There was a time not that long ago when many casual saltwater anglers would tell you that fishing lures for flounder was a waste of time. More dedicated or expert flounder fishermen would tell you otherwise, however, and casting bucktail jigs to doormat flounder has a tradition in the Gulf and the northern Atlantic states that pre-dates World War I.
Today virtually every saltwater angler knows that flounder will eagerly hit lures. Some flounder fishermen stubbornly stick to live bait or cut bait strips only, but with each fishing season more folks are realizing that it is often more effective and certainly more fun to target flounder with lures.
This change has been accelerated by the development of synthetic scented soft baits that really work, and work well. Water clarity (often dictated by tide and wind) are big factors but on some days scented baits will out-catch live baits when flounder fishing. The best known of these are the Berkley Gulp baits, but many other companies now make them.
A big benefit to lure fishing for flounder is that you don't have to wait as long to set the hook but in most cases can hit the fish as soon as it strikes. Another benefit is that you avoid the mess associated with cut strip bait.
Here are some of the top scented soft baits to use when fishing for flounder:
Gulp makes some of the best scented baits and the saltwater shrimp is a very effective lure that can be used just like live shrimp for flounder. Fish it around pilings, rocks, and over oyster beds or along grassy creeks.
Many anglers simply crawl the Gulp shrimp back to them when fishing for flounder. An even more productive method is to hop the lure back to you. You still do not retrieve fast, but it puts action in the bait that resembles the movements of a real shrimp.
Cast the Gulp shrimp out with a jig head heavy enough to reach bottom and let it sit for twenty seconds. Then lift the rod tip suddenly and quickly, with a flick of your wrist (not your arm), to bring the bait up off the bottom.
This action replicates the jumps of a shrimp in the water. Lower your rod tip and let the lure fall back down but keep the line tight because many hits will come as the lure is falling. Work the lure slowly by pausing 15 seconds after each hop.
Berkley Gulp Saltwater Jerk Shad
The Gulp saltwater jerk shad body is perfect for pulling flounder off of structure. It's erratic, darting motion imitates a struggling baitfish running around the pilings or rocks. You can work it slowly just off the bottom and flounder will rise to hit it. Use the hop motion I described above for the shrimp body.
Camouflage and Nuclear Chicken are great shad body colors in darker water, while in clear water Pearl White is tops for flounder. Chartreuse is always a good choice for flounder or any saltwater fish.
Made with the concentrated Xtreme Fishbites scent this jerk bait is another lure that is tops for pulling flounder off of structure. Cast it right up against pilings or under bridges and docks and work it slowly off the bottom in those short hops using the rod tip. You can also use this and other jerk shad bodies without a jig head on a Carolina (fishfinder) rig with a 1-ounce sinker.
The powerful Fishbites flavor and scent turn flounder on just like the Gulp baits do. Rootbeer and Electric Candy are good colors in stained water colors, and Pearl works when water clarity is high.
D.O.A. Tough Guy Baitfish Softbaits
The DOA Tough Guy imitates one of the big flounders's favorite foods: the pinfish. Flounder love to eat pinfish, and they are a favorite prey for big flounder doormats. Built to resemble the pinfish the lure comes weighted with the hook already in it so you don't need a jig head.
Fish it slowly by swimming it just off the bottom in flounder territory. Just remember not to retrieve it too fast and the flounder will jump on this one.
Berkley Gulp Pogy and Mud Minnow
The Gulp pogy is the perfect flounder swim bait. Just swim or crawl it right off the bottom. Slowly retrieve the lure to get the tail action and allow the powerful Gulp scent to bring the fish up off the bottom. New Penny is a top flounder color.
Another solid choice similar to the Gulp Pogy is the Gulp mud minnow.
For many more fishing tips see my book Surf and Saltwater Fishing in the Carolinas