The best lures for flounder are 3-inch swimbaits that closely resembles the natural food source and can be fished in shallow waters, depending on the time of year.
Despite their hideous appearance, flounder (flukes) are one of the most popular fish that anglers target in coastal waters around the world. They are unique to other fish species in both their appearance and their habits and catching flounder is a true challenge that fishermen often relish. There are many different approaches to fishing for flounder in terms of what bait or lures to use.
There are several types of live baits that work exceptionally well for flounder, but what about artificial lures? If you know the usual feeding habits and patterns of flounder, as well as where to find them at different times of the year, you can catch them with good consistency using the right lures.
We’ve done plenty of research on the subject of flounder fishing, consulted professional fishing guides and have combined the results with our own experience to produce this article, which we hope will be a handy guide for anglers to determine the best flounder lures they can find in today’s fishing industry.
Table of Contents
Flounder Fishing Overview
Most anglers who are experienced in flounder fishing will use a combination of live baits and artificial lures to catch them. Depending on what time of year you’re fishing, it’s sometimes better to use one type of bait as opposed to another. When it comes to fishing with artificial lures, it’s best to select lures that very closely resemble the type of prey that flounder usually target in the area where you plan to fish.
For instance, if you’re fishing in an area where flounder commonly feed on crabs, you’ll certainly want to try using an artificial crab-like lure when fishing along the shorelines and ledges. If you’re fishing in offshore waters during the winter when flounder are usually in deeper waters, it’s better to go with a minnow-like soft plastic lure or a weighted rig that also includes a spinner or other attractants.
Once you’ve selected a lure that works and is getting bites from flounder, the main challenge you’ll have is locating them. Flounder are known to frequent shallow waters near the shoreline for much of the year when the water temperature is above 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is cooler than this level, flounder are more likely to be farther away from the coast in deep waters and offshore reefs.
How We Rate Products
I thoroughly review all products to measure their performance, durability, and value for money. This is done through bench and field testing to check how the product performs. This testing results in an overall score that I give to all products. All metrics are scored out of 5.
The performance score is how well this product fulfills its primary purpose. Does it have all the features and optional extras you need to catch the target species? We also interview expert anglers on their experience to build a broader and more comprehensive view on the performance under multiple conditions.
- Test 1: Confirm that the max drag meets the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Test 2: Test the maximum casting distance using a 1.0-ounce lure.
- Test 3: Test the accuracy by casting 10 times into a 3 ft diameter circle at 30 yards.
- Test 4: Check the versatility and the ability to handle multiple uses by field testing with 3 different lures and baits.
Durability refers to how long the product will continue functioning. I twist, bend, and break all the products to check their longevity. This score is for the materials of construction, the quality of the workmanship, and the servicing requirements. There are also bonus points for manufacturers’ warranty.
For products that we can’t test for long enough, we also consult with experts who have been using them for multiple decades to judge their longevity.
- Test 5: Pull it apart to check the grease and oil levels, how difficult it is to maintain, and whether any sand or salt has deposited after use in saltwater.
Value for Money
The final aspect of the scoring system is the price or, more specifically, the value for money. Value for money is a comparison against the closest alternative products, both by the same manufacturer and other brands.
Finally, I average the three scores of performance, durability, and value for money to give the overall score of each product reviewed.
1. Z-Man Elaztech MinnowZ 3” Swimbait
Experienced flounder fishing anglers know that a quality paddletail soft plastic minnow is always a solid choice of lure for flounder at virtually any time of the year. Flounder often love to target any type of small bait fish that comes within range and the Z-Man Elaztech MinnowZ 3” Swimbait is one that works in a wide variety of scenarios.
You can have good success with nearly any brand of paddletail lure, but Z-Man Fishing Products is well-known for making high-quality products that are both durable and realistic. The Z-Man Elaztech MinnowZ 3” Swimbait is a very popular choice among flounder anglers and the larger 4” version of this lure is commonly used to catch trophy-sized flukes in various parts of the southern United States.
It’s best to rig this one with the Z-Man Texas Eye jighead and you can utilize a variety of different retrieval methods to elicit a strike from a hungry fluke. Some anglers like to slowly drag them across the bottom, but my favorite way to fish them is by gently bouncing it along the bottom in areas where you know flounder like to hang out.
- Can be fished in a variety of ways
- Very lifelike appearance and action
- Durable enough to last through many bites
- Slightly more expensive than other paddletail lures
- Not scented
2. SPRO Prime Bucktail Jig 1 oz.
Bucktail jigs should always be a part of any flounder fishing tacklebox. Like the paddletail minnow, these lures are designed to resemble small bait fish that flounder like to target throughout the year. The SPRO Prime Bucktail Jig 1 oz. is arguably the top bucktail jig on the market right now for a number of reasons.
