MINNEAPOLIS (Feb. 24, 2004) — FLW Outdoors announced Tuesday an agreement with Mann’s Bait Co. to produce a line of FLW Outdoors soft plastics, jigs and spinnerbaits to be available exclusively at Wal-Mart stores beginning this month. The tackle line was designed with input from some of the world’s best professional anglers, including 2003 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship winner David Dudley, 2003 FLW Tour Atchafalaya Basin winner Paul Elias, 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion Mike Iaconelli, 2003 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year Dan Morehead and the legendary Hank Parker.

“We really wanted to acknowledge the fishing fans who have been very supportive of tournament fishing,” said Irwin L. Jacobs, chairman of FLW Outdoors. “To do so, we combined our greatest assets – professional anglers and Wal-Mart – to offer fans superior lures to help make their fishing experiences more memorable. The FLW Outdoors line of tackle was conceptualized by some of the world’s best anglers and is available exclusively at Wal-Mart. Fans can now fish with the very same baits that the pros use and can buy them at everyday low prices.”

As for the type of baits the pros wanted to produce, Parker said: “We didn’t do anything fancy or gimmicky. We didn’t create baits that are not already on the market in some form or another. We just made the premier bass baits the best they can be made.”

Dudley’s own Rabbit Dog Spinnerbait, the lure that he designed and used to win the FLW Tour Championship last year, is a centerpiece of the new collection. The bait, which has a unique head design and compact R-bend wire that helps it run through cover like a beagle after a cottontail, landed Dudley the championship-winning limit and a record $500,000. It weighs 3/8-ounce and comes in white as well as chartreuse and white and in three blade configurations – a single willow leaf, a tandem willow leaf and a Colorado leaf blade with a willow-leaf trailing blade.

Available in 3/8-, 1/2- and 3/4-ounce weights, the FLW Jig is built around a red, supersharp, cross-eye, wide-gap hook. The cross-eye is 90 degrees to the hook’s shank, so it slides over limbs and branches more easily than regular in-line eye jigs. The wide gap allows for solid hooksets, and the hook’s red color provides added fish appeal. The hook guard extends slightly above the hook’s point and is cut at an angle to improve the hook’s bite while giving the bait a compact appearance. Most pros make this modification themselves. A barb under the skirt holds plastic trailers in place, and the jig’s chip-proof finish comes in colors that match the silicone skirts, which are thicker than on most jigs. Available colors are green pumpkin, black/blue, brown/orange and pearl. Each jig also comes packaged with the new 3-inch FLW Jig Trailer in a matching color.

In addition to the FLW Jig Trailer, the line of soft plastics includes a 4-inch tube, a 6-inch finesse worm and a 6-inch lizard. The trailer is available in pumpkinseed orange, watermelon violet, green gourd with red flake, and mulberry, which is a combination of dark red, bright blue and black. Iaconelli is especially fond of the FLW Jig Trailer’s action. He claims that most chunks – plastic and pork – have a “neutral action” that may produce in cold water for sluggish bass but lacks the zing needed to catch active bass.

“I often try to trigger reaction strikes with a jig,” Iaconelli said. “I want a trailer that has a lot of action. The unique cut of the FLW Jig Trailer makes its thin legs kick back and forth. It’s a great trailer for swim-jigging. It also has a nice ribbed texture that gives it a crawfish look.”

The FLW Tube has everything professional anglers look for in a flipping/pitching bait – a bulky body, hot colors, tentacles that flare and a solid head. Available in green pumpkin, black/red flake and watermelon seed/candy, the FLW Tube features tentacles that are thicker in diameter than those found on other tubes. They hold up well and give the tube a better glide and circular action on the fall. Because the tentacles are stiff and relatively short – 1 3/8-inches – they don’t latch onto limbs and other cover.

“The solid head offers plenty of extra plastic up front to anchor a big hook, and the tentacles pulse and breathe on every cast,” Morehead said. “They do not stick together thanks to an injection-molding process that allows them to be cut in a shape and at an angle that makes them open up in the water.”

Worm anglers will love the new FLW Finesse Worm, which features a thin, lively tail, a subtle riblike texture, a smooth head and small eyes. It is also available in red-shad swirl, green pumpkin, watermelon violet and June bug/red flake.

“If you were forced to fish with one worm, this is the one you’d want,” Iaconelli said. “The thin, finesse shape catches numbers of fish, even in cold-front conditions. It’s big enough to flip yet small enough for finesse fishing. If you bite an inch or two off the head, it’s the perfect bait for drop-shotting or split-shotting. You can’t beat it for versatility.”

The FLW Lizard comes in four colors – green pumpkin, cherry seed, smoke green/violet and mulberry – and features legs that kick on every cast. The lure also features a flattened belly that helps it glide when fished as part of a Carolina or Mojo rig.

“You can’t buy a better lizard, you can’t buy a better tube, you can’t buy a better worm, you can’t buy a better spinnerbait and you can’t buy a better jig or jig trailer,” Parker said. “When a person buys an FLW Outdoors lure, they have the best bass bait they can possibly buy.”

More than 52 million people fish every year, and, for many, fishing is about spending time with families and being outdoors. A catch, however, makes the adventure all the more memorable, so FLW Outdoors lures were designed by the pros with the recreational angler in mind.

Mann’s Bait Co., a leading lure manufacturer known for its high-quality products, produces a broad range of tackle for the freshwater and saltwater markets, including spinnerbaits, crankbaits, soft plastics, lead lures and hollow-body baits, all of which are made in America.

“We are really excited to be able to produce something with FLW Outdoors on the label,” explained Frank Oelerich, president of Mann’s Bait Co. “Fans are known for their loyalty to FLW Outdoors and the brands associated with it. With this new line being exclusively available at Wal-Mart, our baits will be in the hands of millions of anglers, and that is a great thing.”

The entire line of FLW Outdoors lures comes in distinctive blue packaging that features the FLW Outdoors logo and a photo of the organization’s namesake, Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats. Look for the packages to hit Wal-Mart store shelves this month.

“The joy of fishing is an activity that can be shared by families and friends, young and old,” said Bill Kerr, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of sporting goods for Wal-Mart. “Fishing is about spending time together and having fun. We’re happy to be able to provide our customers with outstanding fishing selections to make their angling adventures memorable.”

Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.

For more information about FLW Outdoors tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.