Best Crab Bait: Catch Blue Crab and Others

Whether you are brand new to crabbing or just want to shake up your normal routine a bit, understanding the best crab bait is essential. 

The easiest way to get a crab’s attention is to offer him something tantalizing to eat. You need to make his food irresistible! 

Lucky for you, crabs are little scavengers, eager to eat up anything they come into contact with. However, like any creature, they do have certain preferences at mealtime. 

Choosing the best crab bait will make sure you are attracting the right type of crab – and plenty of them, too. 

How to Choose the Best Crab Bait

Think of How Crabs Find Food & Appeal to the Sense of Smell

Before you can choose the right crab bait for your needs, you need to consider a few basic qualifications. 

First, what kind of crab are you going after? While most crabs prefer the same types of foods, there can be small nuances between species.

You also need to consider the regulations in your local area. In some places, certain types of bait are not allowed. 

If you’re wondering if your fishing location matters in terms of offshore vs. inshore crabbing, the quick answer is, “not really.”

You can use the same types of baits offshore as you would in other settings.

Finally, consider how crabs find food. Some people believe that crabs have an excellent sense of smell – this is somewhat true, but not in this sense you might think. 

You see, many types of crabs (like blue crabs) don’t smell through any kind of organ like a nose but instead use microscopic “smelling” organisms. 

Therefore, anything that has a strong smell can attract a whole host of these creatures. They will go after anything that comes into their path. 

Furthermore, crabs will use their claws to dig or scratch up food from the bottom of the seafloor. 

Long story short? The stinkier the bait, the better.

Fresh is Best 

It sounds counterintuitive that creatures that love stinky bait prefer fresh food. However, it’s true. 

While stinky bait is a good thing, rancid bait is not. Make sure you’re using bait that’s less than a couple of days old. The fresher, the better.

Don’t Forget to Secure Your Bait 

When you secure your bait inside your crabbing gear, know that there are many different ways you can do so. 

As long as your bait stays inside and the crab can get to it, just about any type of bait can work.

However, know that other types of animals might be enticed by the kind of bait you are using, too! This can include animals like sea lions and seals. 

You can reduce the likelihood that they will interfere with your crabbing operation by using heavy-duty pots or bait that they are less likely to eat (such as turkey and chicken).

Consider the Most Common Crab Bait Types

You can use all kinds of meat, fish, and other foods to attract crabs. Some options to consider include chicken, turkey, fish carcasses, mink, shad, clams, herring, and more – just remember, of course, that fresh is best. 

Best Crab Bait for Crabbing

When you’re on the hunt for the perfect crab bait for crabbing, you might want to consider one of these popular crab bait options.

Live crab in female hands

Razor Clams

Razor clams are crab favorites. These are part of a crab’s natural diet, so you shouldn’t have to do much hard work to convince the crabs to take a bite. 

Plus, they are legal to use in most areas.

It is important to note, however, that razor clams might not be as effective if you are crabbing in an area that has a large population of these creatures already. 

The crabs might be bored by this additional offering.

Pro-Cure Crab & Shrimp Attractant, 16 Ounce, Red
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Last update on 2024-04-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Chicken Necks and Other Parts

Although chicken necks and other parts of chickens aren’t necessarily part of a crab’s regular diet, you’ll likely find that these foods are quite popular during crabbing, too.

It’s unclear why, exactly, crabs love chicken so much! They aren’t exactly found in the water, so who knows why crabs seem to adore the lungs, livers, and especially necks of chickens. 

What I do know, though, is that chicken is a highly effective bait. 

To bait with chicken, you will want to use a super-stinky part, like the liver or the neck. You can try the thigh or breast, too, but these likely won’t be as popular. 

Another benefit of using the neck is that it is somewhat hard. This makes them a good choice for crabbing since the crabs can latch on for quite some time. 

As with any other type of bait, when it comes to chicken necks, the juicier, the better. You should keep them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use them as bait.

A benefit of using chicken as bait is that most other fish and animals won’t go after it. You won’t have to worry about animals, like seals, destroying your crab traps. 

It works well for most types of crabs, especially Dungeness, blue crabs, and red rock crabs.

Crab Bait Oil 

Crab bait oil can be used not only on crabs but also on shrimp – this makes it a good option if you go after multiple different species. 

Made out of genuine baits, this oil is quite attractive to crabs. It also contains unique amino acids that give it unparalleled versatility when it comes to going after all kinds of other species. 

Pro-Cure Crab & Shrimp Attractant, 1/2 Gallon
  • Made from 100 Percent real bait
  • Enhanced with UV Flash
  • Loaded with amino acids to trigger fish to feed
  • Shake well and marinate your bait overnight

Last update on 2024-04-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a commercial product that you can buy, but it’s made of natural ingredients like anise oil, fish oil, amino acids, and salmon egg juice. 

You’ll marinate any kind of bait with this add-on oil for about three hours before using it. 

Rotten Fish 

Rotten fish may not seem appealing to you, but crabs love them. I know I said earlier that fresh is best, but rotten fish is one area in which you can make the exception. 

