How To Rig Fiddler Crabs To Catch More Sheepshead


Here are two questions we get all the time about fiddler crabs:

  1. How do you handle fiddler crabs without getting pinched?
  2. How do you rig fiddler crabs up to use as bait?

In this video, I’ll answer both of those questions, plus share some secrets on how to catch more fish with them.

If you want to catch more sheepshead, redfish, and black drum, you’re going to love this video.

Let’s dive in!

How To Rig & Handle Fiddler Crabs [VIDEO]

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When you look at a group of fiddler crabs, you’ll probably notice that some have big pinchers and some don’t.

Similar to how bucks have antlers and does do not, only the males have the big pinchers.

Now the big pincher can be a little intimidating, so here’s how to grab and handle them.

How To Grab Fiddler Crabs

Although the pincher is big compared to their bodies, it actually doesn’t hurt too bad when they pinch you.

It feels like if a baby were to pinch you.

However, you still probably don’t want to get pinched by one so here are two ways to avoid getting pinched when you grab them:

  1. Grab them by the claw
  2. Grab their bodies from behind

You can also use pliers to grab them, but be careful because they’re fragile and you want to keep them alive and well to attract hungry fish.

How To Rig Fiddler Crabs For Bait

how to rig fiddler crabs for bait

You can use a jig head, j hook, circle hook, or live bait hook to rig these up as bait and the method is all the same.

Bring the hook up from the bottom of the crab through the middle of the body and out of the top.

As for what size hook, I like to go with a #1 to 1/0 hook.

Try to use a smaller, thinner hook because thick hooks can kill these crabs quickly.

And finally, some people think that you should remove the claw, but I like to keep it on.

It acts like a big flag for the fiddler crab to wave down hungry sheepshead.


sheepshead on texas rig shrimp

If you’re using fiddler crabs for bait, try to grab them from behind or by the claw so you don’t get pinched, and when you’re rigging them, rig them from the bottom up through the middle of the body on a #1 to 1/0 hook.

Have any questions about rigging and handling fiddler crabs?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who wants to learn how to rig these crabs, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Noah Johns
2 years ago

Hey tony! I know this is kinda old, but I’m gearing up for the Goliath Chesapeake bay bridge tunnel sheepies. The fiddler crabs are already in and are large compared to last year, but what size hook and weight for bottom sweepers? I have the bottom rigs figured out but I’m not sure about bottom sweepers as I don’t have any in stores near me. The sheepshead and tautog will be big near me however, and I may use the jigs for large black and red drum as well. Any help appreciated!

Ferdinand Alsina
3 years ago

I never tried using them because I didn’t know how to handle them. Great video. Thanks

Eugene W Engels
3 years ago

Watched one of your Fishing show,s with artificial crabs ,great information but would love to know what boat an motor you prefer ,for Crystal River area could,nt catch the name of the type of boat you 2 were using , I just moved to Crystal River. Thanks.

Luke Simonds
3 years ago

Thanks for the kind words Gene! The boat we fished from during the sheepshead video is a 17 ft Maverick HPX-V with a 90 HP Yamaha, and it has been my favorite boat of all for fishing in the shallows while still be able to punch through some chop when needing to cross open water.

Nick Nemeth
3 years ago

Thanks Tony, I’ll try this method and leave feedback later. I’ve always had good luck going through the side (maybe corner is a better description) and then having the hook come out the back at an angle where the hook looks like one of the legs. I’ve certainly lost a few baits from a weak bite but it appears more natural in my opinion.

3 years ago


Lara Delorenzo-Sims
3 years ago

Hey Tony, I noticed that Dan Schafer, who designed the Bottom Sweeper jigs, and uses them for Sheepshead and Tog, does not leave the hook point exposed when rigging fiddlers. I have only rigged them as you showed, but plan on experimenting with the other style of rigging next time I get the chance. It should be an interesting experiment.

Nick Nemeth
3 years ago

Good observation. Maybe even try exposing the hook oh so slightly as a 3rd option.


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