Rob Payne Fishing ProfileRob Payne

Fishing Journalist, Flathead Classic Competitor

Rob is a well known Gold Coast fishing journalist, TV presenter and tournament angler, not to mention a long-time competitor in the Gold Coast Flathead Classic. When he’s not fishing or writing for Bush and Beach magazine, Rob can be found tinkering with lures to get an edge in fishing tournaments.

Rob’s Hot Tips Flathead Fishing

  • Flathead fishing 101 still applies – find areas of mottled weed (ie weed interspersed with sand patches) and you’ll find flathead. If you’re planning on fishing the classic and don;t know where to start you could do worse than to start at the club house and head towards Jumpinpin working areas of 1-2m depth thoroughly.
  • “Cracking the pattern” or “cracking the code” works just as well for flathead as any other species. Once you figure out what depth and substrate they’re on catching fish can become a simple matter of finding the same substrate in the same depth at different stages of the tide.
  • Forget about the sounder, leave it at home. For flathead fishing it’s often more important to use your eyes and your brain to find fish and to understand how your lures work to get strikes.
  • Don’t hold your rod too high on the retrieve when lure casting. It’s important to set the hook as flathead have hard mouths, but if your rod is too close to vertical you don’t have the opportunity to set the hook. Likewise, it’s important to fish heavy enough that it’s possible to get a good hook set.

Rob’s Flathead Fishing Tackle

  • Rob uses a few different fishing outfits, depending on whether he’s trolling or casting and on the size and style of lures he’s using.
  • For trolling smaller hard bodies such as the Zerek Tango Shads that dive to around 1.2m Rob uses a fairly soft 6’10” rod in the 4-8lb line class, coupled with 4lb braid and a leader in the 8-12lb range.
  • For trolling slightly deeper diving lures such as the micro mullet Rob switches to a 6’8″ 8-10lb rod to help set the hooks better. This rod doubles for casting lighter lures with jig heads up to 1/4 oz.
  • For casting heavier lures up to 3/8 oz he uses a rod of 12-16lb line class with a slightly heavier braided line 
  • For very deep water Rob uses a modified Venom VS7 that is short and stiff to allow hook sets in deep water even when there is a current.

Rob’s Flathead Lure Selection

  • The Zerek Tango Shad is a great trolling lure for the Gold Coast. Rob likes this lure when the trolling run is relatively clear of weed
  • Rob likes the Micro Mullet when he want’s a hard body that dives slightly deeper. This lure is also good for ripping through ribbon weed beds
  • The Wilson Fishtrap is a proven fish taker when Rob is casting flathead lures in deeper water from 8-60ft on the Gold Coast 
  • The Zerek Flat Shad (3.5″ or 4.5″) is a great paddle tail plastic that is deadly on flathead and can be weighted and rigged weedless to work over the sand patches between weed beds.

Rob’s Flathead Classic Tips

  • Prior to the Flathead Classic Rob will spend 12 hrs per day on Saturday and again on Sunday “finding a beat”. Once you understand your beat you know where and how to fish on each stage of the tide with confidence the fish will be playing ball. Don’t run around aimlessly from place to place, take time to crack the pattern and then stay put and catch fish.
  • Flathead see a lot of lures during the prefish and the subsequent competition, and many competitors will be using the same lures. Rob likes to tweak his lures by changing the way they are weighted or the sound they make. Simple, subtle things like adding an extra split ring, silencing a rattling lure or adding noise to a quieter lure can make a real difference. This tweaks change the sound, vibration and action of lures that flathead have become wary of and can make a real difference.
  • Sometimes a lure that once fished well stops catching fish and it can be because the hook hangers or the treble itself have become bent, which has changed the cadence of the lure.
  • During the pre-fish, take one of two fish for a feed and analyses the stomach contents to help know what the fish are feeding on in the days prior to the comp.

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Rob’s Sponsors

Wilson Fishing have supported Rob’s fishing for many years, which allows him to indulge in modifying and “tweaking” lures for tournament fishing and personal use.


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