A big misconception in the flathead community is that you always have to use live bait. While flatheads are top predators, consuming anything that swims, crawls or flies, using live bait may not always be the answer. We have proven on many occasions, that in the springtime and during times of high water flatheads will take cut bait, often times over live bait.
Whether it is bluegills, shad or skipjack the trick is to always use the head section. Start by cutting the tail off just behind the anal-fin and then butterfly the bait. Butterflying is where you take the fillet knife and basically reverse fillet the bait. Start from the tail and cut to the head. Stop your cut just under the pectoral fins. This process gives the bait a wing like appearance.
The reason for cut bait over live during the spring is that flatheads are still a bit lethargic after coming out of their winter phase, so their sense of smell is more heightened than their sense of vibration. This is also true in periods of high muddy water.