So Cal. Albacore (Part 2)

By Nick Curcione, TFO Advisory Staff

Here is the second part of an article published last week by TFO Advisory Staffer Nick Curcione.

Similar to pursuing billfish on fly, fly rodding albacore requires teamwork.

Because trolling functions as the principal means of locating fish, you need a strategy from the moment the first fish is hooked. Particularly with albacore, it’s important to bring fish hooked on a trolling line to the boat as quickly as possible. If that fish is lost, there’s a good chance the remainder of the school will swim off despite chumming efforts. Therefore trolling tackle, which can be as simple as hand lines, must be stout enough to efficiently subdue the fish. Depending on the size of the boat, as a minimum I like to troll two lines. Whatever the number, someone must quickly clear the trolling lines so a fly can be cast without the likelihood of costly tangles.  Casting strategy depends on the size of the boat, but generally, it’s most effective to have only one angler cast after the initial hookup. According to your casting arm, cast from the stern corner where the line will pass outside the cockpit. If one angler is right-handed and another a lefty, with the trolling lines cleared, it’s possible to have both cast at the same time. Two casters are also possible if one angler makes a backcast presentation. Otherwise, establish a rotational pattern where one angler casts and moves out of the corner so a second angler can slide in and cast from the same spot. Another variation on the rotation theme is to have only one angler fly fish until he or she hooks a fish, whereupon a second angler steps into the corner and begins making presentations.

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Two anglers are definitely feasible, but make sure both of you are adept at line management. Photo by Scott Leon.

Regardless of the option chosen, to effectively fly fish under these conditions, the one auxiliary item I would not forego is a stripping basket or bucket. You might get lucky and have the line simply fall on deck, but it’s almost inevitable someone will eventually step on it. Equally frustrating, eventually it will catch on something causing you to lose precious casting time.

Though albacore can put on some mind-blowing surface blitzes when they decide to annihilate a chum line, more often than not your best shot will occur at least several feet down under so it’s best to outfit yourself with a fast sinking line, preferably a shooting head setup. Typically when fishing live bait or casting jigs, the presentations that sink fastest consistently draw the most strikes, so assume the same thing when presenting flies.

Since albacore feed primarily on the likes of anchovies and sardines, you can’t go wrong with baitfish patterns like Clousers, Deceivers, Sar-Mul-Macs and Jiggies. For color combinations, I rely on the formulas that have worked for decades on the trolling rigs. As a general guideline, in low light conditions like you find in the gray dawn hours and on overcast days, darker colors like black, and green and yellow are good choices. As light increases you may want to change to red and white and red and yellow combinations. When the sun is brightest at midday, blue and white is my first choice. Size wise, try and simulate the baits that will be thrown as chum. For anchovies and sardines, this will generally range from 2 to 6 inches in length.

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The TFO Bluewater series combines the right amount of cast ability, with fish fighting strength. Photo courtesy TFO.

As members of the super strong tuna family, albacore will challenge you and your tackle. This is one style of fishing where the reel plays a vital role in the fish fighting stage so go with a top quality mechanism like the Atoll series. Long scorching runs are the norm so the drag should remain absolutely smooth. In the course of making several sprints, albacore sometimes veer toward the boat, which can create slack in the line. I’ve lost a number of fish when this happens, but with the advent of large arbor spools I can now pick up line faster and it’s no longer much of a problem.

The simplest leader setup is a straight 3- to 4-foot section of class tippet (I usually fish 20-pound test). I tie a bimini loop in one end, twist it, fold the loop over itself, and tie a double surgeon’s loop and interlock this to the loop in the tag end of the fly line. The fly is tied directly to the tag end of the class tippet. Over the years I’ve used both loop knots to allow the fly more action on the retrieve and standard ties like the improved clinch and palomar knot, but really haven’t found any difference between the two. Just be sure to tie your knots properly, because if there is a weak spot it will soon spell disaster with fish of this caliber.

Contrary to some misconceptions, it isn’t necessary to try to burn the fly through the water to draw strikes. I do use a fairly rapid retrieve, often with two hands for more positive line control. When I get a strike, I simply apply resistance by holding the line firmly. Given the speed they’re traveling when they take an offering, there’s no need to strike back violently. If you do there’s a good chance you’ll pop the leader. When they feel that initial shock of resistance, they’re going to accelerate and you have to make it a priority to be sure that any remaining line clears the rod guides. When that is accomplished just hang on and relish the awesome display of power emptying line from your reel.

If you missed part one, here it is, So Cal. Albacore (Part 1).




So Cal. Albacore (Part 1)

By Nick Curcione, TFO Advisory Staff

If the conditions are right, and they swim to within range of the sport boat fleet, a seasonal affliction, locally referred to as “albie fever,” suddenly seizes a sizable number of Southern Calif., saltwater anglers.

