On the back end of the dreaded “dog days of summer”, and before the fall run gates open, comes (arguably) the most exciting time of year for inshore anglers. It’s the season between seasons, a few weeks that are referred to by watermen of the northeast as albie season. When hardtails like false albacore, bonito and Spanish mackerel arrive in the northeast sometime around mid- to late-August, fishermen rush tackle shops en masse, vacating the pegged walls of any shimmering, long-casting jigs that these inshore speedsters might perceive as a fleeing baitfish. With an array of bait on the menu, including peanut bunker, sand eels, bay anchovies and spearing (silversides), jig sizes and features vary across the board. Some are long and slender, others are short and stout, but all of them are designed to closely resemble the profiles, colors and swimming action of abundant and vulnerable fall run baitfish.
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For a heavier-bodied epoxy-style jig, the Fat Cow Fishing Fat Minnow, is a long-casting presentation with a pot-bellied profile that kicks well on a medium to fast retrieve. The two albie-appropriate sizes, 3/4 and 1 ounce, have the same length and profile at 2.5 inches. The heavier 1-ounce Fat Minnow is a good choice for shore-bound anglers who need the extra casting distance, and will be working the jig across and against the current. The 3/4-ounce will be the better choice on the boat or kayak, where anglers can slow down the retrieve and still keep the lure just under the surface.
One of the newest additions to the albie lure scene is the RonZ Z Poxy Minnow. Made with a shatterproof, soft-to-the-touch epoxy, this casting jig features a flat bottom that makes it easy to fish near or on the surface, even at medium retrieve speeds. A dorsal fin and a scale-patterned lead core add to the lure’s realism, while it’s four staple colors, pink, chartruese, silverside, and sand eel/bay anchovy, give anglers an option for most conditions and baitfish. The Z Poxy is available in two sizes, 2.5inch, .65 ounce and 3 inch, 1 ounce and comes fitted with treble hooks.
After the classic albie lure, the Maria Jig, ceased production around 2008, the first lure to recreate that style was the Hogy Lures Epoxy Jig. The lure is a straight match of the old Marias, with its symmetrical design and fin and gill details. It has a foiled lead core with a “double-thick” layer of epoxy that stands up to albies, but is prone to chipping or cracking if it bounces off rocks or the boat. While the lure is available in seven sizes from 1/4- to 4 ounces, the 3/8, 5/8, and 7/8-ounce sizes are the most productive for false albacore. The jig comes in a wide range of colors, but don’t sleep on the orange “Shrimp” pattern as an anchovy match.
It’s the lead-core construction of this clear resin-coated, through-wired jig that makes it a long-casting, durable option for albie fishermen. Like others of its kind, this jig cuts through wind, allowing for accurate casts in shoddy conditions, when the chance to get your lure through a feed can be even more challenging. The 3/4-ounce jig is available in two different lengths, allowing anglers to custom-match the forage on the menu that day.
When albies are keyed-in on peanut bunker, finding a jig that resembles their deep profile is of utmost importance. Their rounded profiles are closely mimicked by the JoeBaggs’ Peanut Resin Jigs, which swim with a tight wobble. While the jig comes in sizes up to the bluefin-tuna-tempting 6 ounces, the 3/4- and 1-ounce sizes are the best choices for the albie addict. It may be tempting to go with the silver as a close anchovy match, don’t be afraid to switch to an eye-catching bone, chartreuse, or rainbow to help the jig stand out from the peanut crowd, while still matching the profile.
Available in 3 sizes and colors to fit in among the fall run forage, Fish Snax Hard Snax are the flip side of the coin to their renowned soft plastics, Albie Snax. These metal jigs feature a bulbous black eye to enhance their natural appeal, and were recently armed with an inline single hook to limit the number of deep-hooked albies and allow for quick, clean releases. They swim well when skipped across the surface by boat fishermen, but can easily be fished subsurface when false albacore are playing hide and seek with surfcasters.
Weighing only 1/2 ounce with a small profile, the Fish Snax Hard Snax Peanut matches tiny baitfish with slightly deeper profiles. The lure comes rigged with an inline single hook, and is available in three colors, olive, electric chicken, and our favorite, bone with a glow stripe.
As the peanut bunker grow throughout the season, so should your jig size. Monomoy Tackle’s Hard Shell Peanut Jig is composed of metal with a reflective foil wrap that is protected by a generous coat of epoxy resin for translucency. This jig is slightly longer and broader than other peanut bunker imitators, which makes it a great choice for mid- to late-albie season when peanuts have a little more meat on their bones.
Available in 3 sizes and weights, the symmetrical, through-wired Game On Exo Jigs cast well and get an albies attention with their wider profile and kicking action. The lure’s reflective, holographic core is protected by a shatterproof polymer shell. They are available in 7 colors, with silver being a top producer among the OTW staff.
The phrase “it casts like a bullet” is often used to describe metal lures and jigs in the surf-fishing scene, especially those jigs that cater toward false albacore fishermen. The profile of Shimano’s Coltsniper jig holds true to the old saying. Shaped like a bullet, these aerodynamic, light-reflective metal jigs come in a variety of weights, lengths and colors to match the hatch whether albies are eating squid, spearing or anchovies.
After Maria Jigs stopped producing and before the epoxy jig boom, anglers relied on Deadly Dicks to get their albie fix. This slender metal is adorned with holographic stickers for additional flash and a swivel to reduce line twist. If you’re feeling nostaligic, or can’t reach the albies with epoxies, the #1L and #34L in green will never go out of style.
The 20- and 30-gram metal Daiwa Zakana Jig is through-wired and swims with a subtle side-to-side action on a rapid retrieve. It comes in more than a dozen colors and features an extra-large eye, a feature that sharp-sighted predators like false albacore key in on. The most notable feature of the Zakana jig is the horizontal line tie, which contributes to the jig’s realistic swimming action by keeping it level and balanced no matter how steady or rapid of a retrieve speed is necessary.
Another early arrival to fill the void after the Maria jig was discontinued, the Daddy Mac Albie/Bonito Jig is a metal-bodied jig that has an enticing kicking action (thanks to its center-weighted design) and a silverside and anchovy-matching profile.
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