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How to use crab lures
  |  First Published: December 2016



There are several different makes and models of crab-imitating lures on Australian tackle store shelves, but many anglers still seem confused about how to best present and work these offerings. Lures and fly patterns intended to imitate crabs have been around for many years, but there’s been a real surge of interest in these cunning crustacean copies over the past few seasons, thanks largely to the immense success of Steve Steer’s highly innovative Cranka Crab range.

I remember Steve unveiling these amazingly life-like lures a few years ago at the Australian Fishing Tackle Trade Show, staged on Queensland’s Gold Coast. They created a real stir and, from memory, won the award that year for the best new hard-bodied lure at the show. However, several significant production hurdles still faced Steve after his original showing of the prototype Cranka Crabs, and it took much longer than expected for these fish lollies to finally reach our shop shelves and tackle boxes.

I’m glad ‘Steersie’ was such a stickler for getting everything absolutely right before putting his innovative crabs on the market – the end result has been an extremely effective lure. Some of the copyists who’ve followed in his footsteps haven’t been as stringent in their quality control, although perhaps the less said about that the better!

As well as the Cranka Crab (which is technically a hybrid lure – a hardbody and soft or semi-soft legs and a pair of soft, hook-carrying claws) there are now several other brands of both hard and soft artificial crabs on the market. All work to varying extents, especially when targeting species such as bream, snapper, jacks, estuary cod, flathead and the many other varieties that regularly consume these tasty crustaceans. It’s amazing what crab lures will catch in both salt and freshwater, and many of the fish that will happily bite an artificial crab have most likely never seen or eaten a real one in their lives!

Getting the best from any crab pattern involves a little more thought and visualisation on the part of the angler than the use of some other popular lure types. It pays to think like a fish and ‘be the crab’ whenever using these artificials. As my wife Jo likes to say, all lure and flyfishing is a form of puppetry, with the angler as the puppeteer and the lure as the puppet. The more life-like and entertaining the puppet show you put on, the more likely the ‘audience’ is to be convinced by it.

Remember, crabs spend most of their time crawling about on the bottom, or scuttling up and down across hard surfaces such as pylons, logs or rocks. They rarely scoot around in mid water or skip merrily along the surface! Get your crab lure on the bottom first and then work it slowly. Let me stress that key word again: slowly. Try little drags and hops, short lifts of the rod or, one of my favourites, the lift-and-shake. This involves lifting the crab a short distance off the bottom and literally vibrating or shaking the rod, as if you were attempting to dislodge water droplets off the blank.

Between each lift, hop or shake, allow the crab imitation to sink back and rest on the bottom again, and be keenly aware that this is often the time when bites occur. Don’t be afraid to load your crab up with a bit of scent or bite stimulant, too, especially on the legs or claws, which are often the first parts to be nibbled or bitten by an inquisitive fish. Cast these lures where lots of crabs live – under jetties, around snags, onto rocky reefs and along the edges of weed beds.

If you’d like to watch a short video of me demonstrating how best to use the Cranka Crab, simply scan the QR code on this page, or go to my Starlo Gets Reel page on YouTube and look for it there. Most of all, believe that crab lures work – because trust me, they do!

QR code

Scan this QR code to watch a video of Starlo demonstrating how to work a crab lure for bream and other species.
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