Somewhere along the line (pun intended), it became gospel for anglers looking for action with albies to throw small lures. Yes, small baitfish, especially anchovies, are a significant part of a false albacore’s diet, but that’s not all they eat. Bigger baits are also served at the albie buffet, and if you’re not prepared with some larger offerings in your tackle locker or tackle bag, your chances of a big score are diminished.
Metals with slender profiles are great albie lures, and depending on their overall size, they imitate anchovies and sand eels to perfection and cast a country mile, which is a big help in sneaking up on finicky schools of albies that sound at the slightest approach of a boat. When many boaters are running and gunning, the metal lure lets you cast quickly and quite far before the fish sound.
Good metals include the Acme Kastmaster XL, Deadly Dick Long Jig, Hogy Epoxy Jig, Hopkins No=EQL, Luhr Jensen Crippled Herring and Tsunami Slim Wave. They are time-tested metals with proven reputations for catching albies. If the albies are making a lot of surface commotion, it’s easy to forget that there are hundreds more fish deeper in the water column. By letting the metal sink for three or four seconds you’ll get to those deeper fish.
Skinny-shape soft-plastic jerk baits are also a good choice, yet many inshore albie hunters never try them. They don’t cast quite as far as a slim metal, but they have an action that can drive a false albacore crazy. You can get great distance if you position the boat upwind of the albies so the wind helps carry the cast to the fish.
Rigged on a worm hook like freshwater bass anglers use for plastic worms, a jerk bait is a deadly option that can be reeled just below the surface with an erratic retrieve. There’s a huge selection of worm hooks, sometimes called Z-hooks because of the bent shape of the hook shank, and in sizes that go all the way up from small size 1 and 1/0 to size 11/0. A perennial favorite is the Owner 5167W with a weighted shank and a TwistLock feature so the nose of the bait is locked in position and won’t slip. Jerk baits are available from all the best soft-lure manufacturers like Bass Assassin, Berkley, D.O.A., Lunker City, Z-Man and many others.
Soft-plastic jerk baits can be fished slowly as a sub-surface lure with a steady retrieve enhanced with short flips of the rod tip to add extra erratic motion, or the rod can be held at a 45-degree angle so that the lure has a more pronounced up-and-down jigging motion. Stopping the retrieve for several seconds and allowing the bait to sink a few feet and then resuming the retrieve often gets strikes from cautious albies. Many times they’ll take as the lure drops and you get the hook-up just as the reel is cranked.
Giant soft baits like the Hogy 7-inch Original are also famous for pulling off a good catch when other lures won’t get a sniff. Fish them with the rod tip down and reel like mad to zip them across the surface.
Albies are notorious for getting a case of lock jaw and they just won’t eat. So what do you do? Capt. Mike Hogan of Hogy Lures offers a “Lucky 7” set of tips to turn wary albies into aggressive feeders: