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7 Best Salmon Lures for Bank Fishing

Imagine casting your lure at the river bank and feeling a tug. Not just any tug, but the aggressive tug of a king salmon. In those few seconds, you taste the yummy smoked salmon even before reeling out the fish.

Well, you could only get this with the right lure. Most anglers understand the importance of having lures in a tackle box. However, only a few know the best salmon lures for river fishing. This article suggests the best lures when fishing for salmon and a few tactics to use them.

best salmon lures for bank fishing
Source: Canva Pro

Best Salmon Lures For Bank Fishing

River fishing for this freshwater species is different from fishing in the oceans or high seas. Thus, you need the best fishing lures that can help you catch salmon at relatively shallow depths.

Here are the seven best salmon lures for river fishing:

1. Spinners

Spinners are the most popular salmon lures. In summer, if you visit the banks of rivers or even the great lakes, you’ll find anglers with all colors and shades of spinners.

This enthusiastic use by many anglers is simply because spinners work. And while many are not ignorant of this fact, only a few use it right.

The strike zone for the most aggressive salmon is in deep water. And this applies whether or not you’re fishing from a boat. This is not to say that you can’t catch more fish at other depths.

But I can’t guarantee that you’ll reel in King Salmon in shallow water. It follows that casting and reeling in back quickly will do you no good.

To make the most effective use of this lure, you’ll have to cast straight to the base of the river and swing. Ensure that you use a snap swivel, so the line doesn’t twist when you allow it to drift.

You’ll get the best bites when the line forms an arc at about 45″ degrees. Since the craziest grabs happen at this point, you’ll be needing a longer rod and tight lines. I’ll advise that you hold on tightly to your rod at this point.

If you are big on savage grabs, you should own a savage spinner. I only fish for kings, and the Blue Fox No. 5 Vibrax Spinner is my go-to savage spinner.

Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Plated 5/8 Oz Fishing Lures
  • The flash and action of these lures is truly legendary.
  • The free-turning brass gear housed within the lure reduces...
  • .625 oz

It’s strong and can handle a good swing at reasonable water depths. When it starts to go too deep, the line tends to snap.


2. Spoons

Spoon fishing is no doubt the most effective way to find salmon. Whether you’re fishing in high-rise water or low & clear water, you can always trust spoons to help you catch this fish.

The trick to a successful fishing adventure, though, is to know what spoon to use.

Salmon, generally speaking, are attracted to bright colors. So many great lake salmon anglers stick to spoons in the colors green, yellow, silver, orange, or any other bright color spoon. But the visibility of your water is a determinant for spoon choice in most cases.

At the riverbank, the color the salmon observes is a bit different from what the angler sees. This fish observes the color red at the river’s surface due to the wavelength of sunlight. Thus, you can make use of a spoon with red patterns.

They come in different sizes. Usually, they are 3-5 inches long. But since salmon view baitfish in varying sizes each season, anglers keep adjusting the sizes of their spoon.

Magnum spoons are most suitable in the late summer. This is because baitfish appear to be 5″ long this season. In April, May, June, 3″ and 4″ are perfect baitfish replicas.

I suggest you go for the thin and light spoon for spoon action. Even at a slow retrieve, they still produce the best flutter action at a 1.8 to 2.8 mph speed.

Thicker and heavier spoons do not flutter so well on their own. They require a 2.5 to 3.5 maximum trolling speed to be optimally active.

I love Blue Fox Matrixx spoons, particularly the 3.5″ ones that come in purple and blue holograms. However, you should note that there is no such thing as a perfect spoon. You have to keep adjusting the spoon color until this freshwater species approves.


3. Plugs

Plugs are one of the many amazing salmon fishing lures. This lure features a fish-like simulation piece with multiple attached to it. They are usually painted in several colors (usually bright) to resemble natural feed.

There are three plug varieties; solid, cut, and wobbling. And of all three, nothing beats the wobbling plug. It has a systemic flutter in the water that attracts salmon easily. Unlike the two other plug types, you don’t have to reel it in and out to produce optimal action.

Note, however, that plugs function best when used at the bottom of rivers. They’ll require you to cast deep, allow it to wobble a bit to attract attention, and then reel it back to the surface.

You may not get a huge catch. But plugs, particularly the Luhr Jensen Kwikfish K15 Rattling Lure, will definitely come up with some salmon chasing it.

Luhr Jensen K15 Kwikfish (Rattle) Silver/Chartreuse Head, 5" (5414-015-0994)
  • K15 Kwikfish (Rattle) Silver / Chartreuse Head
  • K15 Kwikfish (Rattle) Silver / Chartreuse Head
  • K15 Kwikfish (Rattle) Silver / Chartreuse Head


4. Float Fishing

Bobber fishing is an angling tactic that has been used for many years. I like to think of bobbers as bite indicators rather than actual lures. Though mostly used for freshwater fish, its versatility extends to certain saltwater fishes. 

