“Born to fish, forced to work” – you can find the humorous statement on innumerable hats, t-shirts, and stickers. Despite its popularity, the saying doesn’t hold up these days. Instead, there are many who have found ways to make their passion into a career. Alban, the VP of Product Development & Innovations at Rapala VMC, is one of them. Ever since a student, Alban has worked in the fishing tackle industry. But, chance has also played a part in his career.
So, how about that fishing?
For me, angling has always been a passion and a way of life – and it still is. Already as a student of hydrobiology engineering, I was involved with the fishing industry. I wrote articles for fishing magazines, did videos, and worked as a pro staff for several fishing brands to pay for my student room! As my field of study might imply, I originally intended to work in hydrobiology and water management. But, as it turned out, life had other plans.
How did angling become your full-time job?
At the end of my studies, I was presented with three choices: to do military service, replace it with civilian service, or sign a permanent employment contract. Initially, I chose a civilian service in Africa, where I would have helped the local population. However, that happened to be the year when the government canceled all civilian service. So, I decided to call a friend of mine who fixed me up with a permanent job. That job was in a fishing store. And I’ve never looked back.
What’s your history with Rapala VMC like?
Rapala and I go a long way back. As a kid, I spent all my birthday cash on Rapala lures – in my young eyes, those lures were like treasures. And later on, when working as a fishing guide in Africa, fishing with Rapala hard baits was the best way to catch fish. In fact, we even broke several world records with the catches we made with those lures! And, of course, Rapala is an iconic brand – and VMC is the world leader in hook manufacturing. The prospect of working for such brands was incredibly exciting!
How does being an angler help you in your job?
In product development and innovation, I’d say it’s essential to be an angler! The fishing tackle industry is like every other field – it’s got its trends and turns. Having personal experience of the sport allows you to not only follow the trends but also anticipate them – or even start them! And each time I’m fishing, I think about how I could improve the gear I’m using. Each new situation provides an opportunity to learn. I’ve had the privilege of fishing in over 40 different countries. Whether it’s casting in Romania’s Danube delta or targeting pike in the deep alpine lakes of Switzerland, I have personal experience of it. And if you ask me, you need that experience to do this job properly: being an angler is a key part of the job.
What advise would you give to anglers looking for a way of making it in the fishing tackle industry?
Work, work, and more work. To succeed, you need to be better than the others: you need to be the first one on the lake and the last one to leave. You need to take better pictures than the others, write more impactful reports, catch bigger fish, find more unique solutions. If you’re young, study as much as possible – a good diploma will always open doors. And you need to be patient. In the end, consistency always pays off.