The Best Bait for Crabbing (Guide & Tips)

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There are many baits and crab attractants available to crabbers today on the market. In this article, we will discuss the most effective baits for crabbing, including what’s best for different types of crabs so you get the best bait for your shellfishing needs.

Best Overall

Pro-Cure Crab and Shrimp Attractant + Chicken Necks

“Pro-Cure Crab and Shrimp Attractant Bait Oil is great for fisherman who are out on the water all year round. A ½ gallon can be used to marinate about 5 pounds of chicken overnight and the crabs go wild for it. It easy to use, and not too expensive… What more could you ask for?”



Best for Dungeness Crab

Razor Clams

“If you’re looking for a simple bait that crabs love you can’t beat razor clams. Crabs eat these naturally in the wild and the oils and scents the clams give off really help attract them to your traps. They’re easy to use and a couple will do to properly set your traps.”



Best for Blue Crab

Smelly Crab Jelly Attractant + Clams

“If you arent having luck with just natural baits then smelly crab jelly attractant can really help. This simple jelly bait can go right in your traps or with other bait (like razor clams) and helps draw in crabs with its strong fishy smell and oiliness.”


Every year, millions of people go crabbing. It’s a fun and relaxing way to spend some time on the water and can be a great way to catch some tasty crustaceans. But for many crabbers catching a crab can be tough, leaving many to explore different baits to attract these creatures.

From fish oils, and meat-based products to dog food and salmon, crabs are known to like a range of different baits. Though, despite this, the question remains: what is the best bait for crabbing?

Below we will discuss 6 different types of bait that are effective at catching crabs – some more than others – as well as the pros and cons associated with each type.

We’ll also provide an overview of each type of bait and how we think it works so you can make an informed decision about which one to buy when you’re out shopping for your next fishing trip!




The 6 Best Crab Bait and Attractants 


1. Pro-Cure Crab and Shrimp Attractant Bait Oil, 1/2 Gallon (Best for Dungeness Crab)

Pros 

  • A strong odour attracts crabs and puts off a fishy scent. 
  • Formulated to help you increase the number of crabs that enter your traps. 
  • Can be used in addition to other baits such as chicken neck to help improve your odds.
  • Multiple sizes to suit your needs with a long shelflife

Cons 

  • Stills requires you to have meat to marinate the attractant with
  • Can be messy and the bottle can be extremely smelly after use.
  • Larger sizes can be expensive

What It’s Good For

Made with natural fish oils, salmon egg, anise and more, Pro-Cure Crab & Shrimp Attractant is a strong blend that’s great for adding to your normal bait and can be incredibly effective for catching dungeness crab.

Available in a couple of different sizes a bottle is more than enough for the year, and can help ensure you come home with your legal catch each day.

If you’re looking to explore this bait attractant as an addition to your regular bait you can generally find it online or even at your local bait and tackle shop.


2. Razor Clams 

razor clams

Pros 

  • A great bait to use for crabs as they eat it naturally in the wild.
  • Super smelly and oily.
  • Popular bait for commercial crabbers who use it to maximize the number of crabs they catch.
  • Affordable, especially if you’re only sourcing off parts like their guts.

Cons

  • Have to be placed in a bag or sock otherwise, they wash away quickly.
  • Generally better when used in conjunction with another bait.

What It’s Good For

Whether it’s razor clam or even butter clams, dungeness crab love these long, saltwatter creatures. Easily found and naturally eaten by crabs as a part of their regular diets, clams are great if you like to keep your bait bag simple.

Just drop the clams, guts and all in a sock or bag to keep them all in one place and your good to go! One of the best things about using clams is that they can often be found in the sand along the beach wherever your crabbing so you don’t even need to bring your bait with you.

This is a smelly, oily bait that goes well when used with chunkier meats like chicken as the latter provides some extra bits for the crabs to attack and clamp-on to.

If fresh clams aren’t available in your area or you’re looking to store some bait for later you can make use of frozen clams as bait, with many crabbers both commercial and recreational reporting success.


3.  Smelly Crab Jelly Attractant

Pros 

  • Used in conjunction with your normal bait to increase your odds of attracting crabs.
  • Can be used as bait to attract other shellfish such as lobster.
  • Relatively affordable and lasts for a while.
  • Comes in a handy 4-ounce container.

Cons

  • Can be hard to find unless bought online.
  • Only available in smaller sizes.