When salmon fishing with floats, the rig setup determines the success of your fishing enterprise, there are three major types of bobber fig setup; Fixed bobber rig, slip bobber rig, and Bobber & jig rig.

All three setups are efficient. However, the fixed bobber rig setup happens to be the most suitable for bank fishing. It’s easy to set up and even easier to use.

Thread your line through the bobber rings and attach it to the hook. Ensure to attach lure above the hook in split directions. For optimal output, you can make use of salmon eggs.

The water is shallow, usually at an underwater depth of 5″. You could use a fish finder to locate feeding lanes or weed beds. When you do, cast your bobber rig. Keep adjusting the depth till the fish bites.

I’ll advise that the size of your bobber pairs well with the size of your lure. If the bobber is too small, it’ll sink. Where it’s too large, the bobber will resist bites as it’ll keep floating above the water.

The Lindy Thill Wobble Bobber is just the right size for salmon fishing.

Thill Wobble Bobber - 1/8 oz.
  • Unique shape and weighting automatically provide jigging...
  • Shape and weight offers unparallelled casting distance
  • Reach farther and fish deeper from the bank


5. Crankbaits

Crankbait are a medium-sized river fishing lure. They are either made of plastic, metal, or wood. And just like plugs, they are painted to look like baitfish.

What makes them particularly useful is their protruding plastic lip. This lip allows crankbaits to dive, triggering nearby salmon fishes and causing them to strike.

It makes this lure useful at the end of the spawning season when fishes are less interested in feeding. You should try out the Cotton Cordell Big O Square-Lip Crankbait. Works great in shallow waters.

Cotton Cordell Big O Square-Lip Crankbait Fishing Lure
  • It's the Cotton Cordell Big O's first advance since Cotton...
  • It has a tougher lip and today’s hottest color patterns,...
  • They retain that original fish-catching action, buoyant body...

I suggest that you make use of crankbaits with thick and deep bodies. But ensure that whichever lure you select isn’t too heavy to wobble as the wobble is the traction point of most baits.


6. Twitching Jigs

Jigs are one of the effective yet stressful salmon lures. The key to catching the best salmon with this lure is to ensure that the metal baitfish keeps twitching violently in the water. It is this twitching action that attracts salmon.

But like I said, using this lure is very stressful. You have to keep jigging if you want to get any action. And if your jig rod is too heavy, you’ll weary your arm fast. So the trick is to use light fishing outfits. i.e., light reels and rods.

Jigs are also down riggers, so you need to get your lure to the base of the water. My strategy is to reel down till the rod tip is only a few inches above the water surface.

Then I start jigging until the rod tip forms a 45° arc. To get the best bass twitching action for salmon, I recommend the Mustad’s Addicted Tailout Twitter Jig.

Mustad Addicted Tailout Twitcher Jig .50 oz - UV Chartruese-Anadro Blue- Green Machine
  • Utilizing Ultrapoint hooks, UV fibers and jig heads, Mustad...
  • High-end EP fibers combined with flash to specifically to...
  • Think bass fishing techniques and action, but for salmon


7. Flashers

Flashers are great lures. They create a simulation of a salmon splashing away with forage fish. Which consequently triggers nearby salmon to scoop around for injured fishes. But I wouldn’t use a flasher in isolation.

In my experience, flashers work best when attached to other lures. In other words, they are complementary fishing lures.

You can pair them with spinners, crankbaits, and even live baits. Note, however, that flashers are ideally paired with lures that have a touch of red on them. It generates more traction.

While all flashers vibrate, not all glow, so I suggest that you the Pro-Troll Fishing SpinRay Flasher.

Pro-Troll Fishing Products SpinRay Flasher with EChip, Super UV On UV
  • Double bend rear fins give it a smooth steady spinning...
  • Embedded EChip bait technology duplicates the electrical...
  • Fish shaped with eyes

This product not only projects bait fish illusions. It also spins and flashes a shimmering color that is visible in almost all kinds of water.


Conclusion

Bank fishing for salmon is a very exciting experience. At least, I find it exciting. I love watching a huge salmon hit aggressively at my fishing lures. And that’s because I always go to the river armed with the most effective lures.

Try any of the already suggested lures and leave the river bank a happy angler.

James Brandon
Fishing Expert
James Brandon has been fishing and enjoying the adventure for over 14 years, with San Diego, California as his best spot. He likes any animal under the sea, but has a reserved interest in Sharks.
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