By Joe Cermele
If someone told you they had a lure that was so revolutionary, so potent, and unlike anything fish had ever seen before, would you be willing to pony up a $160 security deposit to rent that lure for the day? Me neither. But according to this very interesting little story in the New York Times, that’s exactly what anglers were willing to do to fish a Rapala Minnow in the early 1960s, long before these Finnish imports were readily available. That rental fee factors in inflation. The real deposit back then was $20, but after Life magazine called the Rapala “a lure fish can’t pass up,” fishermen apparently would do anything to get their hands on one.
Considering that you can pick up a Rapala Minnow at lakeside gas stations or in Wal-Marts from Kansas to Kazakhstan these days, it’s almost hard to believe that a lure could cause such a ruckus in the angling world. By the sound of it, even the recent Alabama Rig craze isn’t a flash in the pan compared to how the Rapala changed fishing. Even more interesting is the war it spawned between Rapala and Rebel.
According to the story, Arkansas native George Perrin saw that the balsa Rapalas weren’t easy to get state-side, and it fueled him to develop something similar out of plastic, which wasn’t very easy. But he made it happen, testing prototype after prototype in a neighbor’s pool. I never knew that in terms of availability, Rebel beat Rapala to the punch by several years. By 1963, Rebel had already sold half a million lures. Rapala didn’t even have it’s U.S. factory completed yet. This short story is definitely worth a read.
And it begs the question: are you a Rebel Minnow or Rapala Minnow loyalist?