This is how I snare the tasty crustaceans.

I use a good 12ft surf rod, Ugly Stick is a good choice, and a Penn Spinfisher950 or a Penn Fierce. Fill with 50#-65# braid. others like mono 25# minimum.
You need a solid reel as crab snaring is hard on gear. Stay away from graphite reels. Go solid metal.
I acquire a few Proven Performance Sofa King Snares.
I Stuff the snare with a weight, 6-8oz and as much squid, herring, hotdogs, etc as I can fit. Its okay if the door on the snare isn't closed all the way. When the crab take and eat the bait the rubberband closes the trap.
With a heave and a ho and a mighty throw cast over the breakers.
Now for the fun.
Wait 6-8minutes and haul back on the rod. You usually don't see the crab take the bait.
Do Not Set the hook. If you pull too hard you rip the legs off. Just haul back. If there's a crab the rod will load up.
Start reeling immediately keeping tension on the snare. steady reeling is more important than speed. If you let up and slack the line the crab will fall out of the snare.
Crab are fast. If your snare comes up empty after 7 minute soaks re-bait and wait only 5minutes. If the snare is untouched after 7 minutes wait 10minutes.
If you are getting no takers after a few blank pulls on a 10 minute soak either move up the beach/pier or cook lunch and try again. When the tide and current get moving fast the crab tend to bury in the sand and wait for it to slow down.

Most important!!!!
This can be a very addictive kind of fishing.
Post how you do here and let us know your experience.


Well-Known Member
if you watch the ebb and flow of the waves you get a sense of the pattern of movement of the rod tip. if you are really good, you might see the rod tip move in a way that is different. that is the crab

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: November 3, 2009
To: PFIC Message Board
From: surfsamurai
Subject: How to use the crab snares?

Aloha everyone, I'm a novice on using the crab snares. Could you guys help me out on how to use it?

1. Is my 11 ft surf rod good enough?
2. Is 30 lb braid line good for tossing out the crab snares?
3. Do I need a leader to tie the snares?
4. Do I add any weights on the snares?
5. What are the best baits for the crab snares?
6. Can I fish for rockies with a second rod while I'm crabbing with the snare?
7. Any more suggestions?

I'd greatly appreciate your help in advance, Mahalo! Carpe Diem 'n Itchy, SurfSamurai

Posted by iamfisherman

1. Darn good enough
2. More then enough
3. Yes, heavy leader always, prevents getting tangled with the snare.
4. I use weights so the snare doesn't get tossed around and sinks to the bottom faster.
5. Sardines are my favorite others use macks and squid
6. I emailed the question to the DFG yesterday but have yet to get a response. I hope they reply back to me soon I'll let you know.

I'm not a fisherman, I just catch a lot...

Posted by surfsamurai

How about using 2 crab snares on 2 poles?

Posted by turtle

I’m almost positive you can use as many snares on as many poles as you want from shore in ocean waters, only two on piers.....the only thing would be if you were fishing for rockfish which as already mentioned is questionable, because only one pole can be used while doing such....the only thing is that the store bought snares have 7 loops usually and only 6 is legal in California so cut 1 off....i use squid mostly or ray chunks myself...and for me I attach a 1oz torpedo to all four corners to give it a little more weight to stand the surf.....i'm gonna set up 2 10 foot surf rods with snares, and grub for perch on a 3rd in between....

Posted by surfsamurai

Wow... so 4 oz lead plus the weight of snares and baits? All together around 8-9 oz? Wow... I guess I need a heavy poll to cast it out if I want some distance, huh?

Posted by turtle

But that’s just me...... my snares aren't very heavy and not really made to last, as i figure ill lose a few every season...pretty much a small bait holder with 6 loops made from some thick leader and a large snap swivel, with the lock.....snare, weights and bait probably about 7-8 oz all together....i use 10 foot ugly stick,penn6500ss,30lb copoloymer, and that’s it, nothing other rod is 10 foot surf rod, generic brand and reel....pretty much the rod I let my friends who tag along without gear to use....but also 30 lb cousin uses a shock leader on his but I think its overkill, to each his own preference...I only put very little bait, but I change it often so its "juicy"...just want enough weight to have it lay on the bottom because its such an awkward shape and can get pushed around in the currant, whatever you feel is needed at place & time...the torpedo weights with eyes at both ends make for easy streamline attachment and even weight dispersal

