The Basics on Recreational Crabbing Using a Ring Net:

Crabbing is the skill of capturing those feisty but delicious shellfish we call crabs. For recreational crabbers like you and I, there are a few, easy-to-learn methods for catchy these delightful critters. It requires absolutely NO prior experience and provides hours of fun for everyone.

Another easy way to catch crabs is by utilizing crab rings. The concept is straightforward: bait the crabs into the ring and “close” the trap when you think the crabs are inside of it. Easy! The absolute simplest crab ring is a two ring crab net. Similar to method 1 with the line and net, a recommended bait to use is chicken necks (or any chicken parts).

Let’s go through the steps to crab with a two ring crab net.

    1. Location, location, location. In order to use this trap, you need to be situated significantly above the crabs. So a bridge, pier, dock, or crabbing from a boat would work.
    2. Place your bait inside of the net. Securing it to the net is optional but recommended. Tip: Place rocks or some kind of weight in the net as well so that it can be secured to the water floor. Strong currents may make it more difficult to crab.

  1. Lower the trap into the water using some type of rope attachment to the net.
  2. Wait until crabs have moseyed into your trap. It’s best to confirm this visually (if possible).
  3. Pull the trap up as fast as you can to avoid the crabs from swimming away.


This is a great way to catch numerous crabs if your crab net is big enough. The equipment is also fairly cheap. This method lends for a more relaxed crabbing experience. The trap works for you and you don’t need to pay attention to it diligently. Bring a book and a lawn chair. Relax in the sun while your crabs fall into your trap. Just check back once in a while to make sure your bait isn’t gone. Don’t forget to secure your rope attachment to something so that it does not fall into the water.


Reeling the catch up can be a challenge but if you are up for it, it can be fun. Also, you need to find the correct location for this type of crabbing, otherwise, your crab trap will likely not work.


Don’t fall overboard! Practice good hygiene and wash your hands after handling raw chicken. Ingesting bacteria from the chicken can cause illness.


Ready to start crabbing? Get to it by buying a quality crab ring at the CrabbingHQ store.

This article has 7 comments

  1. Riz Reply

    Great info. I’ve been using the same traps and ring nets for the last 15 years. My grandfather taught me how to crab, and I still use his traps to this day.

    Find a pier, grab a cigar and a beer, and you’re set.

  2. Valerie W. Tucker Reply

    This is very interesting. I can’t believe I didn’t know about ring traps. I grew up in the Panhandle on the coast. First, as a small child, we used big crab traps in front of our small beach houses or my grandmother’s old motel. Later, I went with lifetime friends and their parents. They taught me a new approach! They had chicken bait tied on a string to put in the water. We would hold the string, with the chicken neck tied to it, in the water, until a crab pulled or tugged a bit like a fish on a hooked worm. Then, another child would run up with a decent sized net on a handle to actually net the crab. We dumped the caught crab into a container under adult supervision and went back to having our fun times catching more crabs. We were not actually at a beach, but on a wooden pier in brackish salt marsh water.

    Later, I crabbed every summer of my life on a beach, where we started camping at as a family. By then, We always crabbed with hand held nets on long light handles. We ran up and down the beach. No license was needed as children. We also fished. However, crabbing and scalloping were definitely a passion for us. We crabbed during the entire crab season! Cape San Blas, Florida was my favorite place to crab, but I crabbed many places. I lived in many coastal areas.

    Eventually, we moved out West and I got distracted snow skiing, rock climbing, fly fishing, hiking, photographing bears, watching mountain goats, biking and more. However, I always kept a conch shell by my bed and listened to the sound of the sea in the shell each night before II went to sleep. I missed the salt air, humidity, heat and sun setting on the bay each day. Ten years ago, I was lucky enough to move home and we go to the beach often. I can never go enough. Now, I have an Eleven year old boy that adores the beach!

    Today, we recieved a two ring crab net. I decided to google it and I read this article to understand how it works. It seems like a cross between the old string method and the crab trap method with a bit of the excitement from string crabbing. It triggered many memories, as I read about it and enjoyed learning the technique needed. It sounds like great fun. I know that D3 will love crabbing this way as much as my other children loved our old crbbing ways. I always loved crabbing, scalloping and fishing any way that I learned.

