Australian Flathead

Flathead Habits and Feeding

Australian flatheads are ambush predators and occasional scavengers targeting prawns, yabbies, small fish, octopi. Flathead is generally estuarine but will be found further upstream or out to sea.

They favour mud and sand bottoms to accompany their camouflage but have been found over rocky bottoms. Walking along the sandbanks at low tide you can find flathead impressions on the bank, the ambush is set for bait fish leaving the mangroves or flats as the tide drops. Flathead is caught all year round but generally more active in the summer months. March and April are generally the best two months for large flathead.

Australian Flathead

A Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus). Fairy Bower, Manly, NSW


Flathead Fishing techniques

Flathead do migrate up and downstream and along the coast. As a general rule though they will take the bait or lure to the flathead, as they lay ambush relying on a short sharp dash so capture their prey.
You must be disciplined in covering large areas with lures or drift bait. Think like an ambush predator and work your casting arc appropriately.
The best rig when drifting is a two-hook snapper rig with the bottom hook closer to the sinker or a running sinker rig. The weight needs to be heavy enough to reach the bottom. Whilst 6 lb line with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader will be adequate. Light gear keeps the contest interesting as flathead are not renowned for their fight following the initial strike. Lighter line will also improve natural drift in the water and cast distance.

Setup for Flathead

  1. Soft plastic
  2. Shimano Raider Spin Rod – 6’8″, 2-5kg
  3. Shimano Sustain Spin Reel – 2500FG
  4. Berkley Fireline Original Braid Line – 125yds, 6lb

Bait for Flathead

Flathead is probably the least discriminatory of all the fish eating most baits which move into their strike zone. Live yabbies wriggling around on a hook are the bait of choice, but most baits should get the job done. Using anything from a 2/0 to 6/0 hook depending on the size of bait, ganged hooks for whole pilchards, long shanks for prawns.

Soft plastics for Flathead

  1. Soft plastic
  2. ZMAN 4in Curly Tail – Motor oil
  3. Zerek Lure Live Shrimp – 3.5″
  4. Squidgy Pro Wriggler Soft Plastic Lure 80mm

For lure choice it’s all about getting as close to the bottom as possible, a number of anglers will choose to deliberately scuff up mud with a heavy plastic or select a wriggling tail to draw additional attention. Another option for flathead is a lightly weighted natural looking prawn. The technique used here is to fish really light tackle and let the prawn drift across sandbanks or into oyster beds etc

When fishing with baits, my preference is drifting over large distances of sand flats. Prawns are often my first choice, but similar to baits I feel the flatty’s don’t discriminate too much.

Hard Body Lures For Flathead

  1. RMG Scorpion 35mm STD
  2. Ecogear SX-40 Hard Body Lure

Best eating quality is often around the 40cm mark, where possible please take a photo and release the 70cm plus breeder which replenish our fish stocks. Unlike a number of other species, flatties are not as particular about baits and will take almost anything pulled within striking distance.