Dab (Limanda limanda)

Average Weight

Big rod-caught dabs can weigh 0.70 Kg (1½ lbs) or more. The average dab weighs around 340 g (12 oz.)

Also known as

Common Dab

IUCN Status

LC – Least Concern


The dab is a right eyed flat fish, meaning that both its eyes are on the right-hand side of its body when viewed from straight on. The plaice and flounder are two other species of flat fish which are also right eyed and have similar appearances.

The dab has a rounded, thin body which is somewhat translucent, its back is sandy-brown in colour and scattered with dark spots, the dorsal and anal fins form a curve around its outline. The underneath is white and its pectoral fins can be orange. The lateral line has a noticeable curve just above the pectoral fin and the scales have rough edges. As mentioned earlier, the plaice and flounder have similar appearances, unlike the plaice the dab has no orange flecks on its back, and unlike the flounder it is somewhat translucent.


So how do we catch one?

Best Baits

The dab has a fairly small mouth and therefore small pieces of fish work well. Ragworm, lugworm, cockles, hermit crabs, sandeels, peeled shrimps, razorfish can also be effective bait.


Small dabs can be caught close inshore across the year, big dabs can also be caught close inshore when they are not out in deeper waters spawning which is typically during March, April, May and July. During severe winter weather they can also migrate to deeper waters.

Favourite Feeding Places

The dab favours the bottom of shallow sandy bays and sand/mud estuaries to feed, due to its affinity for brackish waters it can sometimes be found many metres up river too!

Best Locations

The dab can be found along sandy estuaries and shallow water close inshore. Dabs tend to avoid the particularly rocky coastlines around the UK. Adult dabs migrate into deeper offshore waters during spring and summer to spawn, and also further out in severe wintry weather.

Best rigs for dab fishing

Shore fishing and boat fishing

A basic leger rig or a two hook paternoster rig can be used when shore fishing or boat fishing for dab.

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.

Two Hook Paternoster Rig

This is a flexible rig which allows you to present two baited hooks above the seabed, with two different hookbaits being able to be used should you desire. Beach casting anglers reduce seabed wear and tear on the knot by clipping a small split ring onto the weight’s “eye” and tying line to the split ring. Alternatively, the line can be tied straight to the weight. 3 way swivels can be used instead of the blood loops. The distances between the weight, 1st blood loop, 2nd blood loop and top swivel/or split ring, can vary but each should generally be 460 mm (1½ ft). Similarly, the distance between hook and blood loop can vary but should be about 200 mm (8 inches).

Top tip

The dab is easy to predict as dab shoals hunt food in the same spots at regular times, simply find their local time-table to accurately predict the precise times and areas to cast.