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Our History



It all began with a hungry Finnish guy and a carving knife. It was the 1930s when a simple fisherman made an observation of simple genius: Big fish eat little fish, especially little fish that are wounded. So begins the greatest fishing story ever told. As Lauri Rapala fished the waters of Finland’s Lake Paijanne, he quietly rowed and watched. And what he saw was how hungry predator fish would dart into a school of minnows and attack the one that swam with a slightly off-center wobble. Over and over again.

Lauri realized that if he could craft a lure that mimicked the movements of a wounded minnow, he could catch more fish, earn more money, and not spend time constantly baiting lines. So Lauri set to work. He whittled. Carved. And shaved. Eventually a lure began to take shape. Using a shoemaker’s knife and some sandpaper, he created his first successful lure from cork in 1936. Tinfoil from chocolate bars formed the lure’s outer surface. Melted photographic negatives the protective coating. But most importantly, it perfectly imitated the action of a wounded minnow. Legend has it that Lauri sometimes caught 600 pounds of fish a day with that new lure. And as word of his abundant catches spread, the lure’s reputation grew. The rest, as they say, is history. That first lure was the forefather to the lure that has helped more fishermen experience the thrill of more big fish than any other: the legendary Original Floating™ Rapala.

The wiggle fish can’t resist. As fishermen around the world began to catch more and bigger fish with Rapala’s lure, it became clear that what triggered them was the lure’s tantalizing wiggle and wobble. Because even though fish throughout the world were different, predators and baitfish always acted true to form. Big fish hammer wounded little fish. That’s why Lauri tested each lure to make sure it swam true to the unique "wounded-minnow action." It wasn’t the fastest way to make a fishing lure. But it was the only way to make a Rapala. (To this day, Rapala lures are hand-tuned and tank-tested to swim perfectly right out of the box.) It’s an action as distinct to a Rapala as a fingerprint is to a person. An action no other company has been able to duplicate.

And so with every unforgettable trip of a lifetime, every successful Saturday afternoon with a kid at the local fishing hole, the Rapala legend grew. And a deep-seated trust began to form between anglers and Rapala. Weekenders became hardcore. Dads became heroes. And more and more fishermen began reaching for Rapala again and again.

A good day fishing. The undisputed mother of invention. For millions, success could be measured by the growing number of trophy fish caught on Rapala lures. (To this day, no other lure holds more world records.) And because we at Rapala are fishermen first, we know not only what our fellow fishermen need, but what they can’t live without. Like when the Shad Rap® exploded onto the scene like a surface-to-air bass hellbent on dinner. Word of the Shad Rap’s amazing ability to catch fish spread like wildfire. Tackle shops sold out across the country. Resort owners and mom-and-pop bait shops rented out Shad Raps by the day. And even by the hour. (Yes, it was that good.) Twenty years later it’s still one of fishing’s most successful lures.

Likewise, the moment Rapala introduced Fish ’n Fillet® knives they enhanced the fishing experience for millions. Until then, fishermen had a long and grizzly history of clumsily whittling down a prized catch to something resembling a fillet of songbird. The tapered design and unique flexibility of the Fish ’n Fillet made filleting easier, which is why to this day they’re still the number one fillet knives in the world. And so a foundation was laid. The successes of the Original Floater™, Shad Rap®, and Fish ’n Fillet were followed by other Rapala products that found their way into tackle boxes and history books. Lures like the Magnum®, the Rattlin’ Rapala®, the Fat Rap®, the CountDown®, the Husky Jerk™, and the Tail Dancer™.

All the world is your honey hole. There’s a reason more fishermen around the world put their faith in Rapala. It’s a confidence that stretches through 140 countries and is validated each year by the 20 million Rapala lures sold. Simply put, Rapala products make better fishermen. Nothing rushed to market, but carefully crafted from years of experience. No shortcuts. No gimmicks. No flash in the pan, next greatest things. It is a legacy of unwavering quality that can be seen in every lure, every fillet knife, every tool, and every cast of our premium monofilament line. A legacy that continues with new Rapala offerings of more lures, new actions, new sizes, new colors, new finishes, new tools, new accessories and new ways of catching more fish.

The sweet smell of success lingers long after the scent of fish slime fades. Tens of millions of walleye, trout, bass, wahoo, snook and tarpon later, Rapala continues to stand the test of time. Through the industry’s ups and downs. Through the coldest cold fronts. Because through it all, one simple truth has endured. That which is irresistible to fish will always be irresistible to the fisherman.