Flounder vs. Halibut: What’s the Difference?

Want to know the difference between flounder and halibut? Check out what makes each of these fun and tasty fish unique.

Flounder vs. Halibut: What’s the Difference?
Flounder vs. Halibut: What’s the Difference?
Team Guidesly

November 2, 2022, 5 min read

Updated on October 29, 2022

Flounder vs. Halibut: What’s the Difference?
Team Guidesly

November 2, 2022, 5 min read

Updated on October 29, 2022

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Avid anglers all agree that flounder and halibut are some of the most delicious fish from the sea. These white fish are a favorite among seafood lovers, and anglers love catching them on their fishing tours because they are a fish counter classic. Did you know that a halibut is a flounder, but not all flounders are halibut? It’s like all thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs! There are also fish species named a certain way but don't accurately depict what they are. A good example is that a California halibut isn’t actually a halibut but is still part of the flounder mass population.

Flounder is the general term that refers to a whole flatfish family, which includes turbot, cod fish, sole fish, plaice, fluke, and more. The name halibut originates from the Middle English word ‘hallybutte,’ which means ‘holy flatfish.’ Halibut was very popular in the olden days among Catholics during a time when eating meat was forbidden. So more than that, what’s the difference between these tasty white fish? 

Differences Between Flounder and Halibut

fisherman holding caught flounder

We’re not trying to determine which is the best fish, but rather, we’ll celebrate what makes them unique from each other. Before you look up ‘flounder charters near me’ or something similar, it would be good to know more about these fish. 

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Flounder and halibut are flatfish that inhabit the demersal zone, aka the bottom of lakes and seas. These demersal fish are predators that feed on almost any other fish, crustaceans, and sea animals that can fit in their mouths and possess cone-shaped teeth. They’re also known to feed on their own kind. The main difference between these two fish species comes down to these things: 

1. Body Shape

Halibut have longer bodies with pointed anal and dorsal fins. It gives them more of a diamond shape. On the other hand, flounder are more round and have uniform smaller fins.

2. Body Size

Halibut grow up to 400 pounds and provide a lot of meat. Flounder don’t crow quite as big. You’ll usually find flounder that are between 5 to 30 pounds.

3. Tail Shape

Halibut’s tails are more forked and come to a point, while flounders feature a rounded tails.

4. Eye Position

Halibut’s eyes will always be on its head's right side. It’s infrequent to find one with their eyes to the left of their head. Only 1 in every 20,000 halibut are left-eyed. Flounder’s eyes can go either way, but like halibut, their eyes will only be on one side of their heads.

Where to Find These Flat Fish

Many anglers will agree that if you’re fishing for halibut, the best way to find them is to head farther up north than where you would usually find flounder. So if you want to catch Pacific halibut, head to Alaska’s west coast, where you can access the Pacific Ocean. Alternatively, you can hook some California flounder from the same ocean if you’re more in the southern parts.

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If you want to target Atlantic halibut, one of the best places to fish for them is in the North Atlantic. In the country, your best choice would be Cape Cod. Cape Cod has access to the Atlantic Ocean, which share similar conditions when fishing for halibut in Greenland or Northern Europe, where they’re also abundant. Although fishing for that particular species isn’t prevalent because they’re endangered. 

You’ll find a ton of flounder species like summer flounder and southern flounder everywhere, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Maine. You can also spot them all around the US Pacific Coast down to Mexico. If you’re interested in flounder fishing, look up fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico!

How They Taste Different

There’s no accurate telling which tastes better because people experience food differently, and we all have our own preferences. Both fish have a similar flavor, which isn’t surprising since they’re closely related. The main difference is that halibut has a firm texture and is meatier, while flounder meat is more delicate and flaky. 

Halibut is a pretty lean fish as it’s one of the least fatty ones you can buy. Its flavor and texture make it the perfect fish for frying or grilling. A flounder fillet has slightly more fat and is much thinner. Flounder is a fantastic eating fish to fry or bake. The most important thing is that having access to fresh raw fish will always be better.

Flounder and halibut are both superfoods, making them some of the healthiest fish you can have. Both provide incredible nutrients and health benefits when we eat them. Micro-nutrients like selenium, niacin, vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin B6, and phosphorus are rich in halibut. Both also offer complete protein, which contains amino acids that our bodies need. The micro-nutrients we’ve mentioned also help our overall heart, brain, digestion, cell, and liver health. They also help reduce inflammation and the risk of breast cancer.

Flounder and Halibut Fishing Charters

Now that you have an idea about the differences between flounder and halibut, we hope you get what you're looking for next time you go on a fishing trip! You can find plenty of fishing charters throughout the United States that will help you catch these amazing fish. David Rooney Fishing will take you all around San Francisco to chase halibut. Consider booking with Cape Cod Charter Guys if you’re interested in heading to Cape Cod to catch flounder. Katfish Kayak and Fishing Adventures will show you how to hook summer flounder in North Carolina. Top Predator Adventures will teach you the best ways to nab southern flounder and other saltwater games in South Carolina.