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"The Ole Brown Fish and his Silver Buddy"
By: Jim Dicken

The secret got out a long time ago. There is a lure that catches smallmouth bass like you would not believe on deep clear lakes and on the deeper river systems. The Silver Buddy and other blade baits similar in design catch smallmouth bass like crazy in the winter on lakes and drive bass crazy in streams in the spring and fall.
The bait came out in the late 70’s and first became popular on Dale Hollow in Tennessee and on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.

I recently had the opportunity to fish the lure at a new event for reporters and fishing pro’s called the "Quest for the World Record Smallmouth" The event sponsored by Silver Buddy pairs fishing Pro’s like Mark Menendez and Guides like Bob Coan and Tony Eckler with reporters like myself and Larry Self, and Don Wirth, to fish for smallmouth on the worlds most famous smallmouth lake. Fishing conditions were tough. Fish were in no particular pattern and bait fish were scattered throughout the lake and over large varying depths.

The first couple of days were tough, but on Wednesday Bob Coan and Kelly Combs Marketing Director of American Bass Anglers came in with 2 nice smallies and a story of 4 others that were lost at or near the boat.

The pattern was no surprise…Silver Buddy’s on a bluff wall jigged on a tight line down the side of the wall. The silver buddy resembles a dying shad. Seems that when the temperatures drop on the lake many of the shad will die off and the Silver Buddy vibrating up and then allowed to flutter down imitates this dying shad activity.
Normally this would be a pattern to use later in the year, but the lack of fish in shallow water called for a change in tactics. The Silver Buddy usually works best from Mid November to Mid February when the water temps are in the low 50’s. I talked to Bob Coan one of the most experienced guides on Dale Hollow about the bait he relies on in winter.

Bob fishes the bait normally on 45 degree rock banks casting to the bank and working it all the way back to the boat. He jerks or jigs the bait up about 3 to 4 feet and then lets the lure drop on a tight line imitating the shad that die in the lake during the really cold winter months. Bob’s favorite days to use the bait are days when there is a nice snow falling on the lake. By fishing the bait all the way back to the boat you cover depths ranging from 2 to 40 feet which allows you to catch fish even when they are moving around with the bait fish.

Another way to fish the bait is to toss it to surfacing fish and jig it through the school. The falling bait imitates the dying fish that the schooling fish are hitting and missing. Many times the larger fish will lay under the school and wait for injured fish to drift down from the action. Some times you will catch a mixed bag of fish because one game fish will attack a school and other species of game fish will move in under them as well.
The bait has a great vibration and I would think you could use it in murky water in the spring similar to a crank bait. Trolling is also an option and I am going to give the 3 ounce bait a try for Hybrids trolling it on several lakes that I fish with guides and reporters for

For those who fish rivers, like the Cumberland, and the Ohio River, the bait can be cast similar to a crank bait and brought in on a fast retrieve. The bait has a very tight and noisy vibration in the water and attracts fish like a magnet during certain times of the year. However if you find a deep hole the bait can be jigged like it is done on the lakes. Rip the bait up about 2 to 4 feet and then just let it drop on a tight line. You can also do what I call ripping the bait. If you find fish feeding on the surface you can cast this bait past the baitfish and then sweep the bait through the area. At the end of a sweep you allow the bait to drop slightly and then sweep it again. This will draw reaction strikes and imitates a fish that has been injured by a game fish and is falling through the water column… On a recent trip with Chip Mertens on the Ohio River, we caught several smallmouth and quite a few white and hybrid bass as well. On smaller rivers I recommend the smaller sizes, for 2 reasons. First and most important is matching the size of the local bait. On small streams most fish will feed on smaller minnows. The Second reason is that the smaller bait falls slower and can be rigged weedless. Matter of fact Silver Buddy is now manufacturing a smaller bait that is weedless.

It should come out this year. Look for it in stores. The bait now comes in 1/8th ounce to models as large as 3 ounces for trolling. Larger models are on the drawing board for Bigger Saltwater Game fish.
For younger anglers who have not heard of blade baits or who have never fished one, you need to try this kind of bait. It is another weapon in the arsenal and can at time be very deadly.

Don’t let the article fool you. This bait will catch any kind of fish that swims, except maybe a Grass Carp.

Jim Dicken

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