Fishing with Sand Fleas: Do They Make Good Bait?

Sand Fleas in a Pile
© IrinaK/

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Published: November 22, 2022

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Sand fleas make great bait, especially because you can look for some yourself without having to spend a lot of money. They are very common along the surf of many beaches. You may have seen some without knowing what they are. Although their name suggests they are fleas, they are actually crustaceans. A more appropriate name for sand fleas is mole crabs, but sometimes people refer to them as sand crabs. They are small and burrow into the sand in colonies, leaving ‘v’ shapes behind. The larger the ‘v’ shapes, the more sand fleas there are underneath.

Keep reading to discover how to fish with sand fleas and why they are so beneficial. Sand fleas are excellent and cheap.

Are Sand Fleas Good Bait for Fishing?

Macro of a sand flea in the pink palm of a hand. The sand flea is beige -light brown-olive colored with grains of sand dotting its tiny shell.

For a variety of reasons, sand fleas are an excellent choice for fish bait.

© Tuchman

Sand fleas make excellent bait for fishing. They are cheap and easy to find fresh. You can also fish for lots of species of fish using sand fleas since they are a part of many sea creatures’ diets. It also takes less than a minute to hook a sand flea. While you can use a plastic artificial bait or lure, it’s best to use something with flavor. Fish typically will tug and take nibbles from bait on a hook, before munching down on the metallic hook. It’s best for shallow fishing by the surf since this is where fish linger when they eat sand fleas.

What Fish Will Bite on Sand Fleas?

yellow pompano fish

Pompano is just one of the several species of fish that can be caught with sand fleas.

©Sergey and Marina Pyataev/

Lots of different fish actively hunt and eat sand fleas, including popular ones that anglers love to seek in the surf. For example, it’s likely you will catch pompano, sheepshead, redfish, and black drum with sand fleas since this is part of their natural diet. It’s even better if the sand flea has some eggs. Most people have better luck using female sand fleas since they are larger and carry eggs, which shine and capture the attention of fish. Other fish that consume sand fleas are stripers, flounders, croakers, and ground mullets.

Can You Use Frozen Sand Fleas as Bait?

Sometimes live sand fleas are not an option, so lucky for you, frozen sand fleas also work, just not as well! A lot of bait you buy from bait shops is frozen and naturally thaw out as you fish with them. When the bait is frozen, it makes the sand flea easier to hook since it won’t fall apart. However, this doesn’t mean you should grab a handful of sand fleas from the beach and freeze them in a bag. They do require some preparation. If not, they won’t stay on the hook.

How Do You Preserve Sand Fleas for Fishing?

Sand Fleas in a Bucket

If you want to use live sand fleas, it’s best to find them the same day you fish. There are methods to storing them, though.

©Charles Wayne Lytton/

There are multiple ways you can preserve sand fleas for fishing. If you want them alive, it’s best to find them the same day you are going to fish by the surf. However, if you want to store them for a few weeks or months, you can use a few methods. First, start by rinsing the sand fleas in cold water. This helps get rid of any feces or parasites lingering on them. Some people also leave them overnight in a large and deep bowl of icy water. Make sure the bowl is large enough if you are using this method, so they don’t surprise you by escaping.

After you clean the sand fleas or leave them overnight, put a pot of water to boil. Place the sand fleas inside the pot of boiling water, while still alive, for about 4-8 minutes. You are going to slightly blanch them. They should turn orange. If you only want to kill them and lightly ‘cook’ them for a few seconds, dump them into a large mesh bag. The mesh should be small enough so they don’t slip out. Dip it into the water for 15 seconds. When you lift them out, let them cool and place them into a large ziplock bag with salt water. Freeze until you are ready to use them.

How Do You Hook a Sand Flea?

So, you have your sand fleas, a fishing pole, and a hook, what’s next? Hooking a sand flea is a lot easier than you’d think. You are going to start by inserting the hook into the bottom of the sand flea and circling it so the hook is completely inside of the sand flea. The eggs, if there are any should pop out close to the top. A good tip to consider is first adding attractor beads to your line. They should be bright orange, mimicking the look of sand flea eggs. Since sand fleas are small, rarely growing past three inches long, they also weigh close to nothing. It might be a good idea to add a casting weight.

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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