Those We Honor

You’ll find more than just fishing celebrities in this list. One can make a significant impact
on the lives of many without ever being well known. It is important to honor all of
those who had a great influence on the great sport of fishing, whether famous or not.
Corporate advances tend to be much more visible to us. For it’s their products that
shape the evolution of the sport of fishing.

Ron Weber

Ron Weber

Inducted 2000

On a fishing trip North of Duluth, Minnesota in the late 1950s, Ron Weber found himself out-fished by a friend who was using “some Finlander plug.”

“I had been fishing since I was five-years-old and I thought I was pretty good,” reflects Weber. “It wasn’t every day that I got out-fished. But when I saw a friend catching fish after fish, I became a believer that there was something different about his wobbling lure. It was a Rapala.”

Weber purchased two of the lures on his way back to Minneapolis following the trip. He then approached his good friend Ray Ostrom, who owned a tackle shop in Minneapolis, and showed him the lure that caught so many fish. Ostrom tried the lure and was immediately convinced of its effectiveness.

The two friends sent a letter to Lauri Rapala in Finland on September 23, 1959, stating in part, “We are interested in importing for the purpose of sales and distribution of these and any other lures which you may manufacture.” Written in English, the Finnish speaking Rapala family had to bring the letter several miles to another village, where a school teacher translated the contents.

In February 1960, Weber and Ostrom placed their first order for Rapalas, totaling 1,000 lures. One year later they ordered 2,400. In the first twelve month period of the newly formed relationship, Lauri Rapala shipped 3,400 lures to Weber and Ostrom for distribution. During the period between 1960-1961, that number multiplied to 31,135 lures. In 1962 Weber and Ostrom changed the name of their new company to Nordic Enterprises Inc. However, the Rapala name remained registered.

Per a contract signed between Nordic Enterprises and Lauri Rapala and Sons, Weber and Ostrom agreed to buy as many lures as Rapala could produce—up to 300,000 lures against their written orders for 1962 to 1963.

In August of 1962 the Lauri Rapala story appeared in LIFE magazine, in an issue featuring Marilyn Monroe’s life following her death. Public demand for Rapala lures skyrocketed and sacks of letters arrived for Weber and Ostrom each day. “In no time at all we had orders for about three million pieces,” said Weber.

Ron Weber helped make the “Floating Minnow” the best-selling lure of all time and made Rapala a household name… all because of a fishing trip.