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Best Coho Salmon Lures for Rivers

Best Coho Salmon Lures

​As the coho make their return from September to late November in the rivers and streams of their origin anglers are keen to dusk off their favorite coho salmon lures in keen anticipation of the fun to come.

The best coho salmon lures for rivers tend to be one part flash and one part vibration.

Lures that give out a lot of vibration will draw in coho for a closer look, with the added flash you can be sure that there predatory instinct gets triggered and they can help but strike at your lure.

​Although every angler will have their favorite they will usually fall into one of the following different types of coho lures:

  • Spinners
  • Spoons
  • Plugs
  • Jigs

Spinners and spoons both give off a lot of flash and vibration. They can be fished a number of different ways, but a simple upstream cast and retrieve technique is probably the simplest.

Plugs can be back trolled, bottom bounced and also cast and retrieved depending on the stretch of water in question.

Jigs will need a pretty decent weight as the jig head if you are casting on a river however when everything else is failing sometimes a simple jig is to the rescue.

A common mistake is fishing a coho lure ​too shallow. You need to get down to a similar depth to where the coho lie and get that lure in front of them for better success.

A lot of anglers will switch out the treble hooks on their coho salmon lures for a larger higher quality single hook. 

Single hooks with a larger gap than a treble have a much higher probability of hooking the coho in the side of the mouth and not foul hooking them as you can with treble hooks.

Best Coho Salmon Lures

1. Luhr Jensen Kwikfish

The Kwikfish lure from Luhr Jensen has a long history of producing monster salmon whether that’s out in deeper waters line lining whilst trolling or even on rivers bottom bouncing.

It is essentially a very extreme looking crankbait with a very extended dive bill that is actually part of the lure body itself.

They have an exceptionally strong swim action that gives off a lot of vibration.

One word of warning if you fish them too quickly like a lot of crankbaits they will start to roll and loose that all important vibration.

Bottom bouncing from a boat is one of the best ways to use a Kwikfish in a river and you can feel all that vibration come back through the rod so the feedback is quiet good.  Back trolling is also a popular choice. 

Size wise look at the K14 or the K15, these size lures can easily take a wrap of bait such as sardine or herring.

They also come in a massive range of bright colors, most angler settle on only a few colors or patterns but then they swear by them for ever!

2. Blue Fox Vibrax

One of the all time best salmon spinners the Blue Fox Vibrax is well known for catching brown trout in small rivers and streams but is also a killer coho salmon fishing lure.

​I like to run these in a size #4 or a #5 on a simple cast and retrieve strategy. I tend to run these a little slower as a coho lure as it helps to get them down deeper.

With a quicker retrieve you will end up fishing most spinners to high in the water column and that’s exactly were salmon are not! Stay slow and deep and really let that blade thump out some nice vibrations.

Color wise just about anything with a nice bit of flash will do, although I have seen a lot of success with a Firetiger pattern for some strange reason.

If you really want to beef them up so that the salmon have a bit more of a target to hit then switch out the treble hook for a large single and slide on a small plastic squid lure over the hook.

3. Kastmaster Lure

Kastmaster spoons are some of the beefiest spoons available. They have a really thick short body when compared to the majority of other fishing spoons.

That thicker body has a number of advantages. Firstly they can be cast quite a distance for their size and because of their heavier weight are a lot easier to get down into deeper waters especially in fast currents.

There are three really productive colors that are great for coho salmon, gold, silver, and chrome/blue. Having at least one of these in your tackle box is a smart move as no other spoon is like them.

You can also bottom bounce this kind of spoon particularly if you are a very strong current.

4. Brad’s Killer Cut Plug

A true classic of the salmon plug world the Brad’s Killer Cut Plug is a stable salmon lure for rivers the world over.

You can rig them with some cut herring for that added scent. Best to use single hooks a heavy treble can affect the swim action.

They are generally used behind a salmon fishing flasher when trolled but can also be used on lighter setups in shallower waters.

