Gear: Capt. Mike’s Guide to Albie Lures #340

The Best Lures for Albie Fishing (SEE CHART BELOW FOR REFERENCE)

There are so many options out there, and I often get asked which lures to use when for all species of fish. Today, I’d like to talk briefly about albies. The way I look at my lure selection is sort of how I picture a golfer looking at a set of clubs. For example, a wood driver will get greater distance but less accuracy than an iron and following that same logic, you would use a putter on the green. I have golfed MAYBE 8 times in my whole life, so just bear with me if not a perfect analogy. So, what I am getting at is that I balance range with lure action. In a nutshell, it could be said the lighter the lure, the more effective it will be. That said, you’re not going to catch fish if your lure isn’t in front of one.

The most popular lures for bonito and false albacore can be broken down into three categories: Metals, Soft Baits and Epoxy Jig ® Lures.


EPOXY JIG ® LURES

The Bite: Classic blitzing albies. Sometimes hot and heavy, sometimes intermittent. Likely keyed in on small bait.

The Challenge: Getting picky ablies to commit when particularly keyed in on the “small stuff.” This can be a frustrating setting. No shortage of refusals.

The Solution: Hogy Epoxy  Jig Lures offers some of the best of both worlds between a metal lure and a soft bait. For starters, they are light relative to their size, giving the angler unlimited options in terms of speed and depth in the water column to fish. Perhaps more importantly, their extra thick translucent coat is an unbeatable match for rain bait, glass minnows, sardines and peanut bunker.
  • PROS: With the epoxy finish, the light refracts through the clear coat similarly to that of a live baitfish’ scales and coating. The epoxy is lighter than metal so it can be fished very slowly with a subsurface walk-the-dog action.
  • CONS: They are pricey and hard to find. (But well worth it! Often referred to as the best albie lures ever!)

Capt. Mike’s Notes: The Hogy Epoxy Jig ® Lure is a fantastic, all-around albie jig and it is the best seller for Hogy Lures. This lure can be fished at a variety of speeds (fast, medium or slow), it has a decent casting range and a moderate sink rate. The translucent epoxy clear coat is the most natural finish as the silhouette resembles most small bait fish. Tip: The Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure is perfectly balanced for a highly seductive wobble. They are small and light and a heavy leader with an ugly knot will prohibit you from harnessing the lure’s huge potential. Go light with the leader and tie a loop knot.

THE RETRIEVE

FAST SKIPPY RETRIEVE (A)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: This is a tip-up, fast crank retrieve. Great for imitating fleeing bait. This is the preferred retrieve for breaking fish or blind casting in calm water when you know fish are in the area. Although this method is most commonly associated with the Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure, variations can be made with the Hogy Slider and the Pro Tail Paddle by pointing the rod tip slightly above the horizontal position and reeling quickly.

Steps:

  1. Cast out + collect excess line
  2. Point the rod at a 45-degree angle and increase reeling speed and rod tip height simultaneously
  3. As you reel, twitch your rod back sporadically. This will cause your Epoxy jig Lure to pop in and out of the water, simulating a fleeing bait fish.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: Capt. Shaun Ruge showed me how to fish the Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure with this method and I was immediately upset that it wasn’t me that thought of it, especially because I particularly enjoy fishing lures (all styles) at very high speeds. Ironically, I traditionally fished the Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure too slow. Even though this lure catches fish at all speeds, there is very much a time and place for this method. A few of them!

  1. Too Much Bait: So much bait that the albies are “bucket” feeding through massive schools of bait. The fleeing nature of the bait skipping across the surface can induce the FOMO factor (fear of missing out) and draw a reaction strike from an otherwise uninterested albie.
  2. Blind Casting: The bite has subsided and it makes sense to blind cast. Don’t forget that the albies are still there even if they are not jumping. I’m always amazed at how few people continue to cast after the feeds are over. The angler who continues to blind cast is the one who regularly posts double digits. Why the skippy retrieve for a blind cast? The skipping nature of the lure simply creates more surface visibility and commotion thereby making the lure easier to find and eat.
  3. It’s Fun!: Albie strikes using this method are unparalleled. You know what I mean if this is a regular technique for you and soon will if not! Try it!

MEDIUM SUB-SURFACE RETRIEVE (B)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: This retrieve is best suited for casting to milling fish, casting to the outside regions of a feed or in an area where albies are popping all over, here and there. This retrieve is basically the same retrieve you would use for the Hogy Slider. The tip will be basically horizontal to the water and retrieve it at a medium pace. The Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure will wobble at a very seductive speed.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: Regardless of whether you are working a perimeter or blind casting in an area with fish all over, I associate this method with situations where you are making long drifts. In this situation, you’ll be making dozens and dozens of casts. A nice steady retrieve will help you conserve energy too. Tip: The best way to catch scattered bonitos and albies is to blind cast. In this situation, I always say bigger is better, as in the bigger the lure, the easier it is to see. Also larger lures cast further, allowing you to cover more ground and present to more fish. I would go with a 60-gram Hogy Epoxy Jig.

