The Lure that Changed Fishing

The Lure that Changed Fishing
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I still have my first Rapala. It’s sitting on a bookshelf alongside a rusted fly reel, a sun-bleached set of whitetail antlers, and other treasured items from my youth. I removed it from its hallowed space in the tacklebox to put it there a few years ago to enjoy a quiet and well-earned retirement. My uncle Peter gave me the Original Floating Minnow when I was 10 years old, tossing it into my lap one summer morning and telling me it was the only lure I would ever need. As I look at it now, with its shiny gold paint almost completely worn away and balsawood body deeply gouged and scraped with battle scars left by the grasping the teeth of hundreds of fish, I realize he was right.

For two decades I took that Rapala with me everywhere and fished with it for nearly everything. I caught crappies and largemouth in my uncle’s farm pond, trolled for walleye and pike, flipped it under docks for summer smallmouth, and even cast it for trout, salmon, and steelhead in the tributaries of…

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