How to target Trophy flathead on Samaki Soft vibes by @danguilfoyle.
A Trophy Flathead is defined as a Dusky Flathead 70cm or longer.
About Dan & how his fishing journey started.
Dan is based on the NSW central coast and is a mad keen flathead Angler. He participates in the DPI trophy flathead tagging program at Lake Macquarie and has caught, tagged and released over 70 Trophy fish in under 2 years.
"My Dad got me into fishing, I have memories on the bank learning to walk with Mum while my Dad was fishing next to us. I first started to really love fishing at the age of 10 when I was first allowed to start riding my bike to the lake to fish with my mates after school".
Why samaki soft vibes to target trophy Flathead?
When soft vibes started to boom in the fishing scene, Dan started to use them to target Jewfish. After a surprising number of flathead as by-catch, He started specifically targeting flatties with soft vibes and had more success than ever.
Technique, lure action and retrieve.
Dan says, Once the vibe has hit the bottom he likes to use a slow lift, just enough to feel a light vibration from the lure through the rod tip. Wind up your slack line as you drop your tip so your lure drops with tension and swims back to the bottom. Repeat. The fish tend to bite just as the lure has just hit the bottom or at the very top of your lift.
Go to samaki soft vibe for big Duskys
Dan is still undecided whether he likes the vibelicous or the thumper tail more. Both have their days. Vibelicous sinks faster which can help in strong winds, other days you want a slower sink. As a general rule he likes to use the 70mm vibes from 1m-7m as the sink rate perfectly covers that water column. It's surprising that big flafties love to eat small lures. Fishing 8-10m is where the 100mm vibes are great, although using them shallower is advised if your struggling to maintain contact with the lure/bottom due to the conditions.
Is lure colour important to you?
Personally, he says, the lure colour isn't as important as chosing the right profile/action to suit the job. He likes to stick to natural colours like brown shrimp but also have a lot of success with chartreuse ginger squid in low light conditions.
Weather moon and tide, the good oil.
The biggest factors Dan's learned to look for when targeting big flathead are fishing the week after the new moon. This coincides with when the prawns run. Being involved in the Lake Macquarie flathead tagging program Dan is able to network with a lot of flathead gurus and this the biggest factor they all have in common with their successes. This and targeting the 2 hours either side of the tide change.
Structure and what to look for.
Flathead definitely favour natural structure like cockle and weed beds over artificial structure like wrecks in the area Dan fishes. Broken ground where sand meets reef or reef meets weed etc are a good place to start. Not only does it gives the flathead a good environment to ambush. Bait fish and squid also like to live in these areas too.
The gear of choice, rods, reels, line, scent and sounders.
"I use 3 main combos depending on weather conditions, what lures I'm throwing and whether I'm fishing around structure and ground to find fish or targerting bait schools looking for predatory fish that follow.
4-8lb Samaki zing extreme/Shimano stradic ci4 2500/6lb daiwa j braid/8lb Sunline FC rock leader.
6-12lb Samaki zing extreme/ Daiwa sol 3000/10lb Daiwa j braid/ 12lb sunline FC rock leader
10-20lb Samaki zing extreme/ Ecode Black hawk 2 3000/Daiwa j braid 10lb/ sunline FC rock leader
Sax Scent is definitely the go to scent. He uses it with all lure fishing, soft plastics and vibes. Some other scents used prior stained the lures, stripped paint off and warped the plastic. Sax does none of damage and lasts a noteworthy length of time once applied.
When it comes to sounders he uses a Lowrance carbon unit, this makes finding the specific areas to target incredibly easy.
Mistakes lessons and wisdom
The biggest mistake Dan sees people making with soft vibes is in not working their lure on the sink, they drop the rod tip without winding up the slack line at the same time. This allows the lure to fall with no tension and therefore spiral instead of swimming back to the bottom as it was designed to. Gently take up the slack line on the drop and your results will improve.
PB 's and Memories
"My biggest Is 94cm although my pb on a samaki vibe is 87 and I've caught 2 fish at 87. One on a 70mm vibe and one on the 100mm vibe. Highlights of the 87cm fish on 70mm vibe were all the heart in the throat moments battling the fish on 6lb line whist fishing a bream comp".
If you were beginning again what would you do differently?
To be honest, if I could go back to when I first started chasing flathead from today, I'd like to be able to take the Samaki soft vibes with me. The techniques I was using and areas I was fishing 20 years ago haven't changed much, but the lures have.
Do you use other styles of soft vibes?
Dan Says No, Samaki have never let me down where others have. It's important to point out that a lot of the reason behind samaki soft vibe success is the lures development it's self. He's seen vibes from other brands crimps come undone and also had the wire fray and fail. These lures have wire made in China. Samaki wire is from Japan and the lure construction is of high quality, they're capable of withstanding what Australian fish and conditions can throw at them.
What is your current Flathead goal?
To tag as many flathead as I can for the Lake Macquarie flathead tagging program and hopefully one day catch that elusive 1m monster!
Release the breeders!
Male Dusky Flathead grow to a maximum lenght of around 60cm. All fish longer than this are female. Support the body weight of the fish, revive her in the water prior to releasing. Its on us to ensure these fish are around for the next generation to admire.
Big thankyou to Dan @danguilfoyle for sharing what he's learned with us and we hope these insights improve your time on the water. If you catch a trophy flathead on a Samaki vibe using what you've learnt in this feature, let us know about it! Dm us on Instagram @fishnsw. Be sure to check out Dan's page on instagram too.
Dan would like to thank.
Josh & Kate Lowry for all the awesome Samaki products.
John Balcomb from Tacklepower. Best tackle shop in Newcastle.
Mark and Mandy Saxton – Sax scent. Always confident with sax on.
Luke Reiley from Lowrance, the carbon sounder is a game changer.
Cheers from us at @fishnsw