12 Top Baits For Crabbing (Improve Your Trap Rate)

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Curious about which baits are the most effective for crabbing? This article looks at some of the most common crab baits that commercial and recreational fishermen use to fill up their traps.

Crab caught in a net eating a fish

The Short Answer:

The best crab baits include animal scraps like chicken, anchovies, fish heads, and other protein sources. The secret to improving your catch rate is to soak the bait in a quality crab attractant. You want that amino profile to move through the water and be a homing beacon for the crabs to want to scavenge.

The crabbing industry accounts for 1.4 million tons of crabs for the dinner plate per year. [Source] Below are some popular baits commercial and recreational crabbers use to trap them.

1. Crab Attractant

Crab attractants are usually made from natural fish oil and other baits. Crab attractants are designed to increase the range of attraction to your trap.

While it is not required for crabbing, a crab attractant is recommended to increase your yield.

Pro-Cure Crab & Shrimp Attractant

This crab attractant is best for Dungeness crabs. From its name, Crab and Shrimp Attractant, it’s also suitable for shrimps, so it’s best if you’re aiming for multiple species.

It’s made from natural baits like fish oil, anise oil, amino acids, and salmon egg juice. Its unique amino acids give unparalleled versatility to all kinds of species.

Smelly Jelly Crab Attractant

Smelly Jelly is another unique and best crab bait that works quickly, attracting crabs and other small invertebrates, including shrimps.

Smelly Jelly Crab Attractant is best for blue crabs. This gel-based crab attractant lasts long on your bait and is simple to use.

2. Chicken Necks and Other Parts

Chicken necks for crab bait
Chicken necks bring a wonderful smell that crabs love.

Chicken necks are the best bait to catch blue crabs. Crabs love the stinky part of a chicken, like the lungs, liver, and neck. Chicken is excellent, as other bottom-feeding marine animals do not commonly consume it.

Meaning when used, it doesn’t make other species go after it. 

Crabs will eat any meat that includes a chicken’s liver and neck. These are both super cheap, making them perfect for crabbing.

The liver adds a scent to the water, while chicken necks are tough and easy to tie.

3. Razor Clams 

Razor clams for crab bait
Razor clams before being smashed for bait.

Razor clams are most crabs’ favorite for their great scent. You might be thinking of crushing the clams, but don’t. Razor clams capture better when left uncrushed.

Additionally, razor clams are also great as it is naturally part of grousers’ diet. 

4. Anchovies/Small Fish

For some experienced anglers, anchovies or small fish are good as it’s easy to find in a local grocery store.

Anchovies don’t make a massive difference if it’s frozen or not, but it better be sure to use them fresh to get the smelly fish quality and attract more crabs. Anchovies, plentiful through the seas, can be caught and put inside the trap.

5. Mink Carcasses

Mink Carcasses work for their intense stinky scent. As known for their oily and versatile characteristics, mink carcasses are commonly used for crabbing operations. 

6. Turkey Necks

As well as chicken meat, turkey neck also attracts crabs. You can use any part, but the legs and neck work best to entice a crab.

7. Squid

Squid used for crab bait
Squid is a universal bait for most sea creatures.

Squid is the best bait for crabbing too! Cutting into the squid a few times releases more scents under the water.

A squid might be a bit pricey and not ideal for anglers who want to go over cheaper ones, but it also makes a great combination with other baits.

8. Salmon Head 

Salmon heads are an effective way of catching more crabs. Fish heads attract crabs as much as other crab bait.

You can get these for free or cheap at your local supermarket, which works very well. Its bony structure makes it last in the water for quite some time. You can also use tuna for its fishy scent.

9. Smelly Jelly

Crabs find food like smelly jelly attractive. This is most commonly used on bait applications.

Smelly jelly attracts crabs with its smell and encourages grousers to hold on to the bait longer. It works on any of your bait.

10. Cat or Dog Food

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to get the stinky fishy smell of fish on your hand, then cat food or dog food might be of good use to you. Some anglers put holes in the canned cat food before using it as crab bait.

However, they don’t seem to eat cat food or dog food compared to others. So, if you’re desperate to catch a large sum, you might want to opt-in to other baits like fresh food.

11. Eels

Commercial crabbers use eels. These are good for anglers who want to let the traps stay and check them on a time-to-time basis.

You can leave it on your traps and stay on the hook for a few weeks until it decomposes. You can use an eel by cutting it into small pieces before putting it into the cage trap.

12. Bunkers

Bunkers are the best crab baits for their pungent smell, which crabs love. Bunkers are small salty fish used for catching blue crab.

These baits should be kept in a well-ventilated, dry location for their strong oily scent. Bunkers are small in size, so it is easy to handle. These are frequently used as blue crab bait.

Bunkers are more aromatic than rotten fish. But crabs go mad for rotten fish in a net bag. If you can’t get your hands on rotten fish, raw chicken is probably the next best thing and is easier to buy.

Crab Bait Holders

Crab traps and bait holders vary in shape and size. Choosing a good one ensures it’s strong enough to hold the lure underwater and will not be easily caught off by the current.

Skylety Crab Trap Bait Bags

This bait bag is easy to hang, making it perfect for crab fishing. Make sure you choose the one with the appropriate size, durability, practical design, and easy installation. 

SF Mesh Bait Bags with Rubber Locker

This lure holder is of high strength, enough to protect the bait inside and from crab scratches. The mesh size is also great for preventing quick lure loss and is suitable for small lures.

Tips For Setting Crab Bait

Before we end, let us leave some more tips on setting the grouser lure you have in your care. 

Many crabbers prefer to place traps. Crabs have an excellent sense of smell. This helps them find their food. Although crabs are not notoriously picky about what they eat, crabs still love fresh baits.

In that case, make sure you keep the quality of fresher bait. Keeping its freshness and natural smell is as essential as setting your lure bait for the best! 

Crab Baiting Is A Fun Activity

We hope we’ve helped you to choose the best ones!

You can use various lures; the bottom line is to use a strong fishy scent to attract the grousers more. Plus, make it even better by keeping it fresh. 

Try other human foods such as hot dogs, cheese, or bacon when setting your grouser trap. Most importantly, consider the season, region, and species of the crab you aim to catch. Location and time of year will drastically alter the crab species that can be caught.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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