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Catching Flathead, a favourite Australian pastime

Catching Flathead, a favourite Australian pastime

Flathead fishing with soft plastics is a thrilling and rewarding pursuit that attracts anglers from all over. These predatory fish are not only abundant but also known for their excellent taste. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced angler, mastering the art of catching flathead on soft plastics can greatly enhance your success on the water.

In this comprehensive guide, we've gathered insights to help you become a proficient flathead angler. From selecting the right clothing, gear and lures to understanding flathead behaviour and pinpointing their habitats, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and techniques needed for an exciting and productive flathead fishing adventure.

Understanding Flathead Species

Before delving into the specifics of soft plastic lures, it's essential to understand the flathead species you're targeting. In Australia, the dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) and the sand flathead (Platycephalus bassensis) are the most commonly sought-after varieties. Flathead are well-known for their flattened bodies, large mouths, and ambush predator behaviour.

Choosing the Right Gear

To catch flathead on soft plastics, you need the right gear – here is what we recommend.

Rod and Reel: Opt for a light to medium spinning rod, approximately 7 feet long, paired with a quality reel. This combination provides casting distance and control.

Line: A braided fishing line in the 10-20lb range is ideal for sensitivity and hook setting.

Leader: Attach a fluorocarbon leader (typically 10-20lb test) to your braided line to improve stealth and resist abrasion. It’s important to start on the heavier leader so you can target the larger species and work your way down to lighter/thinner leader if it’s a challenging day on the water or you are only catching smaller fish.

Soft Plastic Lures: Select soft plastics that imitate local baitfish or prey species. Paddle-tail, curl-tail, and jerkshad-style soft plastics are popular choices.

Jig Heads: Match your jig head's weight to the depth and current conditions. Heavier jig heads are suitable for deeper waters and strong currents. The goal is to choose the lightest possible jig head for the conditions so that you can cast far enough and sink slowly in the water.

Clothing:  Selecting the apparel gear for flathead fishing is essential to ensure a comfortable and successful angling experience. Brands like FYNX Fishing can provide clothing that considers factors like weather, sun protection, and comfort.

For Cooler Days:

On cooler days, staying warm and dry is crucial for an enjoyable fishing trip. Begin with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin. Over this, wear an insulated fishing shirt or hoodie to provide warmth without adding bulk. Brands like FYNX Fishing offer versatile shirts and hoodies designed for anglers, featuring moisture-wicking properties and thermal insulation.

For added comfort and protection, consider wearing fishing-specific Beanies. These garments are designed to block the wind, ensuring you stay dry and warm even in adverse weather conditions.

 Apparel for Warmer Days:

On warmer days, comfort and sun protection are paramount. Start with a moisture-wicking and breathable fishing shirt. Look for FYNX Fishing shirts that incorporate ample UPF sun protection, shielding you from the sun's harmful rays while keeping you cool.

To protect your head and face, wear a FYNX fishing hat and apply sunscreen to exposed skin.  Also, wear a FYNX fishing neck buff that is wider at the bottom to protect your neck and your shoulders. It also has laser cut breathing holes for added comfort. Sunglasses with polarized lenses are essential to reduce glare and improve visibility when spotting flathead in the water.

Remember to stay hydrated and wear comfortable footwear suitable for the conditions. Brands like FYNX Fishing often offer a range of fishing-specific accessories to keep you prepared and comfortable during your fishing adventures.

The Art of Soft Plastic Presentation

Effective presentation is crucial for catching flathead on soft plastics. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Strategic Casting: Position yourself upwind or up-current from your target area and cast your soft plastic lure toward flathead hideouts, such as shallow sandbanks, drop-offs, or submerged structures.
  2. Retrieval Technique: After casting, allow your lure to sink for a few seconds to reach the desired depth. Begin a slow and steady retrieve, imparting a lifelike action to the lure. Vary your retrieval speed and include pauses for a more enticing presentation.
  3. Maintain Contact: Stay connected to your line to detect subtle bites or resistance, which often signal a flathead's strike.
  4. Hookset: When you feel a bite, set the hook with a firm but controlled upward motion of your rod.
  5. Fighting the Fish: Flathead put up a strong fight once hooked. Apply steady pressure but avoid overpowering the fish. Let the rod's flexibility handle headshakes and lunges.

Locating Flathead Hotspots

Success in flathead fishing depends on finding the right spots. Consider these tips:

  1. Shallow Sandbanks: During high tide, flathead move into the shallows, especially over sandy flats with subtle drop-offs or sandbars.
  2. Submerged Structures: Look for flathead around submerged structures like rock walls, jetties, bridges, and shipwrecks, where they find both shelter and ambush opportunities.
  3. Estuaries and Rivers: Flathead frequently inhabit estuaries and river systems, often near channels, drop-offs, and submerged vegetation.
  4. Tidal Flats: As the tide recedes, flathead may move to tidal flats to hunt. Target these areas as the water retreats.
  5. Underwater Features: Seek out holes, gutters, and depressions in the seabed, as flathead often lurk in these areas.

Adapting to Conditions - Adaptability is key to flathead fishing success:

  1. Tides: Consult tide charts and consider fishing during the outgoing or incoming tide, depending on your preferences and local conditions.
  2. Weather: Overcast days can be excellent for flathead fishing, as they're more active in low-light conditions. However, you can catch them in various weather.
  3. Time of Day: Dawn and dusk are prime times for flathead activity, but they can be caught throughout the day.
  4. Seasons: While flathead can be caught year-round, their behaviour may change with the seasons, with some moving into deeper water during colder months.

Catching flathead on soft plastics is a thrilling and rewarding pursuit that offers a fantastic way to connect with nature and enjoy coastal environments. Always prioritise catch and release for conservation and adhere to local fishing regulations. As you gain experience and refine your skills, you'll find that flathead fishing with soft plastics is a captivating adventure that leads to delicious rewards. So, head out to the water, explore new fishing grounds, and embark on an exciting journey to catch flathead with soft plastics, armed with the knowledge and techniques provided by experts in the field. Got to for more info

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