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How To Catch Flathead: Beginners Guide

By Jesse Rotin

Flathead! They have a head like a shovel and maybe this explains how they can burrow and blend in to their surroundings as they wait in ambush, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting prey.

Flathead have a soft high in my heart, well maybe not in the middle of a bream competition when theyre thieving my lures but flathead is where it all started for me. Ill never forget the first fish I ever landed on a soft plastic, which just happened to be a flathead. Since then they have pathed a way into lure fishing like I wouldn’t have believed. Did I mention they taste great too, its no wonder why they sell for ridiculous amounts in the market! 

Food is food to the old flathead and lure selection can be kept quite simple. Flathead are ambush predators so its important to use lures which catch their attention, even from a distance. Lures with plenty of kick, vibration and colour seem to yield the best success. Hardbodied lures, vibes and even surface lures all tempt flatties, but its hard to steer past the ever-reliable soft plastic.

The advantages to using soft plastics are endless, they can be fished in an array of depths and their softness means when a flathead grabs a hold, it won’t let go. Bright colours are a favourite amongst many and its funny how often a pink or orange lure dominates over a natural colour. Dont ask me why but these colours work.

As mentioned earlier flathead are attracted to disturbances, so it’s key to make as much commotion as possible in your retrieve. Sharp rod flicks followed by a pause will impart plenty of life to your lure, while ensuring that it returns to the sea floor, where flathead can hone in and attack. I’ll quite often run jigheads heavier than usual as it will keep the lure down in front of the fish’s face for longer plus creates puffs drawing them in for a closer look. 

Flathead Catch

Laying Low 

No matter the location, flathead live on the bottom and this is where their flat body shape enables them to sit and stalk their prey undetected. Its important that your offerings do the same. The bottom half of the water column is where 90 percent of the captures seem to take place. So, get the lure down and keep it in the strike zone for as long as possible! Sand patches in and around weed-beds and mud flats are happy hunting grounds for flathead and although they can show up on an array of bottom types, the softer grounds allow them to lay flat and sit in what we call lies. Flathead can be taken in water barely deep enough to cover their own backs to right out in the real deep stuff, so no matter whether you own a boat or get around by foot, flathead are accessible to everyone. 

The Gear 

2-4 or 3-6kg outfits are perfect for flathead and rods around the 66 to 7ft mark will provide great casting distance even if youre fishing from the shore. Reels in the 2500-3000 size range will suit these outfits nicely, whilst also holding enough line to make long casts. Braided mainline is most common when using lures and for good reason too. Braid has zero stretch, great castability and offers the best sensitivity. Mainline weights can vary but usually lines around the 8-12lb mark are ideal. Leader sizes I believe are more important, as flathead are notorious for swallowing down even large lures and their sharp teeth can wear through light leaders like a hot knife through butter. Leaders around 10-12lb are ideal but you may need to up them to 20lb if youre hunting the big girls.

Flathead

My Tackle

* Rebellion 681ML+FS/Freams LT 2500

My Favourite Lures

* Bait Junkie Minnow 3.2" in Yuzu, Voltage and Demon Blood with a 1/6th-3/8th ounce size 2/0 jighead.

* Bait Junkie Jerkshad 5" in Morning Dawn, Red Bait Glow and White Magic with a 1/4-3/8 ounce size 3/0 jighead.

* Bait Junkie Grub 4" in Red Bait Glow, Voltage and Motor Oil UV with a with a 1/6th-3/8th ounce size 2/0 jighead.

Handle with Care

Flathead are armed with sharp spines which they use as protection against predators and anglers alike. It pays to handle them with care. All species of flathead are equipped with a nasty set of fangs, so keep your fingers clear of their mouths and a rag or towel is a great way to handle them. A pair of long nose pliers never goes astray when removing hooks. Bar all of this, flathead make an awesome species to target, their aggressive nature especially towards lures provides anglers hours of enjoyment and if you’re keen on a feed of fresh fish then go no further than flathead, believe me you wont regret it.

Flathead

Daiwa is always looking to provide anglers across Australia with the best gear and advice possible. You can find your local Daiwa store here and if you want more fishing tricks and tips take a look at our blog page here! Also make sure to sign up for our mailing list so you're the first to know about new blogs, product updates, and special giveaways!

 

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