Selling fishing lures is no picnic. Sure, it seems easy enough. Design something unique that catches bass, and the public is sure to want to buy a carton. Perhaps they’ll even seek you out, creating the retail whirlwind we’ve heard about with baits like the Pointer Minnow, Sweet Beaver or ChatterBait.

Unquestionably, the Freeloader is the next lure in line. The latest brainstorm from the designers at Rapala, the Freeloader has been flying off the shelves, quickly becoming the lure that everyone wants to own.

The success wasn’t lost on the mainstream media, either, as Men’s Journal recently had a piece that carried all the details about the Freeloader’s inception. The article even illustrates a step-by-step guide to fishing-lure stardom.

According to Men’s Journal, all it takes to create a mega-campaign is the proper design of a lure, recognition of a huge, developing trend and a big tournament win by an endorsed angler.

Sounds simple enough, right?

As anyone involved in selling fishing lures is already rolling their eyes, it’s not quite that easy. Sure, the plan is sound, but getting there is harder than hitting a hole-in-one.

Somehow, the team at Rapala seems to land on these fortunate situations with regularity. Remember, this is the same group that, just four short years ago, brought us the OG Slim and Tiny crankbaits, a wildly success campaign that started in the garage of Ott DeFoe. Before that, the DT series redefined crankbait fishing throughout the entire water column; another pro-angler braintrust that was unparalleled in sales.

Rapala promotions boss Dan Quinn has been through it all. Liked by everyone he meets, Quinn will just shrug his shoulders when asked how his pro team seems to always be at the top of the game, and his lures best sellers. But industry veterans know it’s far more than luck.

Quinn gives liberty to his pros for much of the design aspects of new lures, but the Freeloader also incorporated the wisdom of a brand that literally created swimming artificial lures.

Fans recall Rapala’s legacy in lure design, as the Finland-based producer was responsible for what may be the best selling artificial bait of all-time, the Original Floating minnow. At a time when owning one fishing lure was something to brag about, the creator of the "Floater" changed the course of fishing forever.

Fast forward nearly 90 years, and that legacy still influences modern lure design. As the Journal story points out, the Freeloader was designed to incorporate a swimming action based on specific parameters of roll. Flat sides match the stringent specifications.

Originally designed to be a plastic trailer for vibrating jigs, the Freeloader also features a straight tail rather than the more popular paddle. Another small change that resulted in increased action.

Such modifications were likely obvious to a team that’s been producing fishing lures for nearly a century, but somehow seemed lost on the bass fishing public that was temporarily obsessed with round sides, ribs and boot tails. How were we to know?

With the unique lure in hand, the team at Rapala set out to do what they do best: Ship their baits to some of the best tournament anglers in the world and stand back.

But a funny thing happened. Just as the Freeloader was put in the rotation, forward-facing sonar changed the game. As the use of spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits diminished, plastic lures rigged on jigheads became all the rage. And which plastic proved to be best? You guessed it, the Freeloader.

Those flat sides and straight tail offered a new look and better control of a lure on the screen. Offshore bass were suckers for the subtle action, much the way those same fish were fooled by similar lures on dropshots fished straight down. With the new sonar, it seemed, no bass was safe.

Step 2 of the plan was in place, but seemed to have been a bit more good fortune than detailed planning. No one in bass fishing could have predicted what impact FFS would have on fishing lures.

But what we’ve seen is a gigantic demand for subtle, but efficient plastics. All that was needed now was tournament exposure.

With names like Wheeler, DeFoe, Connell and Swindle on staff, it comes as no surprise that a superior lure would quickly reach the winner’s circle. More likely than not, the Freeloader will remain at the top through much of the year, until it can get knocked off.

Therein lies the downside of fishing lure dominance: blatant envy. It will be impossible for the Freeloader to remain an industry leader, as other soft-plastic lure manufacturers will release baits with similar characteristics and winning blueprints. Some will claim superiority in a subtle way, a longer tail, perhaps a livelier texture. But we’ll all know where they got their idea.

In time, it won’t matter. Bass anglers across the world will be utilizing the methods we see winning today. Good fortune will run its course, and the team at Rapala will be on the lookout for the next hot item.

After all, it’s a fairly simple process – you just hit the ball in the hole.

(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)