Skip to main content

How to Crab Fish With a Net

I'm an internet marketing veteran of over 10 years. I love teaching and sharing my experiences, including fishing tips.

How to use a crab net.

How to use a crab net.

Crab Nets

Crabbing has become one of the most popular fishing sports since the popular Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch began airing. Do not be fooled into thinking that you need a large crab boat, 700-pound crab pots, a five-man crabbing crew, and one greenhorn to make fun of to get into crabbing. While all of that gear would be nice, you don't have to make a career out of crab fishing ("crabbing"), you only need twenty dollars and patience.

Crabbing for fun is referred to as recreational crab fishing and is a wonderful pastime. It only requires a few pieces of inexpensive equipment, and sometimes, a license. Crabbing is a fun family activity, kids especially enjoy it, but beware to not let kids hold the crabs as their claws tend to be quite powerful!

What You Will Need

For your crabbing gear, you can go to your local fishing store and pick up a crab ring net for about five to eight dollars! You will also need nylon rope, a mesh bait bag, and a license, depending on your state.

Crab Ring Net

Crab Ring Net

Crab Ring Net

A ring net is a very simple contraption, pictured here, that lays completely flat when lowered onto the seafloor. In the center is a bag holding your bait.

Nylon Rope

Nylon Rope

Nylon Rope

The nylon rope is so you can lower and raise the crab net. I like nylon because it won't really rot in the saltwater and it is very strong. You can use any type of rope that you'd like, depending on state laws of course, but I prefer the nylon. Be sure that you properly attach the rope to the net so that it doesn't slip off!
Additional Tip: Because nylon rope doesn't rot, be sure to not throw any into the crab habitat as it will not biodegrade. Keep our crabbing spots beautiful!

Mesh Bait Bag

Mesh Bait Bag

Mesh Bag

The mesh bag is to hold the bait that will bring you the crab, so it is very important in crabbing! This bag is filled with your bait, then is securely attached to the crab ring net so that it cannot float away, or worse, so a crafty crab will not walk off with it.


The license is very important because, while it may not seem like a necessary step, you can face large fines for fishing and crabbing without a license. In even more serious situations, you could even face jail time. The licenses are generally very cheap, usually around $15.00 for a year. Some states, like Florida, do not require a license for residents to fish and crab from a pier or land. It is very important that you not take my word for it and check all state laws as they do change from time to time. The easiest way to locate your state's laws is to search your state name and the phrase "fishing laws."

How It All Works Together

Now you have got the crab gear, but you need to know how it works.

  1. Assemble the Ring Net
  2. The nylon rope attaches to the hook on the crab ring net (you will understand when you see it.). Be sure to attach it with a good knot so that it cannot slip off. Make absolutely sure that you cannot slip the knot off of the hook!

Choose Your Bait
Fill your bait bag with whatever bait you would like. Many recreational crabbers like to use chicken, especially bone-in chicken wings and chicken necks because the crabs really have to work to get the meat off. You can use most any bait but most recreational crabbers like to use chicken.
Attach the Bait Bag
Attach the bait bag to the bottom of your ring net with the strings on the bag, fishing line, safety pins, or whatever you feel confident using. But make sure that it is secure or else you will lose your bait, your bag, and any crab you may have caught!
Choose Your Location
If you wanted to find a lion would you go to Antarctica, or Africa? The same holds true for Crabs, they have a habitat that will increase your odds of finding them. Crabs love rocks, and crabs also love cover that will help protect them from predators. I always try rocky areas first because these tend to be the best spots to find your crab.
Lower the Net
Lower the net very slowly as to not disturb the bottom or startle anything that my already be down there. Once completely lowered, tie your rope off and wait. I always like to do normal fishing while waiting. No reason to be idle, I want to put food on the table! But feel free to turn on the radio, enjoy a cool beverage and about every ten minutes pull the net up to see if any crabs are enjoying the meal you placed. If you're in shallow water or clear water then you can simply watch the net and wait, but I don't ever seem to have that luxury.