During the last few years a growing number of fly anglers are also beset by this phenomenon.

On the west coast they are referred to either as long fins or albies, not to be confused with the little tunny, (false albacore on the east coast). This west coast version is the white meat member of the tuna family, Thunnus alaunga, and in large part spawned the development of Southern California’s offshore party boat fleet.

Unlike their yellowfin cousins, albacore typically do not venture close to shore. They swim from Japan across to the mid-region of the Baja Peninsula, up the Calif., coast, sometimes heading as far north as British Columbia and then they head back towards Japan.


The author holding one of many Albacore landed not far from San Diego. Photo by Nick Curcione.

A publication from Scripps Institute in La Jolla indicates that during this 5,300-mile trek, they travel an average of no fewer than 16-miles per day. Food, (primarily in the form of anchovies, sardines and sauries) and water temperatures, (62 to 68-degrees is their preferred range) will determine their swimming routes, but it’s a generally accepted fact that you seldom find big schools of albacore within 20-miles offshore. Thirty-five to 40-miles would be considered a short run, while trips of 100-miles or more are not uncommon. So if you’re setting your sights on these blue water nomads, you need a true ocean-going craft. If you don’t own one or have access your best alternative is a private charters for up to six anglers on sport fishing boats.  Aside from safety considerations, a critical factor in choosing a boat for albacore fishing is the ability to carry a significant amount of live baits.

A typical experience was a trip on my friend’s sport fisher he used primarily for marlin fishing.  About 80-miles southwest of San Diego’s Point Loma we ran into roving schools of skipjack. These speedsters of the tuna family glowed like neon lights as they ripped through traumatized pods of anchovies. When skippies are on the feed like this it doesn’t take much finesse to hook up.  Practically any streamer you slap on surface will be attacked instantly. In fact, as I discovered then, when albacore are mixed with skipjack, it can be difficult to get a fly to them because the skipjack often tend to be much more aggressive and simply beat the albies to the fly. Both will rip line off your reel with incredible speed but albacore typically make a more pronounced dive for the depths. In this straight up down tug-o-war your rod better have plenty of lifting power. For that reason my go to fly fishing sticks for this type of fishing are the TFO Bluewater series.

To locate albie schools modern electronics like depth sounders and radar are an absolute must. But don’t neglect the age-old practice of keeping your eyes peeled for activity like diving birds or surface disturbances. The most efficient and direct way of locating a school of albacore is by trolling. While you can take fish by immediately casting a fly after a fish hits a trolled lure, to draw the school to the boat for consistent action you need to chum with live bait, primarily in the form of anchovies.  It’s a great help to have someone aboard who knows how to chum effectively.  When and where to throw out another ‘chovie’ is not random and a mate who knows how to pitch baits to keep albies close and in a feeding mood is worth his weight in gold.

Check back next week for part 2 of Nick Curcione‘s article on West Coast Alabacore…




Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival

On March 11-12, 2017, the first annual Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival (TFFF) comes to the Plano Centre.

The director of the Texas Fly & Brew’s sister event, the venerable Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival, said today that he hopes to simultaneously raise awareness among Texans of the region’s incredible fishing diversity and introduce them to amazing fishing alternatives available to them across the country.

“If even one parent leaves our event understanding for the first time that he or she can haul the kids down to a Texas farm pond after work and have a blast just landing largemouth bass until dusk, I call that a win,” said festival director Beau Beasley. “At the same time, the region and the country offer opportunities to land every imaginable species–from reds on the Gulf Coast to trout in Tennessee’s South Holston River to every variety of salmon in Alaska. Contrary to popular belief, fly fishing is easy, affordable, family friendly, and fun. It’s my mission in life to communicate that message as widely as possible. It’s the mission of these events to grow the next generation of fly anglers.”


Dallas-based fly rod manufacturer Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) are early sponsors of the festival. “The region has been waiting for an event just like this one–for a new approach to fly fishing,” said TFO owner Rick Pope.

“Texas is an important state to the fishing community and we’re pleased to support the TFFF,” said Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) President and CEO Frank Peterson. “We need to encourage the next generation of anglers and boaters – a key source for wildlife conservation efforts – to get out on the water, and this festival is a great vehicle for doing just that.”

Much like its sister event, the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival, RBFF will be sponsoring the “Family Fly Fishing Classes” where Entire families can learn the basics of fly fishing free of charge, in a family setting.

In addition to the 3FC series, the Texas Fly & Brew will feature lectures and classes throughout the weekend on techniques and tactics for novices and advanced casters alike, exotic fishing locales, fishing etiquette, and much more. Also offered are free Women-Only Casting Classes as well as one-on-one instruction in basic knot-tying skills. Attendees can sit down at the vise for hands-on fly-tying instruction from members of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a nonprofit organization that helps rehabilitate wounded veterans through fly fishing and fly tying. Experienced anglers may consider enrolling in more advanced distance-casting or Spey-casting classes with expert specialized instructors. Fly fishing icon Lefty Kreh will speak as well as cast at the event; the names of additional fly fishing luminaries will be forthcoming.

