Lauri Rapala

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1905 - 1974
1998 Inductee

Lauri Rapala invented the first Rapala lure, the fishing lure that would become an international success and would be the first product of the Normark Company, one of the most familiar names in angling equipment. Born into poverty on the island of Sysma, in the village of Rapala, Finland, Lauri Saarinen grew up fishing the many lakes and streams for pike, perch, trout, and whitefish. When his family moved to the parish of Asikkala, the clergyman writing in the parish register forgot Lauri's surname and substituted the name of the island from which he had come. Thus, Lauri Rapala. As a young man, Lauri fished to help his impoverished family survive. During this time, he created a lure that moved through the water like a wounded minnow. The lure was amazingly effective. Word of Rapala's lure spread, and soon gained popularity with anglers throughout Finland. Demand grew and Lauri began to employ friends and family to help whittle the lures. Large-scale export of the Rapala lures to the United States began in the early 1960s and quickly created a sensation. The Rapala attracted bass, stripers, salmon, muskie, and trout. A Life magazine article in 1962 featured Lauri Rapala and his lures, and demand shot through the roof. (The issue of Life happened to be the same one that covered the death of Marilyn Monroe, the all-time best-selling issue of the magazine.) The original Rapala lure, its many variations and dozens of other products bearing the Rapala name, are now in use worldwide.