Most of the shellfish and crabs you can find around the UK shore make excellent baits. Both shellfish and crabs contain juices that many species of fish find irresistible.
One of the best baits you can use full stop. The biggest problem with peeler crab is being able to find enough, most tackle shops tend not to be able to keep up with demand! If you’re collecting your own then the best place to check is around estuaries, as the hard back crabs begin to peel they will look for the sanctuary of rocks and weed to hide under. Checking the edge of the crabs shell to see if it is starting to lift is the easiest way of indentifying a peeler. If you’re intending on keeping them alive then a bucked with a few millimetres of water and some seaweed stored in a cool dark place will work best. For best results fish your peeler bait on the bottom where it will attract Cod, Bass, Flatfish and many of the ray species.
Not as popular as the peeler (probably because they are very species specific, Wrasse, Bass and Smoothhounds) Hardback crabs can be found in rock pools and under rocks. It is essential that Hardbak crabs are fished live so only nick the hook through back of the shell.
You can either collect Razorfish from the same sandy beaches that lugworm frequent (look out for the blow holes) or they can be purchased from most tackle stores. The thick muscly body of a Razorfish is an excellent bait for Cod but sections can also be used to top of other bottom fishing baits. It’s a great way of keeping a softer bait on the hook!
Limpets, Mussels etc
Best used in conjunction with other baits these shellfish provide great scent attractors to many of the smaller species of fish (especially flatfish like Plaice and Flounder). Limpets, Mussels and Whelks can all be collected at low water from around the British coast.
Besides the above baits which are popular both from the shore and on the boat another bait is also very effective for shore fishing. A queenie ring (the white flesh from inside a queen scallop) is a very effective bait for pier fishing.