sauger caught on rapala

Fishing with the Original Floating Rapala

The Original Floating Rapala is one of the oldest fishing lures still regular use today. Based on a lure created by Lauri Rapala in Finland way back in 1936, the Original Floater remains one of the most popular fishing lures in existence. This is a very effective lure that catches fish all over the world. If you use it correctly, you have a very good chance at hooking up with a wide range of species of fish.

Lauri created the prototype of the Original Floater to catch more fish. He wanted to get more in the boat without wasting time baiting hooks. Noticing how predator fish often picked out injured minnows, he decided to replicate the swimming action of a wounded minnow with an artificial lure. He then put together his first lure with the help of some friends and the rest is history. Once word got out about this thing in the United States the Original Rapala spread like wildfire. Most anglers are now familiar with the Original Floater. Many, like me, fish the lure often and have a lot of success.

The Original Floating Rapala is a missile shaped balsa lure with a clear plastic lip and round painted eyes. The lure comes rigged with VMC treble hooks on split rings. When you cast the lure out it floats on the surface. When you start to retrieve the lure it submerges and starts to wobble to a wounded fish. If you reel fast you get a tight wobble with a lot of vibration. If you reel slowly the wobble is wider and more pronounced. And if you stop reeling, the lure floats back to the surface.

No matter where you fish or what you fish for, there is a very good chance that the Floating Rapala will help you catch more fish. There are exceptions. For example, a Floating Rapala will catch the occasional sucker but there are better choices for bait if you are targeting a species like the Utah Sucker. Though if you’re going for predator fish like bass, trout, walleye or muskie, the Original Floating Rapala can be tough to beat.

How to fish with Original Floating Rapalas

Before I tell you about fishing with this lure, I want to let you know that I may earn commission when you make purchases through links on this page. This commission helps support my website, but it does not influence what I write. I only recommend products that I have found to be effective.

Original Floating Rapalas come in a variety of sizes and colors. Floating Rapala come in metric sizes. So the size 5 is 5 centimeters, the size 7 is centimeters, and so on. Rapala also lists the sizes of its lures in inches for people in the United States. Original Floating Rapalas come in sizes 3 (1 1/2″), 5 (2″), 7 (2 3/4″), 9 (3 1/2″), 11 (4 3/8″), 13 (5 1/4″), and 18 (7″). The metric sizes are pretty precise. The inches are sometimes off.

The size 7 Original Floating Rapala is great for many freshwater fishing scenarios you run into. This is a good size for everything from trout to bass. Use the size 5 floater when doing ultralight fishing for smaller fish. The big size 18 Original Floating Rapala is obviously for larger fish like pike and musky.

PA DHALO brown troutThis nice brown trout hit a size 7 Original Floating Rapala

When it comes to color, there are a lot of choices. Rapala started out with a few basic shades. Over the years they’ve added some new colors to the mix. I have tried some of the modern colors, but they didn’t impress me. I tend to stick to a few of the classic colors like gold, perch and silver. These have worked consistently for me over several decades. I am not against using the other colors, but why fix what ain’t broken? I normally start out with gold or perch. If that doesn’t work, I will switch. In most cases I never need to worry about making that switch.

I hesitate to say “you can’t go wrong no matter what you do,” but there are a lot of ways to catch fish on the Original Floating Rapala. You can twitch it on the surface as a top water lure. You can work it through the middle of the water like a jerk bait. You can use a steady retrieve. You can bring it in very fast or super slow. You can crank it, pause, then crank it again. You can even fish it deep with a three-way rig.

You can also catch a wide range of species on these things. I’ve caught everything from wild rainbow trout in the Great Smoky Mountains to largemouth bass in Illinois lakes with a floating Rapala. I can personally confirm that these lures will catch walleyes, saugers, smallmouths, largemouths, spotted bass, rock bass, channel catfish, freshwater drums, perch, brown trout, brook trout and more. The Original Floating Rapala is a true “all around lure.” Remember that this lure is meant to imitate a wounded baitfish. Keep that in mind and you should do well.

Original Floating Rapala applications

There aren’t many situations where an Original Floating Rapala would be out of place. I use them all over the country and even the world. They’re even popular among anglers in Japan who target cherry trout and other stream dwelling predators. Rapala puts out some exclusive colors to Japan that are very effective; but the classics colors like gold work well there too.

How do you fish an Original Floating Rapala? Normally you just want to get to a likely spot, toss out your Rapala, and reel it back in. Vary your retrieves utilizing all the different approaches mentioned above. Cater your approach to the environment. When it’s cold, reel in slower. But if you’re fishing a hot and stagnant pond, try twitching the lure ever so slightly on the surface like you would with a popper or top water bait. If you’re in deep water or trolling you can add weight to your line to get your lure down deep. The Rapala will float and wobble a bit above the wait, which is quite alluring for predator fish. If one approach doesn’t work, then try another. Don’t be afraid to mix things up.

single hook rapala troutThis wild Smoky Mountain rainbow hit an Original Floater with a single hook

In a lot of cases a straight forward retrieve will be all you need. In still water that means casting out towards cover or a likely spot and bring the lure back with a steady retrieve. In moving water that means casting across the current then reeling in the lure against the flow of the water so that it sort of swings across.

The Original Floating Rapala can even be used in places with single hook regulations like the Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some people get elaborate and run their line through a hole in the lip that they then run through a hook holder and finally tie to a single hook. I just take off both treble hooks and attach a big single hook to the split ring in the back. It works well and I haven’t missed or lost any fish that I would attribute to the lack of a treble.

Where to buy Original Floating Rapalas

Since the Original Floating Rapala is one of the best selling fishing lures in the world, you can buy it almost anywhere. You see at least some variety of Original Floating Rapalas in most tackle shops in the United States. You can find them from small mom and pop bait shops to big box stores with sporting goods sections like Wal-Mart too.

Original Floating Rapala lures

The biggest issue you run into when shopping for Original Floating Rapalas in person is that you might not be able to find the size and color you are looking for. Based on my experience, I would even go as far as to say that you probably won’t find exactly what you are looking for no matter where you shop.

I was once on a long fishing trip with my dad. Between the two of us, we only had a few size 7 perch color Original Floating Rapalas. We stopped off to fish behind a large dam early into the trip. My dad hooked into a couple of really nice largemouths using the lures. But he ended up loosing one of the Rapalas on a submerged rock pretty far out. Since we were going to pass a large Bass Pro Shops store I figured we could just stop in and get some more. They did have a good selection of Original Floating Rapalas, but they didn’t have a single size 7 in Perch. They didn’t even have a size 5 or 9 in the color we were looking for either.

Nowadays you can make sure you have these lures in the sizes and color you want with a little forethought and planning. All you have to do is take a look around at the many tackle retailers online and order the lure you want. All the big names from Cabelas to Fish USA carry the Original Floating Rapala. You can even buy the Original Floating Rapala at Amazon and have it sent right to your door. Stock up in advance and you’ll always have enough Original Rapalas around. I have a good supply of Original Floating Rapalas in sizes 5, 7 and 9. I use them often and catch a lot of fish. If you tie one on, I bet you’ll have a lot of success too.


  1. Jerry September 3, 2022
    • 365 Angler September 4, 2022
  2. David December 5, 2022
    • 365 Angler December 5, 2022

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