Top Tips for Potting for Crayfish

In this article we’ll provide you with our top tips for potting for crayfish (rock lobster), including what materials you need, what bait to use and other handy tips to help you catch more crays this year.

Pot Selection

Material Pros Cons
Timber Build yourself
Rarely move/roll over
Take up room in small boats
Plastic Cheaper
Easy to set up
Light, need extra ballast
Will roll in rough seas
Metal Pack down for easy storage Light, need extra ballast

Our Order of preference:

1. Timber

2. Plastic

3. Metal

Whichever pot you choose, they must not move when on the bottom. Heavy pots catch more crays.

What makes timber pots the best to use?

  • They catch more! (It’s what the pros use – so don’t re-invent the wheel)

  • A proven good design, including a wide base (same reason as above)

  • Heavy when waterlogged (which means they don’t move around on the bottom)

  • Easy to make or repair (especially on the boat)

  • Can scribe gear ID into frame (a growing practice to help with Pot ID)

Timber cray pot

So, what then makes a good timber pot?

  • Hardwood frames: jarrah is best (some use pine)

  • Steel bases are good but require anode (to stop rusting)

  • Hardwood base is best – (and requires extra ballast)

  • Pine battens are fine (and can be easily replaced)

  • Make ‘em heavy

Purchase or build?

  • Building is cheaper, average about $50-$60 per pot (but does take time and you have to follow Fisheries pot specifications)

  • On average a good pot will cost about $200 to purchase

  • Pots can vary in quality, material and size – ask your local tackle store what they recommend and trust the experts.

Rigging Your Pots

To rig your pots successfully, you’ll need the following:

  • Rope – new pot rope requirements apply when fishing with a combined pot line and float rig length greater than 20 metres in length. Watch our video here to make sure your ropes comply.

  • Floats

  • Ballast

  • S.L.E.D. (Sea Lion Exclusion Device required in mid west and Abrolhos only)

  • A weight clipped on the rope half way down to ensure it hangs vertically in the top half of the water column


  • 11mm ‘pot line’ is the rope you’ll need

  • How much Rope? Figure out the water depth + 20% extra

  • Second hand rope is cheaper and fine for recreational use


  • 8 inch polystyrene float is ideal (don’t use old drums or bottles as floats). A maximum of two floats may be attached
    to your pot.

  • Bigger float = more drag, means your pot can move

  • Don’t go too big!

Cray pot floats


  • 20kg minimum, the heavier the better!

  • Railway plate works well and is easily accessible

  • Make sure to ballast at the hauling end of your pot


  • This is a Sea Lion Exclusion Device

  • Only required in the mid west and the Abrolhos Islands

  • For more on these, check out the fisheries website for details

Sea lion exclusion device on cray pot

What Bait Should You Use?

Here’s a list of the different types of bait that work well.

  • Blue macks, tuna heads and orange roughy are all good

  • Frames and heads from most fish will work

  • Oily baits are great

  • Make sure it’s fresh!

  • Salted bait for holding, especially on 3+ day pulls

Baiting a cray pot

Setting Your Pots

For ‘reds’ (more resident crayfish)

  • Western side of heavy reef

  • Closer to reef on calm days

  • Further from reef on rough days

  • Be careful not to get them stuck!

Echo sounder

For ‘whites’ (moulted, lighter coloured crays that migrate or ‘run’)

  • On the sand (whites walk during the night and walk over sand)

  • Sand/weed edge

  • Keep fishing deeper (gradually progress into deeper waters)

  • Follow the migration westward

  • Set pots in an east/west line to track the migration

  • Face the hauling end opposite to the prevailing night time wind

  • This prevents the hauling rope blowing over the neck of the pot

  • A small weight attached half way down the rope will have the rope hang vertically, reducing cut-off’s from propellers

Cray fishing Safety

  • Got a life jacket? Wear it!

  • Can’t wear it? Get one that you can wear!

  • Pots are heavy, watch your back

  • Don’t stand in the bight of a rope

  • If your pot gets stuck, let the rope go

  • Wear gloves (for both pulling rope and handling the crays)

I’ve Caught Some Crays – Now What?

  • Check for eggs and tar-spot (as these crays are in their reproductive cycle)

  • Measure them – 76mm minimum legal length (get a gauge to be sure)

  • Clip or cut a portion of the tail flap (so Fisheries can determine rec vs commercial cray catches)

  • Keep your crays in an ice slurry (this will keep crays in best condition)

  • Re-bait your pots and do it all again tomorrow

  • Cray tails can now be stored at place of residence (it used to be only whole crays could be kept at home – but note you can’t transport the tails outside of your home)

  • Have fun and fish safe

Stay tuned for a great video on how to cook your crayfish!!!