How To Catch Salmon: The Ultimate Guide & Tips


Salmon fishing is an enjoyable and rewarding activity. If you know the right way to go about it, you will have a memorable adventure and your freezer will have enough stock for days to come.

The best thing about fishing for salmon is that you don’t need to be a pro angler to have a successful catch. However, there are a few things you should keep in the palms of your hands – your fishing equipment must be right, know-how and where to find the fish, choose the right baits and lures, and let your fishing line spend as much time as possible inside the water.

A little preparation and homework ahead of time will also contribute to a fruitful excursion. Depending on the type of salmon you are eyeing, the number of people you will be fishing with, and how huge a catch you plan to make, you will want to use a reliable fishing method.

Keep reading to find out the most effective salmon angling techniques that will remarkably increase your catch.

Facts About Salmon

1. Salmon Are Anadromous

This simply means that they can survive in both salt and fresh water. Salmon are born in freshwater and depending on species, they can live here for a few months or years and then move to salt waters like the sea or ocean.

Only a few other fish species can thrive in both worlds and a majority would die if they attempted to move to water bodies of different salinity like salmon do.

What happens is that when freshwater fish move to salt waters, they experience osmoregulation whereby their cells shrivel. And when a saltwater fish moves to freshwaters, the high concentration of salts in their bodies draws water into the cells causing them to burst. Fortunately, the behavioral and physiological adaptations of salmon allow them to survive pretty well in both worlds.

2. Have A Long Life Span

After they are hatched, salmon can live up to eight years.

3. Incredibly Healthy

Salmon ranks among the top healthiest sea creatures to eat. They contain omega 3, selenium, potassium, and vitamin B12. These keep your heart in good shape and lower your risk of serious health conditions like diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

4. Have Better Eye Sight Than Humans

Most salmon species have 300˚ of vision, which means they can see what is happening around them except right behind them. This makes fishing for salmon a little difficult since they can spot you almost from every direction.

5. They Kick Some Butt Too!

It’s true! Salmon is extremely athletic. They can swim to the surface of the water and jump past waterfalls, almost 12 feet in the air. There is more. Mature salmon present a real challenge when they are caught.

Salmon Fishing Techniques

Salmon angling can be done from a floating device like a canoe, boat, or fishing kayak, or the shore. Either way, there are several fishing techniques you can apply to ensure a winning expedition. Inshore anglers however have more options than onshore anglers do.

Let’s check out some of the most common methods for hunting salmon. Shall we?

1. Downrigging

One of the best ways to hook salmon from your boat is by using a downrigger. This simple tool allows you to dip your rod at an increased depth, enhances the control of the release mechanism, and can carry several lines in one go.

But what exactly is a downrigger, you may ask!

This is a complex fishing tool with an arm and rod base acting as the handle. These two are connected to the spool holding the fishing line that goes into the water. The weight attached to the end of the line is what allows your bait to go deeper into the water.

Depending on how deep or shallow the water body is, you can choose a downrigger with a longer or shorter arm. However, any depth below 22 feet will need a longer arm.

Also, based on how physical you want to be when out there, you can choose a crank that is operated either manually or electrically. A manual crank is less costly, easier to operate and you can easily move it from one boat to another. The electric crank, on the other hand, is attached to the boat’s battery. Though it’s more expensive, it is simpler to manage and will get to the fish faster.

To land on salmon more easily, it would be wise to purchase a fish finder. This one will measure the location and depth of your target fish to know how deep you should cast your line. However, as we mentioned earlier, salmon eyes can see almost all directions, so you will need to keep the line 3 to 4 feet from the fish.

2. Planer Boarding

Another technique anglers use to reel in salmon is the use of planer boards. These are usually made of foam, plastic, or wood and allow boating anglers to use more than one fishing line at one time.

When using planer boats, you need to think about where your rods will be attaching to the boat first. Bring a board that matches the size of the boat from where you will be casting your rods to create different angles so that your fishing lines don’t tangle in the water.

Once you have this sorted out, connect the planer boards to the fishing lines, making sure you have some weights attached to the lines so that the bait stays at the right depth. Next, attach the rods to any side of your boat such that the fishing lines sprawl across the water. You can adjust the angles of the lines using the release clip on the planner board.

Now, begin trolling keeping an eye on the board’s movement to know when salmon has taken a bite. If you see your board falling behind or bobbing about, something has bitten your lure and it’s time to stop your boat’s motion and start pulling the rod out of the water.

3. Fly Fishing

In this fishing method, you fish while standing on the shores of a lake, a riverbank, or inside shallow waters in a pair of hip waders.

Poles used for fly fishing are slightly longer than the regular fishing rods and more flexible than baitcasting reels and spinning reels. When deciding on the best rod for the show, there are a few options to consider­ – slow action, moderate action, and fast action rods. We recommend slow action rods because they are more flexible than their fast action counterparts are.

An artificial fly, (which is often an attractive and brightly colored lure that mimics an insect, needlefish, herring, minnow, or any other bait that salmons like to eat) is attached to the tip of the line. You can also use live baits if you have enough of them.

To succeed in fly fishing you will need to apply proper casting techniques. If you are not familiar with these but still want to use this method to reel in your salmon, get enough skills before you go. Watch online videos, attend fishing classes if you can, but if there isn’t enough time to do this, just watch what other fly fishers are doing on the water and you will be fine.

