Flatfish spoons

Baited flounder spoons are proven flatfish catchers. You can buy them in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes, but the successful ones all have a similar basic design. Use a well designed spoon correctly, and you’ll notice such an increase in your flatfish catches, you’ll wonder why you haven’t used them before.

John Garrad, who wrote under the pen-name Seangler, developed the flounder spoon in its current form between the World Wars. His design and techniques remain valid today.

The right stuff

Garrad’s design is most useful from a boat as it has little built-in casting weight. The blade is 8-10cm long, usually curved, with a small hole at one end. A split ring through the hole joins the blade to an axis made of swivels and split rings. The blade spins around the axis and the hook is attached to the bottom end swivel.

This produces a sort of barspoon with a flexible central axis. This means that, in addition to the blade rotating about the axis, the whole spoon zig-zags through the water. These spoons are highly effective trolled with the tide behind a slowly moving boat.

From the shore you need a design which incorporates weight to allow you to cast a decent distance. The blade is attached as before, near the top of the axis, but this time the axis is made of wire, on to which you thread a number of pierced bullet or barrel weights. Again the with-the-tide retrieve is essential for success.

This flatfish barspoon is much more rigid than the traditional spoon – which means it doesn’t have the attractive zig-zag action. However, if you use light wire as the axis and bend it slightly, you can reproduce this action without sacrificing casting distance. Another solution is to use heavy mono instead of wire.

A hooklength of about 8cm tied to the end of the axis improves hooking potential. You can also add attractor beads to the axis and to the hooklength for extra flatfish pulling power. Whatever the design, it is vital that neither the axis nor the bait revolves, as this greatly reduces the effectiveness of the spoon.

There are other types of attractor spoons which anglers use with some success. One common type simply wobbles without rotating, and may help attract a fish’s attention to the bait. Other spinning attractors have smaller blades than flatfish spoons, but while these work for other species, they do not tempt flatties.

Why and how

Flatfish spoons are selective for flatfish -the reasons for this can only be answered by the flatties themselves. But it seems to be linked to their bottom-dwelling life-style.

Flatfish always swim and feed moving downtide – with the current or tide – usually in small shoals. This means you must work the spoon with the tide or your catches fall off drastically.

Competition for food within a shoal seems to be quite intense and this may be why spoons work so well. The spoon is supposed to look like a small flatty. As it passes through a shoal, the baited hook makes it look as though it’s carrying some food which the other flatties try to steal.

This explains the ferocious bites that you get and may also account for the times a second flatty accompanies the hooked one to the shore or boat. Other anglers believe a spoon simply arouses the fish’s interest and when it gets close enough, it sees and smells the bait – and takes it.

Whatever the reason, spoons do work. Just make sure the spoons you make or buy work in the right way. Use them well and you’ll add a new dimension to your fishing-and catch a lot more flatfish.

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