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Silver Buddy Success

With all of the hi-tech tackle---shake, rattle and roll---one lure stands out as heavy metal. It may be old fashioned in this era of secret scents, holographic designs, and Asian art, but the 20 year old dinosaur is not yet extinct. I am talking about the Silver Buddy blade baits. Still a guarded tool in the tackle boxes of the old pros across the country, the Silver Buddy lure is standing the test of time, and catching anything that swims. A family owned business for decades, SIlver Buddy has survived as corporate giants swallow up the smaller tackle-makes! Today Silver Buddy orginator, Buddy Banks still makes them the old fashioned way, here in the USA...one-at-a-time!

Known for decades as a "cold water" bait, this hunk of metal is now being tied on by pro bass fishermen in the middle of the "dog days" of August! Take for example Bassmaster Carl Maxfield, always a top finisher, but never the winner. When the water was 80 degrees on the Potomac River in Maryland, he won out over the top 150 competitors by using a 1/4 ounce Silver Buddy. The secret was out and sales of the 1/4 ounce bait quadrupled since Maxfield won the tournament. In Feb 2008, a Maryland tournament angler caught the Potomac largemouth record, over 11 pounds!, on a Silver Buddy...however, after some talking he eventually attributed the lunker to another lure...but those close to the event were told at the tournament weigh-in, that it was a Silver Buddy that fooled this record breaker!

What's so magical about this lure for all seasons that time has not forgotten? Upon first glance, it looks like a child has designed this simple fish-shaped blade with a hunk of lead and a couple of hooks. It is easy to cast, even into the wind. It can be fished at any depth, and when lifted or pulled though the water, it gives off a tremendous vibration, like driving your car tires over the reflector strips on the highway. It only comes in two colors, the silver Silver Buddy and the gold Silver Buddy in freshwater. Over the years, a saltwater series and sizes from 1/8 all the way to the giant 4 ounce Big Gamefish Series were available.

While simple in design, this lure is your buddy! It can be cast and retrieved like a lipless crankbait, while being able to penetrate just about any depth like a diving crankbait, or burned like a spinnerbait across grass beds near the surface. It can be jigged vertically, again, at any depth. And, it can be crawled or dragged along the bottom like a plastic bait. By varying the line and lure size, anglers can adjust this tool to fit the job, creating the precise depth or speed presentation.

Everywhere my fishing travels take me across the country, I carry some Silver Buddys with me…getting through the airport metal detectors is a real experience. If not for the hooks, I would have a tough time explaining that these are fishing lures. I have caught bass (largemouth, smallmouth, stripers, white bass, rock bass). I have caught perch, white and yellow…crappie, however you say it…walleye, catfish, carp, pickerel, pike, muskie bluegill, bluefish. The point is that these things catch anything that swims!

Buddy Banks still builds his Silver Buddy lures, not in his Kentucky home, but at his retirement home in Florida! Now mind you, this is not a robotic computerized unionized assembly line. This is American entrepreneurship at it's finest, a definite field trip for the Wharton School of Business. No giant sucking sound with jobs here going to Mexico or to a Nike factory in Bangladesh. This is an American-made product dedicated to America's sport. The blades are created at a machine shop; the rest of the process is in-house, nearly literally, at the "factory" in Bank's garage. Lead is poured, hooks are attached, and the lures are placed in the package, ready to catch fish.

The Silver Buddy Lure Company makes one lure…the Silver Buddy. Their product is so well branded, they're the Kleenex of blade baits…fishermen call all blade baits "Silver Buddy". Sure there are other companies making similar lures, but they have other fallback products. The trend in the tackle industry is big fish swallowing up little fish to form a bigger fishier company. Silver Buddy stands alone. The success of Silver Buddy, the company, sinks or swims with Silver Buddy, the lure. Besides a few size additions and saltwater versions, the Silver Buddy company has remained unchanged since it was founded by (Silver) Buddy Banks. Buddy and legendary smallmouth fisherman, Billy Westmoreland tweaked this lure and the legend began.

In its 20+ year history, Buddy Banks was the face, factory and promoter of the Silver Buddy. For several years in the 1990's his son Kendall stepped up the promotion, distribution of the famous lure. Kendall's wife Brenda put hooks on the lures after she got the kids off to school. She often referred to herself as the Silver Buddy "pin cushion"; a compliment to her ability to put sharp hooks on the lures without giving blood. The 3rd generation, Jason Banks and Courtney Banks also participated.Sadly, Kendall's young life was cut short just a few years ago. Buddy kept the company and the American dream alive, talking to tackle retailers, fishermen, and of course, the media, spreading the lore of the lure. Everywhere there are fishermen, there are Silver Buddy stories and secrets. Everyone seems to have their own way of fishing this lure, but the common thread in all of these stories is the "Silver Buddy Shimmy"…the vertical, open-handed gesture indicating the vibration given off by this lure… just as entertaining to watch as it is to listen to someone trying to mimic the noise their car is making to their mechanic. This is the fun part of the business.

For the angler reeling for their finned reward, Silver Buddy's heavy metal is music to their ears. For Buddy Banks, there is a Silver Buddy lining to every fish story.


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