The quality of crab traps for sale online is pitiful, to say the least. So-called “Best Seller” crab traps on Amazon and other online retailers will either fall apart or not hold blue crabs. As somebody who has spent a bit too much on crabbing gear, I’m here to tell you the difference between a good and bad blue crab trap.
When you’re buying crabbing gear, you need to know what to look for in a trap. A great crab trap has quality material, a good design, and is built to last. I’ve used so many traps that were plainly built to fail. For each trap on this list (The conventional crab pot, box traps, ring nets, and hand lines), I will point out what will make or break a crab trap. All of this is based on past experience.
Disclaimer: This article is filled with Amazon and eBay Affiliate Links. As an affiliate for these sites, I receive a small commission for any purchase driven through my link at no extra cost to the buyer. Thank you for supporting my website. I’ll mark each affiliate link with “(Affiliate link).”
Two-Compartment Crab Pot
A crab pot is what you usually think of when you think of crabbing. It’s the type of trap you see on shows such as Deadliest Catch. I have to say that I’m disappointed with the quality of crab pots online for blue crabs. More often than not, they are very low-quality and in limited stock. This is why I buy my traps custom-made.
Through recommendations of other watermen, I have found that they have the most luck through custom trap builders. Kcrabpots, a user on eBay.com, has been building and selling quality crab pots since 2002! This is the only crab pot builder for blue crabs I’m confident in recommending. Click here to find kcrabpots on eBay. You can navigate to his store via the Visit Store button on his about page.
I wrote a review of this crab pot, which you can read here. It’s my favorite crab pot I’ve bought out of the several others I wasted hundreds of dollars on. If you want to learn from my mistakes and save your money, I recommend you read why I love this pot.
When buying a crab pot, manufacturer’s usually get two things wrong: the strength of the wire mesh and the shape of the openings.
The image above is my failed purchase of a crab pot. It was $60 down the drain! It was made out of cheap coated chicken wire that I could easily bend, and I’m not a very strong guy! Crabs had no problem clawing their way out of the sides.
Far too often, this is the case for crab pots. However, one thing this manufacturer did get right was the trap’s openings (sort of!). They came slanted upward with enough room for a crab to easily slide into the trap, but not escape. The only problem was that the openings were made of the same low-quality wire mesh. So, the crabs had no problem bending the metal and finding their way out of the trap.
To be frank, I believe it’s best to buy a crab pot either in person or from a reputable builder. Far too often, the traps at Bass Pro Shops or other retailers, like this one, just will not work.
You will also need a crab pot harness and weighted rope with a buoy for your crab pot. I’ve found Promar sells a reliable harness. I recommend weighted rope over anything else because the slack will not float to the surface and get caught by a passing boat.
If you do go the crab pot route, be sure to check your state’s crabbing regulations. States, such as Maryland, require that you register your pot at their DNR webpage. Maryland also requires that you install a turtle excluder device on each crab pot opening.
Box Traps (My favorite crab trap)
Box traps are one of the two collapsible traps recommended in this article. A collapsible trap is a type crab trap that has to be actively triggered to trap blue crabs, unlike the more passive crab pot. This works as a great alternative for those who do not have access to a boat, do their crabbing from piers, or cannot legally use a crab pot in their state.
In my opinion, the best model of the box trap is the FoxyMate Topless Crab Trap (link to an article dedicated to this crab trap). I wrote an entire articlde dedicated to this trap, so click the link to read more about it.
If you start to do research on crab traps you may get overwhelmed at the sheer number of different versions available. There are pyramid traps, box traps, topless box traps, crab pots, ring nets, and plenty more. Forget all of these terms because they aren’t important. The only trap you should get a crabber is a Foxy-Mate Topless Crab Trap.
Here’s a picture of me holding up a crab I caught in my friend’s Foxy-Mate 66 Crab Trap (Affiliate link to Amazon). It’s not the Topless Foxy-Mate (Amazon Affiliate Link) version that I like best, but it still does the job. I like the topless version because you can stack them like cups for much easier storage. I took this picture on Taylor’s Island, MD. It was a female blue crab, so I had to throw it back.
Foxy-Mates are the ideal crab trap for anyone crabbing for Blue Crabs. If you live on the East Coast, from Texas to Maine, this includes you. They’re legal in every state on the coast and don’t come with pages long of regulations like crab pots do. Plus, they’re much cheaper! They work from a pier and from a boat or kayak, you will just need to get a buoy, some rope, and possibly a crab trap weight for anyone crabbing from a boat. The weight keeps their trap from being tossed around by the current, but it’s only necessary for crabbing in the ocean or rougher waters.