    As I pondered on the memories that this crab trap brought back to me, I took time to walk down memory lane. I had considered the information offered. I had to laugh a bit at the part about how the crabs fall right into your trap. For a moment, I thought that said that the crabs would fall right into your lap! Ouch and Still laughing a bit.

    I did have a question. I did research this further. However, I wondered what type of water you recommended for this ring crab catching device! I know it is done near piers, but it seemed like the water was bay/river brackish salt water when we used chicken necks. I do remember that we fished with a cane pole where we crabbed with the chicken on a string. It might just be that is where their vacation home was. Usually, when I fish in the bay or gulf, we use light rod and reels. Off shore on boats, we use heavier equipment, of course. Also, we used an weight as you suggested when we used rectangular crab traps. I don’t really know if all of that is still legal, but it was definitely fun forty plus years ago. Thanks for the reminder about fishing license. Salt water fishing license for certain crabbing makes sense.

    Running up and down the beach with crab nets and catching blue crabs quickly was easy,. However, it is further to the beach. The bay is much closer. Since, D3 recieved the two ring trap or net, I want to get him used to it. That way, he can use it with expertise and confidence on a beach trip. I go to the beach all the time and this invention is very interesting to me!

    Valerie Tucker

    • admin Reply

      Valerie, it’s great to here about your crabbing adventures. As far as your question about the type of water to go crabbing with crab rings, the more visible the better otherwise you’ll just be waiting and then pulling up to check if there are any crabs. But if you can’t find and water with good enough visibility, you’ll have to crab in brackish water as you said. I’m glad you learned a few things form the website. I’m passionate about crabbing and it certainly has brought me alot of good times as it has with you and your family. Cheers!

  3. Kawika Reply

    A single ring net is the primary means of catching crabs back in Hawai’i for the local folks. I can’t recall seeing many of the two-ring nets at all. I’m not sure if they are even available. The majority of folks also replace the cotton string used in most of these nets with monofilament. I believe this is primarily to strengthen the net. Crabbing in the local rivers there, fishermen primarily target the Samoan crab (which I believe is what is also referred to as the mud crab or a close relation to it) as well as the blue crab. The Samoan crab is significantly larger & regularly preys on the blue crab, so their numbers aren’t as high there as they are here in the mainland. We often set the ring nets from bridges or off the shoreline if we don’t have access to a boat.

    I’ve most recently been dabbling with crabbing here in Texas (Galveston area). The primary means being the old chicken drumstick with a string method. I’m hoping to acquire a few ring nets & finding a place I can use them here in Texas. It may not be as “fun” as using just a string & a net…but I can’t imagine the disappointment of seeing a large crab on your line only to see him drop off into the abyss. Your chances of catching whatever eats your bait is much higher with a ring net than with a string alone. They can escape. I’ve had a few large Samoan crabs walk right out of a ring net…some even being almost too big for the net itself. That’s quite a rush when you are pulling up ring nets from an inflatable raft with just enough room for yourself and a cooler to drop the crabs into. Good times… 🙂

  4. BFH Reply

    I’ve used crab rings in the San Juan Islands WA. for years and have had great success and prefer them over crab pots. 3 rings (quantity)are legel in WA. 1st crab rings are cheap compared to pots. 2rd they take up less room in a boat and also work great off bridges, docks etc. Crabs can walk onto them and then walk back off so you have to pull them every 15 mins. using a firm pulling action also lower them with tension to the bottom so they don’t flip over. Lay the 3 rings spaced across the current approx. 40 ft. or so apart. I use chicken parts clipped with a stainless steel clipped through the smaller lower ring they won’t be feeding long remember. Easy peasy adding new bait. by the time you set your third ring it’s time to retrieve your first, etc.
    Crab pots are left for a much longer period of time because the crabs have to figure out how to get in, unattended can be stolen(did I mention expensive) or cleaned out, also you have to allow extra line for tide change which floating on the surface on low tide can get caught in a prop of a passing boat, not enough line and the float disappears underwater on a high tide, yes Puget Sound does have extreme tides.

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