REEL + STALL RETRIEVE (C)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: The “Reel + Stall” retrieve is a high-speed retrieve but unlike the “skippy” retrieve, your rod top is pointed low – literally in or at the water. This will allow you to have a very high retrieve speed without breaking the surface. Burn the lure at full speed for a count of five seconds and then stall the lure at a slow to medium retrieve for three seconds and repeat.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: Another variation I include with the retrieve is sporadic “stalls.” I will randomly pause for three seconds and immediately pick back up. This will often draw a strike! I like to alternate this retrieve with the skippy retrieve.

DROP + REEL RETRIEVE (Modified C)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: This retrieve starts with the medium sub-surface retrieve but this time, you will introduce long pauses for up to a minute to let your bait settle as deep as 10-feet before reeling again. This is an excellent retrieve for finicky fish. The Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure’s relatively lightweight allows for a slow descent, which mimics a wounded or recently killed baitfish. The drop can also put your lure in the strike zone of suspended fish you may be marked on your fishfinder. I like to try different “start again” retrieves after the drop. Sometime I will start slow while others are a hard start. I will switch over the course of one cast.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: I like the retrieve to follow an aggressive feed that vanished seemingly into thin air. It’s my theory that the albies have circled deep while re-corralling the bait.

Epoxy Jig Lure Tips

  1. Ultra-light leaders. Light leaders = maximum action for this sexy lure.
  2. Loop knots will help the Epoxy Jig Lure dance!
  3. Attracting colors are: pink, albie crack, glow and electric chicken4
  4. Imitators: Olive/Sand Eel, Anchovy, Silverside, Peanut Bunker, Squid
  5. Begin each trip with every angler using a different color. For whatever reason, they can key in on just one, even if it doesn’t make sense!


HOGY HEAVY MINNOW JIGS


Small Profile – Long Range

The Bite: Hard to reach Albies keyed in on small bait.

The Challenge: Sometimes reaching albies can be a major challenge. From the beach, you are limited by proximity. From the boat, sometimes Albies are super boat shy, particularly on crowded days. Either way, you need a long-range tool in your box.

The Solution: These pocket rockets start at .5oz, which is smaller than the 3/8oz Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure, making the tiny version a cartable option for micro forage. The larger 1.25 and 2oz sizes are similar in profile to the 5/8oz size, only wider. That means you have a small profile but a heavy long-range lure.

Simply put, this lure is a casting machine but has less action that Epoxy Jig Lures. This lure likes to be fished fast for best action. Not ideal for calm conditions. It has a thicker profile and imitates both small anchovies and small butterfish. It is also good for vertical jigging for scup and sea bass under albies.

  • Pros: Best for windy conditions, long-range casting, boat fishing, SURF!! It’s the ultimate albie lure from the surf. The 2oz is our number one surf casting albie lure.
  • Cons: Less action than the Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure, less translucent.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: The Heavy Minnow is my go-to lure in windy conditions, which is a regular occurrence here at Hogy HQ on Cape Cod. Anytime “gusts to 20+” are in the forecast, I have Heavy Minnows tied on half my rods. The 2oz version goes forever on my 7′ striper boat rod and 9′ striper surf rod.

THE RETRIEVE

MEDIUM SUB-SURFACE RETRIEVE (B)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: This retrieve is best suited for casting to milling fish, casting to the outside regions of a feed or in an area where albies are popping all over, here and there.  The tip will be basically horizontal to the water and retrieve at a medium pace. The Hogy Heavy Minnow will have limited action at this speed as compared to the Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure so imparting rod tip actions during the retrieve will help bring this lure to life.

REEL + STALL RETRIEVE (C)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: The “Reel + Stall” retrieve is a high-speed retrieve but unlike the “skippy” retrieve your rod top is pointed low – literally in or at the the water. This will allow you to have a very high retrieve speed without breaking the surface. Burn the lure as full speed for a count of five seconds and then stall the lure at a slow to medium retrieve for three seconds and repeat.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: There’s not a whole lot you can say about metal retrieve speeds. To me, the big advantage of metals is their ability to provide long distance. What I like about the Hogy Heavy Minnow jig in particular is that they are small and heavy and maintain a small profile.


THE PEANUT JIG


Peanut Profile – Long Range – Flutter Action

The Bite: Albies chasing larger bait, particularly Peanut Bunker.

The Challenge: There are times when closely “matching the hatch” is the delineating factor between a great and frustrating day. If albies are on peanut bunker, this is an obvious choice.

The Solution: The Hogy Peanut Bunker Jig is also the obvious choice if you need the range of metal but the action of an epoxy jig at medium retrieve speeds. The flattened shape of the peanut bunker will flutter at slow speeds.This lure comes in 1oz and 2oz sizes. The 1oz has the most wobble and will swim on its own at a medium retrieve speed. The 2oz has more distance and is the obvious choice for surf anglers.

