Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

Hermit crab are native to the UK and found across the whole of the British Isles. They can be a great bait for a range of species with flounder and plaice readily taking smaller hermit crab, and larger hermits accounting for large cod, bass and smooth-hounds. Despite this, they are a fairly rarely used bait in British sea angling possibly due to the difficulty in procuring this bait.

Life Cycle of a Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab in Shell
When threatened a hermit crab will retreat into its shell and use its claws to block the entrance.

There are around fifteen species of hermit crab found in the UK, with the most numerous being the common hermit crab (Pagurus bernhardus). The hermit crab is born without a shell and never develops one at any point in its life meaning that hermit crabs need to find the shell of another species and use this as their home. The hermit will live within this shell and will only leave when it grows too big for this shell and has to find a new, larger shell. Like all British crab species, the hermit crab is a scavenger and will look for dead and dying forms of marine life and feed on them. Many smaller hermit crabs live in the inter-tidal area of sandy and mixed beaches, with larger specimens found further out to sea in deeper water. 

Finding and Buying Hermit Crab

While hermit crab are common around the UK it can prove difficult to collect them and even a long session can produce only a few hermit crabs. Furthermore, the average size of hermit crabs found in rock pools and around the low tide mark can be very small indeed, as the larger specimens generally live in deeper water. Very small hermit crabs should be left alone as they will be useless as bait. For this reason many anglers who want to use this bait order hermit crabs from on-line bait dealers which will supply frozen hermit crabs by mail order. They are not particularly expensive and most anglers find it a lot easier to order hermit crab online rather than try and gather this bait themselves.

Hermit Crab Bait Presentation

Hermit Crab out of its Shell
A hermit crab out of its shell.

Frozen hermit crabs can be placed in the fridge twenty-four hours before going fishing. By this time they will have defrosted sufficiently to use as bait. Frozen hermit crab are sometimes supplied de-shelled, although if they do come in their shells anglers will have to break the shells off the crabs once they have defrosted. Baiting up with a hermit crab is easy. Simply take the crab and push the hookpoint through its tail and all of the way through the crab’s body and out through the legs. If the hermit crab is very small it may be better to make them into a cocktail bait with another bait such as ragworm. Larger hermit crabs can be used singly, although it is a good idea to secure them to the hook with bait elastic or cotton to ensure that they do not come off the hook during the cast or on impact with the water.