flats fishing environment


Plenty of fish species can be consistently targeted in flats habitat within Australian waters. In all scenarios and for all species you’ll require long, fast-action rods that deliver powerful and accurate casts. Spin outfits are ideal for bait or lure anglers, while fly fishing outfits are also very popular among sport fishing enthusiasts.

Here is a list of popular flats targets in Australia and tips on how to catch them.


Bream love to frolic and feed across sand and mud flats. To catch them, twitch small baitfish profile soft plastics through shallow water or slowly bounce grub style plastics along the sediment. Mix up the retrieves until you work out the technique that triggers a response. Shallow running hardbodies are also very effective with a slow and steady retrieve.

Another fun method for chasing Bream is to bloop small poppers across shallow patches of weed. Watch closely for interested Bream hovering and eyeing up popper lures. Sometimes the tiniest twitch is enough to push them over the edge and commit to a bite.

Rod: 2-5kg spin rod
Reel: Size 15 or 20 spin reel
Mainline: 4-6lb
Leader: 4-6lb
Lures: Baitfish, prawn, or grub style plastics, small poppers, hardbodies, blades, flies
Baits: Prawns, nippers, worms


Flathead thrive in flats habitat. They’re ambush predators that are built to camouflage themselves in sand and mud and rarely shy away from an offering. Baitfish are their primary prey but they’re also fond of prawns and nippers. Any soft plastics or hardbody lures that imitate these baits will also work a treat.

Flathead usually lay motionless in the sand, so casts that cover plenty of ground are more likely to cross paths with one. Paddle tail soft plastics are killer lures that are extremely effective with slow and steady hops.

Target drop-offs, drains, and holes in the sediment where Flathead are likely to lie in wait. Flathead are also notorious for sitting right at the water’s edge to hunt Mullet and Whiting. Always cast along the shoreline before treading forwards.

Rod: 3-6 kg spin rod
Reel: Size 20 spin reel
Mainline: 6-10lb
Leader: 10-20lb
Lures: Paddle tail, baitfish, or grub style plastics, hardbodies, blades, flies
Baits: Baitfish, prawns, nippers


Gold Trevally are a popular target species on tropical sand flats. They’re commonly spotted in small schools tailing and feeding on crustaceans and invertebrates in the sediment and are very receptive to soft plastics and flies.

Lures and flies that imitate crabs, prawns, or small baitfish usually work well. The trick is to sneak up on feeding Goldens and deliver subtle casts. Once hooked Goldens fight hard and live up to the reputation of a Trevally.

Rod: 6-8kg spin rod, 9-weight fly rod
Reel: Size 30 spin reel, 9-weight fly reel
Mainline: 16-20 lb
Leader: 20 lb
Lures: Baitfish, crab, prawn, or grub style plastics, crab and baitfish profile flies
Baits: Prawns, nippers, worms


Bonefish are a revered sport fish across the globe, but they’re a relatively new discovery in Australian waters. Although they likely exist in other areas, the only known population that is regularly targeted is in the waters off Ningaloo reef in Exmouth, Western Australia.

Bonefish are like a Whiting on steroids and are notorious for fighting hard in shallow water. They eat small crustaceans such as nippers, prawns and crabs and are usually targeted on fly.

Rod: 7-weight fly rod
Reel: 7-weight fly reel
Leader: 10-20lb
Flies: Prawn, crab flies
Baits: Prawns, nippers, worms


Whiting are a prolific Australian estuary species and are commonly spotted swimming in loose schools in shallow water. They are opportunistic feeders that primarily eat worms and small crustaceans on the sand and mud flats.

Whiting are easy targets for bait anglers, but they can also be taken on lures when they are in an aggressive and competitive mood. Small poppers, small plastics and worm style flies can entice them to bite.

Rod: 2-5kg spin rod
Reel: Size 15-20 spin reel
Mainline: 4-6lb
Leader: 4-6lb
Lures: Grub style plastics, small poppers, worm flies
Baits: Prawns, nippers, worms


Is there a fish species we should add to this list? Let us know and share your fishing expertise with everyone.

Peter Hollingsworth
Peter Hollingsworth

Peter has been fishing all around Australia since he was a boy. He loves camping, fishing and kayak fishing.