How to catch Flathead

Catching Flathead can be very rewarding. They are tough competitors and are very nice on the table. In this article, I will be covering bait and lure tactics to catch these great fish.


When fishing for Flathead, live mullet is by far the best bait to use. Different states have different laws about catching and using live bait, so please adhere to your local rules. You can catch mullet either by casting a net over them, by using a clear plastic cylinder with a piece of bread in it or simply berleying them up with bread and by using a very small hook, catch them with a line. If you can’t get live mullet, don’t despair, strips of mullet can be just as deadly as live mullet. Click here to see the article on catching Mullet.

Prawns are another great bait for Flathead, however as always, fresh is best. I have even heard of people having success with strips of chicken breast.

If you have a yabby pump, saltwater yabbies are great bait as well. They can be found at low tide in areas around bays, just look for sandy spots that has small holes in them.

Check out the article on catching Saltwater yabbies. Click here




The key here is movement, for live bait, it is always moving. Same principle with dead bait, it must keep moving at all times. Whether you are drifting or in a stationary boat, you must keep moving your bait. Drifting is the easiest of these two, as all you have to do is sit and the boat will do all the work. If you are anchored, try and work as much of the water as possible.  I use the stop and start method. Cast the bait as far as you can and slowly retrieve the bait, stop for five seconds and then start again. Quite often the Flathead will hit the bait as soon as you start the retrieve again.





This is my favourite way of catching Flathead. When I am going out to target these fish, I always like to go out onto the sand flats at low tide, to see where this fish were lying, and to look at the depressions in the sand. This will give you an indication where this fish were at high tide. This is pretty simple really, if you know that they are there, target them.


I have found that once again it is the movement of the lure, the same with bait, is the key to catching these fish. Any lure that dives and hits the bottom will entice Flathead to strike. It is not  critical, but if the lure floats, this will give you the ability to stop your retrieve at short intervals allowing the lure to pop up and if there is a flatty there, will smash it. You must be able to feel the lure hitting the sand. What is happening here is that the lure sprays up sand and other debris which attacts the Flathead to your lure.

Dreamfish Wild Things are unusual and the flash that they give off can often be the attactant that sets the Flathead to bite. When using these spinnerbait type lures, the key is to let them sink right to the bottom. Then give them a firm straight up pull that lifts the lures around a metre from the bottom, then let it sink back down and repeat to the boat, I have caught Flathead on these lures with this technique. Another techinque is to let the lures sink to the bottom and then just retrieve as close to the bottom as possible (You can feel the lure hitting the sand).

Whether you use bait or lure, Flathead are a great fish to catch.

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Written by Rod Cumming Copyright 2013