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Young, dynamic and coming to Europe now! It’s CrushCity from Rapala


It’s young, dynamic, full of buzz and loves fast boats – and it’s coming to Europe this month.

That’s Rapala VMC’s CrushCit, the soft bait range which is already going down a storm in North America and Australia. And according to Rapala President and CEO Lars Ollberg, CrushCity is just the beginning. “We are in the soft bait market to stay. We have analysed the sector and our planning sphere already includes the 2028/2029 season. We will not stop but accelerate in the hard bait market too, so soft baits will be an area of incremental growth.”

Ollberg says that CrushCity has exceeded expectations – and not just in sales. He adds: “We have been so lucky to have such a team of pros who are promoting the product using the language that fishermen understand. They have not only caught a lot of fish, but also shown their tactics – for example using LIVE sonars and special ways to use to CrushCity – while winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.”

Ollberg told Angling International that the CrushCity journey started two years ago. “Our priority was focused on the US. As with every other good business plan, we created goals and expectations for what year one would be like when CrushCity hit the US market and that would set the table for all markets around the world.

“When you are part of a high impact and energetic team within the Rapala global network, you are in the fast lane of the fishing world and right now we have turned this launch into a pretty full rear view mirror as we drive forward full speed ahead.

“The beauty of this amazing industry of ours is that the consumers, fans and anglers get to decide who is number one. When we made the statement, ‘Rapala brings legendary action to soft plastics’, while partnering with the number one angler in the world, Jacob Wheeler (main image), it created a hype that we have never seen before.

“It’s been so fun because Rapala is doing what it does best – promoting the passion of fishing. The responses, chatter, buzz, hype and industry reaction has been overwhelming. The marketing has been global and super creative and in a way that caught the fans by surprise.”

Ollberg says that CrushCity has caught the imagination of anglers because it is ‘young, dynamic, functional, full of buzz and loves fast boats.’ “It’s also easy to buy, set at a good price and easy to rig – and leaves enough room for everyone to find his or her own way to fish. It’s a fishing pal you want to hang around with.”

European retailers across Europe are preparing to meet anticipated demand for a soft lure that has created a storm across North America and Australia, says Ollberg. Rapala’s CrushCity was launched in North America and the APAC (Asia-Pacific) countries last year. The company’s Director of Product Development and Innovation, Alban Choinier, and Head of Marketing Emma Lindgren explain the hype and excitement behind Rapala’s first ever soft bait.

Since its launch, how has CrushCity performed compared to expectations?

CrushCity was launched in 2023 in APAC (Asia-Pacific) and in North America. The reaction of the shops and the anglers have been incredible. It reached and even exceeded our expectations. The start in Europe from a retailer point of view is also very positive. We are now in a hurry to make them available to anglers.

Where is it available now?

It’s now available in North America, Australia and Asia. It will hit Europe this month.

How are you promoting the launch?

We started teasing this a while ago in Europe as the products have been out with our pro-staff and influencers for almost a year and it’s hard to keep a good thing a secret. We’ve had a couple of pre-launches at fishing shows in the region, but as they become available we will start getting the message across even more rigorously.

We’re having a very wide marketing mix on this launch with everything from heavy visibility in key YouTube tournaments such as the European Fishing League (where CrushCity was responsible for an historic win during the perch day) to strong promotions by our pro-staffers, key influencer partnerships, strong social media presence by our brand accounts… and the list goes on and on.

We’ve really given this launch a lot of effort and that’s visible when we see how hungry consumers are to get them in the shop now. To top things off, all the amazing wins by our talented bass anglers in the US has not hurt during the time leading up to launch here in Europe.

What was the thinking behind the original baits which were launched at ICAST for the Australian market?

The original shapes are different and suitable for the Australian target species – for example the already bestselling shrimp pattern called The Imposter won the Best of Show award at the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) show last year. All the APAC range is also made with our Super TPE material that adds durability and keeps its proprieties whatever the temperature.

How different is the European model?

In Europe, we designed two baits specifically with the zander and perch angler in mind, the Kickman and Stingman. The Kickman is a paddletail bait with a unique vibration that swims even at low speed. The Stingman is a pintail bait with thinner vibration that is perfect for techniques such as drop shotting, darting or even vertical fishing in winter time. All the European baits are made with a special PVE material, scented and salted using our unique Smart Injection Technology. Some more European shapes are in the pipeline. CrushCity is a worldwide project that is also matching local needs. The shapes designed by pro-anglers in the US have been thought out for bass fishing and shapes that have been designed by Asian or Australian anglers are performing on their local species such as sea bream, snapper, barramundi etc. In Europe, we designed our baits to perform first on zander and perch, but they are also catching sea bass, pike and many other predator species.

But all in all, the baits catch fish anywhere. A craw shape such as the CleanUp Craw or a ned bait – like the  Ned BLT – will perform as much in North America, Europe or Australia, whatever the fish species.

What are the stand-out features of CrushCity?

First of all, we spent a lot of time on designing these baits and working with the best materials. Our pro-staff, guides and tournament anglers from all over the world have been part of the development as nothing will replace experience and time on the water. Adding our long-time Rapala design experience to decades of fishing knowledge created the perfect bait programme.

Aside from the shapes themselves, our baits are injected using our Smart Injection Technology that combine custom combinations of colour, flake, salt and scent that are added precisely where needed for the perfect presentation. For example, the Kickman and Stingman are injected using a heavily salted material in the belly. The fish holds them for longer, it retains more scent and adds weight in the lower part of the bait that works as a keel and adds stability. The back is non-salted and a bit more rigid to work like a spine to improve the action and hold the hook tighter for a stronger bait.

How has the CrushCity launch differed from usual Rapala lure launches?

The CrushCity launch and entire project has been a great example of the global power and strength of our team with everyone working towards the same goal in launching the first soft baits under the Rapala brand. It’s a fantastic milestone for the brand which we have all pulled together to achieve. At the same time we’ve worked on local adaptations both in terms of the product and how we bring it to market. So, we get the global effect at the same time as we’re playing it close to the various local markets.

What were you looking to achieve with the launches?

Going into a completely new category is not an easy task. We have a great heritage in the lure industry but for hard baits, so we took everything we’ve learned from that process and used it to enter this new product category. This has been one of the important things to communicate with the launch of CrushCity – we didn’t just bring a soft bait to the market, we really took our time to develop this entire range, bringing something that is truly adapted to the market and offers the same great performance that other Rapala lures have been delivering for the past almost 90 years.

Have you been successful?

We’re beyond thrilled with the launch of CrushCity. It’s safe to say that we put out a range of products that are appreciated by anglers around the world, with the sales to prove it and happy retailers to follow that.

What has been fun to see is that we’re also reaching a new consumer group that might not have been the traditional Rapala customer which then goes hand in hand with all the upcoming great new things we have cooking on the hard bait side as well.

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