A Handcrafted Legacy: How One Rapala Spawned a Family of Fishing Brands

This story begins in the mid 1930s in rural Finland, where an inventive fisherman named Lauri Rapala was putting in overtime on local waters. Peering through the surface, he studied the movements of smaller baitfish for clues as to how predator fish choose victims. He didn’t just do this once. He spent many hours watching, and witnessed bigger fish seizing upon smaller fish that shimmered in the clear water, flashing their sides, showing signs of what Rapala reasoned was an off-kilter wobble that betrays a panicked or injured minnow, one that will be easier to capture.

Rapala began to spend time carving imitations of the off-kilter baitfish, and it took many attempts before he figured out how to replicate that slightly-off-center swimming motion that called to the instincts of predator fish. It’s an action that anglers around the world have come to know and trust.

That was a long time ago in our human perception, but the natural order of things underwater has not changed one bit. Those original hand-carved ‘Rapalas’ became secret weapons for a Finnish fisherman who had to catch fish to feed his family. In time he made some for friends and a few of them traveled to America, bringing with them stories and a few rare lures that we simply had to have.

“Those are our roots,” says Rapala’s Mark Fisher, “and that legacy is ongoing. Lately, we have grown into a bigger company with more brands, but they all fit into the same family because they all create products that same way. It’s about catching fish and having fun, and there’s a bond of trust between us and everyone who uses the things we make.”

The manufacturing process begins and ends in the water where fish live, and is driven by the desire to fool and catch those fish. Over the years, the Original Floating Rapala was joined by the CountDown Rapala, Shad Rap, Jigging Rap, Husky Jerk, X-Rap, Scatter Rap, and many more.

Beginning with the purchase of Blue Fox tackle company, the group has grown to include VMC hooks, Storm, Terminator, Sufix lines, Trigger X, Luhr-Jensen, Williamson, StrikeMaster, MarCum.

Trust is a powerful word. Our fishing time is treasured because we never have enough of it. Corny as it sounds, the bond between Rapala and anglers has been labeled a love affair. Dads have become heroes, family bonds have been strengthened over exciting catches, and more world record fish have fallen to Rapalas than any other lure.

In the fast-paced world we live in now, few things can calm your blood pressure and leave you gasping for air like a day of fishing. So keep carving out slices of time to put a lure in the water, and keep trusting the legacy of Lauri will help light your own bonfire of fish stories.