Fluke also called summer flounder are a very fun fish to catch all summer long in the bays of New Jersey and along the east coast. In the winter fluke spend their time in 200 to 500 feet of water on the continental shelf. There are also winter flounders that are in shallow waters in the spring, winter, and fall. There will typically be a fleet of party boats and recreational fishermen just offshore in about 10 to 80 feet of water all summer long catching fluke.
This type of fishing is relaxing and everyone on the boat can expect to catch a few fish if using the proper bait and techniques. Party boats give out dead minnows to use as bait. With this bait, most people only catch 1 to 3 fluke all day. If a bucktail jig with a white gulp teaser is used people can expect to catch 5 to 10 fluke.
When someone brings gulp with they seem like professional fishermen compared to everyone else! Fluke fishing is not overly complicated. If you are using white gulp and the bait is on the bottom fish can be consistently caught. Jigging and twitching the pole does help trigger bites.
A boat is not needed to catch fluke. Fluke hang out around ledges, sandbars, muddy bottoms, rocky bottoms, near inlets, and under piers. Really if it is fluke season and the bait is on the bottom there is a decent chance a fluke will be caught. Let’s now talk about the best fluke lures and baits.
Here Are the Best Fluke and Flounder Baits, Lures, and Rigs
1. White Gulp Swimming Mullet
Berkley Gulp is the most recommend way to catch fluke! From personal fishing experience, it is almost magical how much better it works than other baits! When fishing in a tournament for large fluke live bait might be an equal method but for recreational fishermen trying to easily catch lots of fish, Gulp is the way to go. I use pearl white Gulp almost exclusively but chartreuse Gulp works great as well. It comes in
Gulp swimming mullet comes in 3-inch or 4-inch sizes and can be pearl white or chartreuse in color. The three inches is a good size for teasers and small hooks. The four-inch gulp is a good size for teasers and to put on jigs.
In the picture, I am holding a fluke caught while jigging. The rig is shown and has a 4-ounce white Spro bucktail jig in the bottom. Approximately 18 inches above that is a hook tied with a dropper loop with a 3-inch white gulp swimming mullet. This is a great rig for fluke and flounder fishing. Jigging for fluke is typically done with saltwater spinning reels.
2. Spro Bucktail Jig
This Spro Bucktail Jig comes in weights from 1/2 ounce to 4 ounces. The jigs come in a variety of colors and should match the gulp that is used. My favorite color fluke jigs are white, chartreuse, and dark shad. Bucktail jigs also work great to catch striped bass. Bass Pros Shops has the Intent Tackle bucktail jig which is similar to the Spro.
It is common to add a Gulp curly tail bait to the jig itself. Strip baits such as bonito strips or mahi-mahi bellies can also be added.
Custom Fluke Teaser Rig
My friend Ryan O showed me how to make the best setup for jigging for fluke. The rig consists of a Spro Bucktail Jig as the weight, a five-foot 20 to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader, and a white gulp used as a teaser bait about 18-inches above the jig. The teaser is tied by making a dropper loop where a number 3/0 or 4/0 bait hook is attached. A three-inch white gulp minnow is placed on the hook right before the line is dropped into the water.
The leader line is tied to the mainline with a double uni knot or a barrel swivel. A barrel swivel is used if anglers do not know how to tie line to line with the double uni knot. Gulp is also added to the bucktail jig. The jig needs to be 1 to 4 ounces to get to the bottom in average currents. Typically only large fluke bite the bucktail. About four out of every five fluke are caught on the Gulp teaser.
Gamakatsu baitholder hooks, size 3/0 or 4/0 work great for holding the gulp teaser. Size 4/0 is needed when using a leader line greater than a 20-pound test.
Seaguar fluorocarbon leader 20-50 pound test is used as the leader line to make the fluke rig. Using a 20-pound line is standard and it is easier to fit the hook onto the dropper loop. If line heavier than the 20-pound test is used the teaser hook will need to be large enough for the line to fit through the eye of the hook.
In the picture is a fluke that I caught using a bucktail jig with a gulp teaser while fishing in New Jersey.
3. Gulp Grub Curly Tail Bait
A six-inch Gulp Grub with a swimming tail works great on Spro jigs. This grub comes in a variety of colors, white and chartreuse work the best for fluke.
