How To Rig Blue Crab (For Big Bull Redfish & Black Drum)


Blue crab… it’s what’s for dinner.

Blue crab is a staple food for Redfish and Black Drum.

If you have ever accidentally hooked one of these fish deep in the throat, you may have heard a grinding and crunching sound as these are the pharyngeal teeth, or “crushers,” in the back of the fish’s mouth crushing down on your hook.

And these crushers pulverize crabs and shells with ease.

So as you can see, these fish are adapted to eat and crush just about anything…

And these big drum absolutely love blue crab.

Big Bait = Big Fish!

(aka Big blue crab = Big bull red)

how to rig a blue crab
Bull Redfish Caught Using a Whole Blue Crab

When I began inshore fishing, I remember thinking “how in the world do you rig a crab up for bait?”

When I think of blue crab, they aren’t very small like fiddler crabs.

However, very large bull redfish (40+ inch fish) can easily grab a blue crab that is 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

It is even recommended to leave the claws on a full-size crab if you are using it for bait.

This allows it to maintain its natural appearance.

If you enjoy having fingers like I do, it’s best to break the claws off with some pliers. Makes handling the crab a bit easier! Also, having a pair of tongs to grab them from your bucket is very useful.

Makes handling the crab a bit easier! Also, having a pair of tongs to grab them from your bucket is very useful.

Also, having a pair of tongs to grab them from your bucket is very useful.

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how to rig blue crabs
A 4/0 to 5/0 circle hook is my top hook choice for rigging blue crab

Small Bait = Small Fish!

For most of us, we are typically targeting smaller, slot sized fish.

Using a live 4-inch crab just isn’t going to work well for these smaller fish.

If smaller crabs aren’t available, you will have to break down the crab into halves or quarters.

You can either remove the shell or leave it on.

I prefer to leave the shell on because this helps keep the smaller fish from picking the meat clean – at least for a little while.

You can use scissors or a knife to cut the crab if leaving the shell on. If the shell is removed, you can easily break the crab down by hand.

If targeting black drum, you will definitely want to use a half of a crab or a quarter of it.

Remove all claws and legs from the piece as well.

Black drum have much smaller mouths than their redfish cousins so you will be better off with a smaller presentation.

big black drum
“Mouth shot” of a Black Drum


As with any cut bait you use, the fresher (or recently deceased) your bait is, the better it is.

Avoid frozen crabs if at all possible.

Once they thaw out, the meat will literally just fall off of the shell when it hits the water, or even as you cast.

It also becomes very mushy and puts off a foul odor that is much different than that of a fresh crab, and the fish can tell the difference.

If you happen to have live blue crab with you and they start to die, toss the dead ones on ice to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

blue crab
Fresh, Live Blue Crab

In the following video, I will be showing you multiple ways to break down and rig blue crab as bait for targeting redfish and black drum (for both the big bull redfish and small drum)

I will also go over the type of setup I use.


How To Rig Blue Crab [VIDEO]

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If you want to catch the BIG bull redfish, then it’s always best to go with a BIG bait…

A full blue crab is one of the best baits out there for attracting a bull redfish (or big black drum).

Of course, if you are in an area with smaller redfish, it can even pay to cut the crab into smaller chunks.

However, once you cut it up, time is ticking as “fresh crab is always best.”

Do you have any blue crab rigging tips you’d like to share?

Let us know in the comments.

And please let us know any other new topics to cover next.

Fish On!

Related Post: 3 Shortcuts For Catching Redfish Like A Pro 

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Cory R Ponz
3 years ago

Great Tips, Thank You!
How to you get the claws off without getting bit and keep the crab alive??

Bill Flynn
Bill Flynn
3 years ago

Excellent video Tony thanks! #Salt Strong ????

3 years ago

Is there a law for how big the crab must be?

3 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

In Florida, there is no minimum size for blue crabs as such. However, if you are trapping the blue crabs with a crab trap, it must have three escape rings, each larger than 2-3/8 inches. So as a practical matter, you’re only going to catch crabs 2.5 inches or bigger, if using a trap. Also, it’s illegal to keep female crabs that are bearing eggs. Lastly, although not legally required, most people release all the females. Males can mate several times, but females mate only once. So releasing the females has a disproportionate positive effect on the population. Also, females can store sperm in their bodies, so just because you don’t see eggs doesn’t mean that she could not spawn . later.

Bill Flynn
Bill Flynn
4 years ago

Another great video Tony!

Gene Hammond
4 years ago

Works well for Tarpon as well!!

Joshua Bass
4 years ago

Hey Tony, I’ve had some success with catching slot reds on half fresh crab. Everyone I talk to says that its a bad choice for cut bait. Any thoughts?

Duane Welch
4 years ago

What is the reason for taking all of the legs off? I thought the more movement the better!

Ira Cohen
4 years ago

Tony, I hear you about the crab claws, when I was living in South Tampa I got some crabs & went to the Gandy Bridge. I didn’t have any tongs so I tried to scoop one up with my Rapala fillet knife, Bad Idea it broke off the tip of my knife! Just thinking, that could have been my finger; OUCH!

4 years ago


Tony Acevedo
4 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous


If frozen is all you have access to then that’s the way you have to go. If you’re targeting reds, I would rather use frozen mullet than frozen crab though.

Gliria Fox
4 years ago

Very informativd, thanks for this video. I am sure I will be fishing with blue crab now. Was never sure how to hook them. Thanks again.

Tony Acevedo
4 years ago
Reply to  Gliria Fox

Glad you enjoyed Gloria!

Gliria Fox
4 years ago
Reply to  Tony Acevedo

Can’t wait to get back to Florida to fish. We are in Central New York now, but heard some disturbing news. Is it true that they have stopped bank fishing on Haulover Canal? That’s where I was going to use the blue crab for reds and drum.

Tony Acevedo
4 years ago
Reply to  Gliria Fox

Bank fishing is still allowed. They had closed it down for a couple of weeks to clean up people’s mess that has been piling up and installing trash cans. The bridge is still closed though until October or November I believe so you’ll have to drive around and enter the refuge from the other side depending on which side of the canal you want to fish.


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