  • Pros: Perfectly matches peanut bunker, long casting range but medium retrieve action.
  • Cons: Less action than the Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure, less translucency and not suited for ultra-fast retrieves.

THE RETRIEVE

FAST SKIPPY RETRIEVE (A)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: This is a tip-up, fast crank retrieve. Great for imitating fleeing bait. This is the preferred retrieve for breaking fish or blind casting in calm water when you know fish are in the area.

Steps

  1. Cast out + collect excess line
  2. Point the rod at a 45-degree angle and increase reeling speed and rod tip height simultaneously
  3. As you reel, twitch your rod back sporadically. This will cause your Peanut Bunker Jig to pop in and out of the water, simulating a fleeing bait fish.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: The flat nature of the 1oz Peanut Bunker Jig allows you to impart the skippy retrieve if you have a long enough rod. If using the Peanut Bunker Jig, I lke the 7’6 spinning outfit with enough backbone to work this lure. The extra height helps me compensate for this lures tendency to sink quickly.

MEDIUM SUB-SURFACE RETRIEVE (B)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: This retrieve is best suited for casting to milling fish, casting to the outside regions of a feed or in an area where albies are popping all over, here and there. Your rod tip will be basically horizontal to the water and retrieve at a medium pace. The Hogy Peanut Bunker Jig will wobble on its own, especially on a stiffer rod.


HOGY CHARTER GRADE SLIDER


Big profile – High visibility – Slow speeds

The Bite: Surface Albies have spread out and show limited surface activity.

The Challenge: When surface albie feeds die down due to boat traffic, tide change or lack of forage, it’s difficult to stay on top of the schools you can’t see so you need to call them into you with blind casting by using a big, noisy lure with good optics.

The Solution: The Hogy Slider is MUCH BIGGER than a typical albie lure and that’s a good thing in this case. Picture the setting: Albie fishing has died down, but you know they are still in the area. By repeatedly casting this highly imitative bait, you are presenting a big, noisy lure that is ultra-life like and you tripled your strike range. Utilize a slow to medium steady retrieve.

  • Pros: High visibility, easy to fish, highly imitative, all speeds
  • Cons: Too big when albies are aggressively targeting small baits, too heavy for ultra-light rods

THE RETRIEVE


THE HOGY ORIGINAL


Big profile – High visibility – High speed

The Bite: Greasy calm day. Perfect for epic top water strikes.

The Challenge: Sometimes the only challenge is to scratch the itch to change it up.

The Solution: There’s no denying the effectiveness of well-presented soft baits for targeting pressured or finicky albies. For over a decade, the 7-inch Original Eel Softbait has filled a niche when other offerings are ignored. Soft baits have become very popular for bonito and false albacore. I tend to double the size of the soft baits compared to what the albies are eating. Demonstrating some of the most exciting surface explosions we’ve witnessed, this larger profile bait has seemingly produced aggressive albies out of no where.

  • Pros: One major upside is that soft baits are available in translucent colors. My all-time favorite is the amber color made by Hogy Lure Company. Unlike metal lures, they don’t sink very fast and that means you can keep your lure in the strike zone longer. They also have a very natural quiver that looks extremely lifelike. Another plus for soft baits is that they can be fished weedless, which comes in handy if the wind is strong and the water is churned up. If casting weight is an issue, you can add a little extra weight with a swim bait hook.
  • Cons: Even though “lightly weighting” soft baits increases casting distance, they are still not the best in terms of casting. It’s hard to beat the casting distance of a metal or an Epoxy Jig Lure.
  • When to use: Flat calm water, super calm conditions, spooky albies

Capt. Mike’s Notes: My theory is that the larger soft baits stick out from the school of baitfish a little bit. The commotion of a large soft bait ripping across the surface is great for blind casting; the commotion draws attention and the larger bait size is often enough to make the effort worthwhile for the fish. This classic albie killer from Hogy is the most popular in amber, but bone and pink are top sellers too. This bait is a major challenge in the wind but when fished properly, it is absolutely deadly on finicky albies. Fish with your tip in the water to achieve the highest reel retrieve possible. The bait will burn just a few inches under the surface when rigged with a swim bait hook. The visuals for this bait are amazing and well suited for light wind or down wind conditions. 

THE RETRIEVE

REEL + STALL RETRIEVE (C)

Standard Hogy Lure Company Instructions: The “Reel + Stall” retrieve  is a high-speed retrieve but unlike the “skippy” retrieve, your rod top is pointed low – literally in or at the the water. This will allow you to have a very high retrieve speed without breaking the surface. Burn the lure at full speed for a count of five seconds and then stall the lure at a slow to medium retrieve for three seconds and repeat.

Capt. Mike’s Notes: Simply paired with a heavy 1/2oz weighted swim bait hook for proper balance and keel weighted action, these soft baits are worked quite fast with the rod tip pointed to the water. An aggressive, medium-fast retrieve speed will dance and quiver while drawing in fish from a distance. Color wise, bone and bubblegum have become producers during both sunlit afternoons and overcast skies.