How To Rig Blue Crabs (When Drifting For Tarpon)


Want to catch more tarpon this summer?

One of the best ways to catch them is to drift a live blue crab at sunrise or sunset.

Of course, tarpon are big, strong fish with really good eyesight so how you rig them can make or break your trip.

Today, we’ve got Capt. Mark “Hollywood” Johnson from showing us exactly how he rigs up blue crabs for tarpon.

You’ll learn:

  • What size rod and reel to use so you can handle these big fish
  • What type of mainline and braid to use (hint: he uses different leader sizes for different seasons)
  • What knots to use so that you don’t get broken off
  • How to hook blue crabs so that they swim naturally and attract tarpon to them
  • And much more

Check it out below.

How To Rig Blue Crabs For Tarpon [VIDEO]

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Here’s what you need to catch big tarpon in the summer:

  • Spinning outfit (we were using a 7′ Daiwa Saltiga rod and a Daiwa BG 4500 reel)
  • 30 lb. braided line (we were using J-Braid)
  • 8′ leader. Since it was summer and the water is clear, we had 60 lb. fluorocarbon, but in the spring, when the water is a little murkier and Capt. Hollywood is using live mullet, he’ll step it up to an 80-100 lb. leader.
  • Circle hook that matches the size of the crab you’re using (we had a 5/0 Owner circle hook)
  • Float with a pin stick so you can adjust the depth

As far as the rig goes, it’s best to avoid hardware, such as swivels, so Capt. Hollywood ties up a 2.5′ Bimini twist with a no-name knot to connect the line to the leader.

Then, to connect the leader to a hook, he uses a snug knot (the Palomar knot is a great option here).

Finally, as for actually hooking the crabs, hook the crab in the corner of the shell from the top to the bottom.

This will allow your crab to swim naturally.

Now, let’s talk about how to pick the best crabs for tarpon.

Tarpon like lively crabs, so you don’t want to be throwing out crabs that are on their last leg.

If you’re picking them out at a bait shop, look for ones that have all of their legs and swimmers and are about 3″ wide across their carapace.

Also, if you can, get male crabs — they typically last longer than females.


catch and release tips

Drifting a blue crab is a great way to catch tarpon in the summer.

A big spinning outfit, 8′ leader, a float, a circle hook, and a lively 3″ crab will help you catch more of them.

Have any questions about rigging up crabs for tarpon?

Let us know down in the comments.

If you’re in the Florida Keys and want to book a trip with Capt. Hollywood and his crew, you can find them at

And if you know someone who wants to catch more tarpon, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Caden Kaufman
2 years ago

Great article! I just read your article on kids these days and I couldn’t agree more. I am 13 and unlike most kids my age I am addicted to fishing instead of “xbox” or call of duty. I hate to see other kids my age rotting their brains.


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