Albacore, False (Little Tunny)
The false albacore, or little tunny, has a robust, torpedo-shaped body built for speedy movement through the water. This fish is steel blue with three to five broken, dark, wavy lines on its back. The belly is white and there are between three and seven dark spots between the pelvic and pectoral fins. Spots below the pectoral fin are dusky. Although not valued for its strong and oily meat, the false albacore is used as bait fish and prized by light tackle saltwater anglers for its willingness to take a fly and the spectacular nature of its runs, which routinely exceed 150 yards. In many locations, including the West Indies, it is marketed fresh, dried, canned, smoked, and frozen.
Fly fishing for false albacore can be done both inshore and offshore in the western Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Anglers pursuing little tunny must be prepared to cast long lines and tiny flies with either intermediate or fast-sinking lines. The nine-foot, nine-weight fly rod is perhaps the ideal rod for chasing “albies” in the northeast and New England. The big bruisers that appear off the Carolinas in fall are a full size larger and demand up-rated tackle, with ten or eleven-weights being the norm.
Regularly found in both inshore and offshore waters, in large fast-swimming schools.
Found worldwide in tropical to temperate waters. In the western Atlantic Ocean, it ranges from Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and Bermuda. Also found in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. It is the most common of the Scombridae—the family of mackerels, tunas and bonitos—in the western north Atlantic.