How to Set Up a Hydraulic Crab Pot Puller

Written by kyle mcbride
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How to Set Up a Hydraulic Crab Pot Puller
Crab pots (crab cages image by Christopher Nolan from

Hydraulic crab pot pullers are important time- and effort-saving devices used by crabbers and lobstermen. The hydraulic system is powered by the main engine, which is belted to the hydraulic pump. The hydraulic fluid is carried through the system in a series of hoses. When activated, the puller rotates with considerable mechanic advantage and is capable of pulling up the heaviest of loads with great ease. The trap float line is led through a V-shaped pulley on the puller, which pinches the line and allows the puller to pull the trap off of the bottom and up to the boat.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Mechanic's tools
  • Puller
  • Hydraulic pump
  • Switch
  • Electrical tools
  • Terminal kit

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  1. 1

    Find the best spot for the crab pot puller and mount it. Ensure that the puller is firmly mounted and is positioned for the rail man to easily engage the float ropes in the puller. Consider the pull angle and any blocks that the rope must pass through before reaching the puller when choosing a mounting location.

  2. 2

    Mount the hydraulic pump onto the main engine as per the manufacturer's instructions. The pump may be a hang-on type that mounts on the engine and is belted to the main shaft pulley, similar to an alternator, or it may be a free-mounted pump that must be bolted to the engine bed or another strong point close to the front of the engine. Refer to the pump manufacturer for specific mounting instructions.

  3. 3

    Connect the pump to the puller with high-pressure hydraulic lines. Tighten the fittings on the lines securely in their ports with a wrench. Ensure that the hydraulic lines do not contact any moving machinery that may chafe through the line and cause it to fail.

  4. 4

    Position the on-off switch close to the puller. The switch should be located where the rail man or the helmsman can reach it to turn it off in case of emergency, such as a crew member becoming entangled with a line or with the puller itself. Run the wires for the switch in a safe route, avoiding chafe points and bilge water, and connect the switch to the terminals on the hydraulic pump clutch. Crimp terminals to the wires and install them on their terminals.

Tips and warnings

  • Hydraulic systems that are run by the main engine can be very strong. A crew member can easily become entangled with the puller lines with serious injury as a result. Many captains prefer to have a second switch near the helm in case of emergencies. Foot switches are also popular as they act as a "dead man's switch" for the rail man. Foot pressure actuates the switch and, in case of emergency, the puller can be disabled simply by lifting one's foot off of the switch.

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