When I was a kid, the lure I used most was a flatfish. Casting flatfish lures always caught me fish. At the time, I was fishing for small mouth bass and walleyes. I have used flatfish my whole life. They work in any water in any conditions.
Casting Flatfish Lures on Calm Water
A brightly colored flatfish cast on still water is a great surface lure. The flat tapered nose dives the lure with a hard pull which the body brings it back to the surface. A finger on the line just before the reel adds a side to side motion. In calm water, the lure is deadly.
A flatfish tends to run at a medium depth, but most models float. They can be used for surface fishing. The surface retrieve needs to vary between slow and fast. The lure should be bobbing and splashing. Fish in the shade of rocks can’t resist the motion. It pulls them out of weeds.
Casting Flatfish Lures in Choppy Water
On choppy water or whitecaps, retrieving a flatfish on the surface does not work. Waves of any size throw the lure out of the water. As a result, fish tend not to hit a lure that is completely leaving the water every couple of seconds. Consequently, in waves, a steady retrieve that keeps the flatfish under the waves is needed. Pulling the rod tip forward and letting it bend back while reeling will add extra action but keep the lure in the water. In choppy water, the best method for fishing a flatfish is slow trolling. Again, pulling the rod tip forward and letting it slip back will add extra action.
Fishing Flatfish in Deep Water
Flatfish are really a mid-depth running lure depending. The faster the retrieve the deeper the lure will run. Ten feet is about the depth with a normal retrieve. For really deep retrieves, weighted line works best. The color tells the depth. The action of the lure does not change as long as it is always moving forward. Any lure can be fished deep using weighted line.
Also, rigging a weight on the line can take the flatfish deeper. Usually, a weight is used with bait, but it works with a lure. The more line let out the deeper the rig goes. This can only be done while trolling. The line must be presented in the water while the boat is moving forward to avoid tangling. A flasher can be added to change the motion of the lure and attract fish. The weight should be a least 18 inches from the lure. If a flasher is add, both should be at least 2 ft.from the lure. If this rig is used, the rod tip should remain steady to avoid tangling. This setup with bait is called a Carolina Rig.
Casting Flatfish Lures in Saltwater
The largest flatfish are needed for saltwater fishing. When fishing in salt water, a flat weight should be added right in front of the nose because the lure will not sink without weight. When surf casting flatfish lures, the retrieve should be fast without stopping. The action of the lure will change, but will still be effective. Perhaps the best salt water method for using flatfish is jigging. When drifting or anchored, drop the lure to the desired depth and pull it up at varied speeds stopping to let if fall a bit and then retrieve again. If trolling in salt water, a huge lure is needed. Flatfish may not look like other saltwater lures, but if fished correctly, they work.
Buy flatfish that are the same size and color of other lures that work where you fish. From there, experiment with color and size. I have used tiny inch long flatfish for trout in streams and foot long flatfish in the ocean.
Flatfish are a versatile, old school lure. Give them a try. They might become your go to lure.