Lesser Spotted Dogfish

Other, Sea Fish Species


Lesser-spotted Dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula)

Average Weight

Big rod-caught lesser spotted dogfish can weigh 1.6 Kg (3½ lbs) or more. The average lesser spotted dogfish weighs around 1 Kg (2¼ lbs).

Also known as

Lesser-Spotted Dogfish and Rockfish

IUCN Status

LC – Least Concern


The lesser spotted dogfish has a shark-like appearance, it has a long, slender body with a blunt head, its nostrils are found on the underside of its snout and are linked to the mouth via a rounded groove. The lesser spotted dogfish’s body is gray-brown and has dark brown spots, it has a light grey belly and its two dorsal fins are found towards the tail-end of its body. It also has prominent gill slits on both sides and very rough skin.

Warning: The lesser spotted dogfish’s 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.


So how do we catch one?

Best Baits

The most successful baits are strips of fresh fish with mackerel, herring and pilchard being optimal. Whole fresh small fish are also effective.


The lesser spotted dogfish can be found in British waters year round, yet it is found close inshore from June to October.

Favourite Feeding Places

The lesser spotted dogfish favours feeding over soft, non-rocky, ground and take baits which are fished either near the surface or on the seabed.

Best Locations

The lesser spotted dogfish is commonly found in shoals in all coastal areas of Britain.

Best rigs for lesser spotted dogfish fishing

Shore fishing

Either a basic leger rig or a running paternoster rig are recommended for catching lesser spotted dogfish.

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 lesser spotted dogfish 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.