There are a ton of baits that are recommended for crabbing, and choosing the right one is tricky. We’ll go through a list of common baits and their effectiveness, and hopefully help you choose the best bait for your next crabbing trip.
Crab attractants are generally made from concentrated fish oil and other baits and are designed to increase the radius of attraction of crabs to your trap. While they aren’t necessarily required for crabbing, they are recommended if you are looking to increase your total crab yield per trip. Below are a few of our picks for the best crab attractant you can order online right now:
1. Pro-Cure Crab and Shrimp Attractant Bait Oil – Best for Dungeness Crabs
- Size: 1/2 gallon.
- Made from 100% real baits.
- Packed with amino acids.
- Shake well before use.
- Price: Check Price
The Pro-Cure crab attractant bait oil is made from 100% real baits like fish oils, amino acids, anise and salmon egg oil. If you’re looking for a larger quantity of crab attractant this is the choice for you as it comes in a 1/2 gallon container and should be more than enough for your individual use.
We strongly recommend the Pro-Cure specifically for Dungeness crabs although it will also work effectively with blue crabs. It’s shelf life is extraordinarily long at 5-7 years and smells strongly of fish oil which makes the crabs go absolutely crazy. It also works with shrimp as well if you need an attractant that works with multiple species.
- Comes in a half gallon container.
- Long shelf life (5-7 years).
- Smells very strongly of fish oil.
- More expensive (due to the larger size).
- While the smell is great at attracting crabs you shouldn’t open it in your home or anywhere you plan on staying.
2. Smelly Jelly Crab Attractant – Best for Blue Crabs
- Size: 4 ounces.
- Lasts for hours.
- Attracts grabs and encourages them to hold down for longer.
- Price: Check Price
Smelly Jelly is a gel-based crab attractant that remains on your bait for quite some time after application. A single dose will last several hours and both attracts more crabs and encourages them to hang on for longer during the retrieval process. This crab attractant will work on all baits and lures and is extremely simple to apply.
The biggest drawback is that it only comes in a 4 ounce container but it is 200-300% more effective than just using regular bait. If there are several other people crabbing near you, then this attractant will significantly increase your traps effectiveness compared to your peers.
- 200-300% more effective than just using regular bait.
- Lasts for several hours on a single use.
- Only comes in a 4 oz tube.
I see this bait recommended all the time. It’s pretty cheap, and many crabbers swear by it. Typically you would use cheaper parts of the chicken, such as the neck, wings, or drumsticks. You will be switching bait out fairly often, if it is not lost before then, and having cheap bait is key. Additionally, the crabs love to tear off pieces of bait, and having bony pieces of bait such as the neck or wings allows the bait to last longer. If you are crabbing around seals, the seals may be less interested in bothering your trap when you use chicken.
However, in my experience, chicken does not work nearly as well as other options. I have found that many times, chicken nets me less crabs than what other people have caught around me. However, chicken is a cheap and easily obtained bait that lasts ages and works.
I’m biased, but anchovies and small fish are my favorite bait to use. They are easily obtained and are super cheap. Usually I stop by a supermarket, and pick up a bag or two of frozen anchovies or small fish. They tend to disappear fairly quickly in the crab traps, so I’ll grab about a pound of fish per trap for a day’s worth of crabbing. I’ll let it defrost overnight, and it’s good to go the next day. The crabs tend to smell the bait better when it’s not frozen. However, I have used frozen bait before, and it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference. Anchovies almost always net more crabs than my surrounding crabbers, and get my vote for the best bait.
Salmon heads are also recommended often for crabbing bait. You can usually go to your local supermarket and ask the butcher for salmon heads, and they’ll typically give them out either for free or very cheap. I have found that they work decently. They are pretty bony, and will last in the water quite a while. Their fishy scent also attracts crabs quite well, and I would recommend salmon heads right after anchovies and small fish.
Cat or Dog Food
I’ve seen many people use cat food as bait, usually by cutting holes into a can of cat food, and then throwing it into a bait cage. It’s very simple to set up, and if you’re squeamish about handling dead fish all day, this could be a decent bait for you. However, I’ve never seen cat food work out spectacularly. It seems to just draw in a few curious crabs, but for the most part, they’ll tend to go for the other baits people use. I probably wouldn’t recommend using cat food unless you are desperate for bait.