How to Rig a Crawfish … and Fish It Well

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If one thing is true for all bass species, it’s that they love to catch a good crawfish. It’s a food item that most bass, especially largemouth bass, will go absolutely crazy for. As an angler, tossing a crayfish in the water will pretty much guarantee you’re going to catch something soon.

But there may be times when the bass are playing hard to get and are ignoring your craw, either when the presentation of the lure is not right or the area is too heavily pressured. This article aims to take a closer look at the different ways you can rig a crayfish and how you can properly fish with it so nothing can resist that natural movement.

Ways To Rig And Fish A Soft Plastic Craw

Carolina Rig A Craw for Bass Fishing

A Carolina rig is made to present your bait at the bottom of the water and to give it slow retrieve speeds which is perfect for a crayfish.

As one of the more popular bass rigs, the Carolina is a popular choice when fishing with creature baits on your hook. While most anglers will use a lizard, a grub, oversized worm, or a leech on their Carolina rig hook, the crawfish will pair exceptionally well with this rig.

A Carolina rig is made to present your bait at the bottom of the water and to give it slow retrieve speeds which is perfect for a crayfish. The slow and natural movements present in a way that makes bass feel confident and not suspicious of your bait. 

Carolina rigs properly set up with a fat craw on the end of the hook of it will get the attention of bass in the area. Even when bass are heavily pressured on the lake or waterway, a naturally moving craw on your Carolina can turn a decent fishing day into a great fishing day.

Shakey Head Rig Craw

If you’re fishing around rocks, a shakey head and craw combination can be a very powerful duo for all species of bass, especially largemouth.

A benefit to using a shakey head rig to catch that next trophy is that the weight will keep your soft plastic craw down by the bottom, allow it to jerk out with a quick yank on the rod tip, and glide back down nose first.

When you’re fishing with a crayfish on a shakey head, do some quick popping and hopping to make the craw at the bottom of the water look very enticing to nearby hungry fish. If you’re fishing in clear water, you can watch the movement and see just how realistic it looks.

If you’re fishing around rocks, a shakey head and craw combination can be a very powerful duo for all species of bass, especially largemouth. When set up properly, the motion of the craw is natural and interesting to fish in the area.

Punch Rig A Crawfish for Largemouth bass

When fishing a craw with a punch rig, you can be much more aggressive in your movements. The purpose of a punch rig is to punch through thick grass and weeds. In the water, bass see your craw attempting to flee which entices them to give chase and strike aggressively. 

If you have had trouble with snags with other rigs, try putting your craw on a punch rig and aggressively jerking it through the thick weeds and grasses. You’ll stir up a lot of action under the water and may soon feel a strong bite on the end of your line and hook.

Ned Rig a Crawfish bait

With crawfish, Ned rigs are a great choice as the way it presents your soft plastic craws is a defensive position. The craw will rest with the claws upwards as if to ward off nearby fish. This defensive posture makes bass more willing to strike at your craw as it is imitating what a real crayfish would do.

If bass are not responding to more active and realistic movements of the craw on another rig, many anglers will switch to a Ned and take it a bit slower with a bottom slide. You’ll soon feel bass teasing and eventually striking your lure in among the rocks.

Texas Rig A Crawfish bait

The Texas rig is one of the best all-around basic rigs for soft plastic craw lures of all sizes. If you’re using larger craws to land big bass, the Texas is versatile enough to be able to present those big crawfish in a realistic manner that will make bass take notice.

On a Bass Jig as a Trailer

Craws with large flapping claws work great as a trailer in warm water where bass are not pressured by an overabundance of fishing that day. If they are seeming to be more timid than usual, a small claw crayfish can be the best low movement and low vibration trailer you want to use on your bass jig.

Best Crawfish Baits

Riot Baits Fuzzy Beaver

Riot Baits Fuzzy Beaver

Riot Baits Fuzzy Beaver
Our Score

The ribbed body craws provide vibrations in the water which makes this bait an excellent choice for anglers that love to pitch their lure in around heavy cover. The wide claws give a realistic motion to draw the attention of nearby fish.

  • Ribbed body for easy hooking and in-water vibrations
  • Small claws are realistic yet provide decent movement

Strike King Rage Claw

Strike King Rage Claw

Strike King Rage Claw
Our Score

Extremely popular choice for craw lures, this bait provides a streamlined body and large claws that flap and move when being pulled through the water on your rigging. This gear is great for hopping along the bottom or attaching to a punch rig for breaking through heavy vegetation.

  • Narrow and streamlined body is suitable for smaller hooks
  • Large claws are great for giving the ‘defensive pose’ when resting

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw
Our Score

The short and stout body on the smaller baits make it easy to hook in any way you prefer. The two long and large claws will wave and flap as it’s being moved through the water giving it a good look and sound to nearby fish.

  • Stout body is great for thick or long hooks
  • Claws are long and large to provide plenty of movement

How to Fish A Crawfish Rig

Flipping and Pitching Around Cover

Regardless of what type of bait you have on the end of the line, flipping and pitching is an extremely common and highly effective way to get more bass on any common rig. This distinct style of the casting gets your bait into hard-to-reach areas where big bass commonly gather to feed, rest, or spawn. 

Hopping Along the Bottom

When fishing with a craw, hopping along the bottom is one of the best ways to give your presentation a realistic look. Try a few hops, then let your lure fall and rest for a few seconds before doing another series of short hops.

Dragging Along the Bottom

If you’d rather not get too fancy with the hopping or pitching, simply dragging your lure along the bottom can get some good results. This is a slower way to fish but still provides realistic movement as it imitates a crayfish searching for food along the sand or mud bottom.

Other Ways

If one single method isn’t getting the bites you want, don’t be afraid to try mixing it up randomly. Do a few hops, then drag it along the bottom. Additionally, you can try switching the color of your crayfish if fish are heavily pressured and suspicious of the current color you are using.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village.