What's Happening Underwater?
Once you have lowered your crab net there are a lot of things happening underwater, but what you want to happen I'll outline. Your crab net will be lying flat on the bottom of the seafloor and the scent of the bait will eventually reach the crabs. The unknowing crabs will simply walk up to your bait bag and begin nibbling. Luckily, crabs are content feeding in one spot so you don't have to worry about them taking a nibble and walking away. Once this occurs you simply begin pulling the nylon rope up which raises the "walls" of the basket so the crab cannot escape and pull him up. Be sure that you pull the rope up at a brisk pace to keep the crabs stuck at the bottom of the net. Enjoy your new hobby!


Dennis Ebris (author) from Florida on July 12, 2009:

Red Elk,Thank you for all of the great improvisation tips. I definitely agree with you that people will need to start learning how to do these things as soceity continues to deteriorate. I'm glad that there are others such as yourself willing to help people to understand. In this day and age, many people are too busy to share their knowledge with others. That is why I enjoy the people in this community, they are always willing to share!


Red Elk on July 11, 2009:

Hello my brother. I used to do a lot of crabbing (Crawdads). In the last few yrs Ive noticed these n frogs r fast dissapiering from their habitate (haven't seen ONE frog "sack" in SEVERL YRS). Sigh Frog legs r DELISHES. Still see 'dads , tho far less.

I "go out" as often as I privit (closit) time with r Crator. Aho? In this I prefer to travel VERY Lite. My "pack" less then 3 1/3 lbs. 4 a 5 day trip.

If I know I'll b close to a crabbing area, here's what I take;

OLD (womans) NYLON SOCKS! I get these, cheaply, at Thrift Stores. I cut each leg into 3 pieces, SRETCH THEM n take a SHARP OBJECT to creat big "RUNNERS". I then tye in (each singel) my bait (Fish heads or?) n keep a long fishing line to this n toss along the creek. Tyeing the line to branches or clump weeds on the bank. I leave these traps out from n hr to over-nite.


Tye the bait in the center n MAKE THE TRAP SACK LOOSE.

I occ. carry cheap cans of cat food. Puntureing them, n tye in as bait. SEVERL holes in can(s). I do this when "fishing" 4 a family dinner. Dont like the exstra wt. on my Quests.

When I have no trap gear i resort to a small piece of cloth on a hook. This to a limber "pole" twig of leangth (I allwas have fishing like with me on a cardboard "spool"). I then place this "bait" (weighted) b4 SEEN 'dads. TEASING THEM into anger / defence. They clamp on n u pull um out. "Dinner is ON!". ( :

fyi; often a slow creek / stream has water "moss" in them. I lay there beside n slowly feel within. FREASH WATER CLAMES! When i see empty clam shells at bank or water edge....THESE R THERE BECAUSE OF RACCONS (who do the same thing). So, when "about", KEEP UR EYES OPEN! R CreatorGod provides...all U need to do is SEE...n gain Knowledge.

These r but a FEW ways I feed myself from Water "People" that allows me to have a lite "pack" (Fanny Bag). These above but a FEW, as said. Hand fishing to Kite Fishing to Float Fishing to SPIDER WEBB Fishing n on n on.

I was surprised u had setch a posting....even MORE so that no one has READIT but ME! A shame. People will NEED to know these things SOON. Even NOW we have BIG amounts of Homeless. Soup Kitchens / Begging / Groups n Friends trying to feed them. MANY CAN FEED THEMSELVES but LACK THE KNOWLEDGE! Even RIGHT IM DOWNTOWN DETROT, Micvh. I have fed my sister n I (mom gone for days at a time..."Party Girl"). RAT Traps in Vacent CITY Lots for PHESENT...BADLY Polluted streams RIGHT BEHIND THE FORD FACTORY...HUGE DEER roaming these "impossabel" places, UN HUNTED (Snares n Bows...even SPEARS to hunt...NO GUNS!). HUGE fish in these streams! Carp n SUCKERS included, n WONDERFULL Smoked or in Fish Pattys, Etc.). "DAD" PROVIDES! Yes, even in a CROWDED CITY! Wild Plants GALORE at edge n IN CRACKS of Cement SideWalks. All it takes is KNOWLEDGE. LIBRAIRYS n INNTERNET "Seach" GIVES U THAT. Aho?

I thank u 4 this Hug. BUITYFULL! Now to get OTHERS to see it. sigh.

Red Elk