Welcome to the Flathead Fishing Guide Victoria. Flathead is a wonderful local bread and butter species and one of the most targeted fish across Victoria. They’re easily accessible providing anglers with decent fighting qualities. They are one of our favourite table fish and one of the easiest fish species to fillet. Flathead are quite easy to catch and can be targeted in a variety of ways and waters. These ambush predators like shallow sandy flats where that wait in camouflage for an easy feed. Flathead can be targeted by boat, kayak, jetski and land-based and using baits, lures and soft plastics. Ensure you handle flathead carefully as they have spikes located behind their head which can give you a nasty sting and cause severe bleeding. 


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Flathead Facts & Catch Limits

  • Flathead has the scientific name of Platycephalidae.
  • The legal-size limit of flathead locally is 27 cm
  • The daily bag limit for flathead is 20 per person over 27cm.
  • Different sizes and limits apply to dusky flathead so please take some time to recognise the differences with a dusky.
  • Most flathead caught around Port Phillip Bay and Western Port will generally be between 25 and 40 cm. However, flathead can grow much bigger, especially in estuaries such as Lake Tyers.

Best time to catch Flathead ( Seasons )

In Victoria, Flathead can be caught most of the year. However, they are more active in warmer months ideally between Summer and Autumn. They are often best targeted at Dawn/Dusk and on tide changes. 

Flathead Fishing Calendar

How to catch Flathead

Watch our detailed video tutorial on how to catch flathead with bait, soft plastics and lures.

We would encourage you to watch the vide above which is a great guide on targeting flathead. You can also read our detailed guide on How to catch Flathead. Flathead is an all-year-round prospect and can be caught at any time of the day, That’s what makes them such a great species. Sand flats are a great place to target Flathead. They are ambush predators that will wait for smaller fish to swim by for an easy meal. This is why it’s important to keep your baits and your soft plastics on the bottom for as long as possible that’s where the flathead will be. Flathead isn’t too fussy and will happily take most lures and baits when in a boat we would recommend drifting until you find a good patch of them.

Rod & Reel Setup for Flathead ( Gear Guide )

General-purpose gear is generally fine when targeting flathead. Ensure you pick a spin rod when using soft plastics or lures. When it comes to selecting a rod and reel suitable we recommend

Flathead fishing with lures and soft plastics | Light spin rod around 7 feet in length in 2-4kg, 2-5kg, or 3-5kg paired with a 2500-size reel. Spooled with 8-14 pound braid and an equivalent fluorocarbon leader.

Flathead fishing with bait | Spin rod around 7 feet in length in a 2-4 or 3-5 kilo class. Coupled with a 2500 or 3000 size reel spooled with 8-14 pound braid and an equivalent fluorocarbon leader.

Ideally, target flathead using a light 2–4 or 3-5 kilo fishing rod. This is generally around 7 feet in length. The lighter the rod the more fun you can have. The rod will be accompanied by a 2000, 2500 or 3000 size reel spooled with an 8-15 lb monofilament line or braid. You can go lighter but flathead has bristly teeth that can scuff up your line. If your bait fishing then you can’t go past a simple running rig. A small bean sinker to swivel, then roughly 45cm of 6-pound leader to a size 6 long shank hook.

Best Soft Plastics to Catch Flathead

Soft Plastics

Flathead love soft plastics and lures, they will go at just about any style or colour as they are not fussy. Our favourites include grubs, worm imitations, curly tails, paddle tails, and minnow imitations. Just ensure you cover ground this is best done by drifting when flicking lures and soft plastics. Other good options include deep diving hard body lures, Vibes and Blades. For jig head selection it’s a good idea to have multiple weights and sizes with you. This way you can adjust based on the current strength and weather conditions. We generally would have a 1/4, 1/6, 1/8, and & 1/12 jig head in a 2/0 and 3/0 size. Take your time when rigging and make sure the plastic is on straight, this improves the plastic action.

