The False Albacore

“Albie” from a Driftboat

When fly anglers talk about the strongest fish pound-for-pound, you’ll hear alot of different opinions. Some say its this species; some claim its that. But if you’re talking Northeast saltwater fish, the answer is pretty clear. Its the Euthynnus alletteratus– the little tunny, also called the false albacore, or “albie”.

Its found both in green and bluewaters, usually appearing in summer. The “albie” is a voracious feeder, that attacks in packs, often smashing through schools of bait at flank speed. A 6 pounder is considered small, but still a handful on a fly rod. Anything nearing 10 pounds becomes a slugfest. And anything over 10 becomes a full fledged war.

The biggest challenge for the New England fly rodder is catching an “albie” from shore. Yes, it can be done; it requires a great deal of patience and much planning. Still some “sharpies” do it a dozen, or more, times a year. Things are far easier from a boat. But the good news is you don’t necessarily need a big one. If you can find a protected piece of water where the fish show with some regularity – a canoe, kayak or rowboat will do just fine. I caught the one above from my driftboat.

PS. This “albie” spit up a pile of silversides. You can see two of them in the photo above. One is on the seat next to its mouth. The other one is on the floor to the left.

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2 Responses to The False Albacore

  1. Sol says:

    What are your favorite flies for albies?

    • admin says:

      Hey Sol,
      There are a ton of great flies out there, but i tend to stick to proven patterns. If I had only one I’d pick the Hardbody Shiner, which is a small “surf candy” style fly tied years back by Eric Petersen. It is a excellent imitation for the bay anchovy and the silverside. Umpgua sells a commerical version of it. In recent years we haven’t seen the large schools of peanut bunker we once had. When they are around, however, a white deceiver seems to work well. Sparse Clousers in size on 1/0-4# are effective too. Copper flash is powerful draw when bay anchovies are in force. Lime green or yellow flash with silversides. And albies seem to be very attracted to hot orange! Try it sometime. Lastly I always had a few large squid like flies in the box; they have proven themselves over the years

      Recently out at Watch Hill, I encountered some extremely fussy albies. Very Strange. There were no YOY crabs in the water, but there were thousands of comb jellies. The albies were feeding rather slowly in a head-and-tail roll; so there is a chance they were sucking in these clear pills. Interestingly enough the only fly that brought a grab was a small white Estaz, which looks a little similar to a jelly.

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