Back in December 2021 we posted a piece on the Minnow Lure Battles that came around in the early 1960s due to the Rapala Minnow. By 1962 George Perrin came out with the Amazing Rebel Minnow, Jim Bagley came out with the Bang-O-Lure, Arthur Schoultheis came out with his AC Shiner, and others followed. Today in Rapala Flyer 1963 we look at 60-year-old piece of Rapala history.
First I’d like to thank Andy Kinslow for the opportunity to share this with you all. Andy has volumes of catalogs and we’ve featured some of his collection here before. Let’s get back to this flyer.
The story of the Rapala has been written about here in From Marilyn Monroe to Ott DeFoe so I won’t belabor it much. Laurie Rapala carved his first baits in the 1930s and they soon found success. It’s rumored that the first baits to come to the U.S. were brought over in 1952 after the Olympics were held in Helsinki.
In 1959, Ron Weber went fishing in Canada with a close friend and got his clock cleaned by the Finnish Minnow. Upon returning, Weber, along with Ray Ostrom, contacted Rapala, ordered 500 lures and started The Rapala Company, which later became Nordic Enterprises. In early 1960 they ordered 1,000 lures and then 2,040 shortly thereafter.
This flyer is important in that it was printed only four years after the start of what would become NORMARK and the Rapala empire.
The top of the trifold flyer hosts Rapala in big print, each letter a different color, and states that the lures are “Direct from Finland. In the small print located to the right under the L and A states, © 1963 Div. Nordic Enterprises, INC, Minneapolis, MINN.
The baits represented on the front range in size from the 7 to the 18. There is no “F” in front of the numbers, which to me signifies that the Countdown version had not been developed yet.
SKUs for these baits since the 1970s, at least, would have been F7, F9, etc. The other thing that caught my attention was the fact that the size 5 was not represented.
Below the images of the lures was a lead-off sentence at the top that states, “Check with your local Sporting Goods Dealer, If he cannot supply, order direct.”
Below this and to the left, Nordic Enterprises gives reason why the baits are hard to come by, that being each bait was hand made and mass production was not in service at the time. I am not positive when the duplicators were put in service at the factory and it may be these early baits were indeed carved by hand.
The flyer comes with its own order blank for the five models and two colors, silver and gold. Prices for the lures range from $1.95 for the 7s through 9s, $2.25 for the 11s through the 13s, and $3.00 for the 18s. In today’s money that would be between $20.00 and $30.00 each. What may seem like a normal cost today for a crankbait or jerkbait was not the case back in the 60s, 70, or even the 1990s. The equivalent U.S. made minnows that came out shortly after the introduction of the Rapala cost half of what the Finnish company was selling their wares for. Still, the Original Rapala outsold all the copies.
The backside of the trifold flyer is the side that was facing out when folded and mailed from Minnesota. This particular flyer was sent to a gentleman in Long Beach, California in February 1964, two weeks before I was born. There are several pictures, mostly pike and smallmouth bass, from happy anglers who made their catches on the Rapala Minnow. Below that are four paragraphs explaining the Rapala phenomenon and why this new bait from Finland is so good.
When I get historical pieces like this my mind starts racing. Did the gentleman from Long Beach, CA send away for this flyer or was it sent to him because he got on a mailing list? I wonder if the gentleman sent away for any of the baits or did he find them at Fisherman’s Hardware in Long Beach? Where was he thinking about using the baits and for what? So many questions and answers I know I’ll probably never obtain. Precisely the thing that attracts me to this crazy hobby, or whatever you want to call it. I think my wife refers to it as a disease.
Again, thank you Andy for the opportunity to share this with everyone. If any of you out there have old catalogs, flyers, or memorabilia you’d like to share, please drop us a note in the comments section below.