6 Best Baits (and Lures) for Salmon Fishing in the River

Best Bait for Salmon Fishing in the River
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Fishing for salmon is one of the most adventurous fishing experiences you will have.

Not just because of this spectacular fish species, but because of the locations.

Freshwater salmon fishing takes place in northern countries, such as Norway, Canada and Alaska.

Pristine wilderness, cold and clean rivers and remote areas which present a real challenge.

Before you head out to such adventure, you should know more about best salmon baits and how to use them.

So, in this article I am going to list the following:



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Best Bait for Salmon Fishing in the River

There are different species of salmon and the best baits for each one of them can vary.

It also depends of the year time and location. Here I am going to focus on the best baits for salmon fishing in the river.


Salmon eggs, also known as Salmon Roe, are probably the best bait for salmon fishing.

Many anglers will agree on that when it comes to any salmon species ...

Salmon eggs are best to be used with drifting or bobber technique (more about this will be mentioned in the next chapter).

There are different brands of salmon eggs available in fishing stores so you can choose the one you like (here is my choice on Amazon (#ad)), or you can even get it yourself from the fish.

The smell of fresh salmon eggs will attract salmon, but if you don’t have access to it, you can use artificial ones. They are a simple, small, plastic beads that can be treated with a scented attractant to have better effect.

This one from Amazon are also good (#ad) ...


Sand shrimps are a part of their natural diet, so they are a logical choice for bait. This bait is very popular for Chinook salmon.

To use it, take just the tail part. It should be detached from the body on the spot where it is connected to the upper body.

Drifting is a popular technique which is practiced when using this bait. Sand shrimps can be combined with other baits too.

If you find them too expensive, you can always dig them up yourself and have a fresh bait at any occasion or you can use artificial ones (#ad).


Canned or cut herrings are one of the best baits for attracting salmon. Their smell is strong and the fish can detect it from a long distance.

Many angles use this bait in combination with lures. They can be attached to them to increase the efficiency.

Just keep in mind that large pieces can affect the motion of the lure. There is an option to use them as a single bait, presented straight on the hook.

Minnows have a weak smell and a weak flesh. If using those instead of herrings, try to spice them up with some attractants to increase the smell.


Among dozens of possibilities, salmon hoochies are probably the best ones out there (#ad).

These lures are gaining more and more popularity. Hoochies are versatile and can be used alone or in combination with other baits and lures.

They are also cheap and easily accessible ...

Numerous models are available and no matter where and when you are fishing, you will definitely find a hoochie that suits your needs.

Hoochies are also a preferred lure when trolling for salmon ...

Besides those you can use salmon hard metal spinner baits (#ad), plugs (best to be used combined with baits like cut herring), flashers, and jigs.


Some anglers prefer live bait (in the locations where this technique is allowed).

There is nothing more natural than this. And because salmons are not very picky, you can use minnows, worms, or shrimps.

This natural prey motion will attract the salmon, and you will not have to work as hard as you would with artificial lures, to mimic these movements.

Best Freshwater (River) Salmon Fishing Techniques

When fishing for salmon, you can do it from a shore or a boat. Those who use a boat have a bit more possibilities.

Here are the most common salmon fishing techniques:


Drift fishing is a common and quite simple method that can be practiced from the shore or a boat.

Anglers cast upstream and the current takes the bait downstream. When it reaches a calmer area as a pool, angler will reel the line and do the same thing again.

When practicing this technique, it is important to use weights that will not slow down or speed up the process. The idea is to let it flow with the current.


This is another common salmon fishing technique, and in a way, it is similar to drifting.

Anglers cast into the area where the fish gather. They leave it on the spot and wait for a bite.

Plunking can be done from shore and a boat, and active lures are frequently used.


This technique is one of the most popular techniques for all kinds of fishing.

For salmon fishing, bobbers are often used in still or slow-moving waters. Same as previous techniques, float fishing can be done from a boat and from the shore. This simple technique is suitable for beginners too.


If you have a boat, then you can try the trolling technique. It is basically a fishing technique where you fish from a boat that is moving.

To position your bait at a desired depth, you will have to use weights, divers, or downriggers.

Make sure the boat has a constant speed with no twitching and try not to go too fast. When trolling on a river, you should pick a location such as lower end of a large and spacious river. These locations have a slower river flow, which is important for trolling.

Best Rigs for (River) Freshwater Salmon Fishing

Salmon is a strong fish, with a powerful bite.

Those facts are very important when choosing a bait, together with a hook, line, and every other piece of equipment. And how do you rig for river salmon fishing?

Depending on a technique you practice, you will have to set up different rigs, and here are the basic ones, that you can customize to fit a certain situation and location.


To set it up, you will need to attach a swivel to the end of your main line. Then you should attach a dropper line. You can use fluorocarbon for this. Attach a sinker at the end of the dropper line.

Try different lengths and weights to get the best setup. The trick is to use a dropper line that is lighter than the main one.

Tie a fluorocarbon leader (the length can be anything between 20 and 45 inches) to the swivel. Put a small float on the leader and tie a hook at the end. Attach the desired bait or a lure and you are ready to go!


Attach a swivel to the main line. Attach a dropper and add enough weights to sink it. Add a leader line that is quite long, around 5ft. Attach a hook and a bait or a lure of your choice. Crankbaits (#ad) (from Amazon) are one of the best options when you practice trolling technique.


For a plunking rig, attach a swivel at the end of the main line. Add a short dropper with a lot of weights. Your bait should be kept in one place when plunking.

Attach a leader to a swivel. It should be 2-6 ft long, depending on a location and a position. Attach a lure that makes some motion, like a metal spoon or similar.


When float fishing for salmon, you should use a sliding float, a swivel, weight and about 20 inches of leader line for the bait. Float stops are useful to have to set the desired depth. Bobber rigs for salmon are the same as bobber rigs for other fish species.

The depth should be determined on the spot and there is no universal rule.


Salmon fishing is fun and suitable for both experience anglers and beginners.

When considering the best bait, it is best to have a few options available to change it on the spot if necessary.

Some baits and techniques are more complicated than other but you can always choose a location that allows you to experiment and learn.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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