This grub is a bit too long to use as a teaser. It is commonly added to jigs and the action of the tail and scent does a great job attracting fish. The grub portion can be cut short if used on smaller jigs or teaser hooks. The tail works well facing up or down.
4. Sea Strike Fluke Bottom Rig
The Sea Strike fluke and flounder rigs use a three-way swivel. It has a 1/0 side gap saltwater hook that should be tipped with squid, Gulp, or a minnow. This bottom rig has a number 2 silver blade and a green squid hoochie skirt. A 1-4 ounce weight should be clipped onto the swivel.
The weight can be clipped directly on the sinker snap when jigging. In a fast drift or retrieve it would be a good idea to add a 20 to a 30-inch leader to connect the weight to the sinker snap. This will keep the bait just of the bottom which is perfect for fluke.
Pyramid sinker weights that are 2-4 ounces are commonly used. A drop shape weight, round weight, or egg sinker would be a good idea for casting and retrieving the rig.
5. Sea Strike Flounder Bottom Rig
The Sea Strike fluke and flounder bottom rig has a bucktail skirt. It also has beads and a single silver blade to add flash and vibrations into the water. A three-way swivel is used to attach the leader, weight, and mainline. The hooks should be tipped with a fresh scented bait such as squid, Gulp, or minnow.
6. Fluke Chicken Rig
Sea striker pompano double hooks rig is the classic chicken rig that works great to catch all sorts for bottom fish. This rig is pre-made and you will only have to know how to tie a basic fishing knot.
Add a pyramid weight or jig to the snap swivel and tie the mainline from the pole to the barrel swivel. The snap swivel will make it easy to change weights if needed. Add three-inch Gulp minnows to the hooks and you are ready to catch lots of fluke! Make sure enough hook is exposed out of the gulp to hook the fish. Near the bottom of the article, I show a video on how to make a basic chicken rig.
In the picture, I am holding some bunker and my brother is holding a fluke. We are in the Hutson river in New York City.
7. Fin Strike Tandem Flounder Rig
The Fin Strike Fluke Rig 557 comes with Mustad Ryder hooks with red beads and a single hammered spinner blade. It also has a three-way swivel with a snap clip for the sinker. This has two hooks and it is recommended to put a three-inch gulp on perpendicular to the small hook shank. Then add two dead minnows to the larger hook. If minnows are not available just use the tail from a piece of gulp on the second larger hook.
8. Tsunami Swim Fluke Jig
Tsunami Swim Jigs comes in size options of 3-inch 3/8 ounce, 4-inch 1 once, 5-inch 1-3/8 ounce, 6-inch 2-3/8 ounce, 6-1/2 inch 4-1/4 ounce, 7-inch 3 ounces, and 9-inch 6-1/4 ounce. Good color options for fluke and flounder include chartreuse, pearl white, and black back.
This swim jig is a good way to get a lure to the bottom with a teaser hook with gulp tied above it. This allows for big fluke, bluefish, and striped bass to strike the jig and smaller fluke to hit the teaser bait. The paddle tail adds vibration to the water and gel can be applied to the outside of the jig for scent.
9. Tsunami Holographic Flounder Jig
The Tsunami holographic jig comes in sizes of 6 inches 3/4 ounce, 7-inch 1 ounce, 8-inch 1-1/5 ounce, and 9-inch 2-1/2 ounce. Color options are olive-back and black-back both of which have a holographic shimmer.
The sand eel jig is a very good imitation bait of sand eels and spearing minnows. Sand eels are often found near the bottom and are a common fish for fluke and flounder to eat.
10. Storm Swim Shad Fluke Jigs
Storm Swim Shad jigs come in sizes of 3-inch .25 ounce, 4-inch .4375 ounce, 5-inch .625 ounce, and 6-inch .875 ounce. Color options are shad, fire tiger, and baby bass.
The storm swim shad is very similar to the Tsunami swim jig. For their size, the storm jigs are lighter and better for shallow cast and retrieving and jigging in shallow water.
11. Bomber Bucktail Eel Fluke Jig
The Bomber Jig-N-Eel is a bucktail jig with an eel tail. Size options are 1-1/2 ounce and 3-ounce. The jigs come in white, chartreuse, and yellow. The eel tail works decently as is but gel scent can be added or a scented Gulp curly tail grub can also be used.
This jig works well for fluke and striped bass. The jig hook eyelet is forward which is better for horizontal swimming motion. For this reason, it is a good jig to use when shore fishing or surf fishing. It is common to use a surf fishing reel to allow for far casting in these cases.
