Albacore Tuna


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Gresham, OR
Around the time I was 10 years old, my father took me on my first Tuna trip with a bunch of his buddies. Being the scrawny 85-pound child that I was, reeling in an Albacore tuna was a large feat. Oh but once I did, I was hooked. 10 years later I am still an avid tuna fisherman, and beginning to expand my horizons to fly fishing. After taking fly fishing classes at Oregon State University and catching trout after trout, I wondered what it would be like to fly fish for tuna. After some research, I gathered information on the gear I would need to do this. I would likely need to have a 12-weight rod or higher. A fly reel with at least 25 pounds of drag brake would definitely be needed. Since Albacore do not usually get larger than 50 lbs, I’d get a leader that is around 45-50 pound test. I’m not exactly sure what flies I’ll be using for this trip, since I have never used flies offshore. Some more research will have to go into that. While I sit here thinking about the awesome fight I will be having with a tuna on a fly rod, I can’t help but think about the struggles I will have. The ocean is extremely large, so finding the tuna will be tough. Usually while trolling for tuna you would use cedar plugs and swim baits to lure the tuna in. I read somewhere that trolling with hookless cedar plugs to bring the fish towards the boat, and then casting once they are there. Usually aquatic activity such as birds, bait balls, and jumping albacore are good ways to find schools. Those methods could also be used to find the fish. If any of you on here have any experience with fly fishing for tuna and would like to share it with me, I would love to hear it.


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SF Bay area California
Colin, welcome aboard!
You are on the right track, The primary thing you need though is water temp. Albacore prefer 60-65 degree water.
Make sure it is not an isolated pool but that it has a connection to more water of the same temp.
Use this web site to get an idea of sea surface temp where you are going:
If you don't have the correct water temp within range of your boat then there is no sense in going.

I use 17lb flouro tippet for Albacore on a 8 or 9wt rod because most fish we get are footballs that run 5-10lbs max.
If the fish are larger I will switch to conventional tackle.
As for flies a few clousers is really all you need. On bright days chartreuse and white or yellow and white.
On dark days purple and black or blue and black. Orange and yellow is also good as is red, white and green.

I could write a long dissertation on how to hunt albies but, first I would like to know a few things...
I assume you have a boat? What kind? Do you have all the USCG recommended safety gear?
How do you prepare for an off-shore trip to ensure your safety and the safety of your crew?
Does your boat have any electronics? What does it have?
How much experience do you have running your boat off-shore?

Let me know and I can add more information and others will chime in.


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The basic drill for tuna on the fly (it's not as complicated as you think).
To find tuna you have to do your homework as to when they are running in your waters.
That's pretty easy to do by following the reports. You may want to check the pay site Fishdope and see if they have intel for your area.
So when the tuna are in range for whatever vessel you plan on taking you can troll or look for visible signs of fish by watching for bird activity as you said or by finding marks on your meter or look for foamers. Last but not least, if you can't find the fish then fish the fisherman. Which means look out for the rest of the fleet on a hot bite or area. Also keep your radio on some guys can be nice and will call you in on a school if they have limited out. Also be very respectful of others on the water don't gun it into a hot bite. Don't run over other folks chum lines or cross over troll lines.

Trolling, you don't want your jig to be hookless you want to be able to reel the troll fish in so the rest of the school follows tha fish to the boat.
Try and get the lead fish in as fast as possible while your partner clears the other lines. At this point you need to throw some live bait to keep the fish at the boat. If the fish light up into a foamer well it's pretty easy to figure out what to do next. First thing to do is stop your hands from shaking by dropping a fly into the melee.

If you are stopping on marks cut chum works well by starting a slow chum line and hopefully the fish are in the right mood and follow up into casting range. Usually there will be a current or you'll be drifting with the wind. Take your rod and walk to the bow and cast downwind or down current as far as you can and then proceed to dump the rest of your fly line overboard. A fast sinking type 6 works best for this. Dump all your line and then let it sink out it should slowly drift back towards the stern and you follow your line to the stern as well. Think of it as swing fishing but you are doing it vertically. Once the line drifts and it's tight to the rod from behind the boat start your strip. I tend to go with long fast strips but doing dead twitches and two handing works well too. Keep an eye on the meter this technique works best for marks that are 30' and above.

Equipment, a 12wt is pretty standard (20 to 30 pound fish) and you don't need to go crazy with the leaders. I usually fish 20 pound you don't want your leader to be stronger then the running line since that's a easy way to loose your entire fly line. You don't need some crazy buttoned down drag either.
Albies usually make one good first strong run and then you can work them back and they'll probably do one more when they see the boat and then go into a death spiral. This is when it's not much fun to have a flyrod but you got to pay to play for tuna on the fly. HTH if you have more specific questions fire away...
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