Colony of Fiddler Crabs

Colony of fiddler crabs perfect for sheepshead fishing. Picture via kthypryn on Flickr

 The fiddle crab is one of the best baits to use when sheepshead fishing, or fishing for redfish, black drum, pompano and permit. Chances are you have seen these little guys crawling around the boat dock or pier. These small crabs get eaten all the time, yet we forget to think of them as good bait.


Finding thousands of fiddler crabs is a very easy thing to do. I always looked for saltwater marsh lands, beaches, mud banks, under piers, grass flats, rocks or any other structure that provides shelter during high tide and a feeding ground during low tide. Once you find a colony there will be to many crabs to count. The male fiddler crabs have an over sized claw. These are used for fighting, mating, and dancing. Yes, these little crabs love to tango! Once you have found the colony, now you have to catch them! 

Teaching kids young to find fiddler crabs

Teach them young to catch fiddlers.


One of the most fun things I remember as a kid is going out and catching a bucket full of fiddler crabs. Their claws were too small to pinch you so it was always a challenge to see who could catch the most.. My dad made it a game for us, but all we were doing was catching him bait for his next huge redfish or monster sheepshead.  The three different ways to catch fiddler crabs:


How on earth could a home invasion result in me catching a fiddler crab has to be what your asking yourself? Well, these crabs are known to live in shallow dug out holes in the sand or mud near the coastal marsh lands. This makes them easy targets for being dug up. Yes this is a guaranteed way to catch a fiddler crab. When you see one of these little-side stepping ninja dart into its hole, dig about 5 inches down and you should bring up the little fiddler crab. This is an easy way of catching them but could take a while to catch a bucket full of bait.

Digging up fiddlers for bait

Digging out a fiddler crab from his home


Like a common childhood game of tag where one must run around and try to catch their friends, you also can run around and try to catch each fiddler crab. This is a very time consuming method that often leads to more frustration than a bucket full of bait.


Chinese soup bowl for catching fiddler crabs

The famous Chinese soup bowl.

This is probably my favorite and most effective way of catching these little crabs. I use one of the bowls that the soup comes in from the Chinese restaurant and can catch a whole days worth of bait and do very little work. Get out there at low tide and dig a hole to where you can put the bowl in and have the ground flush with the top. Put some squid in the bottom and leave it for a couple hours. When you return the crabs will have fallen in trying for the bait and will not be able to get out.


The last way of getting these little crabs is by simply going to your local bait shop and buying them.

Crabs Sold Here

Finding live crabs for bait can be a challenge!


I use a very simple rig. It has been proven time after time great for sheepshead fishing and redfish fishing. I use:

·      Penn Battle II gear ratio 5.3:1 with a max drag of 30lbs on a Blackfin Sandbar series rod.

·      2 oz eggshell weight by C & B Custom Jigs with a 1/0 Swivel.

·      I add about 1 and ½ foot Vicious braided line to the other end of the swivel.

·      I add a 3/0 Hunting and Fishing Depot Sheepshead Jig to ensure a catch every time.

Now that you know what equipment to use, the next question is how do you rig the fiddler crab? The best way to successfully get a fiddler crab to stay on a hook is by placing the hook between the rear legs or back corner of the shell. Be careful not to crack or cause traumatic damage to the little crab. You want it alive on your hook. You can always add the crab to the back of a jighead. This could give it the appearance of moving across the bottom.

Hook Placement for a fiddler crab


Now that we have gone over how to catch the fiddler crab for bait, the equipment needed and how to rig  the bait, you can get out there and start fishing. Pretty soon the sheepshead will be biting and dinner will be served that night! Don’t forget to share when you slay the fish while sheepshead fishing using our jigs with fiddler crabs. 

Sheepshead caught on sheepshead Jig

Sheepshead fishing with @andkova using fiddler crabs.