Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How To : Rigging a Hoop Trap for Blue Crabs

Featuring some hideous photos , but we won't worry about that as this is for instructional purposes. There are other ways to catch Blue Crabs , but this is a fairly easy way to improve your catch when compared to using a hand line , and cheaper than other types of traps or crab pots.

You can buy simple 2 hoop traps for around $2-3.00 , but they are not ready to use. You have to modify them to suit conditions where you will be fishing and add some rope to pull them up with. You will need the following :

  • Pliers and Wire cutters
  • Coat Hanger
  • Some type of light , flexible wire
  • Pyramid Sinker ( I used 6 ounces , go heavier if trapping from an ocean pier )
  • Zip Ties
  • Some type of rope ( I found some camo tree stand rope on clearance. Minimum of 20 feet)
  • A Pizza Box?
  • Chicken necks , drumsticks , or fish heads/other fish parts ( For bait )
  • Metal salad tongs , or gloves to handle the crabs ( They can really do some damage with those claws )   

These traps are designed to lay flat in the water , and then the outer hoop lifts up to make a basket that traps any crabs that crawled onto the net to get the bait. Keep this in mind when working with the coat hangers and wire because anything that can cause a snag could cause the trap not to open fully and let the crabs escape.

An open hoop trap.
Begin by cutting a piece of coat hanger long enough to go across the bottom hoop , and leave enough to wrap about 2 times around the hoop on each side. I like coat hangers for this , as thinner wire will bend under the weight of heavier sinkers. Next you'll want to start the bend , like this :

I had to have my wife help me with this part. I need to lift weights or something...
Attach it to one side of the hoop by bending it around at least two times , then trim it so that it doesn't snag on the netting. I always put the hanger on the bottom of the trap.

Before trimming

After you have the piece of coat hanger secured across the bottom of the trap , add the light , flexible wire to the "eye" of your pyramid sinker with a twist or two :

Next , you'll want to push the wire up through the center of the bottom ring of the trap , then run a zip tie through the eye of the sinker and around the coat hanger and light wire :

All that's left now is to attach your rope to the ring on top of the trap. I'm using 20 feet of camo rope I got on clearance , because I'll be using these from a dock in a shallow part of a bay. From an ocean pier , I would want a minimum of 40 feet because of the difference in height and the possibility of movement due to strong currents. I use the light wire to hold the roll of rope when packing them away , and this is also how you would bait the trap by wiring a raw chicken neck , drumstick , or fish parts to the bottom.

Oddly enough , an extra large pizza box works quite well to pack these in. The netting can be a real hassle if it gets tangled in fishing rods , and it definitely saves you the trouble of having to untangle a mess when you'd rather be fishing.

When you're on the water and ready to start catching a few crabs for dinner , it's a good idea to either wear gloves or use a pair of cheap metal salad tongs to handle and sort your crabs. I usually only keep males bigger than 5 inches across , but in some states it's OK to keep mature females. Just be sure to stay within limits and keep only legal crabs! You can find out more about crabbing and how to determine sex and age of Blue Crabs HERE!

I'll have more on catching and hopefully eating Blue Crabs in the coming weeks , after I've had a chance to try these babies out! Happy crabbing!


  1. Awesome! Nothing like a good crab boil

  2. That is really cool. Did you make it and if you did can you tell me how.

  3. @ Alex , Thanks man! You and I need to have a good crab pickin' down there on the Gulf somewhere :)

    @ Anonymous , I bought two traps for 2 bucks , and then tricked them out with stuff I had here and about 5 dollars worth of good rope. I'd be glad to answer specific questions if you shoot me an email via the contact page here : http://www.somefishblog.com/p/contact-us.html

  4. A pizza box?! And why could you not share this tip with us years ago?! You could have saved me years of untangling (and cussing)these suckers, haha. I will definitely be implementing this ASAP. Pizza Box. I just can't believe something so simple will make life so easy. Sigh

    1. I can't give away all of my secrets LB :)


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