The Rapala® Blog caught up with legendary angler Al Lindner, who, on a cold winter day, talked about the upcoming fishing season and shared some of his fondest memories about fishing. As co-host of Linder’s Angling Edge, Al and his entire team have been important partners to Rapala lures in designing new lures and communicating the effectiveness of Rapala lures for anglers everywhere. Enjoy!
Question: Spring is approaching in the Midwest. Within just 6-8 weeks, there will soon be open water again. How do you start your open water season? Think of that first cast. Where are you? What are you casting for? What bait are you using? What are you catching?
Al: Almost every year I start off fishing for smallmouth, about a week after ice out. Either in South Dakota, Iowa or Wisconsin where there are no closed seasons for bass. Nothing beats a jerkbait bite for smallies and I look forward to it every year.
Question: You’ve been fishing for more than 60 years. When we approach this time of year, what still gets you excited about going fishing?
Al: Catching fish! Something pulling on the end of the line, sunshine beating on me after winter and looking forward to the whole season ahead. Everything coming to life. I just love it. It’s so refreshing.
Question: What new lures are you excited about trying this year?
Al: The new jerkbait from Rapala. This has been in the making for a while and I can’t wait to put it to the test.
Comment from Rapala – Oh we love that Al can’t wait to put our new baits to the test. For years Al has been fishing and filming with product way before they hit the market. Rapala can’t give anything else away besides the fact that we have Al very excited about upcoming launches at ICAST this summer.
Question: For those of us who have been following you on TV all these years, we get the impression that fishing is a family affair in the Lindner household. What does it mean to you to go fishing with family?
Al: Every ice out I go fishing with my son Troy. We both love smallmouth and we both love jerkbait fishing. It’s a tradition that we usually start the season together and end the season together. Both trips we usually fish smallmouth and use a jerkbait.
Question: You’ve had a long-time relationship with Rapala fishing lures. You’ve helped influence Rapala on new lures. Out of all of the Rapala lures you could pull out of your tackle box, what’s the “one” lure that keeps working for you year after year after year?
Al: X-Raps. It is my all-time favorite series of baits. A lot of the lakes that I fish have smallmouth, walleye, pike and crappies…And they all love the X-Rap®.
The Jigging Rap® would have to be a close second.
It’s still one of the most amazing baits for walleye and crappies I have ever seen. More recently is the new Jigging Shadow Rap®.
It’s only been in the market for a year and I have had amazing feedback from the bait. It’s a different bait, it’s a different action. You have to fish it slower. It’s nowhere near as fast as the Jigging Rap. In the next year or two we are gonna learn more about the potential of this style of bait.
Question: Do you remember the first time you tied on a Rapala? What was that like? What did you catch?
Al: Yes, it was 1962, I was 18 years old. It was on Grindstone Lake near Hayward, Wisconsin. I spent all my summers there with my grandmother since I was 4 years old until I was 20. It molded my fascination with fishing and my favorite fish, the smallmouth bass.
The 1962 article in Life Magazine about Rapala lures really got our attention. My uncle and brother managed to get some Rapalas based on that article. We went out on Grindstone and started to troll Raps. Mind you, this was row trolling then — no motor, just paddles. My first fish on a Rapala was a smallmouth bass, how ironic. And I still use the Original Floating® Rapalas, not only for walleye but for smallmouth in certain conditions when the fish are really finicky.
Question: If you were to give our readers three pieces of advice to enhance their fishing experience, what would you offer?
Al: Number one, every chance you get to go fishing — go. Period. It will force you to fish in weather conditions that you normally wouldn’t fish in, and you learn something new almost every trip.
Next, learn to fish a new presentation. Something you have never used before. This could be for walleye, smallmouth or crappies. It will make you a better angler.
Lastly, go to a lake you’ve never fished before and start to expand your horizons.
If you do these three things, I promise will make you a better angler. It will open up your mind. It will change all your preconceived notions.
Question: Out of all the fishing experiences you’ve had, what has been the most memorable?
Al: There are a number of them. Here’s one of many. When tournament fishing was just coming on the scene, I was fishing B.A.S.S. and some other tournament tours. I wanted to do a television show talking about the fun of tournament fishing and what you can learn. Tournament fishing was just in its infancy. So, we decided to film it. I left Brainerd to film our trip to Watts Bar in Tennessee. Guess what? I won the tournament! How ironic was that. It was meant to be.
Question: When you think about the future of fishing – of new generations being introduced to the sport – what worries you the most and what do you most hope for?
Al: Every good angler that I know spent time catching worms for bait or other critters for bait as a kid. They would stare out at the lake, dreaming about what might be happening under the water. It was so exciting. Walking around the shoreline looking for stuff. It takes the experience of years of learning to really appreciate it. Catching frogs, minnows, turtles, worms and everything relating to the water for catching fish.
Now, with the latest electronics, lures and everything else, it’s so much easier. But it’s so much more than just catching a fish. The whole thing about learning it. It’s not about winning the most money in a tournament, it’s gotta be about the love of fish and the appreciation for a fish.
You look at a fish and hold it and you’re in awe. It’s always astounded me how a fish can change someone’s life. My first bite from a smallmouth changed mine. It’s molded my life.
Question: “They” always say, “fishing was better back in the old days.” Do you feel that’s true, or do you think we’re experiencing the best fishing now?
Al: Every generation says that. Fishing today is still quite amazing across the country. The simple fact is the populations of fish are still there, but we are dividing the fish up among anglers. In many cases, fishing is better than it’s ever been but there are a lot more good anglers catching them.
Question: What can anglers do now to ensure that the fishing we love will be there for our grandkids’ kids?
Al: Interesting question…hmm. I think the first thing is to expose your sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to fishing when they are young. Somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12 years old is a critical age. Try to get them on good bites. Their attention span is short. You will quickly know if fishing will be a part of their life in the future. They are either gonna like it or not. But, they gotta get a bite. I can’t say how important that is, you gotta get ‘em on a bite. They will learn to appreciate the sport and not abuse it.
Thanks Al for sharing your thoughts and insights about fishing. Thank you for being a valuable partner to Rapala. And thank you for all your contributions over the years to making fishing better for anglers everywhere.