The first Rapala lure
Every time I cast a Rapala Original minnow lure, I can’t help thinking about the history behind it. It’s a remarkable story that starts back in Finland in the 1930’s which tells how poverty and hunger drove a simple fisherman named Laurie Rapala to find a more efficient way of catching fish for the table.
Carved from a piece of cork, he came up with a substitute for using real fish for bait after studying what provoked predatory fish into attacking. He built it using a principle which is the basis of every Rapala lure that has been developed since. Each and every lure has to have a movement that predators find hard to ignore.
The story is long and complex, and runs through the war years and afterwards when sport fishing started to become popular. It tells of how Laurie’s idea was commercialised on a large scale and laid the foundations for the most successful lure manufacturing company on the planet. The Rapala Original lure just grew and grew in popularity and it found great acceptance as a top lure for catching many sport fish including pike, perch, zander, trout, sea trout, salmon, black bass and so many more species. Hardly changing much from the original shape, but later made from balsa wood, it gradually became manufactured in more sizes and many different colours and finishes.
Today, after many millions have been sold around the world, it is still one of Rapala’s best sellers. In the UK it is a first choice amongst salmon and trout anglers, and despite the flooding of the market with hundreds of new lures, Rapala Originals can be found in the boxes of many discerning pike anglers who appreciate the tradition that is still built into them.
The Original is a floating diver intended for freshwater fishing, and it works well in both stillwaters and rivers. Nowadays I mostly use the larger models (11, 13 and 18cm) for pike in water down to about ten feet. If you want to get them deeper, you can use weight up the line and salmon and trout anglers in particular often do this with the smaller models.
It is almost 80 years since Laurie Rapala carved his prototypes, and their successors are still in mass production. That must speak volumes about the effectiveness of the Original for predators around the world. Next time you cast one out, I hope you will have a better understanding of this wonderful story that has led so many anglers to enjoy sport fishing at its very best.