Cod vs Haddock: all you need to know

Haddock and Cod are a both very good eating fish. They are excellent to prepare delicious dishes such as fish & chips, beer-battered fish tacos, roasted Cod or Haddock with curry sauce or pesto-crusted with puy lentils. But how do you tell these two species apart? When you catch one, how do you know it’s a Cod or a Haddock? And which one is better? In this short guide we’ll try to answer these questions and give you some more information.

Cod vs Haddock

Cod & Haddock both have a chin barbel

Cod vs. Haddock Identification

Cod and Haddock both belong to the same Gadidae family. They have a similar body shape, the Atlantic Cod and the Haddock share their habitat in the northern Atlantic. They’re found from the Bay of Biscay, the North Sea, the Barents Sea, off the Faroe Islands, Iceland and in the United States, they’re found south to Cape Hatteras, Cape Cod and the Grand Banks. (The the Pacific cod is found in the northern Pacific Ocean). Both bottom feeders have a chin barbel.

But Cod and Haddock have different sizes, lateral lines, dorsal fins and body color.

Size: Haddock are much smaller than Cod. Cod can grow up to 1 meter (40 in) long and there’s record cod of 2 meter (80 in) with more than 90kg (200lb). Haddock are rarely over 80 cm (31 in). The biggest Haddock caught was just under 1 meter (40 in) weighing 11kg (25 pounds). Cod have a fatter and rounder body shape than Haddock.

Lateral lines: the lateral lines of both fish are slightly different. Haddock have a distinctive black lateral line. Between the lateral line and the pectoral fin, it also has an oval black blotch, sometimes called the Devil’s thumbprint. Cod have a white or cream line.

Dorsal fins: Haddock have a long, pointed front dorsal fin. Cod have a round dorsal fin.

Body color: the colour of both fish is different too. Depending on the waters Cod inhabit, they have a speckled, gray-green to reddish brown skin. Haddock have a dark grey brown to nearly black upper side. Both fish have a silvery white belly.

How to catch Cod or Haddock?

Cod and Haddock are both bottom fish, where they feed on shrimp, invertebrates, small fish such as sand eels or herring. They live in sandy areas and also like obstacles such as rocks and wrecks. One of the best ways to fish for cod or Haddock is using a paternoster rig. The bait is presented on the seabed; good baits are worm, mussels, fish strips, crabs and shrimp.

Big Cod can also be targeted using pirks (pilkers) or soft baits around rocks, dropoffs and wrecks. They are easy to fish, also in deeper water with strong currents. Anglers drop the lure to the bottom and work it over the bottom to attract the fish. Rubber lures with jigs tend to fish better than pirks, although every angler has his favourite lures. The lures used weigh between 100 and 180 grams (4-7 oz). Great Cod fishing destinations are Normay, Sweden and Iceland. When cod fishing, the side catches can be halibut, coalfish and ling.

Which is Better, Cod or Haddock?

Fish and chips Cod

Cod is ideal to prepare fish and chips

I wouldn’t argue Cod is better than Haddock or vice versa. Cod and Haddock are two very good eating fish. They are both white fish and they aren’t oily fish. Cod has a very soft taste and has very tender meat. This is why Cod is a more popular pick to make fish & chips for example. Haddock has more powerful flavours and it’s meat has a little more texture. Haddock is perfect to make a curry for example.

Cod is the better choice when it comes to nutrition. Both fish provide a healthy amount of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. They both have low protein levels and no fiber at all. But Cod is lower in calories, which makes this fish a great choice if you’re on a diet. Cod has also less cholesterol and sodium than Haddock. Finally, compared to Haddock, Cod has more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, making it a wonderfully healthy option.

So, if you want to make a choice based on nutrition, cod is the winner. Haddock has more taste and it is still a very healthy option. To be honest, Haddock have much less cholesterol and sodium that a hamburger for example.