As the summer rolls on, anglers around New England start to get antsy. When the inshore waters warm, and baitfish begin to pile up, the clock starts ticking. Ticking down until inevitably, they show up. “They” in this case are False Albacore and Bonito, two of the fastest, most action-packed fish that fly rodders have a chance to encounter. Through all this craziness, the two can be very similar, so here’s our rundown on the differences and similarities of False Albacore and Bonito.
False Albacore (Euthynnus alletteratus), also known as Little Tunny, Albies, and Fat Alberts, are from the Scombridae family; somewhere in between true Tuna and Mackerel. Alberts have a bright silver body with a green back. Along their back, they have a unique, black, squiggly pattern, different from any other fish. In the water, they look like missiles (they essentially are), with their pectoral fins jetting out of their sides acting as stabilizers. Even though they technically are not, every part of them screams tuna. From their football shape to their perfectly streamlined body, and fast speeds, Albies give fly anglers a taste of bluewater fishing, close to home. Pound for pound, Albies are one of the hardest fighting fish I’ve ever encountered and would have no problem towing most fish their size across the Atlantic.
Atlantic Bonito (Sarda sarda) are an often confused fish. According to Google, Bonito are in the same family as Albies, but the main photo google uses for bonito is undoubtedly a False Albacore. I’m not going to get into a scientific war with the largest source of information in the world, so I’ll just go off of what I know. Bonito resemble species of mackerel much more than Albies. They are generally smaller than albies and are much skinnier. Bones have a silver body with a blue or green back. Along their flank, bones have black stripes, kind of similar to Striped Bass. Running with the Mackerel theme, Bonito have a nearly rectangular dorsal fin compared to Albies, and noticeable teeth. Bonito are generally a bit easier to convince to eat a fly and tend to give less of a fight than their counterpart, but by no means are the soft fighters.
As Bonito begin to roll into the waters of New England, followed soon after by Albies, get your 9wts set up and baitfish flies stacked, you’re in for a treat!