Which is better: Major League Fishing or Bassmaster?

It’s a question that fishing enthusiasts have debated for years: Major League Fishing or Bassmaster? While both tournament trails have pros and cons, they have some distinct differences. This blog post will take a closer look at each tournament organization to better understand the two giants in the competitive bass fishing industry.

We’ll outline each organization’s differences, pros, and cons in this highly polarizing topic.

Bassmaster vs. Major League Fishing. When and Why Did the Debate Begin?

For years, Bassmaster was recognized as the stalwart of the bass fishing industry. Founded in 1967, Bassmaster has been the gold standard against which all other fishing tournaments were measured. Major League Fishing (MLF) was founded in 2011 with a different vision for professional bass fishing.

The rift between the two industry stalwarts began in 2018 when Major League Fishing announced the formation of the Bass Pro Tour. It included a brand new format in the bass fishing world on a large scale. Tempted by tournaments with no entry fees and hefty payouts, sixty-eight Bassmaster Elite pros decided to accept invitations to join MLF and leave their former tour to join the Major League Fishing ranks.

The move sent shockwaves through the industry at large and put the two tournaments on a head-to-head collision course that persists to this day. As a result, fan bases fractured, loyalties split, and sponsors were forced to make tough decisions about which trail was best for their businesses.

The debate between Major League Fishing and Bassmaster has only intensified recently, with both sides digging their heels in to prove that their respective tournament trails are the best in the business.

Which is better, Major League Fishing or Bassmaster? Let’s take a look at the facts to find out.

What’s the Difference Between Major League Fishing and Bassmaster?

Both tournaments include a hierarchy of lower-level tournament circuits that provide anglers with unique paths to qualify for the highest-level tournament series for each organization. The Bassmaster Elite Series is the highest level of tournament fishing for the Bassmaster brand, while the Bass Pro Tour is the top-level series for Major League Fishing.

Anglers in each of the competing organizations battle for the ultimate prize – a chance to compete for a championship title. Bassmaster’s fishing “super bowl” is the Bassmaster Classic, while the premier tournament for Major League Fishing is the Redcrest event.

Since Major League FIshing began, the most significant difference between the two entities was the format of the tournaments. Major League Fishing features a catch, weigh, and immediate release format. Until recently, the total weights of all qualified fish were counted to determine winners. On the other hand, Bassmaster uses a traditional time-based competition where anglers weigh their five biggest bass at the end of each day.

However, as of October 2022, Major League Fishing announced a significant overhaul to its format. Their tournaments now feature a five-fish limit, just like Bassmaster. However, MLF weights are still calculated on the spot via a catch-and-release process by a marshal who officiates the day of the professional angler.

Bassmaster features live, fan-included weigh-ins, whereas Major League Fishing does not.  Major League Fishing weigh-ins occur in a controlled environment officiated by marshalls who are on board boats with anglers throughout the day of competition.

The debate between the two formats will likely continue for years. So, which is the better tournament trail? Let’s take a closer look.

Major League Fishing: Pros

  • Major League Fishing features a unique format that many anglers find more exciting and interesting than traditional bass tournaments. The structure enhances the viewing experience for television broadcasts since viewers can see the weights for each competitor in real time. In addition, fans can see official standings updated throughout the day.
  • Major League Fishing is popular because Scoretracker allows participating anglers to see results in real-time. Drama is high as competitors can track their standing throughout the day to see how they are faring.
  • Major League Fishing events are televised on the Outdoor Channel, which gives them a platform to reach a broad audience.
  • The catch and release system used in MLF tournaments is regarded as sustainable for fish populations. In other words, it’s accepted as better for the health of the bass in the host fishery versus a traditional weigh at the stage event.

Major League Fishing: Cons

  • Major League Fishing has been criticized for being too “television-friendly” and not giving fans enough opportunity to see the action in person. There are no live weigh-ins open to the public, which means that the only way to see how anglers are doing is to tune in to live broadcasts.
  • Major League Fishing has changed its rules and qualification parameters several times since its inception. Some argue that they have created a “moving target” effect which has caused confusion and, at times, defection from the trail.

Bassmaster: Pros

  • Bassmaster is a time-tested and tradition-based trail. As a result, the loyalty factor is real.   Many fans have been fishing and following Bassmaster events for their entire lives and have no intention of switching.
  • Bassmaster features live weigh-ins, a major selling point for many fans and sponsors. Fans love seeing the fish up close and personal and being able to interact with the anglers in person. The free, live weigh-ins are open to the public and often attract large crowds. Fan interaction is an integral part of Bassmaster events.
  • Bassmaster events are televised on Fox Sports, which gives them a powerful platform for reaching fans.
  • Bassmaster has a highly regarded conservation program. Their efforts to protect and improve the sport of bass fishing are widely respected.

Bassmaster: Cons

  • Bassmaster fans have to “wait and see” for final results.  Although fans may watch competitions live, there are no accurate current standings, so fans must wait until stage time for the drama to unfold.
  • Live results are somewhat inaccurate since anglers estimate the weight of each fish instead of using marshals on board each boat to conduct certified weigh-ins. As a result, all standings thorough the day are tentative until the official weigh-in at the end of the day of competition.

Final Word

So, which is better? Major League Fishing or Bassmaster? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Do you prefer live real-time drama or a more traditional event that’s more relatable to the everyday angler? Are you looking to watch on television only, or is live attendance important to you?

Both tours offer high-level bass fishing, complete with excitement and competition, a perfect combination for fishing enthusiasts. There are a wide variety of factors to consider when making your decision, but whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed to enjoy some great bass fishing!

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