Thursday, September 13, 2007

Review: The "Unofficial" Rapala Message Board

Having been born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, I have always had a predilection for Rapalas. For those who don't know the story, it was a small shop on London Road in Duluth that began the Rapala revolution back in 1960. The clothing store imported items from Finland and brought in a handful of original Rapalas from the old country, and when these lures fell into the hands of a couple of Duluth guides, record catches resulted. As news spread, the demand for the Rapalas went through the roof, and rumors (apparently true) of guides requiring a $50 deposit to use a Rapala abounded. When Life Magazine ran a feature on the Rapala in 1962, the mania grew, resulting in the formation of Normark, the importation of tens of millions of Rapalas, and one of the great success stories in the history of fishing.

Original 1938 Lauri Rapala hand-made lure

So I was not surprised and more than a little pleased when I discovered a couple of years ago there were a small but growing cadre of Rapalamaniacs on the internet, who, thanks to the work of Steve "Rapala-Guru" Wight, now have their own chat board in cyberspace. The "Unofficial" Rapala Message Board has pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about the collectable Rapala. From how to fish the Rapala, to how to distinguish rare Rapalas from the common, to a trading forum and an ebay discussion board, this site is pretty much the end all of Rapala collecting.

Vintage Fat Raps like this sometimes sell on eBay for $50

Rapala collecting offers both unprecedented opportunity and incredible challenges. As perhaps the best-selling brand of lures of the second half of the twentieth century, there are lots of them out there. But many, many of these Rapalas (particularly the early ones) were fished nearly to death, so finding them in decent condition can be a problem. In addition, color collecting offers its challenges, as a cursory perusal of the forums shows an almost surreal number of color variants. Add to this rare models that didn't sell well, advertising lures, signed Rapalas, and other variations, and you can spend a lifetime collecting this lure.

The great bonus in collecting Rapalas is, in my opinion, that if you need to catch a fish, you can always pluck a lure out of your collection and outfish any other lure ever made. This is reason enough--if any is needed--to think of the Rapala with more respect.

For those interested in a detailed history of the Rapala, check out The Rapala Guide (Normark, 1976) and Rapala: Legendary Fishing Lures by John Mitchell (MBI, 2005).

-- Dr. Todd


Ted said...

Hi, I don't know how you stumbled across my message board, but Im certainly glad that you did. Thanks for the positive review - and sorry it took me so long to get back you you!


Ian Burden said...

Nice site and info. I am fascinated by the Rapala story and even moved to Finland to learn more about it and the art of crafting Finnish lures by hand. If you're interested you could post a link for this site to