Dusky Flathead are a much sought after sportfish and they respond aggressively to a well presented lure. Flathead love to hunt around shallow weedy areas with sandy or muddy bottoms where they lie in wait for prawns, small fish and crabs. As the tide drops, prey items move with it and flathead lie in the slightly deeper water along drop-offs and holes where they leap from the bottom in a puff of silt to engulf their food. Minnow lures worked in an erratic fashion are often hammered hard by these tasty and hard fighting predators. Trolling these same drop-offs and holes also produces plenty of action.
One of the greatest “flatty” lures is the Tilsan Barra 80. This wooden lure has a brilliant action and with its center line construction is tough enough to land even the biggest dusky flathead, which can reach 10 kilos in weight. You can cast the Tilsan Barra or you can troll it. When used in the famous Gold Coast flathead classic competition the Tilsan Barra has accounted for many of the fish taken over the years and it has also taken the largest flathead in some of the competitions. If you don’t have a Tilsan Barra in your tackle box, you just aren’t serious about catching a big flathead!
The other members of the Tilsan family of balsa lures are also brilliant Dusky flathead lures. The Tilsan Minnow is renowed as a trolling lure for medium to small flathead, although at times you will be surprised at just how large a flathead will take the little lure. This lure gets down further than most small lures and its frantic frightened quiver really calls the predators. You will know a lure is hot when it pulls other fish such as bream and even whiting on the troll.
The Tilsan Bass is a magic flathead lure for both trolling and casting. If short herring shaped fish are on the menu, then the Bass is an absolute killer. I have done very well on the fluoro and the classic as far as colours go.
RMG Scorpions in all sizes make great flathead lures, especially when they are trolled. A couple of standouts are the big boys in the 150 and 125 sizes. These lures have knocked over many very large flathead on the troll. Hot pink has been the killer colour in both the Scorpion and Tilsan Barra for consistent flatty action.
The smaller RMG Scorpions can also be trolled for medium sized flathead, but they also make very good casting lures. Pick any slightly deeper area with a bit of tidal flow and cast the Scorpion along the drop-off. A fast erratic retrieve often does the trick so don’t be fooled into thinking “flatties” are slow feeders. When they want a meal, they really pounce.
Flathead will often swim and hunt in very shallow water of half a metre or less, especially in early morning or at last light at night. At these times the Laser Pro 120 Standard in gold and black can be a killer. Keep the lure high in the water and use a slower twitch retrieve, and hang on tight! Flathead can be very aggressive in the ultra shallows.
In the early days of flathead spinning, many fish were taken on simple Silver Wobblers, fished fast over shallow weed-beds and drop-offs. Nothing has really changed here either. The Halco Wobbler Sparkler still takes plenty of flathead for those who choose to use it. Flathead sometimes target dense schools of whitebait in the shallows and when they do, they seem to be very active in their hunting. Under these conditions the Halco Wobbler can be dynamite.
When flathead are not actively feeding they tend to bury themselves in the sand and they can be hard to tempt. When this happens you can sometimes catch these reluctant fish by jigging a heavy lure such as a Halco Twisty across the bottom of the deeper holes.