​5. Eagle Claw Salmon Jig

Jigging for coho is an great alternative to using lures or a regular salmon bait like salmon eggs. When selecting a jog you need to make sure that there is a decent amount of weight in the jig head.

A heavier jig head not only helps with casting and getting the jig down into deeper waters where salmon like to lie but it also helps add a bit more life to them as you twitch the rod tip.

I tend to only use colors like red, orange or pink, basically anything that has a similar color to a natural salmon egg.

You can jig these on a spinning setup as I find a baitcasting reel is not as good as a spinning reel for salmon when using lighter lures like jigs.

Even though they are somewhat of a finesse technique you still need your tackle to have a bit of backbone.

A good salmon spinning rod will have a medium power rating with a fast action and a line rating of between 8 and 15 lbs particularly if you are using lighter types of techniques.

​6. Dick Nite Original Spoons

​Once the coho start to enter river systems they can tend to become a little spooked by larger lures and your best option is to stick to smaller presentations.

​When this is the case the Dick Nite Original is the go to salmon lure for rivers. The have a very small profile and a single hook.

They have a more gentle action whilst still giving off that all important flash.

​7. Silver Horde COHO Killer

The Silver Horde is another really great slim profile river salmon lure, that being said they are also used to great affect when trolling for salmon at depths of up to 100 feet despite there slim profile and relatively light weight.

Great for casting and back trolling if you get the speed just right. In deeper waters you’ll need a bit of weight to get them into the really deep pools. Like most salmon spoons low and slow is the best tactic.

8. Brad’s Wiggler Lures

Wiggle lures are basically small crankbaits that have a really aggressive lip. That lip gives them a great swim action that puts out a lot of vibration.

They come in a pretty decent range of colors. There are treble hooks supplied on them as standard so you may want to switch those out if you salmon waters have a single hook regulation in place.

​9. Mepps Flying C

The Mepps Flying ‘C’ is often dubbed the Flying ‘Condom’ all joking aside it is one of the very best salmon spinners available and despite it’s rather plain appearance is one hell of a performer.

There must be something to the soft rubber tail as it can often out fish a regular spinner even in low light waters.

Salmon Lures for Rivers

​As we discussed above the best salmon lures for rivers are all about flash and vibration. Most river run salmon will not feed that much and will strike a lure more so out of predatory instinct.

The best time to catch them will be at the river mouth just as they start running up river. At this time they are still feeding aggressively and will hit a small bait fish or squid like creature.

Once up river and the closer they are to spawning the less likely they are to feed.

​When they strike a salmon egg or an artificial bead/egg it is believed they are doing so more out of territorial protection than hunger.

There are many river fishing techniques for salmon that use lures but even more so that use bait.


Spoons allow you to cover a lot of water in a big fan like pattern if you are casting from shore or from a boat.

​When fishing spoons it’s not so much about the specific colors that you choose more about making sure that there is plenty of flash. 

The speed that you retrieve them at is a massive factor in how well they fish.

For river salmon low and slow is best. In other words slow them down so they have a chance of getting down deep where the salmon will naturally prefer to lie in ​rivers.


Just like spoons spinners are all about flash and vibration. Again working them slowly and down deeper will see better results.

Classic spinners with silver or gold blades are the old reliables.

Dressed hooks are also a good bet particularly if you can get a small strip of silver tinsel in the dressing. Adding a small plastic squid lure can be a one of the best salmon lures for rivers going.


Plugs can be fished a variety of different ways whether that’s casting, back trolling or bottom bouncing plugs a super versatile.

You can add a bait wrap of something like anchovies or herring to larger plugs, but if you are running smaller plugs then I prefer not to wrap them as it can affect the swim action.

​Twitching Jigs

Twitching jigs is still not that popular when compared to say spoons or spinners. You will need slightly lighter tackle as jigging does require a bit more sensitivity that when casting a larger lure.

Unlike other forms of jigging you do need a jig that has a pretty heavy lead head on it. The heavier head allows a better casting range and also stops the jig from being thrown around in the current too much.

  • Updated October 16, 2021
  • Salmon