These legendary lures are still top of the line


It seems that most of us have heard of Rapala, purchased lures under the name Rapala and caught fish with our Rapala lures.

Indeed, it would be a rare angler who hasn’t done just that. And with good results because if ever there was an effectivity standard for lures, it would be set on the center line of each Rapala lure.

If one is graying, he certainly can think of a couple of lures that might meet the standard. Arbogast Jitterbug, a time-tested winner is one, the family of smooth trolling Bombers is another, and of course there are one or two more, depending on what style of fishing one enjoys best and the lifespan of the lure’s popularity.

But Rapala (emphasis on the first syllable please) has been the apple of lure making eyes for something like 90 years. Not sporadically mind you but year after year and decade after decade, since the 1930’3 when an inventive Fin named Laurie Rapala fashioned his first artificial wood lure.

Fooling prey

His goal, as the story goes, was to create a lure that mimicked the action of a small, injured, fish. After all, legend has it that Mr. Rapala had determined the obvious, that big fish eat little fish and being opportunists, big fish favor the easiest little fish to catch, those that are injured and unable to escape.

His study of wounded bait fish concluded with a determination to carve his lure in a shape that would swim a little off center with an odd, side to side wobble, just like a small fish about to be eaten. With a sharp knife, a hunk of cork, and plenty of determination, Mr. Rapala eventually got it right, the very first success in a near century of remarkable successes.

Reputation grows

Word of Rapala’s new lure spread rapidly, finding no boundaries for its growing reputation. Today we would say it went viral. In those days the news zipped along the angling grapevine faster than one can say, “I’ve got to have one.” The Rapala lure family has certainly grown in numbers, looks, and functions but to be sure, all have the swimming action that says, “Eat me if you can” to every predator that sees it. After the original Rapala Minnow the family tree includes such all-stars as Shad Rap, Scatter Rap, Husky Jerk, and Fat Rap to name a few.

Legendary status

The Rapala legend includes the boast that more world record fish have been caught on Rapalas than any other lure. Like all niche products, the Rapala lure company has seen and felt ups and downs but it has survived and flourishes today. A large part of its marketing success can be attributed to a Life Magazine article published in the early 1960s.

Lures are now made in several different factories but a single process sets every lure ahead of most others; the in water test every lure endures when it is tuned to its perfect wobble. Rapala lures are sold in 140 countries, attesting to the hopes of fishermen world-wide, that the big one is just a cast away.

It’s also interesting that most Rapala lures get there good looks by collecting up to 12 coats of paint. The hottest Rapala lure at this time is a called a Scatter Rap, a name that mirrors the lure’s erratic action.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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