There are some fantastic Craw baits on the market and they pretty much all catch fish. I certainly have not used every craw there is and companies are constantly bringing out new and improved versions, so if you cannot find any of those below focus on the action you wish to achieve and do not worry too much about scent as you can always add that yourself. The only thing i would add to this is i have never done particularly well with garlic flavoured baits; not to mention they smell worse than any fish you are going to catch!
For the sake of this article i will break these down in to three types of craw.
Swimming craws as the name suggests need to be swum to get their craws to move, thus providing the action we are looking for. You will still need to put pauses in and your weight will need to be heavy enough to get those appendages moving on the decent. This is an area a lot of anglers do not consider enough. Wether it's a Craw, Shad, Grub or something similar it is very advantages to have those appendages moving when the lure is descending through the water column. If your weight is not heavy enough it will not provided enough inertia on the drop to achieve this.
Berkley Havoc Pit Boss Junior: Probably my favourite. Unfortunately they are hard to source these days, but if you trawl Ebay they very often turn up. Any of the colours work but i particularly like the Blue Disco and Big Texan colours. This type of Swimming Craw takes very little effort to get them fishing effectively. As with all Berkley baits they have their custom scent added. Does this make a difference? I think so. Imagine if you are a wrasse that has just stunned a bait and is thinking of going back to engulf it, surely if it tastes good you are more likely to have another bite!
See me using this bait to good effect here in the middle of December: https://youtu.be/lBMyP8nIv6U
Fig 1: Pit Boss Junior in one of my favourite colours "Blue Disco". Hop it or swim it, wrasse love them.
Big Bite Baits YoMama's: These baits catch Wrasse. Big Bite Baits in general are great Wrasse lures and come infused with their famous "Bite Juice", which wrasse seem to adore. There is definitely something about the scent that they like. A very versatile bait that you can fish as a beaver bait or swimming craw by splitting the claws apart.
I buy mine from AGM Discount Fishing: https://www.agmdiscountfishing.co.uk/product/big-bite-3-yomama-watermelon-red-magnum-10pcs/
Fig 2: Big Bite Baits Yo Mama. Fish them like a Beaver Bait with the claws closed or carefully tear them apart and fish as a craw. Very effective.
Keitech Crazy Flapper Another great lure from Keitech. The action created by those Crazy Flappers is quite unique. Hop them or swim them, they are easy to work and Wrasse love them. I generally use the 3.6" version but when i think there are larger fish around i will turn to the 4.4" version. All the usual colours work but there is a great selection so try something different, you might be surprised.
Fig 3: Keitech Crazy Flapper - One of the best. The appendages look amazing in the water and drive wrasse mad.
Zman Turbo Crawz: These swimming craws look amazing and are a recent addition to my armoury. I love the Elaztech material used in Zman baits and the action is fantastic. All the usual colours are present in the range. I have even caught Pike on them from my local canal.
Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/IX8o3cUT86M
Fig 4: Zman Turbo Crawz - As always with Zman lures they float and stand up off the bottom. Get them swimming along the bottom on a Jika rig or Cheb and they look amazing, add in the odd stop and thats when they will strike!
FFS Lures "The Thang: These lures are a recent discovery for me. Tom at FFS lures makes some wonderful lures that are designed for the freshwater scene but will catch wrasse. The attention to detail is unbelievable and the quality shines through across the entire range. They are made of a softer plastic so you will have to accept that they might get bitten off, but the action they produced is something to behold. Tom runs a small business producing some truly artisan baits. He will even produce customised colours for you thereby providing baits that you and the fish will not have seen before. The Thang has caught me some lovely wrasse to date and i shall continue to use them both in freshwater and saltwater.
Heres a video i did where i caught some beautiful Wrasse on it.
Check it out here: https://youtu.be/lBMyP8nIv6U
Fig 5: A beautifully marked 3lb Wrasse taken on an FFS Lures "the Thang" craw. https://youtu.be/lBMyP8nIv6U
Below you will see the https://www.rooneysfishingsupplies.co.uk/product-page/3-4inch-4-5g-shrimp great wrasse lure. Comes in a variety of colours, all of which catch wrasse. Again. a swimming craw. Get them moving; short, sharp pulls along or just above the bottom. dont forget those pauses and hold tight.
Rooneys 3.4in, 4.5gr Shrimp
STAND UP CRAWS
As the name suggests they are buoyant enough to stand up in a defensive posture just like a real life Craw when threatened. Hop them along or drag them, but put plenty of pauses in as this is generally when the fish will strike.
Zman Punch Crawz. For me the best of the bunch. They are legendary wrasse lures and i wouldn't be without them. They are very buoyant, like all Zman baits and the perfect size for Wrasse. Get them in Black/Blue or Green Pumpkin colours and you probably will never need another.
Fig 6: The Legend that is the Zman Punch Crawz. Wrasse adore them and they have caught me literally hundreds of wrasse.
TRD Crawz These are a relatively recent release by Zman which are a little wider with a few more appendages than the Punch Crawz. They are a great bait and come in a larger variety of colours and sizes. Extremely buoyant again, great fished on a Texas, Jika or Cheb rig but fish them on a Texas rig when the ground is really rough and they are still a great bait.
Fig 7: Zman TRD Crawz: with their pincers standing up on the pause they antagonise wrasse into having a go.
Here we are talking about baits that are not as buoyant, but can still look very lifelike as they are dragged along the bottom. My go to for this would be the AGM Crayfish here: https://www.agmdiscountfishing.co.uk/product/agm-3-crayfish-black-red-flake-8pcs/
These are a budget range of baits but are great fish catchers. If you have put a swimming or stand up craw through and missed a bite, try slowly dragging these along the bottom this can very often induce a bite that you may not have got.
Well it's all in the name again. These baits have a tail just like a Beaver. I love this particular type of lure and there are two that stand out. Great on a Jika Rig bounced along the bottom but rig them how you want, they will work.
Molix Sliggozo 4in. If you are an experienced Wrasse angler these lures will need no introduction. Another legend of a lure that a lot of experienced anglers will have in their bag. The chunky body with that broad thin tail provide a beautiful profile and action in a compact bait. Big wrasse adore these baits and i love fishing them on a Jika rig, just tapping the weight on the bottom as i lift and bring it towards me. I particularly like Orange Pumpkin but there are plenty of the usual colours to choose from.
Fig 8: Ask me to pick a big fish bait and this would be high on my list. Legendary wrasse lures that just work. Love them on a Jika Rig in particular. Lift them up and down slowly a few inches off the bottom and the tail undulates seductively.
Lunker City Ribster in 4.5in. These lures just catch Wrasse. The only downside is they can get bitten through, but they are such a good lure I'm willing to except these losses. These days i generally use them when i know big fish are around and are more likely to engulf the whole bait. I will also use them when i need to change to a unique profile to fool a fish that is on edge after having had a go at another lure. Their ribbed body allows us to trap a scent in it and hold it that bit longer. I have caught so many Wrasse on these lures i wouldn't be without them. I particularly like the Shad, Purple, Green Pumpkin and Black varieties but they can be difficult to source so buy if seen.
Fig 9: Just a few of the colours available. These are the 4.5in version. They catch wrasse but you will get their tails bitten off as they are slender.
n/b Fox have just brought out a range of floating lures. Within this range is a craw bait and a very interesting lure called the Shovel Shad, as the name suggests it has a shovel tail and i would class it as a beaver bait. I haven't had time to use any lures in the range but they sure look tailor made for wrasse.
With all craw and beaver baits don't forget to work those lures to get their appendages moving. Hold on to your rod though as big, bold biting, hard fighting Ballan Wrasse love them!