Rapala/MarCum: A Meeting of the Minds


When the world-famous lure artists at Rapala recently announced a partnership with its Minneapolis, Minnesota neighbors MarCum Technologies, the angling universe raised their collective fins in wonder. For the first time in history, a fish-finding technology company had joined forces with a lure manufacturer. Clearly, this was a departure for both firms, who presumably resided on opposite ends of the piscine planet. And yet, closer scrutiny shows some striking similarities.

The progressive agreement reveals that MarCum remains solely responsible for the design, engineer and manufacture of its advanced sonar and underwater viewing products. It’s a wise move on all accounts, given that parent company Versa Electronics has excelled in the electronics field for over 50 years. In the past three years sales of MarCum Technologies’ fish-finding products have nearly tripled, easily making them the fastest growing technology-based company in sportfishing today.

So while MarCum retains design and manufacturing duties, Rapala takes over sales, distribution and marketing. It’s a stroke of genius, given the legendary luremaker’s history of inspired promotions. Recall TV ads, such as “Oh Lord, thank you for the Rapalas, A-men” or “It’s become known as ‘The Anyone Can Catch Fish with This Lure’ lure.”

Further recall that a 1962 issue of Life magazine broke the story of the famed lure’s U.S. arrival from Finland. Precisely 50 years later, Rapala remains the world’s favorite fishing lure, selling over 20-million lures each year.

Beyond the nearly identical half-century histories of both companies in America, a peek behind the scenes reveals another critical connection. Rapala and MarCum are each driven by real anglers— diehard fish-heads— any one of whom would rather be on the water than the office. And as their customers passionately attest, this “real world” fishing experience has long been evident in the performance of each of their respective products.

For the angler, of course, the inevitable result of such a match is nothing but fertile waters. “The partnership allows each company to focus solely on what they do best,” says MarCum Brand Manager Jon Marshall. “Rapala gives MarCum a greatly expanded sales and distribution network, which means we’ll finally be able to satisfy the great consumer demand for our products. It also frees us up to focus our energy on core competencies. For us, this means conceiving and engineering the most cutting-edge, angler friendly fish-finding technology possible.”

Marshall continues: “At MarCum, we’ve never aimed to ‘keep up with the competition.’ Instead, we’ve always remained several steps ahead, simply by listening to our customers, hearing what they like and don’t like. We then employ superior technology to give our customers products that simplify and enhance their experience afield.

“For example, our new generation LX-7 sonar combined the optimal elements from our ShowDown Digital Fish Finder with our patented LX-series sonars. LX-7 is loaded with features, including stuff that’s truly exclusive within the sonar industry. Then we added cutting-edge touches, such as continuous at-home upgradability. Anglers will literally be able to download new software updates, from their computer directly to their MarCum LX-7. Our customers tell us they love this level of functionality and performance,” Marshall quips. “They ain’t seen nothing yet.”

From Rapala’s perspective, too, the future couldn’t be rosier. Says Rapala USA President Tom Mackin: “MarCum’s products are cutting edge and of outstanding quality, in a class of their own. We’re excited to provide anglers with top-of-the-line technology products for both open water and ice fishing. Together, we will become an unbeatable resource for our customers in the trade and for anglers around the world.”

Ultimately, however, it all boils down to the fish. And in their pursuit, the right location combined with the optimal presentation nearly always yields success on the water. MarCum finds the fish and Rapala catches them.

“Are you kidding me? These are two of my favorite companies,” says professional angler Tony Roach. “My MarCums always perform at the highest levels. Whether I’m operating an LX-7 sonar while chasing walleyes through the ice, or using an underwater camera to scout spots in my Lund, MarCum units just have a sixth-sense for finding fish.”

“’Course, once I’ve located ‘em, it’s pretty much a given that a Rapala is going to make them bite. In summer, there’s almost no reason to troll with anything other than a lure from the Shad Rap family. Been that way for as long as I can remember. To me, this is like a meeting of the minds—MarCum finds my fish and Rapala catches them. Done deal.”

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