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King Salmon Fishing - Three Ways

There are a number of ways to catch Chinook Salmon, also known as King Salmon. Fall is a great time to catch King Salmon while they are on the journey to spawn. Trout also start spawning shortly after the Kings and the same methods can be applied.

We're going to talk about catching Kings using three different methods. There are a few points that in my experience helped me and some of my friends successfully catch King Salmon using the Fly Rod, Centrepin, and Spin Fishing Gear. How to get ready for the season, the gear to use (rod and reel), the techniques to catch Chinook Salmon, the setup, and how to land these fish safely.

Getting Ready for Salmon Season

They say half the battle is won with proper preparation. Every year around July, I start preparing for fishing for Salmon. I check my gear, rod, and reel. I check if I have enough flies and bait to target these fish.  Checking your gear is easy, make sure your rod is not damaged, your line is in good condition, and your reel drag is set properly. I also check my accessories like leaders, indicators/float, etc. Having all these ready before the season begins can put you in a really good position when it is time to go chase them.

Ways to Catch Chinook (King) Salmon

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for King Salmon is by far my favorite way to fish. I personally think that having a more subtle and stealthier presentation gives an advantage when catching these fish. What I noticed between the three methods, fly fishing has less chances of spooking fish compared to the next two methods we will talk about.

Rod and Reel

For the rod and reel, I like to use a 9ft 8wt fly rod paired with a matching large arbor reel with a good drag system. I switch between my Orvis Clearwater 8wt and my Shakespeare Wild Series Salmon and Steelhead Fly rod. For my reel, I use my trusted Orvis Clearwater IV Large Arbor Reel, as it provides a smooth drag for fighting these large fish.


By far the most productive technique for me is dead drifting a fly under an indicator. Another method people had much success on is tight lining. Both method gives you control on the depth of which you would like to drift your fly. Another one of my favorites is swinging streamers. I use this more on larger water bodies to cover a lot of water. The fish you get on swinging streamers will be aggressive and strong, so hold on tight.


Let start with the leader, I use a 9ft tapered leader from my fly line. At the end of the leader I add a micro swivel or a tippet ring. From there I add a 3 - 4ft section of tippet, then at the end of that is my choice of fly.

Add or remove split shots to get down to the fish depending on the water speed and depth. With this setup, I can easily switch from indicator fishing to tight line nymphing and to  swing streamers with relative ease.

Check out this video of me and my friends fishing for Salmon:

Centrepin/Float Fishing

While I don't own a centrepin setup myself, some of my friends swear by it. And I got to say it is really productive. You can drift anything from flies, skein, worms, under the float. Somewhat similar to fly fishing, you drift your offering to the fish at a certain depth.

Rod and Reel

The typical setup my friends use is a 10.5ft. float rod with a matching Centrepin reel. The longer rod allows for an extra reach to control your float. It also provides some backbone for fighting these huge fish.


Almost similar to how you would present a dead drifted fly, you would put an egg sack or any bait under the float/bobber and drift it through a run. A clear indication that the fish has taken your bait is usually called "Bobber Down". This is where the bobber/float sinks below the surface. Once the bobber disappears from your sight you set the hook.


You have a main line coming from the reel, near the end of the line you attach a float or a bobber. This line can be mono or braided. At the end of the main line, attach a barrel swivel. From the swivel, attach your fluorocarbon leader. The length of the leader depends the depth you would like to fish. You can adjust the sink rate by adding split shots between your bobber and your bait.

Spin Fishing

If I were a to start fishing for Kings today without any knowledge of how to catch them, spin fishing would be the best bet for me. The number one reason is, this method is the most accessible to anglers. You can just walk-in your local Walmart and pick up the cheapest Rod and Reel Combos designed for Salmon and Steelhead. Some of the combos even comes with some items like hooks, artificial baits, and float.

Rod and Reel

For the rod, you want to have something that is at least 8 ft. This should provide some backbone to fight the big Kings. The reel needs to hold about 200 yards of line, a 4000 series reel should do the trick. The reason for this is Salmon tend to "run" while fighting them so having a lot of line ensures that you will have enough in case this happens.


The same technique used for Centrepin fishing can be used for spin fishing setup. The main difference is with spin fishing is you have the advantage of presenting a different kind of bait. You can switch to float fishing to using in-line spinners with relative ease.


I usually spool my reel with 17lb test mono line as the main line. From the main line I attach a barrel swivel the to a fluorocarbon leader. This allows me to change setup easily if I want to target the more aggressive fish. I would leave the treble hook at home and use a single hook instead. This lowers the chances of accidentally foul hooking a fish.

Landing Fish

Did you bring a net? "Who's Annette?" some people ask. A net is one of the most important tool you can bring to safely land a large fish. Having a person willing to net for you will increase the chances of landing the these Salmon. If you are alone however, having a net that is large enough and has a long handle would be beneficial. To increase the survival chances of the fish you landed, a rubber mesh net is a must. Something like the PLUSINNO Floating Fishing Net would be ideal.

Any of the three methods mentioned should work on catching King Salmon. Basically choose the method you prefer and fish it. You can even have a friendly competition with your friends to see who can catch more fish on each setup. Hope you find value in our post. Please do check our YouTube Channel at Also, don't forget to leave a comment below if you have suggestions on topics you would like us to cover in the future. Thank you and tight lines.