8 Best Salmon Lures for Rivers – 2023 Buyer’s Guide

Last updated on August 18th, 2023

Leonard Friedrich

Fishing for salmon is an exciting adventure that can bring great rewards. With the right lure, you can catch more and bigger fish with less effort. But what are the best lures for salmon? From spinners to spoons, crankbaits to flies and jigs – there’s a wide variety of options out there. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the top choices when it comes to finding the best salmon lure so you know exactly which one will be perfect for your next fishing trip.

Best Salmon Lures: selection of different lures such as spinners, jigs and flies.
Spinners, crankbaits and jigs can work well for salmon

Table of Contents:

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Different Types of Salmon Fishing Lures

The different species of salmon such as Coho salmon, King Salmon, Chum Salmon and Sockeye Salmon as well as the Atlantic Salmon are some of the most sought after fish to catch on a fishing rod. In order to have success you can try different kinds of salmon lures. 

Sockeye Salmon During Spawning
Sockeye Salmon During Spawning


Spinner Lure for Salmon
Selecting a Spinner Lure for Salmon

Spinners are a popular choice for salmon fishing due to their versatility and effectiveness. Spinners come in a multitude of designs, sizes, and hues, so anglers can find the ideal spinner for any circumstance. The most common type of spinner used in salmon fishing is the Mepps or Rooster Tail spinner. These spinners have blades that rotate around a wire shaft when retrieved through the water column. Other popular types include inline spinners such as Panther Martins or Blue Foxes which feature an inline blade design rather than rotating blades like traditional spinners do.

To use a spinner effectively, anglers should get the lay of the land and cast their lure past where they anticipate fish are located in relation to any structure or cover present. It is important to adjust your retrieve speed until you hit on what works for that day’s conditions; during low light periods going faster tends to be more effective whereas slowing down often leads to more strikes when visibility is high due to factors like water temperature etcetera.


Spoon Salmon Lures
Spoons for salmon fishing

Spoons are another popular lure for salmon fishing. Spoons come in an array of designs, sizes and hues to target a range of fish species. There are several types of spoons that can be used for salmon fishing, including the classic spoon, the trolling spoon, the jigging spoon and the casting spoon. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to catching salmon.

No single spoon type is ideal for every situation; the appropriate selection must be tailored to the specific water and target species. The type of spoon you use will depend on what kind of water you’re fishing in as well as what kind of fish you’re targeting. In general, larger spoons work better in deeper waters while smaller ones work best in shallow waters or streams with fast currents.

When it comes to casting spoons, keep the line tight and ensure that your bait remains close enough to shore for predators like salmon to take notice. Always reel in at a steady pace and stay vigilant for any tugs or signs of a bite on the rod tip – this technique is sure to bring home the bacon. Make sure you practice your spooning skills until you’ve got them down pat; with some luck, you’ll be hooking salmon in no time.


Crankbaits for Salmon
A box of crankbait salmon lures

Crankbaits, a favorite among salmon anglers, are available in an array of shapes and sizes and can be employed in numerous ways. There are three main types of crankbaits: shallow-diving, medium-diving, and deep-diving. Shallow-diving crankbaits work best when the water is calm or slightly choppy; these lures move just below the surface of the water. Medium-diving crankbaits are great for when there’s some wind blowing or moderate waves; these lures dive deeper than shallow cranks but still remain relatively close to the surface. Finally, deep-diving crankbaits should be used on days with heavy winds and large waves; these lures sink quickly down into deeper waters where fish may be hiding from rough conditions above.

When using a crankbait it’s important to remember that different speeds will produce different results. For example, if you’re using a shallow diving lure then slow retrieval works best – this allows the bait to move more naturally through the water which entices more strikes from salmon. If you’re using a medium or deep diving lure then faster retrieval is usually better – this makes it easier for fish to spot your bait before it passes them by too quickly. It’s also important to vary your retrieve speed throughout your cast – varying between fast and slow retrieves will help keep salmon interested in what you’re offering them.

Crankbaits are a great choice for salmon fishing, as they can be used in various ways to target the fish. For those looking to explore other options, jigs and flies may provide an even better opportunity for success when targeting salmon.


A jig setup for salmon fishing

Jigs are one of the most popular and effective lures for catching salmon. A jig is a weighted hook with a lead head that can be used to catch fish in deep or shallow water. The weight of the jig helps it sink quickly, allowing you to target deeper areas where salmon may be hiding. Jigs come in various sizes and colors

When using jigs, it’s important to understand how they move through the water column. Salmon tend to feed near the bottom during colder months when they’re more sluggish, so heavier jigs are often used at this time of year. During warmer months when salmon become more active, lighter jigs can be used as they will move faster through the water column and entice strikes from hungry fish.

