Albacore Flies

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
With the big increase in fly fishing for albacore this year, and the amazing amount of trips you all have already booked this summer, I thought it would be cool to start a thread specifically focused on albacore flies.

I'm sure many of you, like myself, are spending plenty of time at the vise with dreams of the summer. There's some great stuff in the Whats In Your Vise thread, along with the various albacore threads, and I find myself sifting through those threads often looking for inspiration. I thought it would be cool to start a dedicated thread where we could discuss flies, materials, hooks, theories etc so it would be easy for people to reference as they tie flies for their summer trips. We've had plenty of albacore threads but nothing focused specifically on flies.

To get us started here's what I've been tying the last few days. I have quite a few flies left over from last summer, but one goal for this off-season is to fill up both of my Cliff's Bugger Barn boxes so I am well stocked for the summer.

Last few days I've been focused on smaller baitfish patterns. I have, by far, had my best success using small to medium sized baitfish patterns. (Referring specifically to casting/retrieving) I have a lot of thoughts on fly size, but ultimately I find in most cases if albacore are ignoring flies its almost always better to go smaller. By far the most prolific baitfish food source for these fish offshore, at least as it applies to fly fishing, is Pacific Saurie. Saurie are a slender baitfish, similar to our sandlance in profile. Ive seen schools of tiny 1-2" saurie, and I've seen them as large as 15" or better. It seems on average when we see large concentrations of them offshore they are generally the smaller variety, 2-4" or so. When the albacore are feeding heavily on them they get extreme tunnel vision, often only eating a fly that comes mighty close to at least the size/profile of the saurie.

These patterns are about 3" or so, with the purple one being a bit larger. My first fly caught albacore came on a similar pattern at a time when they wouldn't touch anything else. These are loosely based on a pattern I found online called the Asura Minnow. Pretty simple pattern to whip up and I've got a good pile of them worked up this week in various colors.


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Here's a shot I took last year of a Pacific Saurie that ended up on the deck during a bait stop. Not quite as snakey as sandlance, and they swim like a standard baitfish, usually in schools.

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Here's a large one that an averaged sized albacore puked up when I was commercial fishing.

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Here's some of the patterns that have produced well for me the last few years.

Flies tied in this deceiver and flatwing style have easily put more fish on the deck for me than any other pattern. I tie them in a variety of sizes and colors but the chartreuse and white and the darker anchovy colored one has produced the best for me. They are a little more involved to tie, but still not bad. I really like using the heads from @Spawnflyfish for these patterns. They just add such a cool element to the pattern, and they are durable as can be.

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Here's a video I made last year for the anchovy version.



I'll need to tie up a bunch more of these in the coming weeks as they are a staple in my box.

I'll also be tying more squid and shrimp patterns this winter. I haven't fished these anywhere near as much as baitfish patterns, but this past season we had some good success with squid patterns.

Many people ask me about hooks, so these are my go to hooks.

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The Kona Big Game Hunter and the Owner Aki are my favorites for all of my baitfish patterns. Both are sticky sharp, short shanked, nice gap, and strong as hell. I have also used the Ahrex Blue Water and SA280, although my only complaint with these is the wire is so thick, including the eye, that they aren't as versatile if you want to add Spawn Heads or the Fish Mask plastic heads .

The Ahrex Predator Stinger and the Kona Big Game Carnivore are what I use when I tie flies that require more shank length, for larger trolling style flies, and for topwater (Ahrex Predator Stinger specifically)


Anyway, I hope others will chime in with what they are currently tying and what has worked well in the past. Having a decent number of WFF members out last season I saw a lot of cool patterns and got some great inspiration. Hopefully if we add to this thread we'll end up with a one stop resource for anyone looking for ideas for tying flies for this amazing fishery.
 

Bagman

Active Member
With the big increase in fly fishing for albacore this year, and the amazing amount of trips you all have already booked this summer, I thought it would be cool to start a thread

I'm sure many of you, like myself, are spending plenty of time at the vise with dreams of the summer. There's some great stuff in the Whats In Your Vise thread, along with the various albacore threads, and I find myself sifting through those threads often looking for inspiration. I thought it would be cool to start a dedicated thread where we could discuss flies, materials, hooks, theories etc so it would be easy for people to reference as they tie flies for their summer trips. We've had plenty of albacore threads but nothing focused specifically on flies.

To get us started here's what I've been tying the last few days. I have quite a few flies left over from last summer, but one goal for this off-season is to fill up both of my Cliff's Bugger Barn boxes so I am well stocked for the summer.

Last few days I've been focused on smaller baitfish patterns. I have, by far, had my best success using small to medium sized baitfish patterns. (Referring specifically to casting/retrieving) I have a lot of thoughts on fly size, but ultimately I find in most cases if albacore are ignoring flies its almost always better to go smaller. By far the most prolific baitfish food source for these fish offshore, at least as it applies to fly fishing, is Pacific Saurie. Saurie are a slender baitfish, similar to our sandlance in profile. Ive seen schools of tiny 1-2" saurie, and I've seen them as large as 15" or better. It seems on average when we see large concentrations of them offshore they are generally the smaller variety, 2-4" or so. When the albacore are feeding heavily on them they get extreme tunnel vision, often only eating a fly that comes mighty close to at least the size/profile of the saurie.

These patterns are about 3" or so, with the purple one being a bit larger. My first fly caught albacore came on a similar pattern at a time when they wouldn't touch anything else. These are loosely based on a pattern I found online called the Asura Minnow. Pretty simple pattern to whip up and I've got a good pile of them worked up this week in various colors.


