1% Tips to Improve Success, Fishing with Soft Plastics for Flathead by Guy Lambert (YT @gaffedbyguy)

Soft Plastics for Flathead

Flathead are a highly sought after fish that basically eat anything that vibrates or wiggles in front of them. This makes soft plastics a really lively, natural way for targeting them. But it isn’t easy all the time, so here are some tips for fishing the tough bite and improving your catch rates.

Gear for Flathead

Generally, you want to find a rod and spin/bait cast reel set-up that has a balance of power and comfortability. I like graphite rods due to the smooth buttery casts and lightness.

I find a 7`rod between the 2-4 and 2-5kg range with a casting weight of 2-8 or 2-14gm is suitable for flathead of all sizes and other bycatch you come across.

A rod with a soft tip is a no brainer as it gives you the ability to detect the slightest bite. Little resistance against hook set, and is needed when constantly lifting the plastic off the bottom with the right action.

Reel sizes vary between 2000-3000 {depends on size of fish and how big your lures are}. I fish Shimano’s CI4+ material due to its smooth buttery fast rotor and being 48% lighter to turn.

This helps start your lure retrieve faster, without needing to work to build speed like with lower quality reels. I also carry a Stradic or a Sienna with me for a little bit heavier option to throw larger lures and work them back correctly without stressing reel internals.


Two good options for spooling your set up are 8 strand or 4 strand braid. Now a lot of people think that because the 4 strand is generally cheaper it’s of less quality and weaker, but it’s the opposite.

4 strand allows for better abrasion resistance when fishing areas like patchy rock, thick weed beds, pylons etc. 8 strand comes of the reel and guides smoother as its thinner in diameter.

This aids the casting length, is better for facing headwind, and reaching channel or depth changes that are further away if fishing land based etc.

When it comes to leader for flathead I like to bring 6,8,10 and up to 15lb with me. I fish FC {fluorocarbon} as it’s a sinking material which helps get your plastic past the current and down to your desired water depth quicker.

Flathead Lures

When it comes to Flathead lure fishing I’ve got all the ranges and sometimes find it hard to decide what to pull out on the day. So here’s a guide that can hopefully help you to pick the right packet!

Dark/Muddy Stained Water

Colours darker than the water colour give off a bold silhouette making it easier for the flathead to see. Bright erratic colours can stand out to and cause a reaction bite if it’s a high fish activity day.

Grubs and paddle tails are your best bet, giving off a more dominant vibration matching the natural fleeing patterns of your smaller baitfish and making it easier for the fish to find.

Clear Water

A more natural baitfish colour like silver and white works best as you have no murky water to make the baitfish have a darker tint. Vibrant colours can also stand out from the local bait that inhabits the area making it more interesting and easier to see for those curious flathead.

The subtle constant action of a grub tail is a lot more natural and match the crustaceans and worms that frequently inhabit the lower reaches of the water column.

After Rain Periods

All the smaller bait that are beginning their life further up the creek system are flushed down to around the river mouth where all the nutrients and bait settles as well as having a bit cleaner water.

Fishing the river mouth use the dark and erratic colours just like I explained in the dirty water one but try downsizing your lure.

You’re not necessarily downsizing your catches but matching the bait that congregates around the mouth and that those predatory species change their diet to.

Creature baits perfectly imitate the action, fleeing pattern and vibrations of those stirred up bait. Another little 1%er is to add scent.


Scent not only improves the distance in which your lure is seen due to the strong amino acids and crushed up bait but makes it a lot more natural and realistic. So when fishing a tough bite for finickier fish it’s a must have in your tackle box.

I’ll re-apply scent every 20-30 casts or after have caught a fish to ensure my lure is more noticeable to the fish.

Jig Heads

Really depend on depth, headwind and current, because remember, the flathead are an ambush species and inhabit the lower reaches of the water column.

It’s hard to go past the TT chemically sharpened Gamakatsu and Mustad hooks for maximum penetration and to reduce how quickly the hook goes blunt.

I like to carry 1/12,1/8, 1/6, 1,4 and 3,8 and hook sizes 1, 1/0, 2, 2/0, 3, 3/0 and sometimes 4 and 4/0.

Where Flathead Hide!

This is the most important factor to your success, so here’s my favorite and best places to look for when targeting flatties. Generally, my favourite area where I have most success are shallow drains that run to sharp drop-off / edges.

This provides an out-of-current spot for the bait to sit in on the running tides and around the slack tide – when the water movement slows up all the nutrients settle along the edge.

Flathead will usually ambush their prey from the bottom of the drop off, so hopping your lures over that depth change can be deadly.

Like most fish you have to find the bait to find the predators. So smaller more subtle snags that are commonly found around all creek entrances including weed beds and slowly drifting weed. This provides plenty of nutrients for bait so in-turn your flatties use it as a point of ambush.

Broken up shell and rubble also provide nutrients, drop-offs, drains, shallow and deep sandflats and submerged timber are all quality places found in most river systems to fish for flatties.


Lure Retrieves

Another important 1%er is the retrieve. You generally want to match the movements and fleeing pattern of your local bait so a double hop will get the tail, and feelers that many new lures have implemented in them, vibrating.

The pause will return that plastic back to the bottom and look like a feeding baitfish.

Fish may not always respond to the same double hop or retrieve presented to them so try vary them up so changing the length of the pause, hops and speed of your retrieve to see what the fish want on the day.

A slow or fast roll retrieve fished close to the bottom will stir up sand and mud making it easier for the fish to locate in murkier water conditions or after rain and then like the double hop the pause will look like a feeding and vulnerable baitfish.

Another more different technique would be to cast into the current with a light jighead and give it plenty of time to naturally fall to the bottom and double hop with only winding the slack in.

This will hop your lure into the current, and get slowly taken and will naturally fall back to the bottom. And in the process cause commotion with the jighead bumping along the bottom.

Hope all this helps for a bit of advice and to get you stuck into this style of fishing.

Tight lines and see you next time!!

Cheers Guy. L (Please visit and subscribe to my YouTube @gaffedbyguy)

Our Thanks

We would like to thank such a keen and dedicated young Fisho for taking the time to share his experiences with us all.

I can’t wait to see what Guy produces with some more experiences under his belt. As with us all, the more the experience, the more the wisdom!

If you would like to check out an up and coming Young Gun, check out his YouTube page (gaffedbyguy) and encourage him by subscribing.