Peeler (shedder) crabs are a top bait in parts of the Mid Atlantic. Live peeler crabs are often hard to obtain and are not available at some tackle shops.
Peelers are seasonal baits but can be indispensible during crab runs. They are similar to and often used together with soft shell crabs.
Peeler crabs must be kept alive as they deteriorate quickly after death. Prior to fishing, they should be kept cool and moist, but not submerged.
To be effective, peelers must be almost ready to shed (molt). At this stage, watermen call them “rank”. Peelers are cut into pieces and the hard outer shell removed before placing bait on the hook.