It has been over 50 years since Charlie Helin made the first FlatFish lure. In that time FlatFish has become one of the most popular and productive lures ever created. Because of it's success, FlatFish has also become one of the most imitated lures. Nobody, however, has ever been able to duplicate the original FlatFish action that has caught so many fish over the years. Today, FlatFish is made by Yakima Bait Company under strict quality guidelines that Charlie Helin first established. With over 50 different color combinations in 14 sizes there is a FlatFish just right for every fishing condition.
The "T" Series FlatFish with a fillet of herring, sardine or anchovies on the underside is one of the most effective techniques ever developed to catch all kinds of Salmon. This technique was developed and used on the Sacramento River in California 25 years before ever attempted on other rivers. Now its popularity has proven to be the most widely used lure and bait combination in all our Northwest rivers and many Northwest guides are consistently catching more Salmon using a FlatFish and bit wrap.
There are four basic methods of fishing the larger FlatFish with a fillet wrap for Salmon. The M-2, T-50, T-55, and T-60 sizes are effectively fished with the help of a diver for back trolling or trolling forward. Also effective is back bouncing, or trolling with lead. All these methods help to keep the lure close to the bottom, where the Salmon are most commonly located.
The T-50 FlatFish is the deepest diving plug of its design on the market today. It is ideal for trolling or back trolling and is capable of reaching the bottom without any other assistance, such as a diver or lead. In keeping with Yakima Bait Company's tradition of producing top quality lures you will find the "T" series FlatFish a perfectly balanced true running plug.
The larger FlatFish are equipped with VMC Perma-Steel heavy duty treble hooks for handling big fish and are ideal for saltwater fishing.
When wrapping the fillet on a FlatFish make sure the fillet is tied on with the skin next to the plug. Transparent nylon sewing thread works best for securing the bait to the lure. It's important to have the right size fillet, positioned just right on the belly so you can have the proper FlatFish action needed!
Slit each fillet as the illustration shows for the size FlatFish you are going to use. It helps to take both hooks off before putting on the wrap. On each FaltFish there is a line behind the head. Start the fillet at this line. Separate fillet so it can be wrapped around the belly eye on the FlatFish and begin wrapping with transparent thread. Finish off the wrap with transpar-ent thread. Finish off the wrap with a couple of half hitches then put the hooks back on.
When using a diver to keep the fillet wrapped FlatFish close to the bottom, you need to use a 4-1/2 ft. leader of 40 to 60 lb. test and a 30 lb. main line. Fish behind the boat 45 to 50 ft. The diver works best if it is rigged to slide up and down the line allowing the FlatFish to really work. When trolling or back bouncing use a leader 40 inches long. The lead weight should be attached on a sliding line that is 20 inches long.
For the best results in hooking and landing a Salmon on a FlatFish, a heavy Salmon rod is recommended to handle the action and pulling of the plug and large treble hooks. A heavier rod also helps to really set the hook. When a fish does strike your FlatFish it is best to let it take your rod down 4 to 5 times before you set the hook. If you don't wait, most of the time you will miss the fish. A Salmon striking a bait wrapped FlatFish will be the hardest strike that you have ever felt from a Salmon.
Professional guide and outfitter Stephen Koler says, "I have fished a lot of the Northwest rivers and the Kenai river in Alaska for all species of Salmon, using all types of lures and baits, and by far the larger size FlatFish with a fillet wrap is the deadliest lure and bait combination that I have ever used!"
Casting and retrieving a FlatFish from a boat or shore can also be productive in lakes. The unique, slow retrieve action of FlatFish is deadly on Trout, bass, perch, walleye, pike, musky and other gamefish.
Choose the right size FlatFish for the type of fish you are after (see Size and Color Recommendations) and then add weight or a casting bubble to help make a good long cast. Retrieve the FlatFish just fast enough (about one third the speed of a normal retrieve) to create the attractive swimming action that fish just can't resist.
Trolling a FlatFish in lakes is another popular and effective method for catching fish. Using lead core line, down riggers or just by adding weight to monofillament line, the FlatFish can be trolled at any depth desired.
Troll along fish holding structures in a slow zig-zagging pattern. FlatFish's unique, slow troll action will catch fish many times when nothing else will work.
From the smallest brooks and streams to the Kenai and Columbia Rivers, FlatFish can be and are used effectively to catch all kinds of fish.
No matter what size river or stream you are fishing or what size FlatFish you are using you will always have your best luck when the lure is working naturally in the current.
In small streams, FlatFish in sizes F2 to F7 can be extremely productive for Trout. Cast the lure just above likely fish holding areas (undercuts in the stream bank, behind rocks and logs or in deep pools) and allow the current to take the FlatFish into these holding spots. Sometimes a small piece of weight will need to be added to get the lure down near the bottom of the stream where fish often hold. With all FlatFish you will feel and see the rythmic bounce of your rod tip if the lure's swimming action is working correctly.
In larger rivers where you are after bigger fish, FlatFish in sizes F7 to U20 can be fished in the same manner.
From a drift boat or river jet boat a FlatFish can also be "backtrolled" through fish holding waters of a river. This method consists of rowing or using a motor to hold the boat against the current of the river. Depending on the river's depth and the speed of the current a diver or weight can be added to help the FlatFish "get down." Keep the diver or weight about 40 inches above the lure.
Let the FlatFish run downstream 40 to 50 feet behind the boat and once the lure is out, the boat can then be allowed to slip slowly downstream giving the FlatFish a chance to work in the current through the hole.
If the river has a very slow current the FlatFish can even be trolled upstream.
SIZE AND COLOR RECOMMENDATIONS F2 THROUGH F4
The smallest of the FlatFish, these are ideal for small streams and rivers as well as lakes, slow trolling for Trout, bass, perch, crappie and other gamefish. These FlatFish can also be used effectively on fly fishing tackle.
F5 THROUGH F7
These FlatFish are recommended for spinning tackle and used in lakes and streams for a variety of different gamefish including Trout, bass and walleye.
X4 THROUGH T4
These are all purpose FlatFish for bigger gamefish. They can be cast or trolled for big bass, Trout, Steelhead, pike, Salmon, lake Trout, mackinaw, walleye, musky and more.
M2 THROUGH T60
These rugged, heavy-duty FlatFish are popular for large saltwater and freshwater fish including Salmon, tarpon, yellow tail, lake Trout, musky, northern pike and more. These big FlatFish also work well with bait wraps.
There are now over 50 different color combinations available in all 14 sizes of FlatFish. Colors matching the natural insects and food of the fish you are after can be very productive.
There are also a number of different bright metallic colors that will attract fish and entice strikes.
The general rule of bright, flashy colors on dark days or in off-colored water and dark, subdued colors on bright days and clear water conditions generally holds true with FlatFish. Like all fishing, however, it seems fish will go for one color one day and a totally different color another so it pays to carry a good selection of colors.