The Brill is a flatfish that is commonly caught from boats in deep water areas, but larger fish can be targeted at certain times of the year by the shore angler in the UK.

Brill Fish
Brill (Scophthalmus Rhombus)
Year round
Up to 3ft in length and 20lb in weight
Brill are commonly found in the South and South-west of Britain, although there are smaller numbers of this species found in other areas of the UK
Prawns, worms, crustaceans and smaller bait fish
7lb 7oz
Shore: Ledgered fishing on the bottom using a clipped down rig
Boat: A running ledger rig with some bling (attractor spoons)
The Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have set a minimum landing size in Cornwall for brill of 30cm.
Dicentrarchus labrax

Where are Brill commonly located?

Brill are a sea fish that are commonly found in the South and South-west of the United Kingdom in the Atlantic Ocean, Celtic Sea, English Channel and Irish Sea, where the depth of the water is great. This species of fish prefers deeper waters but are also found in other areas in the UK in lesser numbers, but they usually stay in water than is approximately 10 metres plus in depth.

Fully grown large brill will often come closer to the shoreline where they will breed during the UK spring time. As a flatfish, they prefer sand and muddy ground areas where – often estuaries and areas with mud flats are good places to fish for this species.

Even though there are hot spots to target the Brill, they can be located anywhere between Iceland and Northern Africa, with both the Mediterranean and Black Seas also being home to the species.

Feeding instincts & patterns

The brill is not a very fussy eater and often both scavenge and hunt for their food. A common feeding activity for this species is to hunt the seabed and feed upon any sort of worm, crabs, prawns, invertebrates, smaller bait fish and sandeels.

Smaller brill will typically spend their time feeding on items at the bottom of the seabed such as crustaceans, worms etc. Larger fish will almost always be found feeding on fish baits such as sprats and sandeels.

Brill will often spend the majority of their life in deep water areas, often over 100 metres deep and are well equipped to hunting in areas of relatively low light – useful knowledge if you are fishing in cloudy water areas such as the Bristol Channel.

Brill Shore Fishing Tactics

Shore fishing techniques This species can be caught at distance over areas of sand, shingle and mud beds which they will visit to feed and also spawn. The best fishing rig to use to catch a Brill is a clipped down pulley rig, which are ideal for distance casting due to their streamlined design. Use hooks that are either 1/0 or 2/0 in size, these will be large enough to handle a big catch but small enough that you will not eliminate the smaller of the species.

A straightforward piece of mackerel mounted a clipped down pulley rig is the ideal choice for targeting this fish, but they will also take crab, squid, worm and sandeels.

Brill Boat Fishing Tactics

Boat Fishing Tactics Brill are most commonly caught from boats in areas of deeper water. A running ledger rig is probably the most straight and best rig to use to target a brill. Combined with fresh mackerel caught on the very same day, you’ll maximise your chances of catching this species.

When your bait has reached the seabed, leave it settle for a moment, then raising your rod up slightly and you’ll feel the bait pull away from the seabed. This tactic will peak the interest of a fish in your location and slightly increase your chances of catching.

What is the commercial value of Brill?

This IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) currently has this fish as a ‘species of least concern’, as the commercial pressure placed upon this species is relatively low.

Brill are often caught in trawlers in nets and can be sold to the public. Due to their healthy stock levels at the present time, there are no maximum catch regulations placed upon this fish. The landing quantities of this fish have remained relatively stable of the past two decades, and due to their rather fast growing rate, they are less vulnerable to fishing than other flatfish species.

What type of tackle should I use?

The best rod for catching flatfish

Flatfish will commonly feed not too far from the shoreline so you do not have to cast a long distance to reach feeding fish. A standard beachcaster, or even a light carp rod for when conditions are relatively calm will be suitable.

The Penn Rampage II beachcaster rod is a fantastic option if you are looking for a high-quality rod that will last many years. With a 4/6oz power, this beachcaster rod has the ideal sensitivity for targetting flatfish.

The best reel for catching flatfish

The reel that you use when fishing for flatfish does not matter too much, as both fixed-spool and multiplier reels can be used when fishing from the shore. The type of reel that you choose is entirely dependant on what you prefer to fish with. Here at Reel and Rod, we like to fish with fixed-spool reels and the Penn Surfblaster reel is a fantastic reel to use.

Top Tips for catching flatfish

The most important aspect of fishing for flatfish is to keep yourself and your fishing very quiet as they are a type of fish that are very spooky and can go off the feed if they are disturbed.

Top tips for fishing:

  • Do not use a tilley lamp
  • Do not shine your headlights in to the water
  • Keep a relatively small amount of slack line in the water as tension in the line can potentially put them off
  • When you get a bite from a flatfish, leave it! Leave the fish with the bait and once they have been hooked, they will usually go a little bit crazy… you’ll know!