How to Catch Bonito and Albies From Shore

In saltwater fishing, the striped bass is pursued by the fishing masses with a devotion that verges on the spiritual. But if fishing for striped bass is a piscatorial religion, then fishing for hardtails is its cultish equivalent. The hopeful come, attracted by tales of relentless topwater boils and pledges of yelling drags. But like any great cult, it is shrouded in words of caution, steeped in secret, and entrenched in a little dogmatic misinformation. All of this renders those seeking to join somewhat doubtful of their own possibilities for success.

Luckily for the conscript, the mystique is nothing more than illusion. In spite of their exotic track record, false albacore and bonito are still simple fish, indicating that the angler can declare them. The knowing curve for these fish is a high one, comprised of basic fundamental grips and quickly scaled. Just as is the case with other saltwater quarry, your success will be contingent on place, conditions, and presentation.


I have actually handled to land albies from the estuary inside a river mouth and from a two-foot-deep sandy flat. Neither location is thought of as a normal spot, so I believe that it is safe to say that it is possible to capture an incorrect albacore from practically any stretch of shoreline. The location at which it is possible to hook into one of these fish is another story totally. The typical characteristic of all quality albie and bonito haunts is deep, moving water of a minimum of typical clearness. (These fish feed mostly by sight and are limited in stained waters.) All this limits the swimming pool of likely places to jetties, rocky points and cliffs, and sandy beaches with a steep drop-off.

Any or all of these locations could hold fish. What figures out which place the fish inhabit is a feature as nomadic as the fish themselves: bait. Albies and bonito have a palate that varies however have a proclivity for the miniature. They feed upon sand eels, silversides, bay anchovies, peanut bunker, small tinker mackerel, and juvenile squid. Bait affects two extremely important variables in regard to area. One, bait draws in the fish to specific areas over others. Two, bait determines how long the fish remain in any one location. The motion of both bait and fish are at the beck of nature’s whimsy. This leads us into our conversation on conditions.


If you are genuine about catching your first shore hardtail, you need to fish first light and into the morning every chance you get. This is the time of day when these fish feed their hardest, offering you the best chance at hooking one. Albies often feed hard from sunrise to about 10 a.m., before entering a mid-day slow down from 10AM to 1PM, followed by a repetition efficiency sometime between 1PM and 5PM This afternoon bite is the conserving grace for casters whose work avoids them from fishing at first light. Frequently not as excellent as the early morning bite, it is constantly worth attempting, specifically if your only chance.

A number of you reading this are most likely devoted striped bass fishermen. When you venture out for a night of surfcasting and you are consulted with a flat sea and a pitiful leeward wind, you are probably feeling less than positive. What you may unknown is that when you come across these exact same conditions in hardtail fishing, you would be a good idea to again decrease your expectations. A flat sea without any wind and crystal clear water are great conditions where to view false albacore, but they are horrible conditions where to catch incorrect albacore. What I suggest is that fish might be extremely active under these conditions. You might see them boiling all over the location. But “see” is the operative word in this scenario. You can fish for 12 hours under these conditions, and you might see fish feeding the whole time, however you will be difficult pressed to catch a thing.

The maximum conditions for really catching these fish are again rather similar to that of stripers. You ought to be getting excited about a moderate slice with a stiff shoreward breeze, which in a great deal of cases is a southwest, with some exceptions. If the sea is about 1 to 3 feet, with the wind in the 10- to 15-knot range, the bait will be hugging the bases jetties and getting pressed into the surf line along rocky cliffs. The albies will rapidly do the same, and you will be prepared to obstruct them.

It bears pointing out that days with conditions somewhat rougher than this can be exceptional. Seas in the 2- to 4-foot range with winds from 15 to 20 knots often provide lock-and-load fishing. Under these conditions, hardtails frequently forfeit their persnickety reputation and hit lures with a recklessness that rivals bluefish. It is not unusual for the spinfisherman to land several albies in a few brief hours on these nastier days. However, if these conditions magnify or persist for more than two or 3 days, the fishing will shut down as the high surf undoubtedly churns up the bottom, requiring the keen-eyed albies to seek more beautiful searching premises. As has actually been alluded to thus far, conditions determine the hardtails’ habits– and their habits is going to determine your technique and lure option.

Lures & Presentation

Regardless of a reputation for being picky, albies and bonito have actually felt the sting of steel from lipped stickbaits, surface lures, jointed swimbaits, soft plastics, and every 1⁄4- ounce to 1 1⁄2- ounce tin in the recognized universe. However, our focus is on basics, so I’m going to talk about just two lures that are proven staples of hardtail fishing. They are the Deadly Penis and the Zoom Salty Super Fluke. The Deadly Penis is a fascinating little sliver of metal. I each year broaden on my albie toolbox and yet the efficiency and versatility of this lure continues to surprise me. With its slim profile and anxious flutter, the Deadly Cock is a dead ringer for Rhody’s more gracile baitfish.

The three most popular sizes of this lure are the # 3/4L, the # 1L, and the # 2L. The # 1L is the crowd favorite among anglers and albies alike. The # 3/4L and the # 2L are thought about specific niche sizes for when the resident bait is a little smaller or bigger. There is practically a consentaneous arrangement that green is the top color for these tins. Nevertheless, I can guarantee you that the straight silver tempts work just great. In truth, it’s the only color of Deadly Penis that I buy! I captured my first coast albie on a silver Deadly Dick, and I use that color from pure, irrational preference. Fact be told, I think the importance of color with these lures is grossly overemphasized.

