This week, we got an inside look at one of the most exciting and underrated annual fishing opportunities in the US - Albies. False Albacore (or "Albies") provide explosive action and lightning fast runs when hooked - plus, they love to eat flies. Jason Dapra has had a long and successful career chasing them as a fly
fishing charter captain, but many people who are not from the Northeast will wonder why he has such a passion for these fish. We sat down with Jason for his insight on why you should be after them this season.
From The Helm: What Jason Has To Say
Hatch: What are False Albacore and why are they so rad to go after with a Fly Rod?
Jason: False albacore (Albies) may be the perfect fly rod fish in the salt. They aren’t extremely large by saltwater gamesfish standards, weighing from 6 to 14lb average depending on area, but they pull… and pull… and pull. Pound for pound, they may be the strongest fish fly anglers can target on a consistent basis (When you can’t afford a trip to Seychelles for GT) and they are downright fun to fish for. You better have a smooth/strong drag and plenty of backing because they will run… and run… and run!
If they're slashing and blowing up bait on top you’ll have to make quick, accurate casts, or they may be showing sporadically and long casts that cover the water may be required. And I haven’t even mentioned how beautiful these fish are!
Hatch: How do you find and them and is a boat mandatory?
Jason: I’d like to say you have to have a boat to catch Albies (more trips for me), but there are plenty of areas in the NE where you can have a good shot at getting them from shore. With that being said, nothing beats being on a boat when pursuing Albies. These fish are fast and will pop up on bait balls right in front of you one minute and then be 100 yards away 10 seconds later.
Although, I am certainly not saying the “run-and-gun"-type fishing from a boat is necessary. It actually kind of sucks because that style ruins a lot of other boats’ chances. These fish will be feeding in a slot or defined area, motoring upwind/up current and drifting down on them will provide way more shots and be more successful. My advice - don’t be “that guy” who runs hard down current to breaking fish, because once you get there, chances are they will be long gone and you will just ruin everyone else’s drift (sorry for preaching).
Hatch: What are they eating primarily and what is the best way to present a fly?
Jason: For the most part, a fall run Albie in the NE will be after bay anchovies. They are a small schooling baitfish imitated by small epoxy minnow type patterns. As Albie fishing has grown more popular over the last 15 years, the fly selection has really expanded. However, I think silhouette still trumps color - a
translucent, sparsely-tied bug is the ticket.
As far as presentation, there are a few schools of thought- some dudes like to rip the fly in and some more or less let the bug drift. I guess there are situations where a specific retrieve works, so you need to experiment… As for me, I am done experimenting - I want that fly moving as soon as it hits the water. If
my angler thinks he is retrieving it fast then I ask him to go faster. “Move the damn bug!!!” will be repeated thousands of times on my boat each season.
Must-Haves For Catching Albies On The Fly
Hatch: What gear do you never leave home without when chasing Albies?
Jason: Guys come out with all sort of gear for Albies - typically 8 to 10 weights… Albies aren’t huge, but they are strong and fast and you will need a rod with backbone to move/raise one. I carry 10 weights only. Today’s sticks are so light and responsive, I am not sure why you would even want to use anything less. As far as reels are concerned, a Hatch 7+ loaded with 150 to 200 yards of 68lb Hatch Premium Backing is the way to go - smooth, strong, and bullet proof.
An intermediate or floating line can work- intermediate may cast better in wind and get the fly under the surface a bit, but a floating line is easier to pick-up off the water, which is really important when you see an Albie bust in mid-retrieve.
Leaders do not have to be elaborate - I actually haven’t used a tapered leader in years. But, you need to be quick-casting and that bug needs to be moving as soon as it hits the water. In my experience, an 8’ tapered leader does not
turn overfly as well as a short 30# butt section of Hatch Fluorocarbon Leader Material with 16# Hatch Fluorocarbon Salt Tippet blood knotted to it. Honestly, I have not had a problem with a 1.5’ butt section and 3’ tippet either - I actually swear by it.
If you want to book a trip with Jason or get more information check out his pro page.