How Much Does a Lobster Trap Cost?

Last Updated on January 24, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Lobster traps are an essential piece of equipment for commercial and recreational lobster fishing. But like any specialized gear, lobster traps have costs associated with them. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the factors that influence lobster trap prices and provide some guidance on purchasing these important tools for harvesting lobsters from the sea.

How Much Does a Lobster Trap Cost?

The cost of a lobster trap can range quite a bit based on the trap’s size, materials, and design. Commercial-grade traps are more expensive than basic recreational models.

But even amongst commercial traps, prices run the gamut from budget wire traps for less than $100 to custom-designed traps costing over $500. The good news is that there are affordable options for every type of lobster fisherman.

According to The Hull Truth, a complete lobster trap, including heads, buoy, line, etc., can cost around $70.

Press Herald notes that the cost of lobster traps has increased due to the rising cost of steel and labor. The price of a lobster trap can range from $60 to $150 each, depending on the size and the gauge of the steel.

A Brief History of Lobster Trapping

Humans have been catching lobsters for centuries, originally by gathering them by hand along the shoreline. The first true lobster traps emerged in the 1800s and were made from wood.

Wire traps became popular in the mid-1900s and are now the standard for commercial and recreational lobster fishing. Trap designs continue to advance today with a focus on improving efficiency and sustainability.

Common Types of Lobster Traps

There are two main categories of traps: wire and wood. Let’s look at the features and costs of each.

Wire Lobster Traps

Wire traps are the most prevalent today. They are made from galvanized steel or vinyl-coated wire. Wire traps are collapsible, so they take up less space on boats and are easier to transport.

  • Commercial wire traps – These heavy-duty traps range from $100 to $250. They are larger, with a rugged build meant to withstand constant use.
  • Recreational wire traps – Entry-level wire traps cost between $50 and $150. They come in smaller sizes better suited for occasional use.

Wood Lobster Traps

Wooden traps last longer but are bulkier and more expensive. Teak and oak are common woods used.

  • Commercial wood traps – Heavy-duty wood traps start around $200 and can surpass $500 for custom designs.
  • Recreational wood traps – Smaller recreational wood traps cost between $100 and $300.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Lobster Traps

Several key considerations affect the pricing for lobster traps.

Size of the Trap

Larger traps that can hold more lobsters cost more. Commercial traps are larger than recreational consumer traps.

Build Materials

Teak wood traps are generally the most expensive. Vinyl-coated wire is cheaper than stainless steel.

Durability and Longevity

Commercial traps meant for daily use need to be extremely rugged. The most durable traps cost more upfront.

Features and Design

Added features like multiple entrances, bait bags, and escape panels add cost. Unique shapes and materials also increase price.

Cost Comparison of Lobster Trap Types

To summarize typical costs:

  • Basic recreational wire traps: $50 – $150
  • High-end recreational wood traps: $200 – $300
  • Commercial wire traps: $100 – $250
  • Commercial wood traps: $200 – $500+

So you can expect to spend under $200 for a casual recreational lobster trap. Commercial traps range from $100 on up to $500 for specialty designs.

DIY Traps vs Commercial Traps

Can you save money by building your own lobster trap? Possibly, but homemade traps take time and may not catch lobsters as efficiently. Commercial traps are engineered using proven designs. You also need to buy the materials. But for the hobbyist, DIY can be a fun project.

You might also like our articles about the cost of lobster, blue lobster, or lobster tail.

Laws and Regulations on Lobster Traps

Lobster Trap bu the WaterThere are regulations on lobster trap usage such as:

  • Limits on the number of traps per fisherman
  • Requirements for escape panels in traps
  • Mandatory trap tag numbers for identification
  • Restrictions on materials used to make traps

These regulations aim to support conservation and make lobster fishing sustainable. Be sure to know your local laws.

Choosing Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Traps

It’s important to use traps designed to minimize impact on the ocean environment and other marine life. Traps should be sturdy so lost gear doesn’t become ocean debris. Biodegradable escape panels give non-legal lobsters a chance to exit traps. Choosing sustainable gear keeps lobster populations and ecosystems healthy.

