of the events.
Why? Because he’s long been Bryan Thrift’s travel partner, and as such, he’s doubled as his practice partner for events.
Many pros fish with co-anglers during practice, as two lines in the water is simply more efficient for deciphering patterns. With co-anglers no longer in the picture, Reese wondered what FLW would do to address the practice issue.
“Will we still be allowed to practice with a partner,” Reese wondered. “With it just be a family member? Because you can’t say ‘friends’ because who is to say a local guide on a particular lake isn’t a friend.”
Most around the sport agree with the decision to allow professionals to fish alone; but, that still doesn’t mean things are all good. For co-anglers like New, they’re left with the decision of whether they go pro, or now if they just
fish minor-level events as co-anglers.
For pros like Reese, he says he’ll miss the
comradery. “A lot of my best friends I met because
they were co-anglers,” Reese said. “Not having
them at every tournament is something we’ll
all miss. You look forward to seeing friends at
every event. So, it will be different.” •