Another key factor in successful jigging is presentation – how you present your lure to the fish is just as important as what type of lure you use! It’s important to pay attention to current speed and direction when casting your line out; if there’s too much current then your bait won’t stay still long enough for a strike!

If there isn’t enough current then your bait won’t have any action which could also result in no bites! Experimenting with different speeds and directions until you find something that works is key here – don’t give up after just one cast! It’s also essential that you keep an eye on your rod tip while retrieving – watch closely for any subtle movements or taps indicating a bite from a curious salmon!

No matter the lure you select, be it a spinnerbait, spoon crankbait ,fly or jig, knowledge of your target species’ behavior patterns and proper technique will always give you an advantage when attempting to land that prized specimen.


Fly Salmon Fishing Lures
A classic salmon fly

Fly fishing for salmon is an exciting and rewarding experience. It requires patience, skill, and the right equipment to be successful. Fly fishing involves using a lightweight rod with specialized line and lures designed to imitate small fish or insects that salmon feed on in their natural environment.

The type of fly used when fly fishing for salmon depends largely on the species of salmon being targeted as well as the time of year. In general, flies can be divided into two categories: Wet flies and dry flies. Wet flies are typically weighted so they sink below the surface where most adult salmon swim while dry flies float above it where juvenile fish tend to congregate.

Dry flies are generally smaller than wet ones because they need less weight in order to stay afloat on top of the water’s surface where juvenile Salmon prefer feeding areas located near shorelines or shallow pools within rivers or streams. Flies such as mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, midges and terrestrials like grasshoppers all make great choices when targeting these younger fish during hatches throughout springtime months when insect activity increases dramatically around bodies of fresh water habitats frequented by Salmon populations.

Best Salmon Lures of 2023

Now that you know what kinds of salmon fishing lures you can use to catch these fish, let’s take a look at the best lures for salmon. We’ve compiled our favorites for spinners, spoons, crankbaits and jigs. Let’s go.

Mepps Aglia Plain

Mepps Aglia Plain Treble Fishing
Mepps Aglia Plain


  • Type of lure: spinner bait
  • Treble hook
  • Different colors
  • Different weights

Why we picked it: If I had to pick only one salmon fishing lure to fish all season it would be the Mepps Aglia Plain. This spinner lure has proved its fishability over decades and across continents. It comes in various different sizes and colors. The higher the number on the blade, the bigger the spinner lure.

The Mepps Aglia Plain is easy to cast even for beginner and intermediate fishermen. As soon as it hits the water, tighten the line and feel how the spinner bait creates its vibrations underwater. This makes it almost irresistible to fish predators such as salmon. I like playing around with the retrieve speeds depending on the fishing conditions. When the water is still really cold, make sure to reel it in a little slower as the fish tend to react a little slower.

When it comes to color I like the classic looks of a copper Mepps Aglia Plain. But I’ve found neon colors such as the one pictured above to work well too. When the water gets a little murky, these colors shine and can often entice a take that didn’t happen the first time you fished a certain run.

My verdict: the Mepps Aglia Plain is one of my all time favorites. It doesn’t come cheap, yet it’s still affordable and it’s proven to catch fish. The only downside in my eyes is the fact that you cannot change the treble hook for a single one.

Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners

Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners


  • Set includes four spinner lures
  • Colors: silver, yellow, orange, blue
  • Weighted spinners of 15gr
  • Single hook

Why we picked it: Here’s another one of my favorite salmon fishing lures and the best thing about the Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners is the fact that it’s an entire set that includes four spinners in different colors which is great if you don’t exactly know which conditions to expect once you get to the water.

The silver one out of this set is certainly the most traditional salmon lure but here again, I’ve found the neon colorways of the Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners to work really well in murkier conditions. One of my favorite aspects of this spinner lure, is its weight. At 15 gr it’s quite heavy which makes the Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners an ideal lure to fish those deeper runs and pools where salmon often hold to rest.

Another aspect that I personally like is the single hook. From my experience you don’t loose more fish using a single hook. And on a positive note, it’s much better in case you’re practicing catch and release fishing. If you’re serious about salmon fishing, you should add the Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners to your tackle box.

My verdict: If you’re looking for a heavy salmon lure to get down to where the fish often hold, make sure to check out the Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners. I am confident to say you won’t be disappointed after putting this spinner lure to the test.

Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon

Luhr Jensen Coyote Salmon Spoon
Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon


  • Size: 5″
  • Colors: 16 variants
  • Exchangeable hook
  • Single hook

Why we picked it: Ask any fishermen in the Pacific Northwest for their favorite salmon fishing lure, and I’d be pretty confident to say they’ll mention the Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon if they are into fishing spoons. The classic design (this colorway is called Army Truck – for whatever reason) works well in most situations. Here again, if you prefer something a little more flashy, no problem, the Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon is available in multiple neon colors.

