Trolling for flathead

Trolling for flathead

Without a doubt, trolling in estuaries is one of if not the most effective ways to catch dusky  flathead, possibly even more effective than bait. Whether you’re trying to win the Gold Coast Flathead Classic, or simply trying to enjoy yourself while gathering a feed, trolling for flathead is a skill you’ll want to have up your sleeve!

As this technique has gained more popularity over the years, certain lures have stood out from the pack as being particularly effective on flathead. The Zerek Floating Tango Shad and Halco RMG Scorpion have become widely-used tools when combing the shallows for flatties, and can take a lot of guesswork out of this pursuit because of how appealing they are to these predators.

There are a few dos and don’ts when trolling for flathead. One of the keys when fishing like this is to make sure the boat isn’t going too fast. Between 2-3km/h is a good speed - not too fast or too slow. It’s also important to make sure your lure is making consistent contact with the bottom. Fishing your lure too far back, while effective, can make things difficult, especially when there’s two or more lines in the water. Having lures back 15-20m is more than enough, however some anglers like to fish only 3-4m behind the boat, sometimes with the lure almost churning in the propeller wash!

When targeting a fish that is comfortable getting into water only inches deep, it makes sense to focus most of your efforts in the shallows. In fact, many anglers troll lures in a metre of water, sometimes less! Despite what you might think, flathead often aren’t spooked by boat noise in water this shallow, and some anglers even believe that the disturbance from the boat draws in flathead from afar! Finding ground that is more than just sand is another key to getting more bites. The odd patch of mud, weed rock or rubble scattered between sand patches will ensure there is a range of food items in your chosen area, and therefore, more flathead!

Flathead trolling is most effective in sheltered estuaries, and can be done successfully throughout their whole range from Cairns in Queensland to Gippsland in Victoria. Without a doubt though, the heartland of flathead trolling is the Gold Coast, where this technique has been used to win countless flathead tournaments.

If you want to catch more flathead and enjoy our pleasant estuaries up and down the east coast of Australia, make sure you try this technique. Once the flathead start rolling over the gunnels, you can start experimenting with lure sizes and colours, which is where the fun really starts!


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