Rapala VMC is heading into the 2022 ice fishing season with its strongest catalogue in company history.
The Helsinki-based tackle giant says it will be offering more brands and products than ever, reinforcing its global market leadership in the ice fishing sector. They now include both 13 Fishing, firmly established within the international ice fishing scene since the mid-2010s, and most recently Okuma, spearheaded by Rapala’s acquisition of the brand in Europe and Russia.
In a release to investors, Rapala VMC said: “On top of this great new addition to our brand portfolio, the market is currently experiencing an unprecedented demand for electric-powered ice augurs, thanks to booming participation in ice fishing and a sweeping transition from gas/fuel power to more efficient and sustainable electric power.
“With StrikeMaster as our flagship lithium technology ice auger brand, Rapala VMC is perfectly positioned to enjoy this trend, delivering more high-performance ice-cutting products to demanding consumers than ever before.
“We are extremely proud to be able to claim that, today, StrikeMaster is undeniably the market leader in powerheads and ice drills,” said Tapio Verho, Director of Rapala VMC’s ice fishing business. “Innovative products such as the 100% electric-powered Lithium 40V Ice Auger and new, lightweight Lithium 24V Ice Auger have raised the bar of what is accepted by enthusiastic hard water anglers worldwide, propelling the brand to this esteemed position.”
The group added: “Furthermore, ice fishing anglers are eagerly stocking up on Rapala’s latest ice accessories and safety gear, along with 13 Fishing FreeFall ice combos. VMC’s newest ice jigs have disappeared from shelves after being launched in Europe, following on from years of growth in North America. Sufix ice lines are proving more popular than ever and Rapala’s Ice blades continue to be the blades-of-choice for serious ice-drilling anglers.
“Exciting Okuma products are now hitting shelves across Europe under Rapala VMC’s distribution for both the 2022 winter and summer seasons with a proven range of over 350 reel models and over 450 different rods and combos across predator, carp, saltwater, spinning, trolling, game fishing, casting, centerpin and ice.
“Customer excitement is very high and pre-order bookings are very strong. Our customer base is loyal and confident with several retailers having come to value the technical features, high performance, durability and massive assortment that Okuma is bringing to the recreational fishing industry.
“Okuma’s product range is highly suited to European and Russian fishing methods, and Okuma will become the flagship brand in Rapala VMC’s European rod and reel product portfolio. Together with 13 Fishing and other Rapala VMC group brands, our impressive product portfolio will form a winning platform in the region.
“For winter ice fishing enthusiasts, Okuma brings a range of micro-sized baitfeeders on the Ceymar reel platform. These specialist reels are built for tough conditions with features such as Okuma’s Precision Elliptical Gearing and Rotor Equalizing System that improve performance in cold weather.
“With three of our five PD&I centres located in the main ice fishing regions globally, we’re very well positioned to capitalise on emerging trends as they happen. Be it in the vast Nordic region surrounding Helsinki, or the cold clear Canadian lakes of Ontario, to the epicenter of all ice fishing ‘The American Ice Belt’ stretching directly though Minnesota,” said David Neill, Executive Vice President, Product Development & Innovation at Rapala VMC.
“Having our development teams located in these key fisheries allows us to work together with top pros and we are able to capture trends early and continuously bring new and emerging techniques to the marketplace. 2021/22 has been no exception with products like the Jigging Shadow Rap and Rap V now in store. Both are modernised vertical jigging lures that will be attractive to all gamefish through the ice. With many new offerings in Rapala VMC’s key ice brands, pre-season sales were at record breaking levels in all regions.”
An earlier-than-usual start to the Nordic winter season has seen ice fishermen already braving the cold. This quick, cold change has helped kick off what Rapala VMC expects to be a great winter season of sales and outdoor activities enjoyed by many. “We are excited and grateful to be able to bring anglers such a diverse product line to choose from this winter season.”