By Page Rogers
I developed the tiny slider, the Slim Jim, a number of years ago to imitate floating sand eels, silversides and anchovies. Fly rodders have successfully used the fly to take picky bass slurping small baitfish and worms in the surface film. Awhile back, friends of mine on Long Island shared stories of taking bonito and false albacore "on top," mainly using Joe Blados’s "Crease Flies". I was incredulous…tuna on top? With poppers and sliders? I thought they were joking, and from time to time I’d throw out a big Crease Fly or large slider, give it a few pops, nothing would happen, and I remained a disbeliever. But last year, word got back to me that a local guide, Mike Roback, had his clients nailing albies in the fast-moving water on the Watch Hill reefs, by dead-drifting and lightly "twitching" Slim Jims. Later in the fall I had a number of opportunities to try the Slim Jim on false albacore in a variety of angling situations and the results were……well, how does 22 hook-ups from shore, in one afternoon, sound?
When fishing the Slim Jim use an intermediate line and a non-slip mono loop knot so that the fly can swing, dance and move. Try a variety of retrieves: dead-drifting, twitching, using long strips, even skittering and jumping the fly very erratically across the surface. The first time I fished this fly I watched in amazement as three false albacore came flying over each other’s backs in a race for the Slim Jim! Be prepared to lose a few flies or jump up in tippet strength, as the strikes are violent and aggressive. I have lost plenty of flies, and have had hooks straighten, or even break. All the "tackle busting" aside, the visual dimension of this kind of angling makes this an extremely exhilarating and satisfying experience. Once you take "tuna on top," you just might be spoiled for taking them any other way.