Open Letter to TBF Membership

With the announcement today of MLF signing a letter of intent to acquire FLW we have had a significant number of requests this morning for information about how this will affect the Federation, it’s members and its relationship with our partners in fishing at FLW.  Change always affects something, so will there be some changes of course, but that is not the question, the question is will they be changes for the better from the Federation’s perspective?

Optimistic, the Glass is Half Full – As always, I am optimistic and excited about the possibilities with new things moving forward in our partnership with FLW. Time and YOU the membership will tell if it is a fit, but I believe it certainly can be and if it does not it will not be for the lack of trying.  Either way the federation is very strong, we are an independent company and have been for many years. We are financially stable and financially independent as well and YOU the Federation’s membership are loyal and strong.  The Federation (TBF) will be solid for many years to come and as a matter of good corporate governance TBF is well positioned to easily survive on its own if it ever had to, however, we have such a great valued partner in FLW and so it is business as usual currently.

The Greatest Partnership in Fishing – In short, we make a great partner as does FLW. As you may have noticed and some of you have pointed out in the MLF/FLW press release FLW has “nearly 50,000 members” and nearly half of those are OUR federation members! So, it is a great and equal partnership as we are the largest block of adult membership FLW has, all of High School membership is our Student Anglers Federation (SAF) members so we are a strong valued partner with FLW as they are with us.

Federation FACTS, Federation STRONGThe close to home model of the 22 TBF National Semi-finals continues to grow and gain in popularity as we will have over 1800 TBF members participate above the state level in a TBF national semi-final event this year. We always pay back more than 100% every season so the money is good, the people are great and the program is solid.

The 2019 TBF Federation National Championship had a record payout again last year (2nd year in a row) and we only see that continuing to grow as the National Semi-Finals do.  As a company we have a huge competitive advantage because our overhead is very low in many areas; for instance, executive staff, myself as the TBF National President along with all the TBF National Board members are very fortunate in our personal lives to be able to serve the federation without pay.  I as the President/CEO nor any TBF National Board member have ever drawn a single dime in salary, it helps makes us a very stable company with low overhead.

Industry Support and Partnerships – Our sponsor base is also solid, they know the value of grassroots and that their dollars of support are well spent. To that end I am happy to report to you all that we just last week signed a new multi-year agreement with Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s!  They support what and who you are as well as what you are doing in the federation and you should support them every chance you get.

New for 2020 – We announced in August 2019 at our annual Presidents meetings we will be holding some “test” events as TBF Member Appreciation events in 2020, kind of a “TBF Owners Tournament” if you will. Where ALL TBF members nationwide can come and compete in an event where the top prize will be a new Ranger RT Boat powered by Evinrude! So, stay tuned for that announcement!

Our Friends & Partners in Fishing at FLW – We will still be seeing many of the same friendly faces at FLW, the operations staff in Benton, KY; From Kathy Fennel on down, is staying on and it is business as usual. Of course, there will be changes, such as the FLW tour to a FLW Circuit next year, FLW will be adding 3 new divisions of the Costa’s so anglers have a place to go compete and following our lead with our TBF National Semi-finals 3 new divisions will cut down on travel costs and time for those anglers.

As things move forward, I am sure there will be other changes and like we always have for 50 years the Federation will adapt, overcome and thrive.  One thing that I have been asked frequently today is “Are we going to be forced to adopt the MLF format” and the answer is of course not, we are a separate company and will continue to build our program off the state presidents input each year at our annual meetings based on input from their members in whatever direction that takes.

We have most of 2020 schedule planned on our end. We will still have a TBF Federation National Championship of course, just like always, still have a Junior World Championship, the 11th annual High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship, still have annual meetings with the state’s leadership all of that TBA as soon as we can.

SHOW OUR STRENGTH, LET’S GROW! – 2020 TBF Federation membership is OPEN NOW as of October 1 and we want to all TBF members PUSH 2020 membership HARD right now let’s not wait until spring. Let’s show our new partners our value, commitment and strength in the partnership!

I CHALLENGE YOU! – What I challenge each and every one of you to do as Federation members is to go out right now and find (1) person who is not a TBF member and sign them up for 2020! It is easy, our National TBF dues are still only $50 a member and that include an FLW membership.  We can DOUBLE the size of the federation one member at a time! Everyone knows one person who fishes who is NOT a current TBF member let all go find one and sign them up for 2020 and watch how it helps YOUR organization grow prosper.

In closing, I will just say that change is inevitable in business, but rest assured that TBF is optimistic, well positioned, financially secure and ready for whatever opportunities the future brings our way. The TBF board is committed to the long-time motto of “Federation First” and we are honored to serve you.

As we get moving into this new partnership arena, we will of course keep your State Federation Presidents updated as updates occur. On behalf of the entire TBF Board of Directors we remain,


Yours in Service,


Robert Cartlidge, President/CEO

Federation National Office

5998 N Pleasant View Road

Ponca City, OK 74601