7 Easy Steps on How to Make Crab Traps – DIY Guide

Learn to make crab traps with these 7 steps: choose the right bait, have extra trap lines, use a buoy, and check crab size with a gauge.

Crab trap off the coast of prince edward island

Do you love to go crabbing during the spring and summer? Maybe you are a beginner or just getting back into the activity and need more tips for setting up perfect crab traps. 

Here, we have five tips for making and setting the perfect crab trap, including finding the right bait, having an extra trap line, using a buoy, and the importance of a crab gauge.  

We’ll also highlight some answers to your frequently asked questions, so you have the utmost confidence when you are on your next crabbing trip. With this guide, you’re only concern will be which crab dish to make tonight!

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Setting the Perfect Crab Traps

The following four tips will help you set the perfect crab trap and make the most of your day of crabbing. 

1. Find the Bait That Works for You and the Crabs in Your Area

Experiment with different types of crab bait. The most popular crab bait is raw chicken and raw fish, which you can get from your local butcher or crabbing shop. 

These popular baits are sturdy and will stand the test of time during your crabbing trip. Run a small hole through the chicken neck or fish and tie it tightly a few times to the trap with cotton twine. 

If you run out of bait and do not want to stop by your local shop again, forage for possible bait nearby. If you can find clams or mussels, they can make great bait alternative bait options in a pinch. 

Chicken Bait

Crabbers state that chicken necks work great for attracting blue crabs because they feast on the liver, lungs, and other not-so-appetizing parts of the chicken, making the neck an integral bait option. 

Fish Bait

If you are using fish, cut off the fish head and gut out the eyes to tie to the trap. The muscles in the fish’s head will keep the bait on your trap longer than other parts of the fish’s body. 

While fish heads are the sturdier bait option when using fish, do not forget to use the bulky parts of the middle of their body and tails. Hence, you can cut the fish into three equal parts and change out the bait as needed throughout your crabbing trip. 

2. Always Have an Extra Trap Line

Whether you use wire or twine lining, always have extra on hand. Especially when it’s going to be high tide at the location you choose to go crabbing. If your line isn’t long enough, you could lose your trap in the strong currents, which can happen during high tide. 

3. Use a Sturdy Rope

Crab traps, sometimes called crab pots, need a sturdy enough tope to hoist up the trap and your crab haul. The size of your rope will depend on the size of your crab trap and how many traps you have in the water at once. 

Most recreational crabbers have two or three crab pots in the water simultaneously, with each trap weighing between 10 and 20 pounds. You’ll likely only need a rope for 50 to 60 pounds, but a rope rated for 100 pounds is a good choice for most recreational crabbers. 

4. Integrate a Buoy on the Crab Trap Line

If you fail to put a buoy on the water level of your crab trap line, there will be a zero chance of finding the trap if it gets lost during strong currents and high tide. You’ll want to tie a buoy to your crab trap with a string that is long enough to sit above water level so you can always track your traps.

While buoys can be the usual red and white, you can make a custom buoy. Cut a pool noodle into five to six-inch pieces and tie them to your crab traps. If you have small lightweight wooden planks in your garage, drill a hole and tie them to your crab trap. Place something bright and noticeable on top of the wooden plank, such as a foam ball or something else you have on hand. 

5. Don’t Forget a Crab Gauge

Once you have crabs in your trap, use a crab gauge or a ruler to measure each specimen you catch to decide whether they should be put back in the water or into your crab bucket. Pick up a crab gauge from your local crabbing and fishing supply store.

Every state has specific requirements for crab size amongst recreational crabbers. Baby crabs tinier than the designated catch size should be safely put back into the water to grow with the ecosystem until they are large enough for catching. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know how to set up the perfect crab trap, let’s look at answers to your frequently asked questions about how to have a successful crabbing trip. 

What is the best type of crab trap?

The best type of crab trap is the basket trap with wire lining because it allows the crabs to enter from all sides of the trade to eat the bait. Any trap with the twine lining has a higher chance of detaching from the trap from the current sweeping it away. 

What attracts crabs to traps?

Crab bait, such as chicken or fish, is the most effective in attracting crabs to traps. Having a combination of both raw chicken and fish on hand can increase the overall effectiveness of catching them during a crabbing trip. 

How deep do crab traps need to be?

Since crabs like to be in the shallow areas of harbors and estuaries, place your crab trap no deeper than 10 feet into the water. Certain crab species prefer to stay in deep waters, so keeping them at 10 feet can catch shallow-dwelling and deep-dwelling crabs. 

How long do you leave a crab trap in the water?

Wait five to 10 minutes before you pull out a crab trap from the water. Wait in between this time range, so you are not disturbing the water too much so constantly. 

How much does the best crab trap cost?

Higher-quality crab traps that can catch more than a few crabs at once can cost $100 to $250, depending on the make and model. Of course, larger traps will require much more bait to attract as many crabs as possible.

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