Freshwater crayfish support significant commercial and recreational fisheries worldwide. The genus Cherax is fished in Australia with a variety of fishing gears, yet little is known of the relative efficiency of the different fishing gears and methods. Additionally, freshwater-crayfish traps can pose a risk to air breathing by-catch such as aquatic mammals, reptiles and birds, so by-catch mitigation is important. We sought to understand whether freshwater-crayfish fishing can be undertaken efficiently, using passive traps and nets, without undue risk to air-breathing by-catch species. In field-experiments, we compared the efficiency of six gear types and tested the effect of five exclusion rings on catch performance over three soak times. The efficiency of gear types varied significantly by soak times. In productive locations, catch can be maximised by repeatedly deploying open-topped gear for short soak times. Opera-house traps fitted with fixed entrance rings (45–85-mm diameter) were not size-selective for yabbies. Encouragingly, open-topped gear and opera-house traps fitted with fixed ring entrances much smaller than many commercially available (45-mm diameter) still fish effectively for yabbies. We believe that smaller fixed ring-entrance size is likely to be correlated with a reduced risk of by-catch for air-breathing fauna.