Although use of crab drop nets and traps are common methods of catching blue crabs, you can also harvest crabs with a rod and reel. Instead of making or purchasing crab nets and traps, you can use fishing tackle that you may already have. Using a rod and reel may make you feel more connected with the activity because you have to hold the rod and wait for the strike. In comparison, many crabbers just leave drop nets behind and check them periodically for trapped blue crabs.
Use a light action spinning rod equipped with 6- to 8-pound test line, so you can detect crab bites. Set up a running sinker rig with a small prawn hook, size 6 or smaller.
To make a running sinker rig, cut about 24 inches of line and put it aside for use as a leader. Slide a sinker onto the main line, then tie on a swivel so that the sinker is stopped. This allows the sinker to run up and down your main line to the swivel. Tie the swivel's other end to the 24-inch line leader. Attach the small prawn hook to the end of the leader.
Attach bait to the hook. Effective baits for crab include pieces of prawns, squids and mackerel strips. Other baits that work well are chicken cuts, salmon parts and raw duck neck.
Cast your rods from the shoreline or from a boat. Hot spots for crabbing include jetties, piers, docks, bridges, estuaries, rocky outcrops and creeks. Search in waters at a maximum depth of 20 feet; it becomes increasingly difficult to detect crab bites with light tackle the deeper you fish.
Lift up the rod gently and steadily once you feel a crab bite. Reel it in and drop the crab into your catch container.
Use thick gloves when handling crabs. The crab's pincers are powerful and may cause injuries.
Obtain a state-issued crabbing or shell fishing license if required by your state's law. Follow crabbing guidelines and any applicable restrictions including catch size, creel limit and gear restrictions.