Salmon Lures

A Brief Tutorial On Salmon Fishing Lures

The first thing you need to know about salmon fishing lures is there is no single lure that will always work for every kind of salmon in every situation. Salmon are fished for in the ocean, in bays and estuaries, in streams and rivers, and on lakes. Some types of salmon are landlocked, and never see a drop of salt water. Most others spend much of their lives in salt water, but spend a part of their lives in fresh water as well. One can mooch for salmon, troll for salmon, and fly fish for salmon. Obviously, there are a great many different salmon lures to choose among, and the secret to success often is one of making the right choice at the right time, for the right fish, and using the chosen lure correctly.


If you live along the East or West coast, you can fish for Atlantic or Pacific salmon, either on the ocean or in rivers and streams. If your home is in the central part of the U.S. or the Great Plains, there may be kokanee salmon in a nearby lake. If you live in the Midwest, and live within driving distance of the Great Lakes, you'll have plenty of opportunities to try various salmon lures. Fishing for the steelhead salmon in the Pacific Northwest has its own challenges. Not only do you have to carefully select the right salmon lures to catch these wily fish, but you also need to be adept at crashing through brush on a slippery river bank in a cold rain, as your steelhead takes off in whatever direction it has decided to go.

Spinners, Flashers, And Spoons - Salmon lures include spinners and flashers. Flashers can be quite large, and are designed to attract salmon from a fair distance. Since salmon rely on smell as well as sight, if a flasher can get the fish within sniffing distance of a cut plug of herring, the salmon will forget about the flasher and go after the bait. Cut plugs, spinners, and lures having vibrant colors are the best choices for trolling for salmon in salt water. Anything that looks like a fish, especially like a wounded fish, which a cut plug does, will often catch the attention of a Chinook or King salmon, which is a predator.

Another of the more popular salmon lures is the spoon. Spoons come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are designed to look like a small fish swimming in the water. Spoons as well as spinners are sometimes used in conjunction with natural bait, more so for river fishing than for ocean fishing.

The Cut Plug - Before going much further it might be appropriate to define what a cut plug is. A cut plug is a lure, made of wood or a synthetic material, which is shaped somewhat like a fat cigar, or the body of a chubby fish. One end, the tail end, tapers to a point. The front end, where the leader is attached, is usually cut either in a v-shape or at a bevel. As the lure is pulled through the water, the cut causes it to wiggle, like a swimming fish might do, particularly a wounded fish. A treble hook (sometimes two) is attached to the body of the plug. Just like some fishermen tie their own flies, some salmon fishermen create their own plugs, though most purchase them.

A Sockeye Salmon Yarn - Whereas the Chinook salmon may readily attack what it thinks is its main prey, a smaller fish, the sockeye salmon is somewhat of a different breed of cat, and will in most instances ignore salmon lures designed with Chinook salmon in mind. A sockeye salmon is more of an opportunistic feeder. The fish is not a predator at heart, and will seldom if ever chase after a lure, so spinners and flashers usually do little good. The sockeye will strike at something that passes right in front of its nose, like an insect or small crustacean that happens to be move along with the current. A yarn lure is often the best bet for this type of salmon.

Atlantic Salmon On The Fly - Then there is the Atlantic salmon. The Atlantic salmon can be fished in the ocean or in rivers, and a variety of salmon lures can be used. In any fisherman's bucket list (things to do before dying), trying to catch an Atlantic salmon with a fly using light tackle has to be one of life's great adventures.