10 Pointers for Hitting the Flathead
Flathead are one of my favorite species to target for a few reasons, including the fact that they enjoy eating lures, the fact that they are readily available, even if you only have a short window of time to fish, and the fact that you have a good chance of catching a fish of a good size. even right next to the launching ramp for boats When I go fishing for flathead in the waters around my hometown, here are a few strategies that have proven successful for me.
Where, and when
The last two hours of the outgoing tide and the first hour of the incoming tide are the best times for me to target flathead because they congregate on the edges of the channel, sand banks, and weed beds during those times. watching the tides to determine whether the bait will move off the flats as the tide falls or move back onto the flats as the tide rises. You have a good chance of finding fish if you work these edges and cover a lot of area. If you are fishing from the bank, you can walk the edges of the water and work your lures back toward the bank. Cast your line in close to the shoreline if you are in a boat, kayak, or other vessel, and then work your lure back out into the water.
If you are fishing at a time when the tide is higher and you are unable to take advantage of the edge bite, then you should cover ground and look for fish. Fish can be caught by fishing along the edges of man-made structures like rock walls and jetties, as well as along the edges of mangroves, which are a natural habitat for fish. Because fish will be dispersed across the sand banks and broken weed flats, targeting any structure, including rubble, timber, weed, and even deeper depressions in the flats, can produce fish.
Rod & Reel
When fishing for flathead in rivers and estuaries, a 7-foot rod with a line class of 2-4 kilograms or 3-6 kilograms and a reel measuring 20-30 millimeters is a good starting point. It is easier to use the rod tip to impart additional action into the soft plastics, such as twitching and hopping, when using a graphite rod because it is slightly stiffer and more responsive than a fiberglass rod. This makes using a graphite rod a good option.
In terms of combos, the following are examples of an entry level, a mid-range, and an upper end combo for fishing for flathead and other species in rivers, estuaries, and impoundments. The Cerros and Epixor XT combos have been very helpful for me, and all three of these are an excellent value for the money.
Okuma 7-foot ML or M Competition Spin Rods are required for this level, and either an Aria or Alaris 20 or 30-size spinning reel is required.
Spinning rods made by Okuma that are 7 feet long and either the ML or M Cerros models, paired with an Epixor XT spinning reel in either the 20 or 30 size.
High-End: Okuma Helios M 7-foot Spinning Rods paired with Okuma Helios SX 20 or 30-inch Spinning Reels
Line & Leader
When it comes to fishing lures for flathead, braided line is the most effective option. It stretches very little, giving you a better feel for bites and allowing you to determine whether or not your lure is swimming correctly. A hop with the rod tip transfers to a hop with the lure, which makes it more effective when it comes to driving your soft plastic. Additionally, it makes it more effective when it comes to driving your hard plastic.
In addition, braided line has a smaller diameter relative to its breaking strain, which results in longer casts and a faster sink rate, while also allowing the angler to maintain a stronger connection with the lure. Those who fish in deeper water (4 meters), with heavier jigheads (3/4-1 ounces), and in pursuit of monster fish may fish with lines that have a breaking strain of 15-20 lb. However, the fishing that I do and the majority of general river and estuary fishing only requires 6-10 lb of breaking strain.
Because flathead have razor-sharp plates in their mouths that are capable of destroying leaders, I fish with leaders that are 10 to 12 pounds. Again, fishing areas that are known to have a high concentration of large fish may have a higher leader breaking strain. Because it has the same light refraction properties as water, making it virtually "invisible" in water, it sinks so that you can stay in touch with your soft plastic more effectively, and it has excellent abrasion resistance, my go-to choice for leader material is fluorocarbon. This is because fluorocarbon has the same light refraction qualities as water, making it virtually "invisible" in water. When fishing lures on the surface, which is the only time I ever switch to monofilament leader, because mono is more buoyant than braided line.
Flathead are considered to not be the pickiest feeders, and many of the ZMan plastics, including the number 2, will work effectively to catch them. 5" and 3 5 inches long GrubZ, 4 inches and 5 inches long StreakZ Curly TailZ, 3 a 75-inch StreakZ, a four-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ, and a three-inch 5" EZ ShrimpZ ZMan paddle tails are the go-to plastics for me, with the 2 being my favorite of the bunch. Slim SwimZ in sizes 5" and 3", as well as MinnowZ in size 3"
If I only have two rods ready to go, then one of them will be rigged with a 2. 5" Slim SwimZ on one of them, and the other one will have a 3" MinnowZ rigged on it. Anglers who target flatheads have long considered the 3" MinnowZ their go-to lure, and it has repeatedly proven its effectiveness on fish of all sizes, including trophy catches. It has the appearance of a realistic baitfish, complete with a lively paddle tail, and because it is a ZMan lure, it is 10 times more durable, allowing you to catch more fish with each individual lure. It is buoyant, which means that it stands up off the bottom and attracts fish even when you are not moving it, and it is extremely soft and flexible, which means that fish keep biting and hold on longer. This plastic has helped me and a number of other anglers bring in a good number of large flathead.
