Tuning Flatfish for Maximum Efficiency
Flatfish is generally considered a slow speed
crankbait that runs shallow, which is a mistaken myth. With proper
tuning this banana shaped lure can easily run speeds to about 3 miles an
hour. The T-4 Flatfish can reach depths to at least 10 feet on 20
pound test Ande mono, which has a thickness akin to goat rope.
The Flatfish was marketed by the Charles
Helin Tackle Company in Detroit, Michigan during the 1930's, and was originally constructed of
wood. In the 1940's they switched from wood to plastic as the lure
gained popularity. The original design included what I call,
"nibbler hooks," meaning 2 sets of trebles running off 1
spreader bar. Now, with 2 eyelets we've got 4 treble hooks on the
T-4, making it one mean, awesome fish catching machine. Or, at least
that's the way it's been lately (11/24/01).
This is where your magnificent plan comes
together to lay waste to Mr. Steelhead, and it sounds a whole lot easier than it
actually is. All the eyelets on the lure MUST BE perfectly inline or
parallel to an imaginary centerline of the bait. If they're offline
or crooked, that's exactly what the lure will do, RUN CROOKED! So,
please pay attention to the reel fact of centering up those screw-in eyes!
This fact is compounded by the spreader bars the carry the outboard double set of
treble hooks. Now, you're ready to move on to the next important
This part that I always get messed up is, when I turn around to grab the needle nose pliers my conception or right and left become confused, then I have to re-splash the lure to get my bearings re-orientated. Having your tuning pliers in hand can save the re-splashing it and making minor adjustments is the way to go. If the lure is absolutely "in tune" you'll see it dig straight down and not try to pull to one side or the other.
These principals should be applied to the
entire family of all crankbaits. Bass pros have been known to
intentionally cause the lure to run to one side if they're casting
parallel to a vertical sea wall or riprap to keep the bait in
contact with the structure. That way the lure will keep banging off
the wall, triggering strikes, but this is only for bass pros.
The outboard hooking capacity of the additional hooks the spreader bars offer will make a dramatic difference in your hook-up to land ratio. When a Steelhead makes a swipe at the lure he's got 12 hook points and hook barbs to deal with, not 6 as on a conventional 2 hook model. So, this one is easily understood, more is definitely better.
In my case I deal with inexperienced anglers where excitement and the adrenalin rush can cause a multitude of serious tribulations with lost fish. The consequence of lost fish, is the loss of potential repeat business. Therefore, the better to hook-up and landing ratio I can show my guests, the more Mr. Franklins and Pres. Grants I'll have safely residing in my billfold, before I recycle them.
Tip: The spreader bars that separate the hooks will become uselessly bent out of shape after a few fish, so have extra on hand to replace. You replace the spreader bars by gently turning the eyelet sideways to open it up, then turning it back to closed, after the new one has been installed. Be extra careful not to ruin the eyelet.
Since I've changed over to fishing the T-4 my guests have had only one fish become unhook or "get off" and the hook-up ratio has increased by 40%.
In case you're wondering how deep the Flatfish will dive, at a multitude of dynamics will affect the capacity of any lure that dives to attain depth. Density of the water due to water temperature, speed of the current past the lure and the amount of line let off the reel all come into play. So answering, the above equation is almost an impossibility. This I can tell you though, with 40 feet of line off my SG47LC Diawa Line Counter reels 10 to 12 feet down is no problem for the T-4 sized Flatfish on 20 pound test Ande monofilament fishing line. I know this to be a fact, because I've had to dig them off the bottom or snags with my "plug plucker."