What Are The Best Baits For Flathead?

If you’re like us, you probably love fishing for dusky and sand flathead. They’re a delicious and challenging sport fish, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of reeling one in.

However, if you want to be successful at catching sand or dusky flathead, you need to know the best tide, weather conditions, the right flathead rigs, and use the best baits for flathead.

So what are the best baits for the flathead species? In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most popular options, as well as tips on how to use them effectively. Let’s get started!

Disclosure: We only endorse products we’ve personally used or that have come highly recommended by our trusted peers. We’re proud affiliates for some of the products on our site, and as such, we may get a small commission if you purchase through one of our referral links. However, there’s no extra cost to you. Check out our affiliate disclaimer in our Privacy Policy if you’d like to learn more. 

Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (3)

Best Baits For Flathead – Tip #1

What Do Dusky and Sand Flathead Eat?

One of the most important things to understand when choosing bait for dusky flathead is what they eat and how they flathead live. They’re bottom-dwelling fish, so they typically stay closer to the sandy bottom of the water and prefer muddy, murky or areas with sea grass.

Flatheads are opportunistic ambush predators, with sharp teeth, meaning they will eat whatever is readily available to them.

Most flathead will swim towards the tide on mud, sand flats or weed beds in order to eat, where bait is closer to the bottom and more vulnerable to being eaten. They’re quick and have wide opening mouths, which allow them to eat a variety of prey in whole.

Flathead love structure, and they’re most commonly found near drop-offs, bridge pylons, rocky reefs, rock walls, or mangrove-lined banks during the warmer months.

Some common foods that flatheads like to eat include small fish and crustaceans, such as prawns, small fish, and crabs. They also enjoy eating worms and other invertebrates.

Best Baits For Flathead – Tip #2

What Are the Best Baits for Flathead ?

Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (5)

There is no single best bait for flathead, as flathead feed on many different types of prey. That being said, there are some bait options that are generally more successful than others. Some of the best baits for flathead include:

  • Worms
  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Pilchards
  • Squid Strips
  • Mussels
  • Whitebait
  • Pipis
  • Mackarel
  • Blue Bait
  • Prawns
  • Raw chicken
  • Poddy mullet
How To Catch Mulloway Jewfish | Land Based Anglers | Land Based Fishing (6)

Flathead are popular sport fish in Australia, and there is no shortage of ways to catch them year-round. However, the key to success is using the right type of bait. Whether you’re fishing on the beach, in a river or in an estuary, you can find an abundance of flathead-friendly bait nearby or at your local tackle store.

When using any type of bait to catch flathead, it’s important to be as strategic and deliberate as possible. For instance, you may want to use a different bait for flathead in clear water and try a different bait in murky water. For example, sand flathead are found in deeper water drop offs near sandy bottoms or sea grass.

Breakwall Fishing Tips | Breakwater Fishing | Land Based Anglers | Land Based Fishing (10)

In addition, be sure only to use fresh bait and use the right type of tackle to make it easier to catch a flathead. Another effective strategy is to use lighter weights and longer leaders, which will allow the bait to move more freely and attract flathead from further away. With the right bait, plenty of patience and a little bit of luck, you can easily reel in your next big flathead!

Looking for more tips on how to catch flathead? Check out our Ultimate Guide On How To Catch Flathead. This guide covers everything from choosing the right bait, lure, and rig to using the right techniques, so you can increase your chances of success when fishing for flathead.

Best Baits For Flathead – Tip #3

What Are The Best Live Baits for Flathead?

How To Catch Kingfish | Yellowtail Amberjack | Land Based Anglers | Land Based Fishing (8)

The most successful flathead anglers typically use live bait, since it is the most natural and effective option. While other types of bait may work, live bait is typically the best choice.

Some of the most popular types of live bait used for flathead include:

  • Live prawns,
  • Live mullet
  • Live herring
  • Live yellowtail scad
  • Live squid
  • Live whitebait
  • Live hardyheads
  • Live slimy mackerel,
  • Live beach worms
  • Live blood worms
  • Live tube worms
  • Live pink nippers
  • and live spider crabs
Breakwall Fishing Tips | Breakwater Fishing | Land Based Anglers | Land Based Fishing (9)

When using live bait for flathead, it’s important to keep your bait as fresh and lively as possible. This can be done by choosing a bait that is not too large or small in size, as well as avoiding dead or sluggish-looking bait.

You may also want to try different types of baits with varying levels of movement, as flathead will often prefer bait that is more active.

To catch flathead with live bait, you can use a variety of different fishing methods and rigs. We’ll dive into rigs a bit later. For now, let’s talk about how you can get live baits.

Best Baits For Flathead – Tip #4

How To Catch Live Baits for Dusky and Sand Flathead

Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (3)

There are a few different ways to catch live baits for flathead, including:


Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (6)

A dragnet is a traditional fishing tool commonly used to catch live bait for flathead. A dragnet is a type of fishing net that is towed along the bottom of a body of water. Drag nets are effective for catching fish, prawns, and other types of live bait.

To use a dragnet, you simply attach the net to a long rope or pole and use it to physically drag the net through the water. This can be done from a boat, along the shoreline, or even from a beach at low tide.