I did some digging on the internet and found that Amazon has the best prices for all of the items I mentioned. Foxy-Mates (Affiliate Link to Amazon) go in and out of stock on Amazon, but that’s because they sell for the best price here. I recommend the Foxy-Mates without a top so you can stack them like cups. You will want two or three so your crabber friend can catch more crabs at once. I usually take 6 out when I’m crabbing from my kayak.
With each trap, you’re going to need a buoy if you’re crabbing from a boat or kayak. States have different rules when it comes to buoys, so I would look at the ones they already have before making a purchase. You can read about your state’s gear guidelines on my State-By-State Crabbing Regulations page.
It never hurts to get more rope either. You can get fancy and order lead-lined rope for these traps (Affiliate link to Amazon). It’s useless if you’re crabbing from a pier, but if you’re using these traps from a boat it’s really helpful. This rope sinks with the trap, rather than float at the surface, which prevents it from getting caught in boat propellers.
With this trap, you’re going to want a weight if they are crabbing in rougher waters. I always recommend this Crab Trap Weight (Affiliate Link to Amazon) that you can zip tie to a Foxy-Mate. Tip: You can get away with zip-tie-ing some cut rebar to the trap as well, which is much cheaper.
I’ll briefly go over why I like this trap. I can sum it up in one sentence: It’s built to last a very long time and has no trouble catching blue crabs.
The trap works by laying flat with bait in the center to attract crabs. You can fasten your choice of bait with the spring at the center of the trap. When a crab tries to eat the bait, you pull on the harness to fold the cage’s doors upward and trap the poor crab.
It’s a great alternative to a crab pot, and much cheaper! It just takes active participation fro the crabber.
The only problem with this model of topless crab traps is that they are in short supply. They sporadically pop up on eBay or Amazon. If that’s the case, you may have to use a more-available FoxyMate box trap with the top. I find the topless version better because it’s stackable. It’s not more effective at catching crabs, just more convenient.
Hand-Lines (The beginner-friendly budget trap!)
Last up on this list is the basic Hand-Line, also known as a throw-line. It’s a step up from using plain old string and a net to catch blue crabs, as people have been doing for centuries.
They work by luring crabs to a piece of bait secured to some string. When the crab finds the bait, slowly pull the bait towards you with the attached string. Once it’s in view, scoop up the crab with a dip net.
The concept is as simple as this trap. It’s a clip to better secure your bait with a built-in weight so the line goes further out in the water. This won’t limit you to plain old chicken necks, which are easiest to tie to some string.
I’ve found that when it comes to hand lines, the cheapest options do the trick. I recommend this Hand Line on Amazon (Affiliate Link). I was surprised at how many I could buy on this Amazon listing for such a low price, which is great because you need around 6 hand lines at a time to catch a decent amount of crabs.
I was surprised at what a good price his dip net was on Amazon, for a high-quality tool (Affiliate Link). If not this one, make sure to get a net with a similar mesh that’s small. I’ve found that with wider-spaced nets, crabs like to cling on for dear life which makes them annoying to deal with.
Traps I Would Avoid
There are so many traps on the internet that websites recommend to beginner crabbers because they don’t know any better! Don’t get tricked and waste your money.
Ring Nets (A worse version of the box trap for the same price!)
A ring net is a circular net that lays flat on the bottom until you pull on its string. When you do, it takes the shape of something like a basket, trapping any poor crab caught in the middle. You’ll find these traps on clearance at your local Walmart or bait shop since no one wants them!
If you’re going to use a collapsible trap like this, stick with a box trap. They’re more durable and reliable at catching crabs for the same price.
If you do end up using this trap, my recommendation of ring nets for blue crabs is the Hurricane Two-Ring Net (Affiliate Link). I’ve found that this is the highest-quality ring net on the market for the lowest price. It’s much cheaper than any box trap or crab pot and perfect for some hands-on crabbing.
The Hurricane Two-Ring Net is durable. Instead of the more common cotton netting ring nets that many beginner crabbers get sucked into buying, this net is made of wire mesh. While any cotton mesh net will fall apart after one or two crabbing trips, the Hurricane will stay together.
A few downsides with this ring net are the harness and lack of bait clip. The harness is made out of pretty cheap cotton string that I recommend replacing with a more durable string. Pormar made a harness for crab pots that should work perfectly here, click here to check it out on Amazon (Affiliate Link).
This ring net has no place to put your bait. Bait that gets lost in the current or stolen by crabs can ruin a crabbing trip. I’ve had some luck using a few zip ties to tie down chicken or fish (depending on what I’m using that day) to the center of the net.
One problem I’ve found with this trap is that the S-ring at the top of the harness will sometimes get caught in the wire mesh. This will prevent the net from creating a hoop-shape when you pull it up, which lets any crab in the middle to get away! I never have this problem with a box trap!