Country living, DIY, & a Dash of Fun!

DIY Crawfish / Crawdad Trap

DIY Crawfish / Crawdad Trap

Last summer I decided I wanted to try my hand at catching crawfish (or crawdads, as I grew up calling them).

Now when I was a kid I remember my brothers and I snagging these elusive little buggers, one by one out of the lake, with our make-shift fishing poles (which we cleverly made out of sticks and old, used fishing line found on the banks of the lake).  With worm-baited hooks we’d all patiently wait, watching as these skittish little creatures would slowly crawl out of their rocky, underwater hideaways, and make their way over to the delicious worm dinner that was on offer.  As soon as the crawfish grabbed that fat worm with their claw we would pull the line up and BOOM, he was caught!  It was all a fun catch-and-release game that we played and had hours of entertainment doing it 🙂

This time I wanted to make a trap to catch enough for dinner.  Crawdads are like mini lobsters and are actually good to eat.  Surprisingly, this trap was pretty easy and inexpensive to make!  It also worked like a charm!



  • One 2ft x 3 1/2ft sheet of chicken wire (use the type with 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch square holes)
  1. Two rubber bands
  2. Small chain about 6in in length (used to make handle for carrying trap and also for hooks to close trap door)
  3. Package of zip ties
  4. Strong string or rope (to retrieve trap from water)
  5. Plastic water bottle (to serve as a ‘bobber’ for locating traps)
  6. 4-inch piece of wire (for securing water bottle to rope)


  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers



First, cut out a piece of chicken wire that is 48 squares x 43 squares in size.

Next, roll it up lengthwise to make a cylinder.

Then, overlapping the wire about 2 or 3 squares, zip tie the sides together, .

Make sure to cut the ends of the zip ties off short.

Sides of Trap:

After you finish making a long cylinder, cut 2 more pieces of chicken wire that equals 21 squares x 21 squares.  These will be the end pieces of the cylinder. Now we will try to shape each piece  into a cone shape.

To shape each piece into a cone, I marked an X with a marker to find the center.

Next, cut one corner up to the center.

To get that ‘cone’ shape, I pulled one end over the other….

…and kept pulling, making it tighter like the picture below.

Ta-Da!!! This is what it should look like.

Next, slide the cone into the end of the cylinder, making sure the cone tip pokes in about 3 inches.

After making sure the cone was at the desired shape, I secured it with zip ties

…and trimed off the zip tie ends.

The tip of the cone was then cut off, leaving a hole that was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Attaching Sides to Body:

You guessed it, zippy ties were used to secure the cone into the end of the cylinder

..and yes, I trimmed those zip tie ends pretty short!!!

To finish this end off, the excess wire was trimmed away from the side piece to fit flush with the cone.

Your end should look like this.

Peering through the side you can see the hole where the crawfish will enter.

The crawfish will be able to go in, but not out!

Last, I finished the other side by attaching the second cone to other end of the cylinder, the same way I did the first one.

Trim sharp edges flush with cylinder.


Using 5-1/5 inches of chain, I made a handle for carrying my trap, simply by bending open both chain link ends on each end of the chain…

…and clamping them tight to my trap with needle nosed pliers in the center, top of the trap body.

Make sure your handle is centered on the trap before securing so it won’t be lopsided while carrying it.

Opening and Door:

For removing the crawfish I needed a trap door, so I cut a hole into the center of my trap, starting about 3 square down from the chain handle.

The hole was 9 squares x 8 squares in size.

With what was left of my excess chicken wire, I cut a door slightly larger than the hole I just made in my trap.  The door was 10 squares x 11 squares in size.

The sides of the door overlapped the hole nicely.

Then, I attached the door on the bottom side with a couple of zip ties.

Trim, trim, trim those zippies!!

Latching the Door:

For keeping the trap door shut, I used a rubber band and a piece of chain link, as shown below.

The rubber band was slid through the wire on the door…

…and looped through itself.

Pull rubber band tight.

I actually attached two of these that kept the trap door secured nicely 🙂

Simply stretch the rubber bands and hook shut!

My trap is done!  Woot Woot!!!

Keeping Track of Traps:

To keep track of my traps and for ease of retrieval from the water, I made some really FANCY ‘bobbers’ out of some rope, a plastic bottle, and a piece of wire.  🙂

Simply attach wire to the bottle, make a loop with the other end of the wire, then tie a rope to it.

Tie the other end of the rope to the trap handle.

The best part about this is I can slip a note inside the bottle with my name, phone number, and date & time that I set my traps.  This informs any passers-by that I haven’t abandoned them and that I’ll be back later to retrieve my traps.

I was ready to go catch some crawfish!!! (yes I made two because one is never enough!)


I’d heard that hot dogs were good for bait so I decided to give em’ a try!

In action:

After tossing the traps into the water, my little plastic bottle ‘bobbers’ danced up and down like tiny water buoys, marking where the traps were…they did their job well!

Now it was time to wait….

I went for a long stroll along the side of the lake to explore the breathtakingly beautiful scenery as the pups rambunctiously romped through the water…Happy Dogs!!!!

After about an hour, we returned back to our spot to see if the new traps had any treasure in them.  I was excited to pull them up to see what was inside!!!

Score!!!  I caught three crawfish to be exact…One in one trap, and two in the other!!!

This little guy was happily munching away on his hot dog!

Next time I’ll try leaving the traps in for a longer period of time to see if we catch more!  🙂

Now it’s your turn to give it a try!

