Fishing Lures From Ancient Times To Rapala

Evolution of Fishing Lures From Ancient Times To Rapala

Fishing lures have a rich history, evolving from ancient innovations to modern marvels that entice fish to strike. These artificial baits come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, mimicking the appearance and movements of natural prey. 

Fishing lures have been instrumental in attracting and capturing fish for centuries. These artificial bait devices come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, mimicking the appearance and movements of natural prey. In this article, we will explore the history of fishing lures, including their invention, the evolution of lure designs, the oldest fishing lure companies, and the purpose of these ingenious angling tools.

Invention of the Fishing Lure

The exact origin of fishing lures is challenging to pinpoint, as early humans likely crafted primitive lures from natural materials long before written records existed. However, the concept of using artificial bait to attract fish can be traced back thousands of years.

In ancient times, various civilizations devised rudimentary fishing lures to enhance their fishing endeavours.

Ancient Egyptians, for instance, created fishing lures using carved wooden or metal imitations of fish or insects, often equipped with hooks made from bone or metal. The Chinese also utilized bronze lures as early as 400 AD, while the Greeks and Romans employed handmade lures made from bone or metal, sometimes adorned with feathers or fur to enhance their appeal.

Similarly, the Chinese employed the use of bronze lures as early as 400 AD, and the Greeks and Romans utilized handmade lures made from bone or metal, often adorned with feathers or fur to enhance their appeal.

The Rise of the Fishing Tackle Industry

The industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries marked a turning point in the development of fishing lures. Advancements in manufacturing techniques, along with the increasing popularity of recreational fishing, led to the establishment of the fishing tackle industry.

Oldest Fishing Lure Companies

Several fishing lure companies boast long-standing histories. Some of the oldest include:

  1. Heddon: Established in 1894 by James Heddon, the Heddon Company is renowned for its production of iconic fishing lures. One of their most famous creations is the Heddon Dowagiac, introduced in 1902, which revolutionized lure design with its realistic fish-like appearance.
  2. Shakespeare: Founded in 1897 by William Shakespeare Jr., Shakespeare Fishing Tackle has been manufacturing fishing gear, including lures, for over a century. The company is known for producing a wide range of lures, from classic models to modern innovations.
  3. Mepps: Mepps, established in France in 1938 by Andre Meulnart, is recognized for its high-quality spinning lures. Mepps spinners, characterized by their iconic blade design, have been widely successful in attracting predatory fish species.

Rapala: Innovators of Modern Fishing Lures

One of the most influential contributors to the development of modern fishing lures is the company Rapala. Founded in Finland in the 1930s by Lauri Rapala, the company revolutionized the fishing industry with its innovative lure designs and exceptional craftsmanship.

Rapala’s Original Floating Lure

The Original Floating Lure, introduced by Rapala in 1936, was a game-changer in the world of fishing. Lauri Rapala meticulously handcrafted the lure from balsa wood, utilizing his keen observations of fish behavior and swimming patterns. The lure’s unique wobbling action, combined with its realistic appearance, made it incredibly effective at attracting a wide range of fish species.

Expansion and Innovation

Rapala’s success with the Original Floating Lure paved the way for further expansion and innovation. The company began producing additional lure models, each meticulously crafted and tested for optimal performance. Rapala’s dedication to quality and attention to detail earned them a reputation for creating some of the finest fishing lures in the world.

Technological Advancements

In addition to their commitment to craftsmanship, Rapala embraced technological advancements to enhance lure designs. The incorporation of durable and versatile materials, such as plastic and various synthetic compounds, allowed for greater customization and improved durability without compromising the lure’s effectiveness.

Rapala’s Continued Influence

Rapala’s contribution to the fishing tackle industry extends beyond lure design. The company’s commitment to conservation and sustainable fishing practices has set an example for the industry as a whole. Their Catch and Release philosophy promotes responsible fishing, ensuring the preservation of fish populations and the environment.

The Purpose of Fishing Lures

Fishing lures serve several purposes in angling:

  1. Attraction: Lures are designed to imitate the appearance, movement, and behavior of natural prey, such as fish, insects, or small mammals. Their vibrant colors, realistic patterns, and lifelike movements entice fish and provoke strikes.
  2. Versatility: Lures offer anglers a versatile tool for targeting specific fish species or fishing in different environments. Different lure types, such as topwater lures, jigs, or soft plastics, cater to various fishing conditions and species preferences.
  3. Angler Skill Enhancement: Fishing with lures requires angling skills, including casting techniques, lure presentation, and retrieving methods. Anglers develop a deeper understanding of fish behavior and adapt their approach to elicit strikes.
  4. Efficiency: Lures enable anglers to cover larger areas of water efficiently, increasing the chances of encountering fish. Unlike natural bait, lures can be cast repeatedly without deteriorating, saving time and effort during fishing expeditions.
  5. Conservation: Fishing with lures promotes catch-and-release practices, as the use of barbless hooks and artificial bait reduces harm to fish. This sustainable approach helps maintain healthy fish populations and protects the aquaticecosystem.

The Evolution of Lure Designs

Over time, fishing lure designs have evolved significantly, incorporating new materials, innovative mechanisms, and advanced technology. Some notable advancements include:

  1. Metal Spoons: In the late 19th century, metal spoons emerged as popular lures. These concave-shaped metal lures, often adorned with reflective finishes, imitated the flash and movement of wounded baitfish, attracting predatory fish.
  2. Plug and Crankbaits: The early 20th century witnessed the introduction of wooden plugs and crankbaits. These lures featured realistic fish profiles and diving bills, allowing anglers to explore different depths and provoke strikes from predatory fish.
  3. Soft Plastic Baits: In the mid-20th century, the invention of soft plastic lures revolutionized fishing. Made from synthetic materials, these flexible baits mimic various prey, such as worms, insects, and small fish. Soft plastics provide lifelike movements and offer anglers a wide range of customization options.
  4. Artificial Flies: Fly fishing, an angling technique that utilizes artificial flies made from feathers, fur, and synthetic materials, has a rich history. These delicate and intricate lures imitate insects and other aquatic organisms, enticing fish to rise to the surface and strike.
  5. Modern Technological Innovations: Recent advancements in fishing lure technology include the incorporation of electronics and innovative features. Fish finders, GPS navigation systems, and lures equipped with LED lights or sound-producing mechanisms are examples of modern technological enhancements.


The evolution of fishing lures from ancient innovations to modern marvels demonstrates the ingenuity and dedication of anglers throughout history. Rapala, as one of the developers of modern fishing lures, holds a significant place in the industry’s evolution. Their innovative designs, meticulous craftsmanship, and commitment to conservation have made Rapala a trusted name among anglers worldwide.

Whether it’s the timeless appeal of classic lures or the cutting-edge advancements in modern designs, fishing lures continue to play a pivotal role in the pursuit of the sport, offering anglers a captivating and rewarding angling experience.

As fishing enthusiasts continue to explore new techniques and embrace technological advancements, the future of fishing lure design holds endless possibilities for innovation, ensuring that anglers will have an array of enticing options to entice fish and make their fishing expeditions even more enjoyable.