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Best Salmon Fishing Rod

best salmon fishing rod

​Salmon are some of the most prized fish for many recreational anglers and given their migratory nature their are many different ways and methods that you can use to catch them.


You most definitely need the right gear!

A smaller trout spinning setup just won’t cut it for any salmon especially over 10 lbs.

The best salmon rods tend to be at least 8 foot long with a medium power rating at a minimum and have a moderate to fast action.

​Not all rods are created equal.

The best salmon rod setup for float fishing will not be the best salmon fishing rod for trolling so you really need to match your rod to the exact type of setup that you are using.

​Saying that there is some cross over available between certain techniques that allow you to use one rod for several different styles of salmon fishing.

​As our top pick for best salmon rod we recommend the Lamiglas X-11 Cork Series which are available as either a spinning or a casting rod. Spinning rods have an ‘S’ at the end of the model number and casting rods have a ‘C’.

The X-11 has a wide range of lengths, powers and actions available and are built on a very light, well balanced rod blank made from a Carbon Graphite Blend.

​Top Pick

​Lamiglas X-11 Cork

​The best salmon fishing ​rod for the money

​The Lamiglas X-11 delivers a perfectly balanced, sensitive rod with high quality materials without breaking the bank.

All rods can be described by their type, length, power rating and action.

Rod Type – usually spinning, casting or trolling. Some manufacturers will refer to trolling rods in their model numbers as casting rods.

Rod Length – the length of a rod is pretty self explanatory, rod power and action however are often confused and you will routinely hear many anglers using the terms interchangeably.

​Rod Power – describes how much backbone the rod blank has or in other words how heavy a lure and line rating it is designed for.

Power starts at ultralight and tops out at Xtra-Heavy.

An ultralight rod is suitable for small trout and panfish whereas an Xtra-Heavy would be suited to large Musky fishing.

Salmon rods will usually fall in a range between a medium and heavy depending on the type of setup.

Rod Action – describes where along the rod blank the natural bend in the rod will start to form.

A fast action will start to bend higher up towards the rod tip, they are more sensitive and are used when you need to strike quickly and usually used with lighter rigs and single hooks.

​A moderate action is somewhere in the middle between fast and slow.

A ​slow action ​will start to bend closer down to the bottom of the blank near the reel seat.​

They are less sensitive and can help to delay your strike as the power is slower to move through the rod to the tip and your lure.

​Salmon Rod Recommendations

You can use the following as a rough guide as to the best type of rod for the various salmon fishing techniques:

Troll/Casting Rods

  • Troll/Plug – 9’6″ heavy power, line rating 15-30 lbs
  • ​Drift, Plug & Backbounce – 8’6″ heavy power, line rating ​12-25 lbs

Spinning/Casting Rods

  • Spinner, Spoon, Float & Drift – 9′ medium/heavy power, line rating ​10-20 lbs
  • Twitch, Spinner & Side Drift – 7’9″ medium power, line rating 8-15 lbs

​Ideally you would have a rod that matches your favorite method for catching salmon.

Salmon fishing gear can get very expensive with the higher end rods from the big brands running to $500 or more easily.

Invest in the right rod and pair it with the best salmon fishing reel that you can afford.

If you are just starting out I suggest sticking to one rod for the first season. As your skills improve and you branch out into other styles and techniques then you should consider buying an additional one.

Best Salmon Fishing Rods

​1. ​Lamiglas X11 Cork

​Lamiglas are a firmly established favorite in the salmon/steelhead fishing rod world and the X11 range is one of their most affordable yet.

You get high end performance at a fraction of some of their more expensive salmon series rods.

​The X11 Cork just like the X11 graphite line is available in both a spinning or a casting variation and range in length from 7’9″ to 10’6″.

The spinning rods are denoted with an ‘S’ at the end and the casting rods have a ‘C’.

​For example an LX86MHS is ​86” in length with a medium/heavy power rating and is to be paired with a spinning reel, this type of rod would make a decent ​all round salmon rod as is can be used for drifting, float fishing and when spinning with lures.

It has a two piece rod blank that is made from a high fiber density 24 ton Carbon Graphite blend and is finished in a really striking high gloss merlot.

They come with high quality stainless steel SeaGuide guide frames and Aluminum Oxide inserts.

The cork series as the name suggests has a more traditional cork handle​ and a re-inforced reel seat.

​2. Tica HLHB Series

​Although Tica may not be the first brand that springs to mind when you think about who makes a good salmon spinning rod they are making serious gains against the more established brands.

​The HLHB series is specifically built for salmon and steelhead fishing and are available in both spinning and casting variations with a big choice of rod lengths and power ratings.

The range starts at an 8’6″ and goes all the way up to 14 feet in length so they can cover a variety of techniques.

And are available in either a one piece or a two piece rod blank.

If you are looking for a float or a side drifting rod for salmon then the 9’6″ rods up to the 10’6″ rods with either a light/medium rating or a medium power rating are the best choices.

The rod blanks are made from a high modulus TC2 Japanese graphite and they are a little on the stiff side so just be aware of that.