  • Berkley 4-inch turtleback worm ( camo )
  • Munroes 3.75-inch paddle tail ( UV Filthy Pilchard )
  • Zman 3-inch slim Swimz
  • Keithtech Easy Shiner 4-inch ( Silver Flash minnow )
  • Zman 3-inch grub ( watermelon )
  • Squidgee Wrigglers 120mm ( Silver Fox )
  • Holt Swimprawn
  • Zman 3-inch MinnowZ ( Purple Death, UV Pink )
  • Savage Gear TPE Shrimp
  • Berkley Crabby
  • Daiwa Bait junkie 3.2-inch paddle tail ( Black Gold )
  • Munroes curltail worm ( Caramel éclair )
  • Savage Gear Jerk shads
  • Berkley Shimma Shrimp

Soft Plastic fishing Techniques to catch flathead

When soft plastics fishing for flatties we use 2 simple techniques. The good thing about both these techniques is that there easy to learn and master. You will see after some practice that they are simple yet very effective.

The Hopping technique – Simply cast your plastic or lure and wait a few seconds for it to hit the bottom, then do several quick erratic lifts wind in the slack and let the plastic sink back down to the bottom. wait 5-10 seconds then repeat this process until your plastic or lure is back where you are fishing. The idea behind this technique is that your imitating a wounded baitfish, and when it sinks back to the bottom is when you get most of your catches.

The slow roll – Simply cast your plastic or lure and wait a few seconds for it to hit the bottom, then simply do a slow continuous retrieve of your fishing reel. This basic technique is known as the slow roll. This works great with curl tails, and paddle tail plastics as the natural action of the soft plastics do all the work. Keeping the plastic or lure a foot or two above the bottom is a dynamite way to catch them.

This video on targeting flathead with soft plastics should be helpful. 

Best lures to Catch Flathead

Lure Choices

Flathead are also great to target with a variety of lures. If using bibbed lures you need to ensure your using a lure that matches the water depth as flathead are generally bottom dwellers that will typically hold the bottom third.

  • Daiwa Double Clutch
  • Berkley Shimma Shrimp
  • Samaki Vibelicious
  • Savage Gear TPE Shrimp
  • Atomic Hardz shiner DD

Best Baits to Catch Flathead

Our best bait recommendations include pilchards, small strips of squid, and other small pieces of flesh bait. The are several ways to present baits for flathead. Either a running sinker rig, dropper rig and paternoster rigs are also popular choices. The rig choice will be dependent on where you are fishing and the conditions such as tidal strength. Where possible fish with as little weight. When land-based you may need a heavy sinker to cast out as far as you can.

Flathead respond well to berley and it’s a great idea to stay active and drift around for them and mark waypoints on your sounder when you catch them so you can redrift over productive grounds. These will generally be sandy flats in a whole range of different water depths.

Bait Choices

  • Pilchards
  • Squid Strips or Squid Candles ( tentacles )
  • Mussels
  • Whitebait
  • Pipis
  • Mackarel
  • Blue Bait
  • Prawns
  • Raw chicken

Best Rigs to catch Flathead

Our rig recommendations when bait fishing would include a running sinker rig or paternoster rig as shown in the images below. Please note we have detailed step-by-step video guides in our member’s area on how to create these rigs.

Simple running sinker

Running sinker fishing rig

Thread a small running sinker through the mainline shown in blue. Tie a small barrel swivel to the end allowing the sinker to run up the mainline freely. On the other end of the swivel add 50cm of fluorocarbon leader ( shown in grey ). Finished with a small long shank hook.

Paternoster Rig

Paternoster Rig

Tie your mainline to a barrel swivel. Create 2 loop knots and thread a hook over each loop knot allowing you to run multiple baits. At the end attach a sinker again threaded on via a loop knot.


Best locations to catch flathead in Victoria

Great locations include

  • Lake Tyres
  • Port Phillip Bay
  • Western Port
  • Gippsland Lakes
  • Mallacoota
  • Altona Pier
  • Portsea Pier
  • Werribee
  • Rosebud pier
  • Mount Martha rocks
  • Mornington Pier
  • Frankston Pier
  • Seaford Pier
  • St Kilda Pier
  • Kerferd Road pier
  • Lagoon Pier
  • The Warmies
  • Williamstown
  • Lagoon Grammar
  • Cunningham Pier
  • St Leonards

You can obtain a free Victorian recreational fishing guide from the Victorian Fisheries Authorities

Thank you for reading the Flathead Fishing Guide Victoria. If you feel this guide is missing key information or needs any corrections. Then please let us know by emailing our team at enquiries@fishingmad.com.au with specific details in the email. Thank you