How to Rig a Crab Buoy

How to Rig a Crab Buoy

Explore America's Campgrounds

Consider setting a few crab traps on your next ocean outing; it is an easy way of catching more food, and it is also fun for both adults and children. Crab buoys help you find your sunken crab traps after an afternoon of swimming, fishing or just relaxing on the boat. You are legally required to use labelled buoys in most waters, so it is important to learn how to rig them to your trap.

Items you will need

  • Crab buoy

  • Permanent marker

  • 1/4-inch poly rope, 100 feet long

  • 5-pound weight

Step 1

Write your name, address and any other legally mandated information on the buoy. Let the ink dry completely before continuing.

Step 2

Attach one end of the poly rope to your buoy. Different buoy styles require different knots or riggings. Some buoys come with a rope already attached to them, whereas others feature metal rings or hollow centers. Use a non-slip mono knot, bowline or improved clinch knot to make the connection.

Step 3

Tie a dropper loop in the line about 20 feet below the float, and attach the weight to the loop. This will prevent the line from floating to the surface, should you set the trap in shallow water. In very shallow water, multiple loops and weights may be required.

Step 4

Tie the free end of the line to the crab trap or bridal rope, if present, using a non-slip mono knot, bowline or an improved clinch knot.


  • Wear gloves while setting or raising crab traps to avoid injuring your hands.


  • Crowded waters can make it difficult to find your buoy among the bobbing masses. If it is legal to do so in your area, you can consider painting the buoy unusual colors or attaching a flag to it. You can also tie auxiliary buoys to the main buoy.
  • You can use lead core ropes instead of poly rope to connect the buoy with the crab trap. Lead core ropes are more expensive than poly ropes are, but their additional weight causes them to sink, thereby eliminating the need for dropper loops and weights.
  • If you have a depth sounder or map detailing the underwater contours, you can cut the rope to the correct length to prevent it from floating to the surface. This way, you do not have to purchase expensive rope or clip weights to the line.
  • If you like, you can burn your name and address into a Styrofoam buoy with a soldering iron, rather than writing it on the side.
Gone Outdoors