Fuji Hardloy ring guides and a high quality cork handle finish off the hardware.

​3. ​G Loomis IMX Side Drift

​G Loomis are the high end salmon rod brand to have.

​They offer the best rod blanks for salmon fishing and the quality of their hardware and finishes are second to none.

The best all around salmon or steelhead drift rods for the money.

​This model is the perfect spinning rod for salmon if you are looking to side drift on a lighter setup with a more moderate tip action.

At 9’2″ it is a great length for most rivers and is rated for 6-10 lbs line and lure rating of 1/4 – 1/2 ounces.

The more moderate action allows a slight pause in your strike which can result in an increased hook up rate especially when side drifting skein as it allows the salmon to really hang on the bait before you set the hook.

built on G. Loomis’s now legendary IMX rod blank, they are perfectly balanced and yet still light whilst retaining a strong backbone down through the rod blank.

​4. ​​Okuma SST Graphite

​If you are looking for a low cost option then the SST range of graphite spinning rods from Okuma are a great choice for working spinners or spoons without breaking the bank.

Available in a small range of lengths from 8’6″ to 10’6″ and from medium/light to medium/heavy power ratings.

​The SST range are built on high quality IM-8 graphite rod blanks and come with stainless steel guide frames with Zirconium inserts.

​5. ​Lamiglas X11 Graphite

​The X11 range has a big choice in terms of technique specific rods. 

For trolling the models with a heavy power rating are suitable for line weights in the 15 to 30 lbs range.

​There is one Xtra Heavy rated rod that can run 40 lb main line and is a 9 foot rod. For a trolling setup you will need to select the casting rods have a ‘C’ in the model number.

The rod referenced above has the model umber LX 90 XHCGH and can handle lures in the 1 to 4 ounce range.

The graphite handles are perfectly suited to rod holders and the rod ​are built on the new updated X-11 blanks.

​​​6. G Loomis IMX SATR

​Built on the newer IMX rod blanks which are 15% lighter than the older models whilst being slightly stronger.

The SATR stands for “Salmon Trolling Rods” so you are getting a technique specific rod from the most trusted brand in salmon or steelhead fishing.

​THe IMX 1174-2C SATR is a 9’9″ trolling rod that has a line weight rating of 15 to 30 lbs and a lure rating of 5-8 to 6 ounces.

They have a heavy power rating and a moderate action. The more moderate action is perfectly suited to trolling.

​​7. ​Lamiglas Kenai Kwik

​The Lamiglas Kenai Kwik is a direct competitor to the G. Loomis IMX SATR above and they are both priced at a similar price point.

 The Kenai Kwik rod blank is constructed from a graphite and fiberglass blend which gives you the sensitivity of a modern graphite rod combined with the more traditional durability and strength of a glass fiber rod.

​There are a variety of length and powers available, with most actions being either moderate or moderate/fast.

The Extra/Heavy power rated rods can are rated for 20 to 40 lbs line and a lure rating of up to 20 ounces.

You have a choice between the more traditional cork handle or a more modern woven graphite one.

​​​8. Lamiglas Classic Glass

​When running a downrigger I still prefer an old school glass fiber rod.

Although higher end modern graphite rods can be used for trolling a lot of them do not hold up that well over the long term when used with a downrigger.

​Downriggers put a constant strain on a rod blank and many times under a lot of tension.

Graphite does not tolerate this kind of abuse any where near as good as a glass built rod blank.

The Lamiglas Classic Glass is the best downrigger rod for salmon and they can withstand years of use on even the most demanding charter boats.

​They have a moderate action which means compared to a fast action the bend in the rod happens further away from the rod tip, more in the middle of the rod blank.

This is the perfect action for a trolling rod and gives you a lot more power

They come with double footed Sea Guide line guide frames with ceramic inserts which make for a very durable combination.

Perfect for trolling flashers in combination with a downrigger.

​9. ​Lamiglas X11 Cork Casting 

​It’s no surprise that the X-11 Series of rods is our top pick as the best casting rod for salmon as the range carries a large choice between technique.

Drifting, float, spinning or trolling these rods can do just about anything.

​Built on a high density 24 Ton Carbon Graphite blank the combine great strength, sensitivity with a truly great casting performance.

Premium Pacific Bay Deep Pressed line guides with Aluminum oxide inserts and a clear coat finish make for a really great looking rod.

Pair one of these with a high quality baitcaster reel and you have a rod that can fish a variety of styles and waters.

​10. ​G loomis Classic IMX

The Classic Steelhead range from G. Loomis is rated up to a line weight of 17 lbs and is aimed primarily at Silvers, Chums or Sockeye but can still handle the average King Salmon.

​The STR1025C IMX model is one of the best all round salmon casting rods available and in terms of both quality and price is a clear step up from the Lamiglas x11 casting rods.

At 8’6″ in length and a fast taper/action combined with a medium/heavy power rating it has a lot of backbone and yet still has one of the most sensitive rod tapers available.

​Finished to the usual G. Loomis high standards ​this is a rod for the serious angler.

  • Updated October 19, 2021
  • Salmon