Bait Traps

Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (1)

A bait trap is a relatively simple yet effective fishing device used to catch live baits for flathead. The bait trap works by attracting smaller fish, prawns, and other live bait species with bait or scent. It then captures these fish inside a wire cage or funnel, allowing you to collect your live bait for later use easily. To use a bait trap, you simply place it in the water and wait for smaller fish to swim inside.

Cast Nets

Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (2)

A cast net is a type of fishing net that is thrown or cast out into the water to capture live bait. This type of net is typically used by anglers fishing from a boat or shoreline, as it allows you to cast out and quickly scoop up your live bait without having to stand in the water.

To use a cast net for flathead, you simply need to pick a spot with baitfish, toss the net out into the water, and scoop up your live bait.

Yabby Pumps

A yabby pump is a fishing device used to capture live yabbies for flathead. It uses a vacuum-like action to suck up small yabbies and other crustaceans at low tide. To use a yabby pump, you simply submerge the pump in a body of water and pull up on the handle, which will create suction in the tube and trap yabbies and other crustaceans inside.

You can then use these live baits for flathead fishing. Yabby pumps are great because they can be used both in rivers, streams, and lakes, as well as at the beach.

Scoop Nets

A scoop net is a type of fishing net designed to catch live bait in shallow water. This type of net has a wide, shallow opening that allows you to easily scoop up prawns, shrimps, and other small live bait species, including mullet, yellowtail or squid.

To use a scoop net for flathead, you simply need to find a body of water with plenty of live bait, such as a stream or river.

Then, cast out your net and use it to quickly scoop up prawns and other live baits. Depending on the size of your net, you may be able to capture several prawns or other baits in a single scoop.

Sabiki Rig

Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (8)

A Sabiki rig is a specialized type of fishing rig designed to catch small bait fish such as yellowtail, mullet, herring and other small bait fish. This rig consists of a series of 4-6 small hooks that are suspended from a thin and flexible line. Sabiki rigs are great because they can be cast out over the water and allow you to quickly catch several small bait fish at once.

To use a Sabiki rig for flathead, you simply need to bait up your hooks, and cast the rig out over a body of water where there are plenty of bait fish. Then, use a slow, steady motion to pull your Sabiki rig through the water. As you do this, the small bait fish will be attracted to your bait and will attempt to bite, becoming hooked on your line.

Overall, there are many different types of fishing gear and techniques that can be used to catch live bait. Whether you are using a cast net, scoop net, yabby pump, Sabiki rig, or another type of fishing gear, it is important to ensure you adhere to your local regulations, as some fishing tools, methods and techniques may be prohibited or require a license to use in certain areas. For example, cast nets aren’t allowed in NSW.

For more info, check out this link from the Department of Primary Industries on permitted and prohibited saltwater fishing methods. You can check the saltwater size and bag limits here.

Best Baits For Flathead – Tip #5

The Benefits of Using Bait Instead of Lures for Flathead Fishing

Best Baits For Flathead | LandBasedAnglers.com (2)

There are several benefits of using bait instead of lures for flathead fishing, including:

  • Bait is typically cheaper and more readily available than lures, making it a more economical option for anglers.
  • Bait is often easier to use and requires less specialized equipment than lures, making it a simpler and more accessible option for novice anglers.
  • Bait typically catches bigger and stronger fish than lures, as it is more likely to appeal to the instinctive feeding habits of flathead.
  • Bait typically catches a wider variety of fish species than lures, making it a more versatile option for anglers.

Overall, if you are looking to catch bigger, stronger, and more diverse flathead fish, using bait instead of lures may be the best option for you. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned angler, using bait can help you to improve your success and get the most out of your bait fishing trips.

Best Baits For Flathead – Tip #6

The Best Bait Rig for Targeting Flathead

Paternoster Rig | Fishing Rigs | LandBasedAnglers.com

When targeting flathead, the best bait rig will vary depending on the size of your fish and other factors such as water depth and current. Some popular, effective yet simple flathead rigs include:

  • Paternoster rigs,
  • Running sinker rigs
  • and live bait rigs
Running Sinker Rig | Fishing Rigs | LandBasedAnglers.com

We won’t get into the details of these flathead rigs here as we’ve already covered them in our Ultimate Guide On How To Catch Flathead. Which provides you with tips on how to maximize your chances of catching flathead, from choosing the appropriate bait, how to make your own flathead rigs, plus using proven techniques and much more.

Best Baits For Flatheads – Final Thoughts


Whether you are a beginner or an experienced angler, using bait to target flathead is a great way to improve your success and get the most out of your fishing trips. With a wide variety of bait options available, there is something for everyone, no matter what your preferences or level of experience.

Try something new the next time you go fishing by using bait instead of just lures. You might be surprised at how many bigger and stronger flathead fish you’ll catch! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start bait fishing for flathead today!

You Might Also Like:

If you enjoyed reading this blog post on Best Baits for Flathead, you might also be interested in:


#Best Baits for Flathead Guide, #Best Baits for Flathead Tips, #Best Baits for Flathead Dusky, #Best Baits for Flathead Sand,#Best Baits for Flathead Australia