The cownose stingray below was caught off Sandy Hook in New Jersey the first week of August. I caught it near the bottom on a Gulp teaser and thought it was a giant fluke. We have also caught these using cut bunker. We always release them and I am not sure if they are legal to keep. In early August in New Jersey cownose rays can be seen swimming near the surface in the tens of thousands. Their fins rising above the surface look like shark fins from a distance.
12. Strike King Fluke Jig Heads
The Strike King saltwater jig comes in size options of 1/8 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/2 ounce. For this reason, this is a good jig option in water less than 25 feet deep. It comes in colors of red, pearl, clear coated, and chartreuse. Bass Pro Shops has a similar style deluxe shad jighead.
White Berkley gulp can be added to make for a very effective swim jig. This jig works for many types of fish including juvenile tarpon, redfish, sea bass, and striped bass. This swim jig is very light in terms of fluke jigs. These work great when in shallow water under 15 feet deep and when fishing from shore. Pulling it up and down off the bottom is a good method as well as contentious twitching while slowly retrieving the jig just off the bottom.
13. Powerbait Power Minnow Scented Flounder Jig
The Berkley Powerbait Powe Minnow is a good fluke and flounder bait to use in shallow water. It is only 3-inches long and 1/8 ounce. Similar to gulp it is a bait with a strong scent. Some people think fluke fishing must be done in 40 plus feet of water. While there is good fluke fishing at deep depths later in the summer big and little fluke come all the way to the shore. Sometimes a small bait can get less aggressive fish to bite. Bass Pro Shops sells 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch power minnow bodies which can be placed on heavier jig. The 1/8 ounce jig will only work in shallow water.
Other live flukes and flounder baits include mummichogs, killifish, peanut bunker, menhaden, bull minnows, pinfish, croakers, spot, spearing, silversides, sand eels, silversides, shrimp, squid, and eels. Some days Gulp and artificials will out fish live bait. Other days live bait will out fish Gulp. In fluke-tournaments is it is common to bring some live baitfish. When fishing by wrecks and bottom structure baitfish also work well.
14. DOA Shrimp Flounder Bait
DOA Shrimp is a great bait for many types of fish including reef fish, tarpon, striped bass, tripletail, sea bass, and flounder. These baits come in packs with 3 jigs that weigh 1/2 ounce each. Color options are clear red-glitter, natural gold, near-clear, pearl white, and glow.
DOA shrimp are made with real shrimp. Another similar bait is Gulp Shrimp Alive which has a strong scent. Gulp Shrimp baits need to be added to a jig head. Since these jigs only weight 1/2 ounce they work best when fishing in water less than 25 feet deep.
15. Goture Fluke Jigs
Goture jigs are slender 4-inch baits that weigh .77 ounces. These jigs are reasonably priced and come in 5 great colors which are grey, red-white, gold, luminous, and blue with silver glitter.
When fishing in water less than 30 feet deep Goture jigs are a great option. A scented gel can be added to the outside on the body. The baits look very similar to spearing and sand eels and are good to use when these baitfish are around.
16. Fluke and Flounder Mooching Rig
The next flounder rig is actually a rig used to catch salmon in the north pacific. However, it also works awesome at catching halibut in less than 150 feet of water. Which is why I know it will be a great rig to catch fluke and flounder with. Heavy 6-8 ounce weights can be used while still presenting a fresh natural bait.
This slider is very similar to sliders used for surf fishing rigs. It is 1-1/2 inches long and comes in red or black. Any slider would work but the long length of this slider allows for good performance even when using heavyweights. The weight is clipped to the swivel so the lead weight does need to have a metal ring in order to close properly.
Six Bead Swivel
A six bead swivel connects the leader to the mainline. A good barrel swivel or crane swivel would also work but a six bead swivel does a good job at reducing tangles. These also come in a 4 bead size which means it is shorter and has two fewer beads.
Fluke Mooching Weight
The weight for the fishing rig should have a metal ring so that the swivel on the slider can be used. It is common to use a 6-ounce to 8-ounce weight when salmon fishing. However, it is common to mooch for salmon at 100-200 feet. When fluke and flounder fishing a 4-ounce could be used in most cases.
