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.
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 prefer 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.