One thing I really like about the Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon is the fact that it comes with a single hook out of that box, plus that hook is exchangeable in case you decide to go for another single hook or even a treble hook if your prefer. If you’re looking for a trolling spoon, the Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon should definitely be part of your consideration. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised about its casting capabilities as well. You often don’t have to cast extremely far to reach the lies where the salmon are holding. And boy does this lure play well once it hits the water.

One last aspect that speaks for the Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon is the fact that it’s constructed from corrosion resistant materials which makes it fit to be fished in salty environments as well.

My verdict: Do you want to catch a salmon while trolling from a boat? Look no further than the Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoon. But like I said, don’t underestimate its casting capabilities that make the Luhr one of the best salmon lures for bank fishing.

Prime Lures Casting Fishing Spoons

Prime Lures Casting Fishing Spoons
Prime Lures Spoons


  • Set includes four spoon lures
  • Colors: silver/brass – silver/copper
  • Sizes: 2/5oz and 6/8oz
  • Single hook

Why we picked it: Just like with the Prime Lures Weighted Fishing Spinners set, the Prime Lures Spoons is a set that consists of four spoon lures for salmon. You can choose from two sizes: 2/5oz and 6/8oz. Go for the bigger size if you’re fishing big rivers for big fish.

The same holds true what I said about the Prime Spinner set: these spoon lures are made from the highest grade components which means they will last you longer and their action in the water is just great. The single hook design makes the Prime Lures Spoons fish friendly in case you hook a juvenile fish for example.

Go for the smaller, more lightweight version if you’re fishing shallower areas as the heavier model of the Prime Lures Spoons might hit the bottom too quickly.

My verdict: The Prime Lures Spoons is the right choice if you know you want to fish a spoon for salmon but are not 100% committed on the color. This set enables you to test different colorways and see how they work out for you.

Yakima Bait Flatfish F-7

Yakima Bait Flatfish F-7 Salmon Lure
Yakima Bait Flatfish F-7


  • Excellent trolling lure
  • 10+ colorways
  • Size: 2 1/4 inch
  • Treble hook (Exchangeable)

Why we picked it: Wasn’t I just talking about great trolling lures for salmon? Well, here’s another one worth taking a look at: Yakima Bait Flatfish F-7. It might not look like an exciting lure for salmon at first glance but wait till you see it in action. Great thing about this plug is the fact that it also fishes great if you cast your lure out into the current. When it comes to colors, my personal favorite is the blue and red since it’s classic color combination that I’ve had a lot of success with (works great if you’re after steelhead as well).

When it comes to hooks, the Yakima Bait Flatfish F-7 comes with a treble hook out of the box. In this case it’s not so easy to exchange it for a single hook since I’ve had the experience that it becomes a little off-balance at times. Best would be for you to play around with it and see if it works for you. If the water is not crystal clear, again try using one of the neon colors, they often catch fish when other colorways don’t.

My verdict: I was hesitant when a friend of mine told me to give the Yakima Bait Flatfish F-7 when out for salmon. But I have to admit he was right. Go, give it a try – it’s a very versatile lure.

Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Fishing Lure

Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Fishing Lure
Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Fishing Lure


  • Multiple colors
  • Two treble hooks
  • Size: 4 inch
  • Weight: 13 grams

Why we picked it: If there’s a name synonymous with crankbaits it’s Rapala in my eyes. The action of these lures such as the Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Fishing Lure is second to none. Yes, it carries the name “saltwater” but boy this is a great lure for salmon in freshwater as well. If you’re fishing estuaries for silver bullets, make sure to check out this crankbait lure.

Out of the box, the Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Fishing Lure comes with two treble hooks but you can exchange them for a single hook if you want to. The color design on this Blue Mackerel version is true to life and particularly impressive if there’s a bit of sun out.

This colorway is my overall favorite on the Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Fishing Lure but “Blue Sardine” and the “Glass Ghost” as well. Yes, these lures for salmon don’t come cheap but they’re of amazing quality and once you’ll give them I try I am pretty sure they’ll find a permanent way into your salmon lure box.

Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig

Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig: one of the best salmon lures for bank fishing
Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig


  • Different colors available
  • Ultra sharp Mustad hook
  • Weight: 0.5 ounces

Why we picked it: Jig fishing for salmon has become increasingly popular with recreational anglers in recent years and there’s a reason for it: this technique catches fish. If you want to give jig lures for salmon a try, you can’t go wrong with the Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig. It features all the essentials of a quality jig lure such as a weighted head and an ultra sharp hook.