Deadly Dicks are best used during choppier conditions. Their effectiveness in calm conditions is somewhat irregular. With sloppier seas, the fish will tend to expand and roam a spot easily. As a result, blind casting shows more efficient than sight fishing in these circumstances. With its long casting variety and speedy recover, the Deadly Dick covers a great deal of water and readily draws strikes from marauding hardtails.

This triggers me to remark about the recommended retrieval speed of these lures. The Yankee surfcaster has an inordinate fondness for hyperbole and universal declarations. This behavior has actually produced such sagacious pearls as “You can’t out-reel an albie!” “Constantly reel as quick as you can!” And from the makers of “When you’re reeling sluggish, decrease some more,” comes “When you’re reeling fast, speed up some more.” These are all significant, ineffective, and misleading exaggerations. You do wish to be obtaining this lure at a fairly fast clip. However if it’s flying out of the water, you are most likely reeling too fast. Although there are instances when fish will commit suicide over a Deadly Dick “burned” throughout the surface, running the lure 3 to 6 inches below the surface with a straight retrieve is generally best. Some days you will need to obtain slightly slower, while others will require you obtain a little much faster. You will need to experiment with the obtain speed up until you find what the fish desire on that specific day.

The other lure it would behoove the beginner to bring is the Zoom Salty Super Fluke. The Zoom Fluke is a soft-plastic stickbait produced in a wide spectrum of colors. But for the albie angler, white, pink, and “albino” are the most popular choices. Typically, these soft baits are rigged weedless with a 3/0 wide-gap worm hook. Gamakatsu and Owner both make hooks ideal for this application. Extra weight can be included with either the insertion of nail weights or use of a weighted worm hook. The additional weight offers a minor casting improvement and a boost in sink rate.

Conditions for the Zoom Fluke are those days of more moderate wind and sea. This lure does not cast well, even with the additional weight, and therefore is a task to fish in a stiff headwind. Keep in mind those woeful flat-calm days discussed earlier? Well, they’re still terrible. However, if you find yourself in these conditions, this is going to be lure that has the best chance of putting an albie on the rocks.

The recover of this lure is completely various than that of the Deadly Dick. Rather than a straight recover, the Zoom Fluke’s recover is more nuanced. The Fluke looks its liveliest when recovered in a series of twitches and pauses of differing durations. This retrieve results in a spastic action that rotates between darting and cartwheeling, all which happens just below the water’s surface. The time out is important in this recover, for this is when most albies struck the lure.

And although fish will most definitely strike it blind casting, the Zoom’s true forte is sight casting to visibly breaking fish. It moves slowly, but erratically. As an outcome, it stays in the “strike zone” of a breaking pod for much longer than a tin would. This will supply you with a remarkable benefit on days when the fish are just eating top. It is my recommendation to fish this lure whenever the fish are in range and conditions require it. It is frequently reliable and often out-fishes tins.

Both of these lures must be rigged with the exact same design of terminal take on. For a leader, I use a 5-foot area of 20-pound- test fluorocarbon that is attached to my primary line with a 50-pound-test Spro Power Swivel. This combination of long leader and little swivel will help you in encouraging the albie’s sharp eye.

For a primary line, I choose 14-pound-test Fireline. I have found that “superline” or braided line conveys two benefits for this fishing. One, it enables farther and easier casts, specifically with weightless Zoom Flukes. Two, the level of sensitivity of this line is invaluable when fishing in a cross wind. Winds blowing at the angler from the side or slight angle are going to produce a bow in the line during the retrieve. This is going to jeopardize the strength of the hook-set also the ability to discover strikes. But, with the non-elastic nature of braid, the angler will still identify these strikes and attain affordable hook sets. In these very same conditions, monofilament will more than likely lead to missed out on fish. And with the shots at albacore being so little, a missed fish is an occurrence you can not manage to suffer.

Other Tips

If there is one thing about fishing for hardtails that can not be overstressed, it is that you should be actively engaged in fishing at all times. This implies casting even when the fish are disappointing, scanning the water for breaks, and looking out. These fish are energetic, however they will not climb the jetty to bite the lure off your guide frame, so the keep the lure in the water!

Now, despite the efficiency of blind casting, there will be days when it is imperative to have your lure in a breaking pod of fish in order to link. Making sure that your offering crosses an albie’s view is an art in itself. The secret is to cast where the fish are going rather than where the break is occurring. This is most easily achieved if you spot the fish before they are directly in front of you. But rapidly examining variables such as the fish’s direction of travel, how far out they are, how quick they are moving, where your lure has to be, and how long your lure requires to reach that spot, is more quickly stated than done. It’s something that requires practice, as well as skilled fishermen do not hit their mark 100% of the time.

My other suggestions is to fish an affordable drag setting. Yes, it is enjoyable to fish a loose drag and get several long terms from an albie. But by the time you get the little man in, he’s going to be cooked, and the probability for an effective release is going to be slim. There has been much guidance offered on how to effectively launch an albie. Some will suggest you provide the fish a sharp plunge headfirst into the water. Others will say to cradle the fish in the water while it regains strength. However the single most important aspect that adds to your fish swimming off healthily is keeping the fight as brief as fairly possible. If the fish has actually been fought for too long, it will sink and die regardless of whether you “surge it” or “cradle it”.

Fishing from the beach for hardtails is a fun but unpredictable undertaking. You might fish 10 hours for 3 fish and the next day you could fish 3 hours for 10 fish. Feast and scarcity, boom and bust, and drought and deluge are the rhythms you’ll dance to. But having your reel whiningly bemoan the charge of an albie, rod folded, line whistling as it divides the southwest breeze, all under the cloud dappled sky of a fine September day, is a reward most attracting. You now have the understanding to pursue it, all you have to supply is the ambition.