False albacore entertain the notoriety of existing as a fish with many names. In the Northeast, they are affectionately known as Fat Alberts or Little Tunny, down south, they call ‘em Bonita. However you want to refer to them, the speed demons are well-established as a drag-ripping, arm-burning inshore species that give up a good game for both light tackle and fly rod aficionados. It’s all about being fast to keep up with the lightning quick dynamos. “Albies want you to rip that fly through the water,” says hallowed Montauk guide Captain Ted Williams. “Anticipate the direction the schools are heading, then put your fly about 20 yards in front of them and give it a three count before you strip so it sinks just enough that they intercept it right in their path. It happens fast.” Williams whips a 10 weight Sage Motive long rod with a Sage 4200 reel spooled with Rio Clear Intermediate line and his favorite flies are Surf Candies or Albie Whores.
Speedster chasers from New Jersey opt to toss slim profile metal jigs such as #2 Deadly Dicks and Ava 007 jigs which mimic sandeel and bay anchovy baits that are generally around in the autumnal months. “The key to casting metals is to burn that lure back into you as fast as you can reel,” says Captain Christian Palmisano. For metals, a 7 foot Medium action and medium power rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 5000 class reel spooled with 30-pound braided line fastened via uni to uni knot with a 6 foot top shot of 20-pound fluorocarbon line is the prime set up to elude the keen eyesight of tunny, while offering up the proper power to set the hook and battle the ripping runs. “Metals allow you to launch casts far away from the approaching school so you won’t spook them as much,” adds Palmisano. “Your hookup ratios are much better when you can cast to the faraway schools rather than being on top of them.” Tunny can be very skittish, and many times boaters make the mistake of seeing a school and gunning the engines to pull right up on them. That’s not good. As soon as tunny hear those revving engines, they sound down and disappear. Be stealthy and creep up to the schools.
No matter what port along the East Coast you leave from, false albacore put anglers and their gear to the ultimate light tackle test.