Unique to the Texas festival is local micro-breweries. Festival attendees 21 years and older will receive a series of tasting tickets with their paid admission. Local brewers will offer free classes on what sets micro brewed beer apart, why and how certain ingredients yield different flavors, and how to brew and taste different types of beer. Beer will also be available for purchase during the festival.

“I know I’m a broken record,” Beasley joked, “but it’s really true: fly fishing is easy, affordable, family friendly, and fun. I’m an evangelist with that message. Put down the cell phones, grab the kids and minimal gear, go outside, and get on the water. It’s really that easy. For far too long folks have perceived fly fishing as expensive, exclusive, and difficult. It’s the sport for rich, tweed-wearing old men, right? Well, sure–but it’s not only for them. It’s for women. It’s for families. It’s for everyone.


The inaugural Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival will be held at the Plano Center on March 11-12, 2017. For more information, visit or call 703-402-8338.

13 Habits of Highly Effective Anglers- Deneki Outdoors

The gang over at Deneki Outdoors have compiled some of their best tips on what makes an angler, “highly effective.”

Below are some of their top suggestions, but check out the full post, “13 Habits of Highly Effective Anglers,” and learn how you can sharpen your game and most importantly, have fun on the water.

Check your knots.  Every single time they tie a knot, effective anglers give it a good tug to make sure it’s strong and seated correctly.  Every time.  It is very unusual for a really good angler to ‘break one off’.

Keep your hooks sharp.  Almost any time they touch the fly, a great angler will check its point to make sure it’s sharp.  If it’s not, they’ll sharpen it or replace it.

Organize your gear.  It’s kind of obvious when you say it this way, but having the right gear for the situation, organized so you can find what you need, helps a lot.

For the complete list, visit, Deneki Outdoors.



Keeping gear clean and organized is crucial to being effective on the water. Photo courtesy of Bobby Jones.






Spey Nation 2016

Come Join Temple Fork Outfitters at Spey Nation 2016 in Salmon River, N.Y., on June 25.

Take part in this gathering of of anglers, manufacturers and two-handed rod enthusiasts.

This one-day event features casting, fishing and on the water presentations as well as many top manufacturers from the fishing industry.

TFO’s own Nick Conklin will lead off the day with an on the water presentation, starting at 9 a.m.

Nick will be presenting a basic overview of tackle, (rods, lines, reels and other tips).

For a full list of presenters and vendors, please visit, Spey Nation.



The Definitive Resource on Fly Casting

Looking to improve your fly casting and fishing game?

Having trouble figuring out that tailing loop?

Look no further, than what some have deemed the premier casting video ever to be assembled. TheCompleteCast-Cover-LowRes

The Complete Cast, is now available on the TFO Shopping cart and at local TFO Rods dealers.

This DVD features over 25 casts and techniques with In-depth instruction intended to improve your casting.

Over three hours of instruction from legendary fishermen Lefty Kreh and Ed Jaworowski will demonstrate, explain, and teach the elements common to all casts with a single-handed rod.

This Collector’s Edition includes:

  • Over 25 Casts & Techniques In-depth instruction of principles-based casting fundamentals
  • Helpful tips & techniques that are simple and easy to apply
  • Practice tutorials & exercises that improve your casting
  • Analysis of the tailing loop and how to remedy
  • Good for all skill levels
  • Over three hours of instruction

Two DVD set includes DVD and Blu-Ray disks.

Available now at, TFO Rods and your local TFO dealer.

Fleye Design: Techniques, Insights, Patterns

By TFO Rods

TFO Advisory Staff member Bob Popovics has a new book out, perfect for any fly fishing and tying fan.

In the twelve years since his landmark book Pop Fleyes, Bob Popovics has continued to develop new fly patterns and improve old favorites. His new book includes 36 step-by-step tying and technique tutorials, over 12 new patterns and numerous variations for every situation. It also features contributions from a new generation of fly tiers who have been influenced by his signature style.


FLEYE Design the new title out this year from TFO’s Bob Popovics. Photo courtesy of

Includes the Bucktail Deceiver, the Hollow Fleye, and other new patterns that have greatly influenced saltwater tying in the past ten years.

Improves on old favorites, including a full update for the Surf Candy.

Features contributions from well-known tiers such as Steve Farrar, Dave Skok, Johnny King, David Nelson, Paul Dixon, and Nick Curcione.

For more information on Fleye Design: Techniques, Insights, Patterns check out, Bob Popovics.


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