Fishing the Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig is easy since you cast your line out and then retrieve the lure in twitching motions which makes the jig bounce through the water or across the bottom of a river making the Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig one of the best salmon lures for bank fishing.

The fibres on the Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig gives this salmon lure a bit of a fly fishing character which might be one of the reason it works so well. Colorwise I like the blue and green (since it’s a proven combination in fly fishing) but the yellow and pink can work wonders as well.

Spro Spro Rkstar Salmon Jig Pk/Wh 

Spro Spro Rkstar Salmon Jig Pk/Wh 
Spro Spro Rkstar Salmon Jig Pk/Wh 


  • Color: Pink
  • Gamakatsu Jig Hook
  • Weight: 0.5 ounces
  • Marabou flash for extra attraction

Why we picked it: As the last product in this big guide on the best salmon lures for rivers, I want to share another jig favorite of mine that has proven time and time again to catch salmon (and steelhead): the Spro Spro Rkstar Salmon Jig Pk/Wh. There are multiple features that I like in particular: the longer shaped head makes this jig fish perfectly over any bottom. The pink marabou flash creates an incredible action when reeled in.

On top of that, the Spro Spro Rkstar Salmon Jig Pk/Wh features a realistic eye on the head of the jig that further increases the attraction of this lure. To round it off, the Spro Spro Rkstar Salmon Jig Pk/Wh comes with a Gamakatsu jig hook that is ultra sharp and strong and arguably one of the best in the business.

My verdict: Any serious salmon jig fishermen needs this lure in his tackle box.

Salmon Fishing Gear

Rods: When it comes to selecting a rod for salmon fishing, you want something that’s strong enough to handle their size and power but also sensitive enough to detect subtle bites. A medium-heavy or heavy action rod in the 7-foot range is usually ideal. Spinning rods are great for casting light lures while baitcasting models are better suited for heavier baits like spoons and jigs.

Reels: Reel selection depends on your preferred technique as well as personal preference. For spinning tackle, choose a reel with good drag capabilities so you can battle large fish without losing them at the boat or shoreline. Baitcasters work best when paired with heavier lines such as braided line or monofilament in 15-pound test or higher depending on water conditions and type of lure used.

Sockeye Salmon caught by fly fisherman

FAQs in Relation to Best Salmon Lures

What is the best lure for salmon?

The optimal bait for catching salmon varies based on the size and species of fish sought. For larger, more aggressive salmon, a spoon or spinners are great choices. For smaller, less active fish, small crankbaits and jigs can be effective. Additionally, scented soft plastics like worms or grubs can also work well in some areas. Experiment with different lures until you find what works best for your area and the conditions that day – success often comes down to trial and error.

What spinners are best for salmon?

Spinners are a great option for anglers looking to catch salmon, as they generate considerable vibration and motion in the water which can draw salmon from far away. They create a lot of vibration and movement in the water which attracts salmon from long distances. When choosing a spinner for salmon, look for ones with larger blades that can move more water and produce greater flash. For example, Mepps Aglia Spinners have been proven effective when targeting salmon as they feature large blades that create plenty of vibration and sparkle underwater. Additionally, try using spinners with silver or gold finishes as these colors tend to be particularly attractive to salmons’ eyesight.

What is the best lure for salmon and steelhead?

The best lure for salmon and steelhead depends on the conditions. Generally, spoons are a great choice as they mimic small baitfish and can be used in any water depth. Spinnerbaits with single or multiple blades can also work well to attract these fish. Soft plastic lures such as worms, grubs, and craws can also be effective when targeting these species in shallow waters. Lastly, jigs tipped with scented baits like shrimp or minnows may prove successful depending on the season and location of fishing.

Will salmon bite lures?

Yes, salmon can bite lures. Depending on the type of lure and the conditions in which it is used, salmon may be attracted to certain types of lures more than others. When it comes to catching salmon, diversifying your approach is essential as they are known for being finicky eaters. To discover the most effective lure for a given situation, it is advisable to try different colors, sizes, shapes and materials until you find one that proves successful.


Fishing for salmon can be an exhilarating and satisfying pursuit, particularly when you have the right baits. Whether it’s spinners, spoons, crankbaits or flies and jigs – each type of lure has its own unique characteristics that can help anglers land their desired catch. With a bit of practice and research on what works best for your area’s salmon population, you will be able to find success with the best salmon lures available.

Our Expertise

Leonard Friedrich and his team spend countless hours on the water testing new gear almost every day. Our goal is to give you the honest truth about the products we put to the test. We never get paid for reviews. We see it as our challenge to “translate” the pros and cons of each product for you in our big gear guides. We hope that the information we provide is valuable to you so you can make a solid purchase decision.

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