The 9 Best Crab Pots
This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in February of 2017. There's nothing quite like the thrill of pulling up your crab pot to see it teeming full of keepers. Of course, the opposite is also true, as it can be incredibly frustrating to see that your bait is gone with nothing to show for it. With designs ideal for various situations, the traps on this list will ensure that you have the best chance of a successful outing every time. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
July 10, 2019:
If you're ready for a day of crabbing, we still think that models from Promar, Danielson, and Rob Smith Traps will help make your time successful — but make sure that the model you select is acceptable according to your local laws and regulations, as not all types of crab pots are legal in all areas. That said, for many users, the top spot belongs to the Promar Heavy Duty, which arrives with complete rigging for your convenience. It may be something of an investment, but it's made for the long haul. For a cheaper alternative, there's the Danielson Pacific FTC, a popular choice that folds flat for storage. If you're looking for something a little less complicated, you might look at the KUFA Sports Casting or the Danielson Conical. Of the two, the latter is more durable; in fact, the KUFA model isn't necessarily made to last for season after season, but it's cheap and easy even for beginners to use.
Willapa Marine Kit The Willapa Marine Kit has everything you need to get crabbing, such as a trap, 100 feet of rope, a buoy, and a line weight. At 11 pounds, you don't have to worry about it getting swept away by currents, yet it's still easy to pull up at the end of a long day on the water. willapamarineproducts.com
A Brief History Of Crab Fishing
If you really think about it, though, it's kind of their own fault for being so delicious.
While crabs have been enjoyed by peoples the world over through much of recorded history, catching them has always been an American specialty — even before America existed.
In the Chesapeake Bay, early Native Americans would catch blue crabs by the dozen, and they taught European settlers how to do the same. Many of the crabs were simply collected by women on the beach during summertime, while men would spearfish for them from canoes in shallower waters.
Northern tribes invented the first traps, which were baited cages that were lowered through holes they cut in the ice. They were left for a short while, then brought up via rope with the crabs inside, essentially just like most modern traps.
In Alaska in the 19th century C.E., crab fishing became such big business that it spearheaded the territory's push for statehood. They wanted full control over their natural resources, including the ever-valuable king crab.
In 1928, a man named Benjamin F. Lewis patented the modern crab pot, although he continued to tinker and perfect it over the next decade or so. There are a variety of models out there, depending on the species you're targeting, but they all operate under the same basic principle.
The idea is lure the crab in with bait, and then make it so that it can't escape. A buoy is attached to the pot using nylon rope, allowing the fisherman to find his prize upon his return. However, sometimes the buoys become detached and the traps are left forgotten, where they continue to trap and kill animals for years.
As a result, conservation has become paramount in the industry. Alaskans have continued to be highly protective of their crabs, and in 1976, they pushed for the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which forbid international fishermen from operating within 200 miles of the coast.
Despite this, crab numbers began to plummet in the 1980s, due mainly to overfishing. As a result, new laws governing catching crabs were created, including mandating the release of females and juveniles. In addition, biodegradable cotton thread is used in escape panels, so forgotten traps will release their catch after 30 days, rather than leaving the crustaceans to founder indefinitely.
Crab fishing is still big business, both in person and on TV, but populations have yet to fully recover. There has been a push in recent years to farm them in freshwater ponds, allowing fisheries to meet demand without further decimating the wild supply.
There's hope that we can find a solution that allows for people worldwide to continue enjoying crab as part of their diet, without pushing the animals beyond their breaking point. If you really think about it, though, it's kind of their own fault for being so delicious.
Tips For Successful Crabbing
While hunting crab may seem relatively foolproof (provided you have a good trap, of course), there are a few things you should know before you set out to make your fortune.
The first is that you should acquaint yourself with all the local laws and regulations before you even think about dropping a pot. Fines for breaking fishing laws can be quite steep, and you don't want to lose your shirt while trying to catch your dinner.
Try to keep a few boat lengths between each trap, so that you can keep moving without having to stop and wait for the trap to be pulled up and emptied.
Also, while getting fined is less than ideal, it's certainly preferable to getting hurt, so be careful and stay safe. Monitor the weather reports religiously, and watch where you step before releasing the traps. It's easy to get tangled up in ropes if you're not careful, and that's a mistake that could prove fatal.
Your bait will go a long way towards determining how successful you are. Chicken necks and razor clams are always popular with crustaceans, although the clams tend to last longer in the elements. Try to get the freshest bait you can find — after all, would you want to eat weeks-old chicken necks (please don't answer that)?
Try to keep a few boat lengths between each trap, so that you can keep moving without having to stop and wait for the trap to be pulled up and emptied. Don't stop unless you absolutely have to; this means making split-second decisions about your catch without dwelling on any of them too much.
With a little practice, you should be able to get your fair share of delicious sea-bugs in as little time as possible. Heck, you might even consider buying your own commercial vessel and re-enacting your favorite episode of Deadliest Catch.
Meanwhile, we'll be cheering you on from the comfort and safety of the shore.
Crab Preparation Tips
The most important thing is to cook it immediately after killing it, and preferably as soon as you get it home. You can simply boil them to kill them, but be aware that there's some debate as to whether they feel pain. If you're squeamish about this, a well-placed blow to the abdomen can dispatch it quickly, with a minimum of suffering.
When boiling it, use just enough water to completely cover your catch.
You can clean it before or after you cook it; it's easier to clean it after boiling, but you'll get a more pristine final product if you dress it first.
When boiling it, use just enough water to completely cover your catch. Add half a cup of salt for every gallon of water, and you can even add some beer or white wine if you like. This is where you season it as well, and bay leaves, tarragon, and salt and pepper are all smart choices.
Once it's time to eat, you'll find everything's easier with the proper tools. A nut cracker or kitchen shears will help you get to the claw meat, and a dedicated seafood silverware set should have everything you need.
The good thing about crab is that it's hard to screw up, so you should have a delicious meal regardless of what you do. There's just one thing you absolutely have to do: call us when it's ready.