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Imitation Crab

Assessment of the Latest Crustacean Clones

FSF Staff March 8, 2019

As manufacturing materials and processes continue to evolve, leading lure designers are mastering new ways to mimic live forage in precise size, shape, color and action. Amid a plethora of potential forage, crustaceans represent the most species-rich group of marine animals, with many different types of crabs routinely encountered across Florida’s intertidal ecosystems.

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Originally designed for anglers targeting Australian bream, the CRANKA Crab is a perfect match for sheepshead and drum.

With any lure, factors like size, weight, action and color are all worthwhile considerations, regardless of venue. Additionally, anglers must be aware of the natural forage present in a given area before choosing the right offering. In coastal shallows around Florida and throughout much of the world, various crab species are consistently preyed upon by a myriad of predators. However, the availability of live crabs in bait shops is not always a sure thing, and procuring these crustaceans is not in the cards for everybody. Fortunately, there are reputable companies creating effective artificial alternatives that can be used to entice aggressive strikes from a variety of crab-crushing predators.

Though fresh to the view of United States fishermen, Chasebaits (chasebaitsusa.com) has been a staple in Australia’s waters arming anglers with a host of impressive offerings including several choices in crab imitations. One of the manufacturer’s most popular options is the Smash Crab, winning the Australian Fishing Trade Association’s Best in Show in 2017. Available in several different patterns, the Smash Crab and smaller Smash Crab JNR are made of durable and flexible 10X material. Whether slowly rolled along the bottom, jigged up and down or simply cast and left alone, the claws and legs on the Smash Crab and Smash Crab JNR will vibrate rapidly to simulate a swimming or crawling crab with exact likeness. While these options are designed to fool large predators like tarpon, permit, redfish and cobia, Chasebaits also offers the smaller Crusty Crab for targets like bonefish, sheepshead and black drum. Modeled after the common shore crab, this carbon copy is an ideal offering to present on light spinning gear to tailing bones when there is no live bait available, especially along remote flats of The Bahamas where access to tackle and bait is particularly limited.

While many of the most popular crab replicas available to anglers are made of soft and flexible materials, the CRANKA Crab (crankalures.com) is a unique hybrid bait capable of fooling predators by displaying an extremely realistic action. Available in several lengths, weights and patterns, this versatile lure can be presented effectively in a variety of inshore

With any lure, factors like size, weight, action and color are all worthwhile considerations, regardless of venue. Additionally, anglers must be aware of the natural forage present in a given area before choosing the right offering. In coastal shallows around Florida and throughout much of the world, various crab species are consistently preyed upon by a myriad of predators. However, the availability of live crabs in bait shops is not always a sure thing, and procuring these crustaceans is not in the cards for everybody. Fortunately, there are reputable companies creating effective artificial alternatives that can be used to entice aggressive strikes from a variety of crab-crushing predators.

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Imitation exoskeletons and compound eyes prove the Smash Crab to be irresistible.

Though fresh to the view of United States fishermen, Chasebaits (chasebaitsusa.com) has been a staple in Australia’s waters arming anglers with a host of impressive offerings including several choices in crab imitations. One of the manufacturer’s most popular options is the Smash Crab, winning the Australian Fishing Trade Association’s Best in Show in 2017. Available in several different patterns, the Smash Crab and smaller Smash Crab JNR are made of durable and flexible 10X material. Whether slowly rolled along the bottom, jigged up and down or simply cast and left alone, the claws and legs on the Smash Crab and Smash Crab JNR will vibrate rapidly to simulate a swimming or crawling crab with exact likeness. While these options are designed to fool large predators like tarpon, permit, redfish and cobia, Chasebaits also offers the smaller Crusty Crab for targets like bonefish, sheepshead and black drum. Modeled after the common shore crab, this carbon copy is an ideal offering to present on light spinning gear to tailing bones when there is no live bait available, especially along remote flats of The Bahamas where access to tackle and bait is particularly limited.

While many of the most popular crab replicas available to anglers are made of soft and flexible materials, the CRANKA Crab (crankalures.com) is a unique hybrid bait capable of fooling predators by displaying an extremely realistic action. Available in several lengths, weights and patterns, this versatile lure can be presented effectively in a variety of inshore and coastal venues. While the body of the lure is hard, the CRANKA Crab features soft legs that move naturally and foam claws where the hooks attach. Though the lure itself sinks, the foam helps accurately simulate a defensive crab raising its pincers. The floating chelae also allow for a snag-free presentation when slowly walking the offering along the bottom or over structure, while the weighted belly automatically turns the lure upright upon hitting the water. Additionally, each foam claw is attached to a small, razor-sharp treble hook that gets anglers connected with quarry striking from any angle.

With a unique design of its own, Savage Gear (savage-gear.com) offers the 3D Crab, with an appearance created from the 3D scan of an actual crab to create an incredibly accurate imitation. This crab’s lifelike appearance is enough to capture the interest of nearby predators, though air-filled claws float above the body when the lure is submerged, yielding an even more natural presentation. While crab lures are often sold pre-rigged with weights and hooks, anglers must rig the 3D Crab themselves. However, this adds to the lure’s versatility, as it can be fished effectively using several methods.

D.O.A. (doalures.com) is revered among widespread inshore anglers for venerable shrimp and baitfish replicas responsible for countless impressive catches, but this trusted manufacturer’s Softshell Crab is worthy of consideration as well. Available in a massive variety of patterns, the Softshell Crab can be used in many conditions to target a myriad of shallow water species such as redfish, black drum and tarpon, although predators like cobia and permit holding over deep structure have been known to fall victim to this offering as well. Whether retrieved across the surface or worked slowly along the bottom, the Softshell Crab features a realistic profile, as well a natural sink rate that entices strikes on the fall.

Denmark-based Westin (westin-fishing.com) is yet another international lure manufacturer delving into the American market with a superbly designed crab clone. Coco the Crab is hand-painted, features a solid ABS body, tungsten belly weight, semi-soft legs and defending foam claws outfitted with #14 Owner ST-36BC treble hooks.

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Photography: Willy Le

While shallow water predators consume a variety of prey based on surrounding conditions and the seasonal presence of particular forage species, various crabs are staple snacks for many of our favorite targets. And, although it is tough to duplicate the irresistible allure of a live crab, many of the latest artificial imitations from innovative manufacturers feature extremely lifelike appearances and are gaining recognition across saltwater venues statewide and beyond.

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