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

Although they may be a bit hard to find, Hogy Epoxy Jig ® Lures offer some of the best of both worlds between a metal lure and a soft bait. They have the casting distance of the metal due to their shape and weight relative to their size, but with the epoxy coating they have a very natural translucency that is a major plus with soft baits.

  • 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!)
  • WHEN TO USE: Scattered fish. Best way to catch scattered bonito and albies is to blind cast. In this situation, I always say bigger is better, as 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 ®

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.
Best For: General Conditions

METALS

Metal lures such as Hogy Heavy Minnows, Squinnows and Hogy Sand Eels are perhaps the most commonly used lures for bonito and false albacore. But, in my opinion, with the development of soft plastics and epoxy-based lures, the metals are now practically obsolete in calm conditions and are my go-to lures in windy and surfcasting situations where very long range casts are essential. While they still work just as well as they always have, it’s simply hard to beat some of the specialized features and actions of the plastic counterparts.

  • PROS: These metal lures are readily available, durable and easy to cast and are the appropriate size for replicating baitfish that bonito and albies eat.
  • CONS: The downside of the metals is that they have to be fished very fast or they will sink out of the strike zone. They are also limited by their finish; either chrome plated or painted colors.
  • WHEN TO USE: Super windy conditions. The large size will not only make casting easier but the larger size will be easier for bonito and albies to see.

Ex. Heavy Minnows – Capt. Mike’s Notes: Good for imitating small baitfish. The heavy weight relative to its size allows for superior casting range. 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. Best For: Windy Conditions, Long Range Casting, Boat Fishing

Ex. Sand Eel Jigs – Capt. Mike’s Notes: Ideally suited for narrow, silhouetted baitfish such as silver sides and sand eels. Very good casting range. Often fished with a bucktail teaser. Longer, more slender profile allows the jig to ride higher than the Heavy Minnow at slow speeds. Designed for beach albie anglers but effective on boats as well. BEST FOR: Windy Conditions, Long Range Casting, Shore and Boat Fishing

SOFT BAITS

Soft baits have become very popular for bonito and false albacore. Although they come in just about every shape and size you can imagine, I tend to double the size of the soft baits compared to what the albies are eating. At first, I made this upgrade to increase casting distance but I quickly found that the larger baits attracted more fish than smaller, more naturally sized baits. 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.

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 softbaits 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 swimbait hook.
CONS: Even though “lightly weighting” softbaits 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. My go-to would be a 7-inch softbaits tied directly with a Yozuri Hybrid line. If I’m using braid I would use a 4-foot leader. You can make a lot of commotion on the surface with an unweighted soft bait – a great technique for blind casting. With selective fish, lighten up with the 4.6-inch Hogy Sand Eel if you can cast it far enough with your outfit.

Ex. 7” Hogy Original – Capt. Mike’s Notes: 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 swimbait hook. The visuals for this bait are amazing and well suited for light wind or down wind conditions. BEST FOR: Super Calm Conditions, Spooky Albies

Ex. 3.5” and 4.25” Hogy Pro Tail Paddle – Capt. Mike’s Notes: The Hogy Pro Tail Paddle is a perfect imitator of any medium sized bait fish. The nice feature about this series is that they come in a variety of weights up to 6oz. The 4oz. through 6oz. are the most popular. It’s the only softbaits in its class with that much weight which makes the lure unique in that you can cast it with heavy tuna gear. Another benefit from the heavy weights is that this lure can switch hit from casting, to jigging, making it incredibly versatile. BEST FOR: Scattered Fish, Vibrations for Attracting Fish, Slow Medium Retrieve for maximum water time for greater visibility.

Ex. Softbait Sand Eels — These tiny softbait imitators shine on greasy calm days when albies can be found sipping sand eels off the surface. These surface sipping bites can often be the toughest, as the calm conditions keep albies ultra finicky. The imitator sand eels shine on a lightly weighted, ultra-light fluoro presentation. We recommend no heavier than 12lb test when casting on greasy calm days. Paired with a 1/0 or 3/0 lightly weighted or unweighted swimbait hook, these eels can be slowly twitch-paused along the outside corners of a sand eel feed. FISH THE DROP: Work the imitator sand eel with long pauses, allowing the bait to slowly sink through the bait school, appearing wounded and vulnerable. Often times, finicky albies can’t ignore an easy meal drifting slowly to the bottom. Using an occasional short twitch to keep the bait wagging, work pauses as long as 5 – 10 seconds for a unique presentation.
Ex. Classif Softbaits — There’s no denying the effectiveness of well-presented softbaits 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. Demonstrating some of the most exciting surface explosions we’ve witnessed, this larger profile bait has seemingly produces aggressive albies out of no where. PRO TIP: Simply paired with a heavy 1/2oz weighted swimbait hook for proper balance and keel weighted action, these soft baits are worked quite fast, rod tip pointed to the water. An aggressive, medium-fast speed retrieve 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.