Week 18: Fighting Flathead
When you are looking to target big Flathead you need to prepare well. Your gear has to be in great condition especially the drag system on your reel. When you set your drag you do not want a big fish to run hard and your drag to jam or stick. A smooth drag will enable you to tire the fish without breaking the line and as long as you keep the rod bent and your line tight nothing should stop you from landing the fish.
Big Flathead also have rasping teeth, which can wear through your trace in no time. I use between 10lb and 20lb trace to combat the wear and tear. The real secret is taking your time and try and make sure that the fish is not just laying down deep and not working hard against your drag. You need to tire the fish out so a good technique sometimes is to keep the boat moving so the fish tends to be fighting up off the bottom. Once you have the fish in sight expect a few short runs right beside the boat. I like to loosen my drag slightly so that there is less pressure on the trace which is usually cut up from the seesawing action most flathead use to remove the annoying thing in their mouth.
There is always a sigh of relief before the celebration, once the fish is safely in the net. Huge Flathead are a marvel to look at. Their wide head looks like its made of iron and their gaping mouth could easily engulf your fist. They are built for dynamic speed over short distances and their long body seems to morph into a gigantic tail.
I have always used a double flick retrieve when working soft plastics back to the boat. Basically the theory behind soft plastic fishing is choosing a jig head that will flutter the lure down to the bottom in the depth of water you are fishing in while taking into your calculations the current and wind. If the wind is blowing 15 knots you may need to go slightly heavier with your jig head to get it down. Getting the soft bait to reach the bottom is vital. The soft plastic does not need to be over long. Somewhere between 3 and 5 inches is usually on the money!