Dasycottus Setiger



Offshore, Continental Shelves, Slopes, Inshore

3 pounds

17" - 28"

Spinyhead Sculpin

Spinyhead Sculpin (Dasycottus setiger) Distribution

The Spinyhead Sculpin is a small spiny saltwater fish. It has rough dense scales and 9-10 dorsal spines and its pectoral fin is curved. It has a big head and spines at the top. It has a cream to white color at the bottom. Unlike other sculpins, this species lack cirri. Its color generally varies from brown to a rusty orange-red and it’s speckled with black spots all over its body. Being part of the sculpin family, one of Its close relatives is the red Irish lord.


Size and Diet

The biggest spinyhead sculpin ever caught was 3.5 pounds and 28 inches long. On average, they’re only 17 inches long, the average weight is currently unknown. Their diet consists of shrimps, crabs, fish, and even sponges.


Interesting Facts About the Spinyhead Sculpin

  • Despite its looks, the spinyhead sculpin is known to be a tasty fish. The preparation is pretty simple, just cut off the spines then you can either stuff the fish or make a fillet out of it.
  • The spinyhead sculpin is a popular gamefish and also good to eat – its meat is used for taco meat, fillets, and soup.
  • The spinyhead sculpin is a demersal fish. It dwells in the bottom area most of the time.
  • In Greek, its scientific name is derived from the words -  “dasys” for rough or dense and “kottos” for fish.
  • Its color combination is used as a camouflage to blend in with the sandy bottom surroundings.


How to Fish the Spinyhead Sculpin

This popular gamefish is said to be easy to catch and are aggressive biters. To catch a spinyhead sculpin, you get a nice depth of the bottom of at least 50 feet. You can go to rocky crevices where they most likely hiding. You can do this by sight casting by the beach or rocky areas, or use a boat and get to a nice spot. They’re ambush predators, so only move your bait ever so slightly as you wait for a catch. When pulling this fish don’t reel too fast, if you do the fish will spin.

For the gear, use a 12 lb tippet with an 8- to 9- wt of 8 to 9 feet light action rod. For the line, use slow sinking tips and use multi-rigs to catch more. You can add some weights of 2 to 3 ounces to get to your depth. Use hook sizes of 4/0 for their big mouths.

The best lures to use are squid jigs, bucktails. The best baits to use are squids, shrimps, and crabs.


Habitat and Distribution of the Spinyhead Sculpin

Like any other sculpins, The spinyhead sculpin mostly stays at the bottom where it ambushes its prey and also hides from its predators. They prefer the temperate to the cold waters of the North Pacific Region. They are non-migratory species and can be found in depths of 50 feet of continental slopes, but some have been found as deep as 2800 feet. The spawning season of the spinyhead sculpin is currently unknown but scientists have found more spinyhead sculpins activity in October. 

Their range in North Pacific ranges from Japan to Navarin Canyon in the Bering Sea. Fishing spots for the spinyhead sculpin are the Gulf of Alaska, Baja California, Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands. Other fishing spots observed is also Lopez Islands and Friday Island of Seattle, and the San Juan Islands in Washington.