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6 Best Baits for Flounder Fishing

In order to catch fish, selecting the best flounder bait is critical.  The trick is to match the local fish diet to the fishing presentation you’re using. 

summer flounder

Both live and dead baits will do the work, and no matter where you decide to fish, there are generally plenty of local bait and tackle shops with the supplies and information you’ll need.  We’ve broken down the most popular flounder baits in this article.

What’s the best bait for flounder?

If you are wondering which baits are the best for catching big flounder, there are a few that always seem to work throughout the seasons.  Here are the most recommended baits when fishing for all types of flounder, not to be confused with halibut, by the way.

Minnow Bait

Using live minnows are great for catching flounder on the reefs and wrecks up and down the coastal areas. 

minnow bait hooked through the lip

They create a lot of action in the water, last a long time if not eaten right away and have natural scents to attract the fish. 

You can buy minnows from the local bait shops or if you live near creeks and back bay areas, you can trap minnows yourself.

Squid Strips

Squid is one of the most popular fishing baits among ocean anglers.  Squid is a favorite food of so many fish including flounder, so bring this bait along on your next bottom fishing adventure. 

squid for fishing bait

Saltwater bait shops near seaside towns and coastal waterways sell fresh and frozen squid.  Squid can be used whole or chopped into strips.



Menhaden, also known as bunker fish in some areas, are flat herring type of fish with soft flesh and a forked tail.  These fish are popular inshore fishing baits, and they can be used live, dead, or frozen. 

live menhaden

Most anglers, particularly those targeting flounder, prefer fresh dead bunker that has never been frozen. 

The smaller of these fish are called peanut bunker and are literally flounder candy.  They’re wonderful for wreck and bottom fishing if you split the bigger ones up into small chunks.



Clams are a popular bait among flounder anglers.  You may buy clams at the bait shop or dig for them yourself, which is a lot of fun. 

fresh shucked live clams

There is an art to utilizing clams properly, and they can be difficult to keep on your hook at times. 

Using a top and bottom flounder rig and a strong sinker to deliver your bait to the bottom and in front of hungry fish is the most common approach to catching fish with clams.  Try both fresh and frozen clams to see which you prefer.

Strip Bait and Cut Bait

Cut bait is exactly what its name means.  You cut bits or strips off larger full fish like catfish, herring, sardines, bonito, and others and use them as fishing bait. 

saltwater catfish on a fishing line

Long cut strips of bait dangle from your hook and shimmer in the water, luring bottom fish such as flounder to strike.  On occasion, I will use a piece of cut bait on the top hook and a different sort of bait, such as clam, at the bottom of my rigs.


Finger Mullet

The majority of a flounder’s diet consists of small baitfish.  You won’t be able to drift far without seeing at least some schools of baitfish swimming around if you’re fishing in the proper area and in the right type of water.

finger mullet caught in a net

Finger mullet are abundantly available and widely consumed by flounder in most places.  These little silver fish are easy to catch with a cast net and can be found all along the Gulf Coast as well as up and down the Atlantic Coast. 

Mullet are a robust fish that may survive in a bucket if an aeration device is used to keep the water oxygenated.

Use 3 or 4 inch long finger mullet rigged on a 1 ounce jig head for huge flounder.  The hook should be threaded through the lips.



Shrimp are one of the most commonly used baits while fishing from the beach, bridges, wrecks, and other coastal places. 

person holding shrimp for bait

Fishermen frequently use dead, frozen, and live shrimp.  Whether you’re fishing for sea bass, flounder, redfish, or other near-shore species, there are a variety of ways to rig shrimp and use them to attract the fish.

Soft Plastics

When it comes to capturing Flounder, natural baits aren’t your only option.  Soft plastic lures are also effective. 

assortment of different soft plastic fishing lures

They aren’t quite as effective as the real thing, but they do have some distinct advantages: they’re inexpensive, long-lasting, and much easier to store.

Shapes like curly grub, paddle tail, and shrimp work well, especially if they’re flavored.  Light colors, such as pinks, green and white, are usually effective, though this relies on factors such as water clarity, time of year, and native diet. 

Put it on a jig head and bounce it through the shallow water, whatever you use.  It won’t be long before you’re spotted.


Final Thoughts

Flounder are a lot of fun to catch.  You can use light tackle and they put up a nice fight, especially if you have to reel them up from 50 plus feet deep.  Make sure you check your local rules and regulations for the season and catch limits if you’re planning on taking them back home for dinner.

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