You may be wondering, “What should I use for bait?” There isn’t a landslide consensus on what crab bait works best for your traps but good crabbing bait usually fits a few characteristics.

  • It should be fresh. The fresher the bait, the stronger the scent. Since crabs find food by smell and not by sight, this helps tremendously in attracting the crabs.
  • It should be natural to crabs. Although crabs are scavengers and will eat a wide range of organic things, they tend to eat things that are in the ocean. This includes meat like fish carcasses, squid, clams, etc.
  • Crabs are feisty creatures so look for bait that is tough enough to withstand their tenacity and hunger. Bait that is tougher in texture will last you longer and allow you to use less when catching crabs. Due to the fact that the crabs are working harder to take the bait, you are also keeping them around longer. So if you are using open, collapsible traps, this type of bait will help you maximize your catch.

Keep in mind that crabbing is more likely an art than a science. Experiment with what works in your particular area and go with what performs the best in terms of maximizing your catch while preserving the money in your wallet. Look for bait that minimizes this cost-to-catch ratio. With that, let’s check out popular bait that has performed well for recreational water sportsman around the world.

Popular Bait Types

1. Razor clams: These are long, slender saltwater clams that are common food for crabs everywhere. Many consider this the go-to bait since it is the food of choice for many species of crab but it is also tough and holds a strong scent for a long time. Some crabbers even strategically use razor clam marinade to “enhance” their bait. You can use them as bait in your bait bag or bait box shucked or un-shucked.

turkneck2. Chicken/Turkey Neck: Chicken or turkey necks are great for bait for the recreational crabber because you can easily obtain this at your local grocery store. This is an exception to the rule that only bait with oceanic origins is good as crab bait. For some reason, even though crabs never in their wildest dreams would naturally eat chicken, they gravitate towards chicken and turkey meat. Although you can use any part of the chicken/turkey, the neck works the best because it is relatively cheap and is a bit harder for the crabs to tear chunks of meat off of.

3. Shad: Shads (or river herrings) are river fish related to the herring. However, they can also be found in the Atlantic Ocean. If you are skilled enough, you can even catch shad with a cast net and use them as bait. When using any type of fish as bait, however, it is wise to chop up the body to promote diffusion of the scent in the water.

4. Salmon: Salmon carcasses work very well. Similar to shad, you will want to cut up the body before using it as bait. If you are struggling to decide whether you should use shad or salmon, just go with what can be conveniently obtained. Shad, being the poor man’s salmon, may be the cheaper choice. Beware though, if you are crabbing in a location with sea lions, they will also look to eat up your salmon bait.

5. Cat food: Some people use cat food. If you are in a pinch and must go crabbing soon, this is a cheap alternative to all the previously mentioned bait.

Bait Containers

Depending on your application, you may want to hold the bait using different methods. A poor man’s approach to secure bait to any trap is to use pantyhose. However, there are bait bags that serve this very purpose, are much sturdier and last longer. Check out an inexpensive but quality bait bag here. If you are doing some heavy-duty crabbing, you might want to try out the bait box. Happy crabbing!

Ready to start crabbing? Check out some useful stuff at the store. What is your favorite bait to use? Let us know in the comments below.