Posted by bh6300

1. Yup
2. Sure
3. Depends where you fish. If you fish where abrasion is an issue you would want heavy leader.
First time I went, I lost a snare on 65 lbs braid because I wasn't watching the abrasion issue after 6 casts. When that thing snapped that snare flew about 150 yards it seems, lol, but caught 3 legal so it was ok day.
4. I add about 3 oz weight to my snare.
5. Mack, dines that I caught during summer. Also I bring some squid.
6. Yes depends on location like others said. 2 at pier/jetty, open rods at ocean but I just keep 2 rod rule even at surf. You will be so busy pulling the snare every 5 mins, I don't think you can manage more then 2.
7. Start working out your shoulder. You will be sore. Every opening season, after crabbing, my shoulder hurts like you know what. Snare + bait + 3 oz weight + 6" crab act like kite... and you have to reel in fast as you can. Its going to be heavy and your doing it every 5 min for few hours if season is good. Think about that.

Posted by surfsamurai

So I do need to cast it out as far as possible if I'm crabbing from the jetties...I guess today is my shoulder day at the gym. What are the size and bag limits again? I forgot?

Posted by iamfisherman

Usually from a jetty, from my experience the closer you cast from the base yields more rock crabs,. the further out you cast yields more dungies. I believe it’s 25 for rock crabs and 10 for them dungies. Don't quote me on that though.

Posted by FishermanDan

You don't need to cast that far at the Jetty. BTW, jetties count as Public piers, which allows two poles for crab. Stick with squid as bait, although it is probably a good thing to experiment. PS: not all piers are public.

Posted by rockcrab62

Dungees are 5 3/4 inches and the limit is 10. Rock/red are 4 inches and the limit is 35. Your gear sounds like its all set. Pretty much anything works for bait, but I like squid the best. Good luck!

CAUTION: Fish at the end of my line are larger than they appear.

Posted by jgy

I'll be using tuna for bait soon. I have a bunch left over from a tuna fishing trip in Oahu a year or two ago. Should work fine as it has lots of oils that the crabs like.

Posted by pinoyfisherman

10 dungee crabs per person, remember 5 3/4 in. minimum width of the shell. 30 red/brown/stone crabs per person, 4 in. width of the shell. I find that chicken or cat food works better for red crabs and fish works better for the Dungees.

Posted by illcatchanything2

On questions 6....You should be careful trying that. Hopefully someone will get a definite answer from DFG soon, but the way I read the regs, you can only use I pole with no more than 2 hooks while targeting rockfish. So the whole question is open to interpretation by the warden that you may meet. I would personally not do it just to be on the safe side.

Posted by iamfisherman

Question 6 is a grey area. I've heard boat guys drop boats then head out to do some rock fishing before. Still don't know if that is legal too but guess there pots aren't attached to poles either.

Posted by surfsamurai

What happens then if I throw out a crab net, which is not attached to a pole from the shores and rockfishing with 1 poll? What's the difference between the guys crabbing & rock fishing on the boat and I (from the shores)? The buoy? Maybe the pulley? Wink Like these guys on the boat (Rockfishing and Crabbing at the same time):

Posted by dkkim

A crab net is still a line. 2-lines to an angler on a pier. I'm speaking mainly about Pacifica. btw, the most important part is to wind smoothly and keep constant pressure on the line. Most folks loose their crab when it breaches the surface. It pops in the air if reeling too fast and then the line goes slack.... out falls the crab. When throwing snares you're probably throwing at least 6oz, so go heavy and use mono for a leader. I tend to bring out an old surf pole with my old Okuma casting reel (25lb mono). Don't need to buy special gear for crabbing.

Posted by illcatchanything2

I think they get away with it because they are not "actively tending the traps".... That;s my take on that situation. I have wondered about it for years.

Regulation: On a public pier or jetty (since a license is not required) you can only use two appliances — two rods, one rod and one crab net, or two crab nets. If you are using rods you could use one for fish and one for crabs via a crab snare. On shore (where a license is required) you can use more than two appliances.