Fly Fishing: False Albacore Retrieves; Part 2 - The Fisherman

Fly Fishing: False Albacore Retrieves; Part 2

The author pictured with an albie he caught using his two-handed retrieve during the fall of 2021.

More little tunny retrieves to increase your fly fishing results.

Last year we were faced with a scenario which held consistently for weeks on end and was different from what we had seen in the past. The false albacore were feeding on bay anchovies (nothing new there) and moving directly downtide, swimming faster than the current. Entire schools were doing this. Some of those tides were moving swiftly too and the albacore were moving faster. They wouldn’t hit a fly retrieved moving upcurrent or cross current either. In fact, the only successful presentation was a “head on” shot casting directly upcurrent, or a little up and across and retrieving directly downtide, the same direction the albies were swimming. You had to really move that fly just to stay tight and to keep it moving. The two-handed retrieve may have been the only game in town to coax a reel into singing in this situation.

Other Scenarios

If you’re fishing downtide or down and across current, you can use the one-handed strip effectively because the current is helping to keep tension on your line and fly, making it easier to stay tight and manipulate the fly. Of course the two-handed retrieve will work well here too.

To set the hook (with the two-handed retrieve) strip right into the fish (strip tight), then pull sharply with your wrist and forearm on the fly line. Then pick the rod out of your arm pit and do a one-handed strip strike or two for insurance. With the one-handed strip simply strip strike.

Now, there are some very fine albie fly anglers who solely use the one-handed strip retrieve and have had great success with it. Master albie angler Ted (Red Jacket) Shaine of Montauk comes to mind as one. If you have no trouble with this traditional retrieve when albie fishing by all means stick to it. But if not, or if you’re not very experienced, do try the two handed. In fact, even if you’re a seasoned albie person and haven’t used the two-hand retrieve I think you should give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Blind Casting Success

1.) Along rips—especially when you see rolling fish surfacing in them, even if you see them only occasionally as you fish.

2.) This comes from Craig Cantelmo—guide and Van Staal rep from the North Fork of Long Island. Blind cast along a beach where albies are regularly caught, and especially where they have been caught recently. They move parallel to the shoreline and often close to the beach. Keep casting—sooner or later an unseen “passerby” will see your fly.

Albies have concentrated on eating bay anchovies in recent years, although they will at times home in on peanut bunker, butterfish, silversides, and menhaden in the 5 to 7 inch range. Some favorite bay anchovy flies are Surf Candy, Glen Mikkleson Anchovy (wonderfully tied if by Glen), Hard Body Anchovy or Shiner, Henry Cowen’s Orvis Anchovy and Kevin Callahan’s “White Rabbit”.

3.) Close to the jetty at the “West Wall” at Point Judith RI. Fish move along it, in fact right next to it. If albies have been there that day but are not now showing at the moment, be persistent, and keep casting. Be confident that you’re “in the zone”, and sooner or later you will be rewarded with some good music!

4.) Along the sand beaches of New Jersey when the small baits comes in during the fall. Work areas where albies have been roaming recently. Casting and working a fly back towards you on a day that allows for it can pay off big dividends.

5.) A general suggestion for albie hunters, try an 8-foot leader instead of 9. You’ll find it turns over better, you have more control when casting it, and for some reason, it tangles a lot less.



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