It’s made with a highly-detailed metal head that’s very realistic in appearance and action. The jig head is shaped so that it stays parallel when it’s being worked through the water, which is something cheaper bucktail jigs won’t do in most cases. It features a tough Gamakatsu 6/0 size hook that’s much more durable than most other bucktail hooks you’ll find for a lesser price.
The SPRO Prime Bucktail jig has a very smooth, minnow-like gliding action as it’s worked through the water and it’s design ensures that it will remain parallel instead of dropping straight down like other bucktails are known to do. This one is best when worked slowly across the bottom with a couple of twitches before letting it sit for a few seconds. The Prime Bucktail comes in a wide variety of colors, but I prefer the white option for catching flounder around the Florida coastline.
- Stay parallel when moving through the water
- Have a smooth, gliding motion
- Made with a tough Gamakatsu hook
- More expensive than other bucktail jigs
3. Z-Man Elaztech PaddlerZ Scented Swimbait 4”
In many ways, the Z-Man Elaztech PaddlerZ Scented Swimbait 4” is very similar to the Elaztech MinnowZ in shape and overall design. However, the PaddlerZ is a scented version of an already highly-effective lure used to catch flounder. This one is made of extremely tough Elaztech material, which is designed to withstand the corrosive properties of saltwater, which means it will maintain its shape and toughness much better than other soft plastics when used around coastal areas.
The PaddlerZ is impregnated with a special Pro-Cure Mullet Super Gel, which is a scent that’s wildly popular among saltwater anglers in the southeastern coastal United States that’s intended to carry a scent that attracts a variety of fish species, including flounder. This scent is made with real mullet and is irresistible to most hungry flounders that detect it.
There are a variety of ways you can rig the Z-Man Elaztech PaddlerZ Scented Swimbait 4” for flounder fishing depending on the time of year, as well as certain areas you’re fishing in. It also comes in many different colors, which allow anglers to select one that closely resembles certain bait fish species in the area they’re fishing.
- Scented with Pro-Cure Mullet Super Gel
- Lifelike action
- Comes in different sizes
- Excellent for trophy-sized flounder
- Expensive compared to other paddletails
- Tail can be bitten off
4. Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Shrimp
Shrimp are one of the flounder’s most popular prey in virtually any part of the coastal United States and other regions. These small, but nutrient-packed creatures are a very easy target for flounder as they typically swim along the bottom in search of their own food. The Gulp! Saltwater Shrimp is easily one of the best flounder lures you can add to your tackle arsenal that will work at nearly any time of the year.
The Gulp! Saltwater Shrimp is a 3” soft plastic lure that can be rigged in a variety of different techniques or even fished weightless in areas where flounder typically lie in wait for shrimp or other prey. It’s another scented lure that features much of the same look, smell and action of a real shrimp as it’s being worked along the bottom.
These shrimp lures are best used with a lighter weight that won’t dig into the bottom and disturb the sand or silt while you’re working it along areas where flounder are burrowed into the bottom. It’s best to lightly bounce them along the bottom in the same way you might use a bucktail or paddletail minnow.
- Scented with real shrimp smell
- Comes in a variety of sizes
- Dozens of different colors to choose from
- Not as durable as other soft plastic lures
5. Berkley Gulp! Alive! Swimming Mullet
Like most other predatory fish, flounder are known to be cannibalistic at times and will devour their own young if given the opportunity. There are many different ways anglers exploit this tendency, but few work better than the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Swimming Mullet. This lure is uniquely designed specifically for flounder fishing and works exceptionally well during the warmer months of the year when fishing around ledges and other depth changes near the coast.
This lure comes in a few colors like pearl, chartreuse or white, but many anglers recommend going with the white version as it tends to be the most visible in clear or slightly cloudy water conditions. This soft plastic lure features a body that is designed to very closely resemble a baby flounder or mullet while also sporting a curled tail that’s made to give the lure a more realistic swimming action as it moves through the water.
You can rig the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Swimming Mullet in a number of different ways, but many anglers like to pair these with a bucktail jig or even a paddletail soft plastic minnow in front with the Swimming Mullet as a trailer. The 3” option is the most widely-used, but the 4” variety of the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Swimming Mullet lure is an outstanding choice for going after trophy flounder and other saltwater species around the coast.
- Lifelike design and curly tail
- Great for catching large quantities of flounder
- Works well as a teaser or trailer lure
- Tail can be easily bitten off
6. Sea Striker Squid Rig
During the colder winter months, flounder can often be found far away from the shore in waters surrounding steep ledges or reefs. In these circumstances, it’s best to use a weighted rig that is capable of getting down to the level that flounders are at along with a lure that will grab the fish’s attention. The Sea Striker Squid Rig is an excellent choice for these situations and is a must-have lure for any serious fisherman that wants to catch flounder year-round.
