Many people are wondering what type of bait to use when crabbing, especially when going for the first time. There are many answers to this question but we will break it down so that it’s nice and easy for you to understand.

For the most part, the most important thing to understand is that blue crabs and dungeness crabs will essentially eat anything. This means that you could theoretically use almost any type of food, whether fresh or rotten to use as bait. However, most people do not like to waste their groceries or fresh food on crab bait, so there are better options out there for you to choose.

The following is a list of popular types of bait:

(1) Chicken Necks

Chicken necks are ugly looking and are rarely used for cooking unless you are somewhat skilled. Some people use it to make soup and others might save it for their pet. When it comes to crabbing, chicken necks are a great form of bait because they are widely available in most grocery stores (especially those by the bay) and are very cheap. In some cases, the store might even have a section just for bait itself, where they will have chicken necks or scraps of some kind from the butcher shop.

chicken necks

(2) Chicken Legs

Just like chicken necks, chicken legs are widely available in just about every grocery store imaginable. Sometimes you can find super cheap chicken meat that is half priced or even lower due to the fact that it is going to expire soon. This is the perfect time to snatch them up and use them for bait. Depending on how long you are out there crabbing, you can even reuse them in some cases if you don’t mind getting a little nasty handling the wet meat which has been on the bottom of the sea!

Simply re-bag them and keep them in a freezer (probably not your main freezer) until the next time you head out on the dock or the water.

chicken legs

(3) Bunker

Probably the most classic type of crab bait is bunker. You’ll see plenty of people roll up to the dock with some fish heads, tails, and other smelly body parts that appear to be hacked to pieces. Each trap only needs a small sized portion, so you don’t need to put the entire fish into the trap. You want some guts hanging out with some blood in the water. If you’re squeamish, this hobby might not be for you!

Almost every bait shop should have bunker, so if you happen to pass one before finding a local grocery store, it might be the easiest way to go.


(4) Bait scents, attractants, and oils

We have never used these, but my gut instinct is that they are BS! All you need is some standard food that’s nice and meaty, bloody, full of guts, or almost rotten. There is really no need to add anything else as far as we are concerned.

Recommended Products & Pro-Tips

Bait Cage

bait cage

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For those of you that like to add some serious equipment to your arsenal, or to your larger traps, we recommend bait cages. These can help you stock a ton of bait into a small space for larger traps, and also help keep the bait from being carried off. Keeping your bait in place is incredibly important and this upgrade is definitely worth the money. Note, this is not a trap! It’s a bait container only.

Beginner Traps

crab trap and harness

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This is a great start trap – very durable, strong quality, and a good harness which is a very underrated addition to any trap. Weak lines can break and you can lose the trap forever!

metal ring trap

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This trap is perfect for the absolute beginner, or if you need a bunch of traps to cover a wide area. Highly recommended in quality and price.

Pro Trap

promar traps

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This bad boy is the real deal. Grab a bunch of these and rule the pier. Incredibly sturdy, large enough to fit multiple crabs, and a great all around trap for the experienced crabber. Notice the essential bait box in the center!

This is a great video to watch: