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Best Salmon Spinners

Best Salmon Spinners

​Throwing lures such as salmon spinners and spoons has somewhat of a renaissance over the past ten years.  

There was a time when salmon anglers were more concerned with back trolling plugs and using eggs as salmon bait.

Spinners however tap into the salmon natural instincts to attack anything that gives off a lot of vibration and flash.

Enter the humble spinner.

When fished at a slow speed their spinning blade gives off a rhythmic vibration that drives salmon wild.

The name of the game with using salmon spinners is low and slow

Some of the most popular spinners for salmon like the Blue Fox Vibrax have been producing trophy salmon for decades and are some of the best coho salmon lures for rivers you can find.

​The best color spinners for salmon will vary greatly from angler to angler but you can't go wrong a basic silver/blue.

If using single hooks(and you should be) you can dress the hook with an artificial plastic squid skirt for added life.

​Salmon Spinner Setup

You'll be using some fairly large spinners like a size #4 or #5 Mepps or ​on higher darker run waters even as high up as a size #6 so you'll need to match your salmon spinner setup accordingly.

When using these types of lures I prefer a salmon spinning rod over a casting setup.

​One thing is for certain spinning reels for salmon need to have a very high quality drag system, size wise they are usually in and around a size 3000.

You want a rod somewhere in the 8'6" to 9'6" range. A longer rod gives you better casting performance but less control close up so match your rod length to the size of river you are working.

Use a rod with a medium/heavy power rating and a fast action. This should give you enough backbone for working larger spinners and also enough tip sensitivity to feel what is going on  at the sharp end.

Single vs Treble Hooks

Personally I always switch out the stock treble hooks that come on most salmon fishing spinners for higher quality single hooks.

Treble hooks can result in lots of foul hooking. Using a high quality single hook means a better chance of hooking the salmon squarely in the jaw.

Foul hooking a salmon in a fast flowing river can be a nightmare to actually bank the fish. If hooked correctly on a single hook it if much easier steer the salmon through the fast flowing current.

​On a lot of rivers there are specific rules against using trebles so you should always check the rules and regulations that govern your local rivers.

​Best Salmon Spinners

​1. Blue Fox Super Vibrax

The Blue Fox Vibrax could well be the best spinner for salmon as it produces trophy fish year after year.

The classic silver blade with a blue body is hard to beat and it would be the first spinner I will likely tie on at the start of the season.

​Switch out the trebles for single hooks for better hook ups. You'll need a small split ring to attach the single once you have cut off the treble with a pliers.

​2 .Mepps​ ​Alaska Single Hook Spinners Kit

The Alaska Single hook spinner kit has enough lures in it to fish a season on just about any water.

This kit is specially put together for salmon and steelhead fishing. I contains a range of Mepps's classic spinners plus the Flying C lure all with quality single hooks. They are pretty much ready to go straight out of the packet.

​3. Flying C

The Flying C is occasionally referred to as the Flying Condom due to the soft rubber tail that sits behind the spinning blade.

They make for great casting lures for salmon in rivers as for their size they have a nice bit of weight to them so are easy enough to work down in deeper waters.

​4. Panther Martin Hammered Go-Glo

Panther Martin spinners are along with Mepps and Glue Fox are the big three names in the world of spinner lures.

The Panther Martin spinners however differ in their blade design. They use what is called an inline spinner which has the shaft running through the blade as opposed to attaching to it directly.

This means you can fish a Panther Martin slower that with conventional blades.

The Hammered Go-Glo feature a trailing hoochie skirt that is attached by a convenient split ring so you can switch it out easily to some other kind of hook if you wish.

5. Wicked Lures Green-Glow King Killer

The King Killers from Wicked Lures are purpose built salmon spinners that are becoming some salmon anglers secret weapon when it comes to spinning for salmon.

They come complete with a big patterned blade, single hook and rubber squid skirt and leader.

You can fish these really slow and the blade gives off a really nice strong vibration once at the correct speed.

​6. Panther Martin UV

The Panther Martin UV line of spinners are some of the brightest lures you find. In darker waters their flashy colors can be a game changer. In clear waters however they can fall flat on their face and it is best to stick to the more basic colors such as simple silver or gold.

​7. Mepps Long Cast

The Mepps Long Cast lures feature a much heavier longer metal body that really helps to get them down deep particularly in really fast waters.

They have a decent range of colors and sizes available. Definitely one to try if you are having problems getting your spinners down to a good running depth and do not want to resort to added weight on your spinner setup.

​Salmon Spinners

The list of salmon spinners above includes something for almost any situation. You only need a handful of the right spinners in a few sizes.

In faster running waters you will need to size up so that you have a chance of actually getting the lure down in the stronger current.

How to Fish a Spinner for Salmon

For the most part salmon on any average stretch of water will usually pre​fer to lie in deeper waters.

It is quite rare that a they will come out of the deep to hit a shallow running lure so you need to get yours down to roughly the same depth as where the are holding.

Deep pockets, middle swim lanes and just about any other deep natural feature on the river bed is where you need to start targeting them.

The classic swing technique is one of the most reliable when fishing a sinner for salmon.

Cast upstream and across of where you think they will be. Allow your spinner to sink down to the bottom.

​When you start to retrieve resist the urge to pull the lure quickly through the water. Reel in at a pace that allow the lure to run about a foot off the bottom.

The natural arc that your line will take is not to be disturbed. If you are retrieving too fast then your line will start to straighten out, don't do this.

Allow the spinner to bump the bottom occasionally assuming that there are not too many snags around.

As the spinner drifts down through the arc it makes once it starts to move down river of you it will start to spin a little faster and begin to rise up through the water gradually.

Delay the temptation to reel it in too quickly as it straightens out.

A lot of times you will get a really aggressive strike right at the last moment as you spinner starts to climb out off of the bottom.

Salmon Trolling Setup

Salmon Trolling Setup

​Your choice of salmon trolling setup will largely be determined by how, where and for what you intend on fishing for.

Trolling puts a lot of strain on your setup and you really need to choose the right combination to make sure that it is durable enough to do the job.

For example a downrigger rod needs a faster action on the tip so that it can bend easily down towards the weight ball.

If you are long lining in the top few feet of the water column then it is better to go with a rod that has a more moderate action.

​When trolling practically every outfit should use a trolling reel. Whether you choose one with a line counter on it is up to you.

Spinning reels are too much hassle when trying to troll and you have less control when letting line out.

If you are looking for what rigs to use with your setup check out our other article: salmon rigs for trolling.

​Salmon Trolling Setup

The right setup for salmon trolling will depend largely on whether or not you are using a down-rigger or not.

The main advantage of a down-rigger is depth control. Sure you could use lead core lines but the accuracy is just not there.

Sometimes you want to troll only in the top of the water column and then running a long line with a diving lure is the best method.

1. Rod

Spinning setups are just a no! Using a spinning reel when trolling can be a royal pain so save your self the hassle.

That means when trolling you want a rod that is specifically designed to troll. They have more eyes on them than a normal baitcaster and are usually built a lot tougher.

Materials wise look for glass fiber or a glass fiber and graphite composite rod. The best salmon trolling rod I have used is the Lamiglas Classic Glass.

Look for a rod that falls somewhere within the following range of specifications:

  • ​Materials - glass fiber or glass/graphite blend
  • Type - trolling/casting, not a spinning rod
  • Length - between 7'6" and 10'6"
  • Power - medium/heavy to heavy
  • Action - Moderate/Fast
  • Line Rating - 20 to 30 lbs

​The length of rod is often a big pain point for a lot salmon anglers who are trolling. A longer rod means it can be more difficult to net a fish, but it also gives you a big lever with which to fight them with.

Using a downrigger or looking to use it out wide with a planer board can also mean a different length rod and action.

My personal preference is to only run a dedicated downrigger rod on the downrigger as my main salmon trolling setup and for any other techniques I'll choose a rod that suit that specific technique, but the bulk of my trolling is down on downriggers.

​2. Reel

Trolling reels are clearly the only choice to go for. Line counters can be great when looking to use a lot of line out the back or if you are specifically using lead core line to get down deeper as opposed to using a downrigger.

High quality reels are a must, but that is not to say that you have to spend a fortune on them. You can get some great value trolling reels that will last a decade of use providing you look after then and service then regularly.

​One of the best salmon trolling reels is the Shimano Tekota and you'll routinely see these on salmon charter boats.

You'll need a size ​300 or higher as you would want to able to hold at least 200 yards of 20 lb line.

​3. Line

I tend to run 40 to 50 lbs braid as the main line and the either a 20 or 30 lbs leader of monofilament or fluorocarbon.

​You need that leader to act as a shock absorber as braid has very little or no stretch.

Some guys will run lighter braid as their main line but the problem with more modern braids is that they are actually too thin and under pressure the top layer of line will dig into the line that is already on the spool which can cause a tangle and a massive head ache especially of you are on a fish.

​4. Downrigger

When the salmon are holding deep the the best option is to use a downrigger. Using this type of setup for salmon trolling is the hassle free way of getting your lures down to the correct depth without a lot of guess work.

You can do it using other methods such as adding inline weights to you line or using lead core line but they are not as accurate when it comes to getting to a precise depth.

5. Flasher

When using a trolling flasher gives you a massive advantage as they trick the salmon into thinking that another salmon is attacking a bait ball. Other salmon see this and want in on the action homing in on your flasher from afar.

Once up close they should see your lure as a small fish that is not in the bait ball and see it as easy prey.

Flasher work by emitting a lot of vibration and flash as they spin through the water. This is what the salmon are attracted to and a really deep depths the color of your flasher is not that important more so that it is vibrating and flashing strongly.

The ​best trolling speed for salmon when using a flasher will lie in the 2.5 to 3.5 mph range any slower and you would be better off using a dodger.

6. Lures

There are lots of lures to choose from, hoochies, spoons, plugs even large salmon spinners.

The best salmon fishing lures will generally give off a lot of vibration and flash except for maybe a soft plastic quid like a hoochie.

With these types of lures you will almost always need the added help of a flasher or dodger.

​7. Hooks

Depending on the type of lure that you are using the stock hooks may not be of the best quality.

​A lot of salmon anglers will switch out the stock treble hooks for higher quality single hooks.

​If you are using treble hooks than you run the risk of foul hooking your salmon. A high quality single hook reduces this possibility considerably and you will find that you get a lot more hook ups in the side of the salmons jaw which is the best place to hook them.

Switching out the trebles for singles also allows you to dress the single hook with a squid or hoochie skirt for added swim action.

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.

But;

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

​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

​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 ​8'6" 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.


​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.

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


​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.


​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.


​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.


​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.


​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.


​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.


​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 baicaster reel and you have a rod that can fish a variety of styles and waters.


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 usualy Loomis high standards ​this is a rod for the serious angler.