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How Do Crabbing Traps Work?

The Proper Way to Use a Crab Trap

Crab traps work by luring a crab into a cage or net, which then shuts to enclose the crab when the trap is pulled up to the boat or dock.

There are many different types of traps for crabbing, but each of them functions in a very similar way. The most important thing you will need to lure a crab is bait.

Most crab traps are attached to line or string of some kind. When this string is pulled, it forcefully closes the doors on a cage style trap, or creates a “bucket” on a net or ring trap. The crabs are not able to react quickly enough, so they get caught and are unable to escape.

In this example, the main rope on the top is pulled hard to close the trap doors on each side.

When the trap is on the bottom of the ocean, the doors open. Here a person baits the cage while each door is open.


Here, a ring net is seen with a crab caught in the middle. Pulling on the main orange line causes the net to expand and essentially keep the crab from escaping. The green line is attached to the edges, which pulls each side up.


If you use the proper bait and show enough patience, you should eventually catch a crab if you are in the right place at the right time.

Below, you can see many crabs which are stuck in the cage as a result of a proper pull!

crabs caught in the cage

The bait remains in the middle and is unable to be dragged away by the crabs inside. Therefore, as long as the doors shut, you should have a good catch.

That is all there is to it, that is how crab traps work! Check out the rest of our website to find more tips on crabbing, what type of bait to use, and where to go.

Pyramid Traps

Pyramid traps are very similar to regular box traps, except that they have three sides instead of four. Simply let the doors drop down, add your bait, and pull the line up to close the doors.

When you reel in your traps, be sure to tug on the line to ensure your catch stays in place!

How long should crab pots stay in the water?

If you are crabbing from a dock or pier, you can check them every 20 minutes. If you leave them out in the middle of the bay with a buoy, you can check once per day.

Do crab pots sit on the bottom of the bay?

Yes, crab pots and traps should touch the bay floor. This allows the doors to open up if there are some on the trap. It also allows crabs to climb in and begin eating the bait.