I switch to the smaller ZMan 2 model whenever the bait is small, the bite is slow, or there is also a possibility of catching some bream. 5" Slim SwimZ Small paddle tail plastics have been revolutionized by the Slim SwimZ because it has traditionally been difficult to get a lot of action and a large thumping tail in a small plastic made of traditional stiffer materials. However, this is no longer the case thanks to the Slim SwimZ. ZMan has accomplished a crazy tail action on this little plastic by utilizing two different techniques: 1 The material made of ElaZtech and two The unique under hooked tail design This tiny piece of plastic has helped me reel in a lot of flathead up to 75 centimeters and bream up to 40 centimeters.
In terms of jigheads, the instructions that follow provide a general outline of how I rig these two plastics.
ZMan 2 TT Lures 5" Slim SwimZ - HeadlockZ Finesse or DemonZ jighead in 1/4 oz 1/0 size
ZMan 3" MinnowZ are available from TT Lures in 1/4 oz and 3/8 oz 3/0 HeadlockZ Finesse and Demonz sizes.
If you are the type of angler who enjoys fishing with heavy lines and heavier drags, then you may also be interested in the HeadlockZ HD jighead, which is constructed on a Mustad heavy duty hook that is brutally strong.
I usually fish quickly and cover a lot of water, which is why I fish with heavier tackle than other anglers who favor fishing with 1/8- and 1/6-ounce lures. Flatheads, in my experience, are found on the bottom, and I want the lure I cast to get there as quickly as possible while maintaining contact with the bottom as I retrieve it. The one and only exception to this rule is when fishing in weedy water, as lighter jigheads tend to float above the weed rather than sinking directly into it. In this scenario, you should refer to the section that follows this one about weedless rigging.
On the flats and in water up to about two meters deep, I will fish with a 1/4-ounce jig. When I'm fishing the deeper channel edges and drop offs, I'll use a 3/8-ounce weight, but I always keep a few 1/2-ounce weights in my tackle box just in case.
There is a wide variety of effective lure colors available, including 40 different hues in the ZMan 3" MinnowZ alone; any of these colors can be productive when fishing at some point in time. Carrying at least three colors is a strategy that has proven successful for me over the years. These colors include a light or natural color, a color that creates a silhouette in the dark, and a fluorescent color.
Light and natural colors are some of the most eye-catching hues, especially when viewed in glistening water and on sunny days. Even upon closer inspection, they give the impression of being a genuine baitfish swimming in the water because they have an appearance that is both very natural and very realistic.
The following colors are used as examples: Opening Night, Pearl Blue Glimmer, Pearl, Bad Shad, and Bloodworm
These colors perform exceptionally well in murky, dirty, and tannin-stained water because they provide a better silhouette in these conditions. Low Light These colors perform exceptionally well in low light. I have had sessions where the run-in tide brought in clean water and the light or natural colors got the bite, then the tide turned, the water got murky, and I needed to switch to a darker silhouette color to keep getting bites. I have also had sessions where the run-out tide brought in dirty water and the natural or light colors got the bite.
Gold Rush, Motor Oil, Mood Ring, Calico Candy, and Midnight Oil are some colors that are examples.
Fluoro Colors: When neither of the other two options are producing the desired results, I will switch to a fluoro color, which frequently results in some very hot sessions. There are a lot of anglers who like to begin their fishing with a fluoro color, and I'm one of them. However, if that color isn't producing any results, I'll switch to one of the other two.
Colors such as Electric Chicken, Pink Glow, Space Guppy, Sexy Mullet, and Chartreuse Glow are just a few examples.
If you have at least one of each of these three distinct color patterns in your tackle box, I believe you will increase your chances of getting a bite by a significant amount.
When you are retrieving lures for flathead, you need to make sure that your lure is making contact with the bottom, which is where flathead are waiting to ambush other fish. The only time this is not true is when you are fishing in areas with a lot of weeds and snags, in which case it is essential to fish your lure as close to the bottom as you can get it. When I'm going after flatheads, I primarily make use of three different retrieves.
Hopping - The hopping retrieve is by far the most common type of retrieve that I use. Cast the lure and wait for it to reach the bottom before retrieving it. Hop the lure twice by moving the rod tip in an upward direction, and then as you bring the rod tip back down wind up the slack line and let the lure sink back to the bottom of the water. Finding the right balance between letting the lure freefall and staying in touch just enough so that you can feel a bite as it sinks back down to the bottom can be challenging. Continue hopping, pausing, and hopping again, and be ready to set the hook because flathead will frequently grab the lure as it sinks back down or as soon as you begin hopping again.
The "Burn and Kill" retrieve consists of a "burn," which is a series of winds, followed by a "kill," which is a pause. The burn causes the lure to rise off the bottom, and the kill causes it to sink back down to its previous position. You are free to experiment with different rates and lengths of time for both the burning and killing phases, until you find the optimal combination. This retrieve is excellent for teaching younger children how to fish because they are able to wind the handle of the reel while saying "wind, wind, wind" and then pausing to count "1, 2, 3" If they are getting overly excited and moving too quickly, you can simply slow them down or use a jighead that is one weight heavier to assist in keeping the lure near the bottom. Just tell them to say "wind, wind, wind, 1, 2, 3" in their heads whenever the wind, wind, wind, 1, 2, 3 starts to drive you crazy.
Rolling at a Slow Pace - Rolling at a slow pace is equivalent to winding at a slow pace Cast the plastic out into the water and slowly wind it so that it swims just above the bottom or dragged along the water's surface. Casting out your lure and counting down from ten can help you determine when it is getting close to the water's surface. In the event that it takes you six seconds to reach the bottom, you can count to five before beginning your slow roll. It's also a smart idea to stop every so often and check that your lure is still relatively close to the seafloor.
Fishing Done From Land
Catching flathead doesn't require any kind of vessel, not even a kayak. Flathead can be caught by walking the banks in your area during the last couple of hours of the run out and the first hour of the run in. I find it most effective to cast upstream and bring my lure back with the flow of the water. Not only does this make the presentation appear more natural, but it also prevents the pull of the current from lifting your plastic off the bottom.
Your first cast should be made along the rim of the bank, and then you should make another four or five casts, fanning them out from the rim into progressively deeper water. without casting directly out in front of you, as the tide will pull this cast away from you and lift the plastic up in the water column if you do.
After that, I move about ten paces upstream and fan out my casts once more. This process is repeated all the way along the length of the bank. If structure is found, it's a good idea to spend more time working the area, and if you catch a fish, it's a good idea to spend more time in the area as well because flathead will often school up in certain areas.
Weed and structure are two things fish adore congregating around because they provide cover, draw in food, and provide a respite from the flow of the current. This weed and that structure can foul or snag lures, which is a problem for anglers, and as a result, many anglers will look for open water that is clear in order to fish. This is fantastic news for those of us who have some weedless jigheads in our tackle box. We all know that fish like to congregate around the weed edges, broken patches of weed, and other structure, and we are able to fish these areas more effectively with weedless jigheads because the weedless jigheads don't get hung up on the weeds.
The weedless SnakelockZ jighead from TT Lures is an excellent choice for fishing for flathead, and the SnakelockZ Finesse hook, which has a fine gauge, is the one I typically use when fishing with my go-to 2 bait. When I'm fishing with my go-to 3" MinnowZ, I use a 5" Slim SwimZ and a standard SnakelockZ, which has a heavier gauge hook. The following is a list of the sizes that I have in my kit:
2.5" Slim SwimZ - TT Lures SnakelockZ Finesse jighead #2 in 1/8oz and 1/6oz (due to the thickness of the wire, it is not designed to clip onto the 1/4oz size head). However, when I need a little bit more weight, I will also run it on this head in the background.
SnakelockZ jighead #3/0 from TT Lures, available in 1/4 oz and 3/8 oz weights for the 3" MinnowZ.
The following is a link to a guide for rigging with the SnakelockZ jighead, as well as a video that demonstrates how to rig:
When the fish aren't taking the lure with conviction or when the bite is inconsistent, adding scent can make a significant difference in the outcome. Because it is a gel-based scent, Pro-Cure Super Gel adheres well to all different kinds of lures, and because of this, I apply it roughly once every 30 casts whenever I am fishing with lures. You don't need to use a lot of it; what I like to do is put a little squirt on each side of the soft plastic near the jighead, and then use my fingers to wipe the scent down each side of the plastic and all the way to the tip of the tail. This seems to work best for me. After that, much to my wife's chagrin, I wipe my fingers on my pants. therefore, a rag might come in handy. If you don't want to touch it, all you have to do is use the nozzle to move it around a little bit.
What is the most delicious flavor? If you ask five anglers, you might get five different answers; however, when fishing from a land-based platform, such as a SUP or kayak, my go-to flavors are mullet and pilchard. In the boat, where there's room for more gear, you'll also find bloody tuna and inshore saltwater flavors added.
Landing & Handling Fish
Flathead have sharp plates in their mouths that make it difficult to grab them. In addition, they have a spike on the top of their head, as well as one on each side of their head. The most effective method for controlling them is to use a landing net, followed by lip grips, while supporting their bellies. It is possible to hold them from the underside, thumb on one side and fingers on the other, using the large fins on the side of the fish to shield you from the spikes. This is a technique that I use frequently, and it helps to prevent the slime coating of the fish from being damaged as much as possible. However, if you are unsure, you should prioritize safety by using the net and grips.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's quickly review how to target flathead in the rivers and estuaries. You can also find a ton of other articles pertaining to flatheads written by our Tackle Tactics Pro Team at:
I hope you have a lot of success with the fishing.
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