Fish are quite fragrant to begin with, and once they start to rot, their stink will be even more noticeable. 

Senior gentleman holding rotten fish

You can use any kind of rotten fish. Often, bait shops or fish markets will give them away. 

Another advantage of using rotten fish is that they are soft and easy to attach to your equipment or crab trap. They’re cheap and readily available, too.

You can even use bits and pieces of squid! You can use fresh or frozen fish, but the benefit of frozen fish is that it will break down more slowly than fresh fish, giving you more time in between checking traps. 

Some options include tuna and mackerel. When baiting with tuna, some people even punch holes in a tuna can, then just lower the can into the trap before placing the trap in the water. 

Just keep in mind that you’ll have to wash your hands thoroughly to get rid of the smell. Using rotten fish is not for the faint of heart! 

You have to be careful about how long you use these baits for, too. The meat can be delicate and crabs can tear through after some time. 

Not only that, but fish doesn’t last long on the trap. Plus, fish are quite attractive to other animals, including seals. 

Seals will not only steal your bait but they’ll also do their best to remove the bait from the trap, too.

Turkey Neck

You can use just about any part of a turkey, as you would with chicken, to entice a crab. However, leg and neck work best. They will be the easiest to hang from a crab trap. 

Aquatic Nutrition

Aquatic Nutrition is a bait that doesn’t need to be refrigerated before use. It works immediately and doesn’t have to rot to attract crabs, either. Plus, it can be used on both shrimp and crab.

This bait lasts up to seven days and can be used in most styles of crab traps. It is a semi-solid bait. 

Smelly Jelly 

Smelly Jelly is another unique crab bait that is sold commercially. It is a gel that doesn’t last for very long – usually, only an hour – but it also works quite quickly. It also attracts shrimp in addition to crabs. 


Also known as menhaden, bunkers are tiny saltwater fish that are frequently used as blue crab bait. They are small and horrible smelling, but crabs love how they smell.

You can find these at most coastal tackle shops. They have an oily scent and residue. Plus, they’re small and easy to manage. 

Again, as with rotten fish, bunkers are quite aromatic! Make sure you wash your hands after using them and replace them often in your crab trap, as the smell dissipates quickly underwater.

Mink Carcasses 

Mink carcasses can be tough to get your hands on in some areas, but if you can, they work as superior crab bait.


They’re super stinky. 

Commonly used in commercial crabbing operations in Oregon, mink is stinky, oily, and incredibly versatile. The oil will stay on your hands for a while, so you might want to wear gloves. 

Any Type of Meat or Animal Parts

Blue crabs in particular love meat. If you don’t want to spend all your money on prime cuts, like steak, consider using meat that’s readily available. Discarded organ meat from butcher shops is a good alternative. 

There are other animal pieces you can use in your crab traps, too. For instance, you can use chitlins (the intestines of a pig) to catch most types of crab. 

You can also use roadkill. The benefit of roadkill is that it is easy to come by just about anywhere you might live. 

It also gives off an incredibly powerful odor. Choose options like raccoon, squirrel, rabbit, or other animal carcasses for the best results.


Many commercial crabbers use eels as bait for their traps. You can use eel by cutting it into small, three to four-inch pieces, before setting the pieces in your crab traps. 

Eel are prized by many crabbers because they are incredibly tough. To use eel, all you need to do is insert a fishhook in the flesh part of an eel. 

Then, attach it to the interior walls of your trap. 

A benefit of using eel is that it takes a few weeks to decompose. You can leave it in your trap for quite some time. 

It will stay on the hook and give off a foul odor, rotting away on its own. This is great for crabbers who only want to check traps now and then. 

Other Human Foods

Crabs aren’t picky, and chances are, if it’s something you eat, a crab will eat it, too. Whole chicken necks are the most common human foods you might use, you’ve got other options, too.

You can attach old bacon, bits of cheese, hot dogs, or even some bread to your crab trap. But remember – the stinkier, the better, and oilier foods tend to work best, too. 

The benefit of using human foods is that they tend to be much less stinky (and therefore easier to handle) than things like rotting meat. 

Some people even use unique household items like cat food or dog food to entice crabs. Just be creative! 

There is no shortage of options when it comes to baiting crabs – it’s all going to be a matter of trial and error to figure out what works best for you. 

Tips for Setting Crab Bait

According to the most experienced crab anglers, the best bait for catching blue crabs is chicken necks However, you can also use these baits: 

  • Rotten fish 
  • Eels
  • Mink carcasses
  • Other meat or human foods

Crabs will eat just about anything they come across in the wild – but if you use crab bait that piques their interest, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. 

One tip to follow when setting crab bait? Make sure you carefully consider the species of crab you are going after along with the region you’re crabbing in, the season, and the laws. 

Not sure how to bait for crabs? Here’s a quick video below that will show you the ropes.

Just be willing to experiment, and you’re sure to find the crab bait that works best for you!

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Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.


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