What It’s Good For
Smell Crab Jelly Attractant is to be used as an add-on to your regular bait of choice. Once you have your main bait ready you can simply take the jelly and apply it to your bait before placing it in your bait cage or attaching it to your trap. 

A small application will generally last a full day of crabbing and the rest can be stored for later. The main downside of the jelly is that it can be hard to find in stores and is primarily bought online.

With that being said, if you’ve been having a hard time attracting crabs in your area this can increase your odds of pulling in a catch significantly.


4. Chicken Necks & Parts

Best bait for crabbing blog post feature image

Pros 

  • Spreads scent well, especially if you’re using oily chicken necks
  • Affordable and can be found at most local stores. 
  • Easy to prepare, and marinate (if using oil-based attractants)
  • If you don’t have chicken necks, other cuts or even turkey can be used.

Cons

  • Crabs don’t naturally eat chicken. 
  • Chicken necks can be a tough cut to find at most North American grocery stores.

What It’s Good For

Chicken necks and other parts can be great for crabbers looking to bait their traps, not only is chicken readily available at most grocery stores but it’s also oily (which crabs love) and affordable.

When using chicken necks it’s generally best to also use either a fish bait like one of the ones listed above or a raw fish of your choice in conjunction with the chicken. This helps provide a really smelly bait that draws in the crabs.

In addition to being affordable and easy to prepare, chicken is easy to place in your traps and will generally hold up longer to attacks from crabs claws then just raw fish. 

We prefer using a more natural bait like clams or rockfish with an attractant oil but with so many recreational crabbers swearing by chicken we had to include it in this list.


5. Salmon Heads and Guts

Pros 

  • A lot of natural oils.
  • Tough for crabs to chew up helping your bait go longer.
  • Attracts dungeness and rock crab in particular.
  • Put’s off a strong odour/scent.

Cons 

  • Can smell a lot if you’re keeping this bait around the house.
  • Crabs will tear it apart requiring you to restock your bait cage more often.

What It’s Good For

Salmon heads are a great choice for bait due to their strong scent and tough skin. This tougher skin and the bonier structure helps them last longer and ensures you won’t have to restock the bait often.

When preparing salmon for crab bait it’s common to take the head and any leftover guts and chuck them in a bait cage and throw the spine in the trap or pot to help further attract crab.

Salmon is a natural choice for crab, as they’ll often scavenge it in the wild, meaning they’ll also be naturally attracted to it as a food source.

If you’re heading out for the weekend you’ll be able to find salmon heads for free if you ask many specialty shops, or you can buy whole fresh salmon and just use the head and guts for bait. 


6. Prawn Heads

prawn heads bait

Pros 

  • A natural bait that red rock and dungeness crabs love
  • Can be easy to find, or buy
  • Easy to set up in a bait cage or add to other bait mixes.

Cons 

  • Prawns can be harder to find in some areas. 
  • You will need a lot of heads to be able to fill your bait cage or be forced to refill often.

What It’s Good For

A great bait for catching smaller crabs like blue crab and red rock, prawn heads or full prawns can be used on their own in a bait cage or with other baits and attractants. 

If you’re looking to buy prawns they can be purchased at most seafood or grocery stores for relatively cheap, fresh or frozen. If you have the ability to get fresh prawn heads this is preferable to frozen.

As with all smaller baits, be prepared to have to refill your bait bag or cage often as the crabs eat this stuff up. It’s best to bring a couple of pounds of bait with you if you plan on being out on the water all day.


Related Questions

How to use razor clams for crab bait?

A razor clam is a long and slender saltwater clam that is a regular part of a crab’s diet along the coast. These sea creatures make excellent bait for catching crab as well as a range of other fish including bass.

To prepare the clams for crabbing you can simply take the clam, remove the shell by opening it up and removing the clam meat. Once the clam meat has been separated you can place it in a bag or bait cage. If you plan on using the bait later in the season it can be frozen and used as needed.

Some crabbers will grind the clam meat and use it to improve the effectiveness of other meat baits such as chicken. 

Read More
Essential Crabbing Equipment & Tools Checklist
Crabbing Measuring Gauges & How to Use Them

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Ryan W

Ryan is the owner of Fisherman First and manages the team of expert writers on the site. He's fished his entire life and has been to locations across North America to catch a range of fish and crustacean from crabs and prawns to minnow and trout.