Dusky Flathead
  |  First Published: March 2012

Big dusky flathead are one of those species that every angler dreams to catch.

Flathead Fred made them famous and was decades ahead of his time. He was fishing with soft plastics long before they became popular.

He should be recognised for his great work because he made us all realise that big flathead are just one of those very special fish.


January through April is big flathead time in the estuaries from Lakes Entrance through to Sydney and beyond. I include NSW, as some of the best big flathead country in the country is between Narooma and Sydney, and today we have many travelling anglers.


My best ‘frog’ so far measured 92 cm and was taken on just 4lb Fins Braid with a 6lb Nitlon DFC leader. Many would frown at this light leader, but the theory is that you will get more bites even if you do lose the odd one.

The rod and reel I prefer is a Shimano Nexave 2500FB reel matched with a Nexave 702 Spin. It is a light outfit that you can cast all day, but is still capable of landing quality fish.


Best bait for big flathead is live mullet and other small fish, striped tuna and pilchards.

Bait fishing is a dying art, with the majority of flathead now caught on soft plastics. Shads, fish and wriggler shapes in 100-140mm are most popular fished on ¼ to ½oz jig heads. I strongly believe that plastics will out fish bait 9 times out of 10. They are also better for catch and release with the majority of fish hooked in the mouth rather than the gullet.


It’s simple. Just attach a rod length of leader to your braid via a back-to-back Uni knot. Then tie your jig head to the end of the leader. A small lure clip can be added to make changing lures a lot faster.


Cast your plastic a long distance from the boat. Make sure it sinks all the way to the bottom before lifting it with a fast jerk of your rod. Let it hit the bottom again and then repeat the process all the way back to the boat. Most big flathead will be found in 1-8m of water.


If you like a feed of flathead, try to eat fish under 55 cm. The big girls are so important for the future fishery and I just can see the point in taking one just for a feed.


Do not put your thumb in the mouth of any flathead without a glove or rag to protect you from their teeth. When they shake side to side they can do a lot of damage.

Big dusky flathead are a real treat for any estuary angler.

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