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Wade Fishing for Flathead

By Harrison Reed

Everyone loves getting out on the water, whether it be on a boat, kayak or even a jet ski. However, something that can often be overlooked is simply having a landbased fish for flathead. All it takes at times is getting back to basics and having a landbased session, to appreciate how awesome these fish really are. Seeing your lure getting tracked down and smacked by a big flathead, with a huge explosion of in less than a foot of water is insane!

Now, not only is landbased fishing for flathead a good change up every now and then, wading the flats can also provide some benefits when compared to boat fishing. I have found myself, over the last couple of years, spending a lot of time wading the sand flats and walking, as opposed to boating, allows you to get into places that usually would be inaccessible. Walking to spots, or walking while casting, also adds additional stealth, compared to moving a whole boat.

One element I have found when wade fishing the flats is the flexibility in terms of areas that I can fish. It allows me to easily fish in a full 360-degree range from a single position. If I find the fish are sitting super shallow I can cast from the bank, if they are sitting further out or deeper, I can wade out to them. One technique that I have found super effective at times is walking out to deeper water and then fishing back into the bank. Wade fishing, in my opinion, can be one of the best ways to find trophy flathead.

Tide

My preferred tide, for wade fishing for flathead, is the runout tide. That bit of movement, with the water dropping out, is often enough to get the flathead active.

Time of Day

I like to wade fish early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Generally, I find the fish more active during these times and it's a much nice temperature to walk around, although I have had some great sessions in the middle of the day. One thing worth considering is that walking around in summer can get quite hot, so wearing some boardies allows you to go for a dip to cool down.

Lures

When wade fishing the flats, I like to use quite large, natural-coloured lures. Select something that is going to catch the eye of a big flathead. The lure that I would recommend currently, that ticks all of the boxes for me, is the ZMan 6” DarterZ in Smokey Shad colour. This 10X Tough soft plastic is big, natural and has an insane action when worked through the water. Anything from 4” and up is what I will usually throw, however when targeting the larger models, I'll throw larger lures of 6” plus.

This style of fishing is truly addictive and something that I can't get enough of. It adds extra challenges in terms of both finding the fish and then landing them, however the experience is incredibly rewarding. It may take a little time to figure out how to wade fish effectively, but in the end its more than worth it when you hook up solid on a big flathead.

Gear

Rod - For fishing the flats I recommend about a 7’ 2-4kg rod. It doesn’t hurt to go slightly lighter, or heavier, however just as a go-to all round flathead set up, this type of rod is perfect.

Reel – When it comes to reel selection, I recommend a 2500 size spin reel. Now again, you can go smaller, or larger, however a 2500 size is small and light, while providing the security that if you hook a good flathead, you can get it in without too many problems.

Braid

In terms of braid, I usually run 8lb on my 2500 setup. It's a good in-between weight, where I can put more than enough pressure on a fish if I have too. This also allows me to quite easily fish for river mulloway.

Leader

When selecting leader, depending on the location, I usually use anywhere from 8lb to 14lb line. I usually go slightly heavier when landbased fishing, as dragging fish up onto the sand or bank can put a lot of tension on the line and make it fray much easier. I'd say my go-to leader for wading for flathead is 10lb though.

My Flathead Wading Setup

Rod - TT Rods Black Mamba Spin Rod BMS701ML 7'0” 2-4kg

Reel - Okuma ITX Carbon Spin Reel – ITX-2500

Braid - Platypus Bionic Braid X9 – 8lb

Leader - Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader – 10lb

Hopefully this inspires you to get out on your local flats to wade for a flathead. Remember to throw on some appropriate footwear for the terrain that you’re walking / wading, grab a light spin combo, a handful of 4-6” ZMan plastics and jigheads to suit and hit the start of that run out tide on some fishy looking flats in your area.

Cheers, Harrison