Maintenance and Durability of Lobster Traps

Proper maintenance extends the usable life of a lobster trap. Commercial fishermen re-wrap wire traps every few years. Wooden traps need re-sealing. Checking for damage after storms prevents lost traps. Well-cared-for traps can effectively catch lobsters for a decade or more.

Tips for Purchasing Lobster Traps

When shopping for lobster traps, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose the right size trap for your needs
  • Select durable, high-quality materials
  • Look for useful features like multiple entrances and bait bags
  • For recreational use, start with an affordable wire trap
  • Buy from reputable fishing supply companies
  • Research regulations to find legal traps in your area

Recent Innovations in Lobster Trap Design

Lobster trap technology continues to evolve. Some key innovations include:

  • New wire coatings that deter biofouling to increase trap lifespan
  • Collapsible wire traps that are easier to transport and store
  • Software-aided design to create traps that maximize lobster catch
  • Improved biodegradable escape panels for sustainability
  • Use of geo-positioning beacons to track and document commercial traps

Advancements make traps more effective, durable, and environmentally friendly.

Impact of Lobster Traps on Marine Life

Conservationists warn that traps can negatively impact the seafloor environment and unintentionally catch birds, turtles, and fish. Proper use of biodegradable panels and avoidance of overfishing minimizes these risks. Sustainably designed traps are key.

Ways to Spend Less on Lobster Traps

For those on a budget, consider these money-saving options:

  • Buy discounted used traps from other fishermen
  • Share ownership of traps with family or friends
  • Start with small, inexpensive recreational wire traps
  • Build your own basic wooden traps if permitted locally
  • Look for lobster trap deals from retailers


The cost of a lobster trap ranges widely based on size, materials, and features. With prices starting under $100 for basic recreational traps and commercial traps costing up to $500, there are options at every price point.

Consider how often you plan to use the trap along with legal requirements in your area. With a quality trap designed for sustainability, catching free, fresh lobsters can be an enjoyable experience whether you’re a casual or professional lobsterman.

Final Words

What is the best trap for lobster?

The best lobster trap has a durable, corrosion-resistant frame, ample space to attract multiple lobsters, and specialized design features. Commercial-grade wire traps around 3 feet long made from vinyl-coated galvanized steel offer an optimal balance of affordability, longevity, and fish-catching capability.

Strategically placed mesh funnels make it easy for lobsters to enter while preventing escape. A large central kitchen gives space to draw in lobsters with fresh bait. Escape panels allow undersized lobsters to exit while retaining legal-sized keepers.

Lobstermen can expect commercial wire traps with smart fishing-maximizing designs to effectively harvest lobster after lobster, season after season.

How many lobsters are caught in a trap?

On average, an experienced lobsterman fishing with commercial traps can expect to catch between 5-15 lobsters per trap. The total quantity caught per trap depends on factors like the local lobster population density, weather, time of year, quality of bait used, and precisely where traps are set.

Top performing commercial traps with a volume around 3 cubic feet situated in prime fishing spots can potentially capture up to 30 legal lobsters in a single haul when conditions are ideal.

Recreational lobster traps in the 2 cubic foot range will realistically yield 1-5 keepers. An outstanding commercial trap design paired with pristine lobster-rich habitat make full pot limits of up to 100 lobsters per day possible during peak season.

How effective are lobster traps?

Overall, thoughtfully designed lobster traps are highly effective at harvesting lobsters sustainably. Traps allow fishermen to target the desired size and quantity of lobsters while minimizing bycatch of other species.

Strategic placement of traps on the seafloor channels lobsters directly into the traps as they follow their natural movements. The all-natural bait box draws in lobsters by instinct. Sturdy trap construction keeps lobsters contained until the trap is hauled up.

And escape gaps give juvenile lobsters and bycatch species a way out. Advanced commercial lobster traps are engineered to exploit lobster’s biology and environmental factors for reliable, consistent catches.

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