Kenneth Kieser: Magical Swirleybird lure shows it can produce
I love unique lures, especially when the designer is a longtime friend. Bill Vanderford is a veteran outdoor writer and editor. He is an experienced guide and an overall outdoorsman with an interesting past.
Vanderford dreamed of flying airplanes as a youngster. He accomplished that by the age of 12 and went on to fly many World War II era airplanes during his teens. He operated a flying crop duster service before turning 17, and later became a highly skilled air traffic controller in the Air Force, followed by a successful auto racing career in Europe.
Vanderford turned to professional bass tournament fishing and simultaneously started his guide service in 1971. He won local tournaments and placed well in national events sponsored by BASS and Project Sports, Inc., but his love was the slower-paced pleasure of taking other people fishing. He gave up competitive fishing to concentrate on his guiding business. He became a fishing legend, and in 1993 was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin, as a legendary guide, the first southerner to receive this honor.
His introduction of a new, shiny lure caught my attention with its inline spinner. This new lure is unique like the man who invented what I predict to be a crappie, bass and walleye weapon.
During Vanderford’s fishing guide service more than 40 years ago on Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River, there were an abundance of fish with very little fishing pressure, so it was fairly simple to catch plenty of these fish on almost any lure. Over the ensuing years, however, the numbers of fish began to decline because of many bass tournaments and a loss of natural habitat along shorelines. So, he developed this lure to give clients an advantage over other anglers.
“Using my experience from days of wading the Georgia streams and European rivers for trout, I began experimenting with spinner type lures that acted more like a jig and grub combo,” Vanderford said. “Finally, the Magical Swirleybird evolved and it worked!”
Vanderford spent over 30 years developing his Swirleybird into a productive size that imitates baitfish, casts easily and maintains its attractive qualities from the time it hits the water until the end of the retrieve. These attributes plus a treble hook in the tail make this lure especially good for anglers of all ages and skill levels in most parts of the world for almost any fish at any time of the year.
I tried my Swirleybird on a Missouri lake. The lure is heavy and sinks fast, so a slightly quick retrieve works best over weeds. You can fish the lure much slower over mud and rocks. I caught crappie, bluegill, bass, a channel catfish and two walleyes.
“We now produce these unique lures in seven sizes from the tiny Fly Rod size (1/32 ounce) to the larger Striper/Saltwater version (3/8 ounce) and in three different colors,” Vanderford said. “This lure and a slow fishing method can be much more productive than any other lure under almost any conditions – except heavy grass and brush! Though any small lure worked properly in a spawning area will catch fish, during the spring season, any angler has the possibility of catching upwards of 100 fish every day by casting one-eighth-ounce Pro Series Swirleybirds from the shoreline or a boat near shallow stumps, rocks, docks and other structures along red clay or rocky banks, in coves or around points jutting out into the lake.”
Some structure can be identified as darker shadows by using polarized sunglasses. After one is spotted, throw the Swirleybird several feet past the target and swim it very slowly. Vanderford claims that when conditions are right, 40 bass in a day are highly possible, and I believe that it true.
Because of the small size and the lure’s ability to be fished ultra-slow, the Swirleybird was actually designed for the tougher post-spawn period, but they are deadly throughout the cycle. Since the tiny blade turns from the time it hits the water until the retrieve is over, anyone who can cast will likely catch fish.
“Anything that eats small bait fish will hit my Swirleybird spinner,” Vanderford said. “A slow retrieve seems to work best, or retrieve just fast enough to keep it above the weeds and moss.”
The action is extremely tantalizing to spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and many other fish. The key to success, however, is in the speed of the retrieve. Since the blade turns at any speed, again, keep the lure moving slowly,
I recommend this lure to be part of your fishing arsenal. No lure is the answer to fishing like some advertisers claim, but lures like the Swirleybird give you a productive option to try. Let the fish tell you what they want.
– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.