Some Lures Are Memory Makers
By Stan Fagerstrom
Do you remember when Rapala fishing lures first hit the market here in the United States?
I suppose lots of readers arenít old enough to remember. History tells us a Finnish fisherman named Lauri Rapala whittled out the first of them way back in the 1930s. As I recall it was around l950 when those lightweight lures first hit the shelves of tackle stores around the country.
Some new lures are aimed at a specific species of fish. A few have a much broader appeal. Darn few lures account for a greater variety of fish than certain of those slender hunks of balsa we call the Rapala.
Iím talking now about the Rapalas that came on the scene a half century ago. Today a host of new lures bearing the Rapala name are now on the market. Iím right now in the process of testing some of them. If they perform as well as those that first came along, youíll be hearing about it.
These Rapala lures caught fish when they first came on the scene a long time ago. They still do.
Fishermen who have been around as long as I have will recall when the original Rapalas first became available. There was the usual hoopla associated with most new baits. The difference where the Rapala was concerned is most of it was true. They did just about what the advertising said theyíd do. Sometimes they even did it a little better.
I recall a trip I made long ago into Argentina. As has so often been the situation, the political climate in that big, beautiful country was uneasy at the time. Go around a corner and you might encounter a road block with a bunch of sinister looking hombres packing enough artillery to start World War 111.
The result was that tourists were few and far between. There were even fewer fishermen. Grits Gresham, the late shooting editor of Sports Afield magazine, was one of my companions on that Argentina adventure. We spent most of our time in Patagonia. Our guide took us up into the foothills of the Andes to a beautiful mountain lake.
There wasn't another boat in sight. We had the place to ourselves. We went trolling for trout. It's usually best to let a guide select the lures to be used when you're in a strange land. Ours did. Only problem was we didn't catch anything. We trolled a variety of hardware the guide recommended. The results were the always the same---no fish.
I sat still for that as long as I could. Then I started checking through the few lures I'd brought along. Included was a small silver and black Number 7 Rapala. In Spanish that would probably have driven a linguist up the wall, I told the guide how well this type of lure worked in the United States. He didn't have to tell me he thought I was full of baloney, I could see it in his eyes.
That guide was in for a surprise and it wasn't long in coming. We trolled a short distance and a beautiful rainbow belted my lure. I can still see it hanging in that clean, crisp mountain air as it leaped clear of the water.
The guide conked that fish on the head when we boated it because part of his objective was to have us catch enough fish so we could enjoy a shore lunch. Minutes later I caught another rainbow almost as large as the first. Those two were just a start. For the rest of the morning I hooked more fish on that one lightweight little lure than my two companions did put together.
Click to zoom
This beautiful Argentina trout made the mistake of grabbing the Rapala I was trolling. The fish joined us a few hours later for a memorable lakeside luncheon.
I gave the lure to the guide when the trip was over. There was a different look in his eyes when it went into his own tackle box. As things later turned out, I wished Iíd given him a good kick in the butt instead of that dandy little bait. Iíll explain later why I say that.
That's not the first time a Rapala has come through for me on angling adventures both here and abroad. It probably won't be the last. I'm convinced many present day anglers fail to get the most out of their Rapalas. One reason is they don't have them in a variety of sizes and colors. Another is they fail to try different methods of using them.
Weíll look more closely at this aspect of using these proven fish getting old timers my next column. Watch for it beginning May 1.