How To Fish For Salmon In Rivers?

Salmon fishing is an exciting and rewarding angling pursuit. But every angler can’t get the excitement or reward, especially while fishing for salmon in rivers, and mostly they fail due to not knowing how to fish for salmon in rivers.

They choose the wrong location and cast with inappropriate bait or fishing lines. Besides that, some anglers follow faulty fishing techniques to hook and reel in salmon.

But we don’t want you to fall into the immature salmon anglers’ group. That’s why we have come up with this definitive guide on how you can catch salmon in rivers every time you cast your line. So, let’s read on.

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Some Techniques To Follow To Fish For Salmon In Rivers:

Although various anglers apply different fishing techniques for hooking and reeling in salmon, every angler can’t be successful at fishing salmon by utilizing all methods.

That means you need to find out the technique works best for you and should stick with that. Below, we have shared a couple of practical methods that you can adhere to. So, let’s explore them.

Drift Fishing:

Very few anglers frequently utilize this drift fishing method. And they commonly apply this technique while fishing in rivers with currents so that their baits can drift on currents.

So, to follow this technique, anglers cast their fishing line from a motionless point and let the line drift. When the fishing line drifts, anglers reel in the line slowly and afterward repeat this action of casting and reeling.

Now let’s describe this fishing method more specifically to help you understand it better. For drift fishing, you need to cast your line and bait at 30 to 45 degrees upriver so that they can ride the river currents. As soon as your bait and line ride the currents, you should reel in your line and cast again.

You need to cast and reel your fishing line with baits repeatedly until you feel any snags on the line and successfully reel in salmon. However, you can’t fish for salmon using the drift technique with a traditional fishing rod and line.

You need to use a drift fishing rod at least 9 feet long. And you should select the line depending on which salmon you want to catch.

For instance, if you want to hook chinook salmon, you should use a 20-25 lb braided line. And if you wanna fish for pink salmon, a 10-15 lb braided line will be ideal.

Plunking Method:

Plunking is an old casting method that many anglers still follow today. While applying this fishing technique, they cast their fishing lines into the salmon’s migratory path. After casting, they start waiting until the fish strikes.

Some anglers choose 40-60 lbs rated mainline and a directly tied lure to catch salmon. Also, they use an 18 to 30 inches long leader tested for 15 lbs. Hence, you can also follow them to catch salmon with the help of the plunking method.

Float Fishing:

Float fishing, aka bobber fishing, is a new and trendy fishing technique that many salmon fishers use. They utilize a 12 lb line, a bobber, a bead, a bobber stop, a barrel swivel, and a lure for float fishing. And they rig their bobber setups before opting for float fishing.

Now, let’s talk about how they rig their setups. Fishers first tie the bobber with the line and then fasten the bobber stop based on its style. Some fishermen use rubber bands to affix it, while others try different tying knots.

Afterward, they thread the bead and slide the bobber to the mainline. Then, tie the barrel swivel with the line, and after that, add a weight.

After rigging the setups, anglers look for darker areas in rivers and cast their braided line in that marked spot.

Then, they monitor the float and reel in the line whenever the float goes deep down the water. So, this is all about float fishing, and you can apply this technique to catch salmon.

Trolling Method:

Trolling method is effective when salmon tend to swim with the river currents rather than staying in one spot. Anglers apply this technique while fishing from a boat. Usually, they ride their boats up and downstream constantly instead of anchoring them in one place.

In essence, the trolling method includes three different techniques: motor mooching, diver trolling, and downrigger trolling. Below, we have shared all these methods. So, let’s read.

Motor Mooching:

Motor mooching refers to trolling in a boat using sinkers as drift moochers. These sinkers are also known as banana sinkers or mooching sinkers.

Usually, while motor mooching, anglers troll for salmon with cut-plug herring lures and change their boat speed and the bait’s action depending on the situation.

Diver Trolling:

Diver trolling indicates trolling for salmon with divers. While applying this method, anglers attach a diver to the mainline and start trolling around the river.

FYI, the purpose of a diver is to help your fishing line cut the water surface and let you achieve your ideal fishing depth. The diver also lets you reel in your catch easily by going deep down when salmon make the first strike.

Downrigger Trolling:

A downrigger means a mechanical attachment consisting of a winch and weight. It enables your lines and lures to reach a more specified depth and helps you target salmon more precisely.

Now let’s talk about how anglers perform downrigger trolling. First, they troll with their boats, release the lines to their desired depths and attach the fishing rods to the rod holders.

Afterward, they gather the fishing lines from the rod’s tip in one hand and hold the released line with another hand. Then, pull the downrigger’s weight out of the water and attach the line to the line release.

Then, anglers return the downrigger’s weight to the water, hold the downrigger reel handle, and loosen the clutch to release the weight’s locking function.

After that, they monitor the line counter, set it to their desired depth, and then tighten the clutch when anglers achieve their required depth.

Afterward, anglers utilize their drag clickers and reel in the fishing lines when they notice slight bowing in their fishing rods. Once they feel a fish on the line, they take the rod from the holder and lift it to activate the line release.