View attachment 269406 View attachment 269407 View attachment 269408 View attachment 269409 View attachment 269410

Here's a shot I took last year of a Pacific Saurie that ended up on the deck during a bait stop. Not quite as snakey as sandlance, and they swim like a standard baitfish, usually in schools.

View attachment 269413

Here's a large one that an averaged sized albacore puked up when I was commercial fishing.

View attachment 269412

Here's some of the patterns that have produced well for me the last few years.

Flies tied in this deceiver and flatwing style have easily put more fish on the deck for me than any other pattern. I tie them in a variety of sizes and colors but the chartreuse and white and the darker anchovy colored one has produced the best for me. They are a little more involved to tie, but still not bad. I really like using the heads from @Spawnflyfish for these patterns. They just add such a cool element to the pattern, and they are durable as can be.

View attachment 269415

View attachment 269411

View attachment 269416 View attachment 269417

Here's a video I made last year for the anchovy version.



I'll need to tie up a bunch more of these in the coming weeks as they are a staple in my box.

I'll also be tying more squid and shrimp patterns this winter. I haven't fished these anywhere near as much as baitfish patterns, but this past season we had some good success with squid patterns.

Many people ask me about hooks, so these are my go to hooks.

View attachment 269402 View attachment 269403 View attachment 269404 View attachment 269405


The Kona Big Game Hunter and the Owner Aki are my favorites for all of my baitfish patterns. Both are sticky sharp, short shanked, nice gap, and strong as hell. I have also used the Ahrex Blue Water and SA280, although my only complaint with these is the wire is so thick, including the eye, that they aren't as versatile if you want to add Spawn Heads or the Fish Mask plastic heads .

The Ahrex Predator Stinger and the Kona Big Game Carnivore are what I use when I tie flies that require more shank length, for larger trolling style flies, and for topwater (Ahrex Predator Stinger specifically)


Anyway, I hope others will chime in with what they are currently tying and what has worked well in the past. Having a decent number of WFF members out last season I saw a lot of cool patterns and got some great inspiration. Hopefully if we add to this thread we'll end up with a one stop resource for anyone looking for ideas for tying flies for this amazing fishery.
Great idea Nick I’m looking forward to seeing what we end up with.

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cmann886

Active Member
Thank you for starting the thread. It gives me a lot of ideas to try. I am not much of an artisan, so hopefully simple patterns using Congo hair and a few bucktail patterns will work.
 

Clarkman

Huge Fly Guy
WFF Supporter
Great thread! I'm curious how much you experience success on flies that don't really resemble anything out there? I think about tiger Muskies and how many I catch on all black (there's exactly nothing anywhere close to that naturally).....I'm basically just throwing shit against the wall to see if something sticks. But, you know what I mean, kinda like unmatching the hatch.
 

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
Great thread! I'm curious how much you experience success on flies that don't really resemble anything out there? I think about tiger Muskies and how many I catch on all black (there's exactly nothing anywhere close to that naturally).....I'm basically just throwing shit against the wall to see if something sticks. But, you know what I mean, kinda like unmatching the hatch.


To be honest, I haven't really thrown much that wasn't at least semi related to a known food source. My initial guess is that early season, when the fish first show up and respond extremely well to troll lures but not as strongly to live anchovies that they would eat all kinds of stuff, but that's just a hunch. And when they are in an absolute wide open frenzy, I'm not sure there's much they wouldn't eat. But I really haven't played around too much with that concept.

Most of our troll lures don't really look like anything natural out there, but then the speed of the troll and probably more importantly, the prop wash has a lot to do with their success.

Definitely an idea worth playing around with
 

SilverFly

Active Member
Yup, great idea Nick to dedicate a thread to tuna flies. Many patterns have been discussed and posted over the years, but that info is buried deep in several tuna discussions here in the Salt forum, and in the What's In Your Vise Thread. Having these collected in one place is a good thing. This isn't trivial stuff. The right fly on a given day can make all the difference. Sure there are days when fly choice doesn't seem to matter, but as we are finding out, albacore can be maddeningly selective on other days.

Great thread! I'm curious how much you experience success on flies that don't really resemble anything out there? I think about tiger Muskies and how many I catch on all black (there's exactly nothing anywhere close to that naturally).....I'm basically just throwing shit against the wall to see if something sticks. But, you know what I mean, kinda like unmatching the hatch.

"Unmatching the hatch". I think you're on to something here. I'll take your word for what you're seeing with tiger musky, but there are parallels with other fish. When fishing for long tail tuna, Australians typically throw either small, realistic surf candy style patterns, OR much bigger bright pink silicone flies. These flies don't look anything like the baitfish, or even squid they are feeding on. I'm thinking about adding a few to my boxes this year.

Ok @DenWor54 lets see the step by step for this pattern again, this fly frickin killed em!

View attachment 269466

Brian, I have to admit I had doubts about that fly when I first saw it. Looks great, no argument there, I just thought the colors were too bright. And then you proceeded to put on a clinic while my "money" anchovy (which has caught plenty of tuna) was getting blanked. Thankfully the saury imitations in my box got me back in the game before I had to beg you for one of DenWor54's!
 

GOTY

9x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
Also agreed denwors flies are killer. He showed me how to tie them and that's basically all I fished. Small sample size of course, but even on the troll my flies (denwors pattern) were getting hit much more than the other troll gear out there.
 

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