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GEARING UP FOR FLATTIEZ

Jack Welsh

The Dusky flathead is regarded as one of the easiest fish to target and catch in the estuaries down the east coast of Australia. The reason for this is that, generally, if you put a well presented soft plastic in front of its face, the flathead is more than likely going to hit it or hook up!

It isn't as easy as hitting the water and expecting to catch this fish though, you have to prepare and gear up. This includes appropriate rods, reels, line, soft plastics and jigheads to suit. When I decide to target flathead, I usually opt for a 2000 to 2500 size reel, matched to a 7' 2-4kg rod, preferably graphite. This setup is ideal when targeting these fish because of the finesse factor it brings when matched up with light 6 to 10lb braid and an 8-12lb fluorocarbon leader.

This brings me to lure selection. Like I said earlier, if you put a well presented soft plastic in a flathead's face, it will probably hit it. I have found the ZMan range of soft plastics to reign supreme when I am chasing flathead because they are 10X tougher, resulting in more fish being caught on just a single plastic. I have caught flathead on the GrubZ, StreakZ Curly TailZ and MinnowZ, and they all have their place.

The ZMan 2.5" GrubZ are a good option when fishing shallower water, such as sand flats. You don't need heavy jigheads on a sand flat, so this makes the GrubZ a perfect choice. The ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ and ZMan 3" MinnowZ are perfect for fishing a little bit deeper because they are well suited to heavier jigheads. When not fishing the flats these two plastics are always a go-to, with a couple of rod and reel setups rigged and ready. The actions that all three tails give out are ideal for flathead, attracting them to bite and the ElaZtech construction means that they are able to stretch, so they feel very natural and will entice the fish to hold on longer, giving you more time to set the hook. You then need something to rig your ZMan plastics on and this is where the TT Lures jigheads come into it.

The TT HeadlockZ HD range has been specifically designed to suit the ZMan soft plastics, locking them on so that they don't slide down the jighead. The weights that this range comes in are ideal for flathead fishing with the three ZMan models that I referred to previously. The 1/8oz is perfect for the 2.5" GrubZ, when fishing the shallows, plus it comes in a 1/0 sized hook, which fits the plastic well. When fishing with the StreakZ Curly TailZ and the MinnowZ, I look at the depth I am fishing and match the plastic with jigheads from 1/6oz through to 1/2oz and the desirable hook size for these two models is a 3/0.

Now that we have looked at the gear used to target a flathead, let's have a look where to locate this fish and where to use the three different styles of soft plastics. Flathead can be caught all throughout the river or estuary, from the mouth right up into the backwaters, in depths from half a foot deep to deep holes over ten metres deep. The 2.5" GrubZ will always be tied on my rod in shallow water, under 2m, because it matches the food source on sand flats perfectly. It represents worms well and it could even be mistaken for a yabbie.

When fishing a drain or runoff coming off a sand flat or creek, this is when I will tie on a StreakZ Curly TailZ or MinnowZ in an attempt to match the hatch. The aim is to replicate a small baitfish that is getting caught in the tide and being washed into deeper water. The flathead will sit just on the drop off waiting for this to happen and that's when your plastic is, more likely than not, going to be eaten. A lot of big flathead are taken when fishing a drain or runoff.

Another good spot to target flathead is on the corners of a creek, where over time the current has created a deep section. Flathead will sit on the corner because it will often create an eddy where the water comes around a corner and it almost looks as if it has turned into a little whirlpool. If you can find a good eddy like this, then the flatties won't be too far away. The bait will often get caught and disorientated in the eddy, struggling to get back out and making for an easy meal. This is where you replicate the baitfish with your ZMan plastic.

I hope that what we have covered above can assist you in gearing up for flathead and result in you landing some monsters! So get out there and bring it on!

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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017