DIY Crawfish / Crawdad Trap

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  1. Heather Kirby

    So cool! I will have to make this!

  2. wil

    I think you used the wrong bait as yabbies (as we call them in australia), are attracted by blood. Raw red meat is the obvious choice as bait, as the scent is detected from them from a fair distance, and depending on current factors, yabbies will be attracted from several directions in good sized numbers, depending on the enviro and the yabby population. Bait needs to be changed every half hour or so because after the meat loses its color, it no longer gives off the scent needed to attract the yabbies.
    Try using raw meat for bait and I guarantee you will get 4 to 10 times as many yabbies, or possibly more, as you did with processed meat.

    Aside from that, your trap design and method of construction looks very effective and easy to do, and I will definitely try it myself. I have been trying to work out a trap design myself and I was thinking of an oblong shape with 4 entrances (one on each wall), but I am thinking your design is far easier to construct. Also your method of making the entry cones looks fairly easy, so I am going to try your design.

    Many thanks for sharing,


  3. Brandon P

    Too cool! I was gonna buy one, but I already have chicken wire to use! I want to make a few modifications to use in creeks, but I like this idea! Crawfish make excellent catfish bait. Even better, after you filet the catfish, the carcass can then be used to catch more crawfish! Symbiosis at it’s finest! 🙂

    • Tee

      Hi Brandon! Wow, I didn’t know about the crawfish being great bait for catfish (and vise versa)…good to know!!!

      • Davem Agone

        crawdads are also bait for, large and smallmouth bass, trout , steelhead, salmon , bluegill , yellow peach, walleye, sturgeon, muddobbers and catfish also have caught large carp using small live crawfish. did i mention striped bass?
        nice design on trap. am going to build a few.

  4. wil

    Another thing about yabbies (crawfish) and any type of small crab or prawns/shrimps etc …

    Since I got older I have developed a conscience about boiling creatures alive, so instead of throwing them live into boiling water I put them in a sealed container, and put them in the freezer. After they freeze to death, I boil them. Some people tell me that being boiled alive is a faster more humane death than freezing to death, but I am not so sure.

    A New Zealander told me it is illegal in NZ to boil lobsters alive, and they usually drown them in fresh water before boiling. I doesn’t sound logical to me but he swears it is true. For now, I will stick to freezing them before cooking.

    Now, getting back to bait for crawfish/yabbies – Leftover fish flesh, like the frames left over after filleting are also good bait to use.
    Although I have never used it, I am told that a tin of sardines with a pinhole in the tin is great bait for fish as well as crustaceans.
    An American chat friend tells me that doing the same thing with a can of corn is a great attract-er for fish but he never mentioned crawfish. I have never heard of that here in Australia though.

    And lastly, a keen fisherman told me recently that the best crustacean bait is raw chicken necks. Cheap low quality ones from a pet food supplier is good enough, I reckon, and I will definitely try that first chance I get. I also heard the same thing from a guy catching salt water crabs with them, so it probably works. The key thing is to use raw meat as the blood will attract from a far greater distance than cooked meat.

    BTY, I made a prototype trap from your design and it turned out great! I cant wait to try it out. I’m
    going to make another one which will either be square or circular with 4 entrances instead of 2.

    Warmest regards,

    • Tee

      Very interesting Wil! I’m not sure either about the New Zealand law…maybe I’ll google it 🙂

      You’ll have to let me know how those traps turn out!

    • Mike

      Hey will I’m curious to know how the traps turned out, a d if you did a square 4 entrance one by chance

      • Tee

        The traps worked just fine as I’ve caught lots of crawdads with them, but I didn’t do a square entrance.

  5. Randy Forsyth

    nice ideas

  6. Aziz Sulaiman

    Thanks very much for sharing.
    Very nice…..i like it

  7. Chris

    Do you know what the gauge of wire you had?

  8. Danny Wayne McGhee

    Very nice. Can’t wait to give it a try.

  9. What a cool project go you. Pinned

  10. I would love to go shrimping or catch crabs. Yum! Thanks for sharing on Sunday’s Best.

  11. P Ratner

    Nice work, and a great looking trap. Up here in Northern California we call that hardware cloth tho.

  12. Fig826

    I found the best and cheapest bait to use is plain old canned dog food. Just punch 10-12 holes in a medium size can of dog food. (I use Alpo) but you can use any brand. Put 1 or 2 cans in each trap and toss it out. Since crawdads are more active at night I find it best to let the traps soak a minimum of 2 days and 2 nights. If you want to soak them longer than that you should replace the dog food cans with new ones.

  13. Jody Wayne Reeder

    Hoping this’ll go to my email

  14. Mike

    Good post Tee, and again you have a nice design, but I’m curious when it comes to the cones for the entrances would measuring the ends after you tie together around, say your end holes are 10 inches around, can you maybe tie a string 10 in long to a pen, or marker, and draw in a half circle on cardboard first then the wire mesh, and finally cut it out, and roll it over to form the perfect come?

    • Tee

      Hi Mike!
      I can’t say that I have tried that but if you do it, let me know if it works!

  15. the pics were so helpfull

  16. Brian

    Very well done thank you for putting this together. Just got done with mine. Heading down to place them shortly. I have used hotdogs in the past and also cat food I have two made so I’ll try one of each. Thanks again

    • Tee

      Wow, that looks great! I hope it works well for you! Thank you for visiting and for your nice comments!

  17. Craig Olsen

    Thanks for the design, I’m going to make some, in the PNW I use cat food for crab bait so I’ll give it a try for Crawfish.

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