The lure comes with a three-way swivel and leader line that’s attached to a Colorado spinner blade and a skirted squid-like plastic set on a 1/0 size hook. This one is best used with at least a 2 ounce pyramid sinker or other style that will ensure the lure will reach its proper depth. You can successfully fish this lure along the bottom and twitch it a few times as you steadily work it toward you.
This one is great for catching large flounder during cold weather, but is not as effective close to the coast when the water temperatures are warmer.
- Excellent for cold-water fishing for flounder
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Includes leader line, swivel and spinner blade
- Not as effective near shoreline
7. Storm WildEye Swim Shad
When it comes to the most realistic lures you can use to catch flounder, one of my absolute favorites is the Storm WildEye Swim Shad. These lures can be purchased in a variety of different sizes depending on whether you’re going after a higher number of catches or more trophy-sized flounder. Many anglers agree that the pearl color works best and is the most versatile when it comes to catching fluke along the North American coast throughout the year.
Many anglers like to run this with a trailer or teaser bait behind or a bucktail jig in front that’s mainly used to weigh the WildEye Swim Shad down and ensure that it stays along the bottom as you’re retrieving it. I like to use a small dab of Pro-Cure Mullet Super Gel scent to the outside to help appeal to the flounder’s sense of smell, especially if the water is a bit cloudy.
The Storm WildEye Swim Shad is made by Rapala and is one of the best quality swim shad lures you’ll find. Many anglers will also opt for the very similar Tsunami Swim Jig if they can’t find the WildEye Swim Shad. The only potential downside to this lure is that both are very expensive and it’s quite common to have the tail bitten off, which renders the lure virtually useless for catching flounder.
- Extremely realistic appearance
- Lifelike action
- Can be used as a single lure, or with a trailer lure
- Durability issues (tail can be easily bitten off)
Flounder Lures Buyer’s Guide
One of the first things you should look for in any type of flounder fishing lure is whether or not it has a somewhat realistic appearance. There are countless different types of soft plastic lures in the fishing industry that are often used for catching flounder, but some are much more effective than others simply because they look very similar to what the flounder are used to eating.
Obviously, a more realistic-looking lure will almost always be more expensive than one that lacks detail and this is one thing that is truly worth the money when it comes to selecting the best flounder lures for your fishing trip.
Flounder lie on the bottom and rely heavily on their sense of sight, feel and smell to detect prey as they move along overhead. If you have a very realistic lure rigged properly and know how to use it, you’ll be able to catch flounder on a consistent basis.
The second most important aspect that any flounder fishing lure can have is a lifelike action or movement. This is probably more important with certain types of lures such as paddletail soft plastic minnows or swim shads as the action can either make or break your chances to catch a flounder. If the tail of these lures or any other part is damaged and it isn’t running properly through the water, most flounder will pick up on the fact that something isn’t right and won’t strike in these cases.
Action and movement are especially important with other types of flounder fishing lures like bucktail jigs. Most cheaper types of bucktails are adequate when it comes to catching various saltwater species, but they tend to have poor action and often dive straight toward the bottom and sit face-down on the sand in a way that isn’t very realistic. Lures like the SPRO Bucktail Jig are specifically made to glide through the water and remain parallel to the bottom, which is more lifelike compared to its competitors.
In most cases, you’ll be using weights with your flounder lures. It’s very important that you have the lure properly rigged so that it’s able to have the right kind of action and movement as you’re retrieving it. If the weight is too heavy or not placed in the right spot, the lure might not have the best action and could result in less bites.
Many flounder fishing lures are made of soft plastic material, which is all-too-often lacking in terms of durability. Certain brands have gone to great lengths to manufacture and develop plastic material that will withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater and allow you to use the lure longer when fishing for species like flounder.
It’s always important to consider the overall toughness and durability of a lure when comparing it to another one that might be similar in appearance and other characteristics. You might have a very realistic swim shad lure that has incredible action, but it will undoubtedly be rendered useless if the tail is bitten off or if the plastic is significantly torn when a flounder bites the lure.
Certain qualities that pertain to durability might seem like an insignificant aspect of a flounder fishing lure, but it can either make or break the lure’s effectiveness in the water. Companies have taken extra measures to develop products that are tougher and will last longer, especially in saltwater environments. One example is Z-Man Fishing, which developed the Elaztech material that’s much tougher than other types of soft plastics used to produce paddletail lures.
Match the Hatch
As with just about any other type of fishing lure, it’s important that you select a flounder fishing lure that very closely resembles the type of prey that the fish are expecting to find in a specific area. This is known as ‘matching the hatch’ and is easily just as important as any other quality a lure could possibly have.
If you select a certain type of lure, it’s best to be sure that you have the right size and color that will match the type of prey that the flounder in a certain area are known to target. This requires a good bit of research, but it most certainly will pay off in the end as you’ll have a better understanding of what the flounder wants to eat and different ways you can replicate the look, feel and smell of the prey.
Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API