Finally, after catching the fish, they retrieve the weight and reel up their downrigger cranks. That’s pretty much everything about the downrigger trolling method.

How To Select Lures For Salmon Fishing: Attract Salmon With The Best Lure

To catch salmon in rivers, you need to use a myriad of lures, including spinners, winged bobbers, kiwi fish, cut-plug herring, and more. Below we have described these lures in detail.


Spinners are basically metal blades that spin while moving through the water. These lures can easily draw the salmon’s attention with the help of spin.

Spinners come in four different designs: spinnerbaits, buzz baits, standard inline, and live bait spinners. You can find all of them at a reasonable price on Amazon.

Winged Bobbers:

Winged bobbers are appropriate for bank anglers. These lures are known for helping with snags. FYI, most anglers use size zero winged bobbers for catching chinook salmon.

Again some utilize the spin-and-glow lures to catch salmon while boat fishing. You can try both lures and test which one works best for you.

Kiwi Fish Or Flatfish Lures:

Kiwi fish are famous lures among chinook salmon anglers, and they use kiwi fish, which size ranges from k14-k16.

Again, some fishermen use these lures in conjunction with sardine to increase effectiveness and maximize the success rate of salmon fishing.

Cut-Plug Herring:

Cut-plug herring is a lure preparation method where anglers slice the herring’s head off and remove entrails before using these fish as bait. They need to cut these fish appropriately so that these bait spin underwater correctly.

However, if you can’t prepare these fish yourself, you need to ask for a professional’s help to avoid any mistakes.

Some Essential Things To Remember While Fishing For Salmon In River

The first fact every angler should remember before salmon fishing is to keep their hooks razor sharp. It’s because salmon comes with thick jaws. So the sharper your hook is, the better your chance of getting salmon hooked.

And to sharpen your hooks, we recommend using the best quality hook sharpener that you will get on this website. Now let’s talk about how you can sharpen hooks as the professionals do.

First, place the hook sharpener over the hook parallelly and then start stroking each hook side. After rubbing a couple of times, you need to test the hook’s sharpness.

And to check the sharpness, you can draw the hook on your nail at 45 degrees. Then, look for whether the hook adheres to the nail or not. If it does, it is sufficiently sharpened.

Another fact that anglers should pay attention to is to cast their fishing lines during overcast days as salmon are more likely to get hooked in low-light conditions.

You can also fish for salmon in rivers during dawn and dusk as salmon usually remain more active during these times. However, if you prefer casting on sunny days, you need to choose darker water to catch salmon.

The last factor to keep in mind before going salmon fishing is that you should try to use live bait to lure salmon. If you can’t utilize live bait, we recommend using fish eggs as salmon love to eat them.

You can also utilize artificial lures like spinners which many veteran anglers consider their first fishing item. Lastly, you shouldn’t forget to keep all the fishing belongings, including a compass, first aid kit, insect repellent, map, poncho, tackle box, and needle-nose pliers.

How To Locate Salmon Like The Professional Anglers?

You may experience several unsuccessful days while fishing for salmon in rivers. But veteran anglers barely encounter such fate as they know the secret to salmon fishing.

Besides utilizing the correct fishing equipment, they know how to locate salmon and where to cast lines. And below, we have shared their secret to help you become successful at fishing salmon every time you head out on the river. So, let’s read.

Selecting The Location:

You can fail at hooking salmon due to varied causes, and one of the reasons can be selecting the wrong location. So, undoubtedly it is essential to cast your bait in the accurate stream.

And to do that, you should search for salmon’s migratory path, hatchery locations, dams, and spawning areas. These areas will never disappoint you after you cast your fishing lines.

Monitoring Salmon’s Statistics:

Many anglers mark salmon’s spawning areas and migratory paths, and you can ask them to locate those areas. Also, try to keep the track of the salmon run’s statistics. Consequently, you don’t need to work hard every time you intend to locate salmon.

Inspecting The Forecast:

As you know, salmon prefer overcast days and stay in the water close to 13 °C temperature. Hence, you need to fish for salmon during this time.

But if you choose to catch salmon on blazing days, you should select a dark water area and utilize a bright lure to fish for salmon in the river.

Preparing The Fishing Plan:

Salmon fishing will require applying different fishing methods, including bank fishing, troll fishing, and float fishing. Hence, you need to prepare yourself with all the necessary fishing equipment and skills to apply the correct fishing method depending on the situation.

Searching Salmon In Holding Areas:

Salmon usually take breaks in holding areas before swimming upstream while migrating. Thus, you need to find such places and cast your fishing lines.

FYI, these areas remain full of salmon, and salmon within these places prefer eating food instead of migrating. So, a holding area can be your sweet spot for salmon fishing.

Wrapping Up

Fishing salmon in rivers isn’t as challenging as it seems. Anglers can fill their buckets with plenty of large river salmon by utilizing the correct fishing gear and applying the ideal fishing techniques.

However, even if you follow all the steps mentioned above, you can still experience a bad fishing day. We recommend don’t get upset and keep trying to hook your best catch. That’s all for this content; stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest for more exciting fishing tips.

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