How To Catch A Flathead

How To Catch A Flathead

How to Catch a Flathead

Catching flathead fish may seem like a challenging feat, but it's pretty easy for beginners. Flatheads are just the opposite of picky eaters - they love nabbing lures!

As natural predators, they love to prey on a variety of fish species, meaning that your choice for flathead lures is pretty much endless.

Want to learn more? Read on for more tips on how to catch flathead fish.

Flathead Fish Facts

Let's look at a few facts about this marvelous breed. The flathead fish has the scientific name Platycephalidae.

There are four species in the flathead family, namely:

  • Bartail flathead,
  • Northern sand flathead,
  • Yellowtail flathead, and
  • Dusky flathead.

The flathead gets its name because of (surprise, surprise) its flat, triangular head.

This deepwater fish carries a lot of its weight in its strangely-shaped head, with its long tail tapering gradually towards the end.

How to catch a flathead on your next fishing trip

Below, we’ll list a few tips on how to land that perfect catch with going for a flathead.

Find The Right Tide

Like us humans, flatheads normally have their active times and feeding schedules. The run-out tide is the best time of day to catch your elusive flatheads.

Some experienced anglers say that two hours after the run-out tide and about one hour after the run-in tide begins is the golden hour for flatheads. The predatory characteristic of flathead fish is that they are ambush feeders. They lay in the mud, sand banks, weed beds, and around the edges of the channel waiting for unsuspecting prey to land right on top of their wide mouths.

 Take advantage of their feeding habits to catch fish!

Choose Your Lure and Bait

Flatheads are predictable bottom-dwellers, making them a great catch for beginners. Another helpful characteristic of flathead fish is that they take to lots of different kinds of lures. You can use flathead soft plastics, including worm and minnow imitations, paddle tails, curly tails, and grubs. They'll likely have a lot of options for you at your local tackle shop. Below are some examples of the best lures for flathead fishing:

  • Zman 3-inch grub
  • Zman 3-inch MinnowZ
  • Holt Swimprawn
  • Savage Gear TPE Shrimp
  • Savage Gear Jerk Shads
  • Zman 3-inch Slim Swimz
  • Munroes 3.75-inch paddle tail
  • Zman 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch GrubZ
  • Zman 4-inch and 5-inch StreakZ Curly TailZ
  • Berkley Shimma Shrimp

You can use small pieces of fresh bait or even live bait like small mullets. The following make great bait for catching flatheads:

  • Squid strips
  • Pilchards
  • Pipis
  • Mussels
  • Raw Chicken
  • Prawns
  • Whitebait

Hop and Go Slow

You can use either of these two techniques to get those flatheads to notice your bait and lures:

  1. Hopping - Cast your lure and wait a few seconds until it hits the bottom. Once you feel your line slacken, give it a quick jerk upward and let it sink back down again. Wait a few seconds before repeating the process. Do this until you get a bite or until your lure comes back to you. This hopping action mimics the behavior of a wounded baitfish, signaling to predators that there is vulnerable prey nearby.


  1. Slow Rolling - Like the hopping method, cast your lure and wait a few seconds for it to hit the bottom. Then, drag your lure through the water in a slow, steady motion. Try to keep the lure at least two feet above the bottom so that it's still visible to your waiting flathead fish. Soft plastic lures with curl tails or paddle tails work best with this technique because the steady motion makes them look almost real.

Whichever technique you end up choosing, just remember to keep moving!

Flatheads are predators and they would literally jump at the chance to feed on a delectable paddle-tailed little fish if given the chance. If you're on a kayak or dingy, skip the anchor and let yourself drift around as a real fish would. Even if you're a land-based angler, it's better to move around as you maneuver your lure or bait to cover different areas.

Rod and Reel Setup

Now that you know the basic methods of flathead fishing, let's look at a proper fishing outfit.

A braided line is ideal when using soft plastic lures. It doesn't stretch very much and keeps you in contact with the lure. That way, you can feel when something is biting at it or if your lure isn't swimming properly.  Soft plastic setups will need a 2-4 kg rod and a reel size ranging from 1000 - 3000.

Your line strength should be somewhere between 6 and 12-pounds.

Also, keep in mind that flatheads have jagged teeth that can destroy leaders, so you may opt to use a heavier leader (around 8-12 pounds is a good estimate).

Experts prefer a Fluorocarbon leader since it refracts light similar to how water does, making it appear almost undetectable underwater.

Where to Fish for Flathead

Australia has no shortage of lovely spots for flathead fishing, but you may want to visit these in particular:

  • Port Phillip Bay
  • George's Basin
  • Lake Tyres
  • Gippsland Lakes
  • Mallacoota

Stretching a breathtaking 2,000 square km, Port Phillip Bay is the largest bay in the state of Victoria. Its sandy bottom ground is 24 meters at its deepest end and 8 meters at its shallowest.

This stunning bay offers year-round fishing for flathead, squid, and salmon. St. George's Basin is known for its enormous dusky flatheads along with other fish species, such as flounder, whiting, tailor, snapper, and bream.

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