Bull Huss (Scyliorhinus stellaris)

Average Weight

Big rod-caught bull huss can weigh 7.3 Kg (16 lbs) or more. The average bull huss weighs around 3.6 Kg (8 lbs).

Also known as

Nursehound, large-spotted dogfish and greater spotted dogfish

IUCN Status

NT – Near Threatened


The bull huss has a shark-like appearance; it has a broad, rounded head with oval shaped eyes which have a thick fold of skin on the lower rim. Its body is long and brown-yellow in colour with large spots; it also has two dorsal fins which are towards the tail end. The bull huss also has prominent pectoral fins and gill slits on both sides. It has a pale belly and very rough skin due a covering of large denticles. In addition, the bull huss has Y-shaped teeth which become gradually smaller and more angled further back in the mouth, in large bull huss these can be rather sharp.

Warning: The bull huss’ skin is very rough, don’t let these “dogs” wrap their bodys around unprotected arms. A thick leather glove or gauntlet will provide welcome protection. Also watch out for the teeth if you land a large bull huss.


So how do we catch one?

Best Baits

The most effective bait to catch bull huss includes crabs, sandeels, ragworms, lugworms. Small fish strips of mackerel, whiting, pilchard or squid can also work well.


The bull huss is commonly caught throughout the summer months but can be caught in offshore waters year-round.

Favourite Feeding Places

Bull huss feed on or near the seabed where they hunt for worms and crustaceans.

Best Locations

The bull huss can be caught in all UK offshore waters, they are considered to be loners and live over rough, rocky ground. The best catches are reported in southern waters.

Best rigs for catching bull huss

Shore fishing

Either a basic leger rig or a running paternoster rig are recommended for catching bull huss.

Basic Leger Rig

This rig is used to lay hookbait on the seabed. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 300 mm (1 ft). This rig works so well because your line is able to pass through the weight’s “eye”, meaning that shy or suspicious fish can tug the bait without instantly sensing the resistance.

Running Paternoster Rig

This rig allows you to anchor your hookbait above the seabed and also lets fish take the bait without instantly sensing resistance from the weight. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 150 mm (6 inches). The space between the weight and swivel on connecting line is also variable, but should generally be about 610 mm (2 ft).

Boat fishing

Boat leger rigs work well for catching bull huss if you are boat fishing.

Boat Leger Rig

This is one of the simplest and most effective rigs for boat anglers. The space between the hook and swivel can vary, but should generally be about 1 m (3 ft). The bait is presented on the seabed and the line is able to move through the boom without hitting the weight which would otherwise scare off a bait-biting fish.

Top tip

Bull huss are known for swimming away with bait before biting and getting hooked. Tighten your line firmly twice or three times when you judge you might have a bull huss on the other end of the line.