Fluke Mooching Rig
These leaders come with two snelled hooks. The hooks can be solid tied with a fixed distance between hooks or slip tied where the spacing between hooks can be adjusted. Typically I like the sold tied leaders. Each pack comes with three leaders. It is common to rig these with herring but any long slender baitfish would work such as ballyhoo, finger mullet, or large shiner. Having two hooks definitely helps the bite to hook up ratio. A hoochie or fly skirt can also be placed over the hooks.
17. Redfish Magic Saltwater Spinnerbait
The Strike King Redfish Magic is a saltwater spinnerbait. It comes in sizes of 1/8 ounce and 1/4 ounce. Color options are chartreuse, pearl, watermelon, blue crab, and black neon.
Spinnerbaits are a great way to fish for fluke in less than 10 feet of water. It can be cast out and retrieved right along the bottom. The swim jig can be replaced with a Gulp to add scent. It is common to use a baitcasting reel when jigging and casting for fluke. Large conventional reels are not needed for fluke fishing but smaller conventional reels can be used.
18. Hogy Protail Paddle Tail Fluke Swim Jig
The Hodgy Protail paddle tail swim jig is a sleek bait. It comes in sizes of 3.5-inch 1 ounce, 4.5-inch 1.25 ounces, 5.5-inch 2 ounces, 6.5-inch 2 ounces, 6.5-inch 3 ounces, 6.5-inch 4 ounces, 6.5-inch 5 ounces, 6.5-inch 6 ounces. Color options are white, olive, green, blue, purple, and peanut bunker. There is also an eel version of this jig without a paddle tail.
This jig can be used as an alternative to a bucktail jig. Key features of the lure include 3D eyes, durable body, paddle tail, and 3X VMC barbarian jig hook. This looks similar to a small bunker or sand eel which makes it a good swim jig for fluke and flounder.
19. Pro-Cure Super Gel Flounder Pounder
The Pro-Cure Flounder Pounder is a scented gel that can be applied to both metal and soft plastic baits. It is made with real bait, ammino acids, and UV flash.
Having a scented bait is important when fishing for fluke and flounder. Often times they can follow a scent trail to the bait from a far distance away. For this reason, Berkley Gulp has become the most widely used Fluke and Flounder bait in many areas of the country. Adding scents to other baits can also make them extremely effective fluke lures.
20. Fluke Ball Jig With a Hoochie
Fluke ball jigs are round weights with large reflective eyes built into both sides of the jig. These come in sizes of 1-ounce, 2-ounce, 3-ounce, 4-ounce, 5-ounce, and 6-ounce. The jigs come with 6 per pack with colors of gold, root beer, purple-black, gold-orange, and pink.
Features of the fluke ball jigs include a 4-3/4 inch hoochie, glow bead, 50 pond leaders, and two hooks per jig. The hooks can be tipped with squid, gulp, minnows, or left empty. A teaser bait can be tied to the leader above the jig just like standard buck tailing for fluke and flounder.
How to Catch Fluke and Flounder
The most popular way to catch fluke and flounder is to use bucktail jigs while drifting. The bucktail jig is usually between 1-ounce and 4-ounces and has a Gulp curly tail bait on the jig hook. About 18-inches above the jig a teaser hook is tied with a dropper loop to the leader. On the teaser hooks, a 3-inch or 4-inch Gulp Swimming Mullet is placed on the hook. White Gulp and chartreuse Gulp are the most popular colors used for fluke baits.
Other popular ways to catch fluke and flounder is to use live bait, swim jigs, fluke ball jigs, spinnerbaits, and fluke rigs with dead spearing minnows. When fishing on party boats the bait given out to customers is typically dead spearing minnows. Squid is another good bait for fluke and flounder.
Fluke and flounder are similar to halibut and when halibut fishing almost everyone anchors. Some anglers do anchor when fluke fishing but it is less common. Not enough bait is typically placed on the hooks to leave a good scent trail. If you know an area with lots of fluke or flounder I think anchoring up with large scented baits would be very effective with a moderate strength tide.
Light tackle with a 20-50 pound line can be used when fluke fishing. Saltwater spinning reels are most commonly used for flounder fishing but baitcasting reels and small conventional jigging reels can also be used.
Frequently asked Questions
Are fluke good eating fish?
Fluke are a very good fish to eat but need to be over 18 inches to keep in most states. It is common to catch three or four short fluke or flounder for every keeper. Fluke and flounder are basically the same when it comes to meat quality. It is a white flaky meat that does not taste very fishy. Add a little lemon and it is delicious.
