Flathead On Soft Vibes Tips

To target flathead your vibe needs to find its way into their zone and that’s the bottom. Soft vibes have really kicked on in the last five or six years mainly thanks to Harry Watson and Jackall Transams and Mask Vibes. There are countless vibes now on the market some work and some don’t. In my opinion generally the more expensive well made vibes will always swim better.
Flathead on vibes - one of the most exciting ways to catch this fantastic sports fish.

Flathead on vibes – one of the most exciting ways to catch this fantastic sports fish.

Humble Origins

They were originally developed as a weighted bait fish profile to target bass and in Australia yellowbelly as well. For those who haven’t tried them, they are a bibless minnow with a fantastic oscillating action. Vibes are made of a soft rubber compound with inbuilt weights allowing for a fast sink rate. This allows them to be fished at different depths depending on the weight. In addition they have razor sharp treble hooks front and rear making for an excellent hook up rate.

It’s All About The Vibe

The big difference between fishing with vibes and conventional soft plastics is the vibrating action. The same type of action you get from a bass style hard bodied bibless minnow but with a soft outer shell. As we all know some fish will bite and hold on a lot harder with the more realistic feel of a soft plastic than a hard timber, metal or extruded plastic lure.

Not just flathead – Vibes will catch a whole host of fish including top-quality salmon like this.


A Class Of Their Own

Soft vibes rely on their vibration, colour and natural look to entice a bite. They don’t have the same wild slender action that a long soft plastic has, but a small fish of any variety holds its shape most of the time and doesn’t have as much action as the majority of soft plastics. A similar vibration is given off by pinning a live bait and setting it for a predator. This is where vibes are in a class of their own.

Staying In The Zone

Predatory fish such as flathead use their lateral line to detect even the smallest of vibrations, so a lure that can stay in the zone and put out the right vibe is always going to work. I’ve been using 20g vibes in between 5m and 12m of water. They come in a range of colours with chartreuse, pink and the natural mullet colour among the more consistent takers.

Feeling The Vibe

Light weight graphite rods used with braid are perfect for telegraphing the vibrating action of the vibe back through the rod tip. This allows you the angler to get a great feel of exactly how their lure is working. The weighted oscillating lift you get when quickly raising the rod tip is the key to success. Much like conventional soft plastic fishing for flathead the goal of the exercise is to keep in the bottom 1 or 2 metres off the sea floor. This is the strike zone for any hungry lizard and your vibe if fished correctly should not venture out of this area.

Two Lifts Then A Flutter

Two quick lifts of the rod tip is the action which seems to work best for flathead. Once again it is important to keep the vibration. Too fast of a lift can over-speed the vibe and not enough action will fail to get it happening at all.

In winter when the water temperatures are much cooler I use a less aggressive and more passive vibing technique with smaller lifts just getting the lure to work.

Another sensational flattie that took a liking to a well-presented vibe.

Another sensational flattie that took a liking to a well-presented vibe.

Vibes In Deeper Waters

All of the usual haunts are worth a crack when fishing with vibes for flathead. I find one big advantage is using them in deeper estuary water around 8m to 10m. Fished straight up and down around any structure, such as small lumps and bumps on the bottom, you’ll find them extremely effective.

Best Tides For Flatties On Vibes

Tides play a big part in the feeding response of flathead. Remember it’s up to you to put your lure in the right place at the right time. In this case it’s a vibrating small rubber fish designed to fool a flathead into thinking its dinner. One great thing about soft vibes is their durability. I have one in my box that has caught several mulloway and now at least 40 flathead and all I’ve done is sharpen the hooks.
This image shows just how similar a vibe lure is to this hapless baitfish.

This image shows just how similar a vibe lure is to this hapless baitfish.

Peak Bite Times

Pick the peak times to have the most success, in general the last half of the run out tide and the first hour of the run in are the best. Usually the water clarity will be a little less on the run out tide and as an ambush predator flathead feel more at home in these conditions. This is where that constant vibration will be the difference between getting a bite and join home fishless.
Flat Out: Flathead a suckers for vibe lures and can be caught on these artificials either at high or low tide - just adjust your style according to conditions.

Flat Out: Flathead a suckers for vibe lures and can be caught on these artificials either at high or low tide – just adjust your style according to conditions.

Bottom Of The Tide

At the death of the run out drop offs and channels where the water has drained off the flats are great haunts and will produce a lot of fish. I like the really steep edges where they fall into the deeper water. This is a great place to cast a vibe even when the current is running; the sink rate is nice and quick and gets you into the zone fast. Always cast up current and work back down and in the same direction the water flows. The flathead will be lying with their heads facing in the direction of the current so it’s important your lure works the same way.

In Summary

It is the action they create that is the significant effect we are trying to achieve. Soft vibes not only work well on flathead in our estuary systems but mulloway, salmon, bream and anything which swims certainly like them too. DSC_9350KAD

About Michael Guest

Michael Guest’s love of all things aquatic was instilled at a young age, fishing, spear-fishing and windsurfing. His passion has grown into an addiction and whether it is catching bait off the wharf, teasing Marlin on the continental shelf, or crashing through undergrowth and casting at bass this is where he is most at home. A fisherman with the environment at heart, Michael loves to spend time fishing with his family. Catch and release and take only what you need are the two philosophies Michael wants to instil in all young anglers. From the watery depths to dusty roads Michael cut his teeth in the most spectacular of motorsports – rallying. Wins at State, National, Asia/Pacific and International level elevated him to be the first Australian to tackle a regular ride in the World Rally Championship.

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