4. Trolling

If you are serious about hooking salmon on open water, then the best place to get started is on the lake. But unless you will be casting your line from the shore, you will need something like a boat to propel you on the water, and based on the method you choose to reel in your fish, you may need a motor too.

One of the most popular methods to fish on a lake is trolling whereby, you cast your rod from a water vessel that is in constant motion. To get started, attach the accessories you plan to use to your line including the lures or bait, and then cast the line into the lake from the side or back of the vessel. To keep the bait under the water, make sure the speed of your boat is slow enough.

If you are planning to catch mature salmon, make sure your fishing equipment is strong enough and in good working order to handle the catch. For larger fish, move towards deeper waters. Use downriggers, divers, or sinkers to control the depth of your rule. These are used by anglers fishing at greater depths to make the exercise easier and hassle-free.

5. Float Fishing

If you need something simpler and more relaxing than trolling, you can go float fishing. You can do this onshore, from a dock or even a stationary boat and all you will need is a fishing rod with a baitcasting or spinning reel, a lure, and a bobber.

The most important item in this fishing technique is the bobber as this is what will let you know when the fish has taken a bite. How deep you plan to fish will determine how high or low you will be attaching the bobber to your line. However, regardless of how deep your line goes, the bobber will remain floating on the water surface while the rest of the line including the lure and hook sinks. If you want your bobber to sink deeper into the water, you can use small sinkers.

Once you have pitched your line, keep checking your bobber. If the fish bites the bait or just nibbles on it, the bobber will move up and down or side to side. Don’t hook the fish yet. Let the bobber sink into the water first. Otherwise, you are going to scare the fish away from the lure. Once it is completely submerged, hook your catch and pull it out of the water.

One disadvantage of float fishing is that it won’t attract monster fish. However, it will allow you to cast your line wherever you want especially in places that are not accessible with a boat. You can place your bait in lilies, weeds, and any other areas where you think salmon like to hide. Float fishing is one of the most successful methods of fishing for salmon.

6. Egg Sacking

If you are looking for a more organic way to hunt for salmon, egg sacks could be just what you need. Many fits of anger have found this method to be more effective especially during the spawning season of this fish species.

Salmon are born in fresh water and spend most of their early years here before moving to salt waters. They live here until they are ready for spawning. They then swim back to the freshwater where the females lay eggs in a nest, and the males fertilize them.

Since these creatures spend too much energy traveling back upstream, they die shortly after they spawn. This is actually the best time to fish for salmon because they don’t have the energy to run. All you got to do is lower your egg sacks as close to their mouth as possible and you will have your catch in seconds.

Salmon are likely to bypass all the other lures and bait to come to get the egg sacks, which makes this method more prosperous. But the trick here is to know when different species of salmon spawn and plan your fishing trip accordingly.

Egg sacks can be obtained from any tackle shop. One sack contains about 10 eggs, so you will need to get several sacks to get the job done.

The best egg sacks are made from cured trout or salmon eggs that are then put in a spawn netting. Attach the net to your fishing hook taking care not to burst the eggs, as this will lower their luring ability. Drop your line into the water up to the bottom so that the eggs mimic the natural appearance of salmon eggs.

Tips To Effective Salmon Catching


  • Have bright lures for the day. Whenever possible, get live baits and store them in a cooler so they can stay fresh.
  • Always wash your hands in the lake, river, or ocean water before handling your bait. Don’t let the bait touch your boat once you have hooked it so that it doesn’t pick up dirt or gasoline smell. Strongly scented items like tanning oils or sunscreens should be kept as far away as possible from the bait.
  • Sharpen your hooks. Salmon’s jaw is thick, which can make penetrating a hook more challenging, so make sure your hooks are completely sharp before setting them up for salmon angling.
  • Most fish feed early in the morning and at dusk and salmon being no exception will be more active at these times. If you want to have a successful catch, try angling at these low lighting conditions. Cloudy days will be a good time to fish too. During sunny days, these creatures will be hiding deep in the water.
  • Get a license. Most spots for fishing for salmon will require you to have a special permit to be allowed to fish. Acquire this before you leave and find out what other rules you need to follow while out there. Some places will only allow catch and release while others will let you take the fish home. Know what size of fish you are allowed to take home and which one you are supposed to release back into the water.
  • Salmon usually hang around where there is smaller fish. You can find such spots using your fishfinder or watching the sea birds. If there are no sea birds or smaller fish around, chances are good that there are no salmon.
  • Talk to the locals to find out the areas that have a higher concentration of salmon. Find out what bait will lead to more success and the best times to fish in the region. Who knows, you might even pick a thing or two about the fishing technique that works best in the area!
  • Check the weather. If it is too cold, you are likely to have more catches since the fishing spots will be less crowded. Just make sure you are dressed for it so you don’t get your hands freezing and end up not being able to cast your line.
  • Learn how your gear works beforehand. The last thing you want is a tool jamming on you when you are in the middle of reeling in a monster salmon.

Globo Surf Overview

Returning home smelling like a skunk is part of salmon fishing. However, you can increase your chances of catching more fish by remembering the techniques and tips we have discussed above. These will help you approach salmon hunting like a pro and increase your success remarkably.

So next time you plan a visit to your favorite fly fishing destination or any other fishing spot in your area, don’t just look for pikes and bass. Fill your fishing cooler with some salmon too! Just make sure you have the right equipment, know the best time to fish for salmon, and know-how to locate them.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!