What is the best time of year to catch fluke?
Most people fish for fluke in the summer as that is when they move into water that is shallower than 100 feet deep. Starting around May and going through September fluke can be found in water from 100 feet deep all the way to the shoreline and inlets. Fluke are commonly found along flats and near structures and ledges.
How do you catch fluke with bucktails?
Bucktailing is a very popular way to catch fluke and flounder. Rather than sending bait down with a lead weight without a hook on it, a bucktail jig is used. The jig is painted to look like a fish and it has a hair skirt that fluke, flounder, bluefish, and striped bass will all bite on. The jigs are also commonly tipped with bait such as squid, shrimp, baitfish, or a Gulp Swimming Mullet.
Above the bucktail jig, a second Gulp bait is typically added on a bare hook that is tied to the leader with a dropper loop. The jig is sent down until it hits the bottom. Then it is jigged with short jerks to give the jig action while staying very close to the bottom. Bouncing the jig off the bottom can send vibrations through the ground that can attract fish.
I show the best way to tie the dropper loop for bucktail fluke rigs in the video below.
What depth should you fish for fluke and flounder?
Fluke and flounder are found at different depths depending on the time of year. In the summertime, they are found in shallow water near the shore, in bays, in tributaries, and along flats in up to around 100 feet of water depth. During the winter fluke go out near the continental shelf in 200-500 feet of water.
What is the best bait for flounder and fluke fishing?
Most people think Gulp is the best bait for fluke but sometimes fresh bait or live bait will outfish Gulp. Fresh baits include baitfish like killifish, mummichogs, spearing, bull minnows, bunker, pinfish, small croakers, spot, silversides, eels, and sand eels. Another dead bait that will work is shrimp and squid. Swim jigs are lures that will work and scented gel can be applied to the outside of the jigs.
What is the best tide to fish for fluke and flounder?
Some people will say the best tide is the start of the outgoing tide, others will say is it an hour before high tide. In my opinion, any moderate strength tide is a good tide. You want current to be flowing but not to fast that it is hard to reach the bottom or quickly wipe away a scent trail. Fish naturally feed during certain tides so it definitely makes a difference. Sometimes when the tide and wind are in the same direction it is actually the best situation as the bait and nutrients tend to settle into the water.
What pound line is best for flounder and fluke?
The best pound test for fluke is a 20-pound braided line with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. That being said I typically fish with a 40-50 pound line and leader as there are much larger fish that will eat the same bait. Bluefish and striped bass are known to eat bucktail jigs, swim jigs, and baitfish that are used for fluke fishing. Sometimes even sharks and cownose stingrays will bite. Fishing for fluke with light tackle does make it a fun experience though.
How big do fluke or summer flounder get?
The world record flounder was 22.7 pounds and was caught in Montauk, NY in 1975. In 2007 a woman for Bradley Beach, NJ caught a 24.3 pounds fluke that was 38.25 inches. It would have been the record but she rested her pole on the boat momentarily during the fight which is against the IGFA rules. Any summer flounder over 25 inches or 5 pounds is considered a very large flounder.
How big do winter flounder get?
The IGFA world record for winder flounder is 7 pounds caught in Fire Island New York in 1986. The New Jersey state record for winter flounder is 5 pounds 11 ounces caught off Barnegat Light in 1993. Any flounder over 15 inches or 2 pounds is considered a large winter flounder.
What is the difference between a flounder and a fluke?
Fluke and flounder are very similar fish. A summer flounder or fluke has its lower jaw on the left side, a winter flounder has its lower jaw on the right side. There are also southern flounder and Gulf flounder. Some people say that all fluke are flounder but not all flounder are fluke by technical definition. It is good to be able to identify which species is which as winter flounder typically have a much shorter size limit length. Winter flounder typically have to be 12 inches to keep and summer flounder or fluke have to be 18 inches.
Captain Cody has worked on charter fishing boats in the Florida Keys, Virgin Islands, and Alaska. Growing up in Pennsylvania Cody has also done extensive freshwater fishing including bass fishing tournaments. Cody strives to provide detailed information about the best fishing gear and tactics to help both novice and experienced anglers have a more productive and enjoyable time on the water. Cody also has a background in aerospace engineering and neuroscience but really only takes pride in being good at one thing and that is fishing!