Oftentimes albies are easy to catch and all over the place. But, if you’ve ever been on a slow albie trip, you know what its to finally make it out there and find them scattered and uninterested in your offering. Here’s a list of techniques for this situation that I have put into my arsenal from over the years of fishing for these unpredictable speedsters from the Outer Banks to Cape Cod.
1) Lighten Up: The lighter braid can be a huge asset in windy conditions or when finicky albies call for teeny lures. I like 20lb braid but move up to 30lb when fish get bigger or I start casting larger lures such as 1.25oz Epoxy Jigs.
2) Learn the Skippy Technique: Try to imitate a fleeing bait by keeping your tip up high in the air. Watch the technique here:
3) Learn to Fish Larger Soft Baits: The 7” Hogy Original is my favorite softbait in calm water. This bait can fool the finickiest albies, and for some reason amber is the hottest color. To fish properly, put tip of the rod in the water and reel as fast as humanly possible.
4) Kill Your Bait: Sometimes when they won’t eat ANYTHING, casting small light jigs and soft-baits into the school, and letting them sink to simulate a dying fish and often trigger strikes from fish holding under, keying in on wounded baits. My two favorites for this are the 5/8oz Epoxy jig and the 4.6oz Sand eel on 1/O weighted swim-bait hook.
5) Tie a Loop Knot: A loop knot is particularly important on light lures such as 3/8oz Epoxy Jigs and small soft baits. The loop allows the lure to swing freely from the leader.
6) When fish disappear: Stick with the bait. If the albies have seemingly left, look for dense pods of bait and stick with them for a while. Often the albies will reappear and start blasting the bait again.
7) Study their Patterns: Running and gunning often puts fish down. Often, you can determine their patterns and make long drifts.
8) Blind Casting: If you have the stamina to make blind casts, you can seriously up your albie count, especially if you are a drifter.
9) Bucktails: Upgrade your jigs to bucktail hooks from trebles for super finicky fish. How-To Link Here.
10) Rotate Colors: Often times schools of bait in one area can vary by species. I remember one time, fishing in Montauk, the albies were bouncing between schools of squid, anchovies and silver sides and the albies would only hit bone, olive and silver respectively.
11) Kill the engine whenever you can: If I am drifting in an area with finicky albies, I kill the engine uf I am making long drifts. I do not have empirical data to support this, but I feel very strongly that albies will pop up next to the boat more often with the engine killed. FWIW I think it has more to do with the bait fish shying away from the engine noise and the albies hesitation.
12. Micro set up for Micro forage: For starters, look into one of the high performance fast action rods that will flick mini baits when paired with ultra light braid and a 4000 class reel. I recently purchased a St. Croix Legend Extreme ML 7′. I have only used it a few times now and haven’t had a chance to fully test it on fish, I WILL SAY it casts these little lures better than any other rod I have tried. The reel I’d pair it with is a Shimano Sustain or Saragossa 4000. I have a ‘goose 4000 on mine. The two lures I’d look at are:
(a) Mini Epoxy Jigs: 3/8oz Epoxy Jigs are ideal as they perfectly match micro sand eels, rain bait ect. Many anglers like to fish them fast, or use the skippy retrieve BUT I think the most under utilized technique with the smallest epoxy jigs is to cast into the school and let it drop. You’ll often get hit on the fall.
(b) 4.6″ Sand Eel Soft Baits: this lure is somehow even harder to cast than the 3/8oz epoxy jig but is totally doable on a down wind cast. The best way to fish these is relatively slow with short twitching actions. DON’T forget the drop technique.
Link to Rod: It is a very unusual rod, you don’t see them very often. Here’s the link: http://stcroixrods.com/products/saltwater/legendxtreme-inshore/