Radencich Salmon Flies Salmon Fly How to Target King Salmon

How to Target King Salmon

How to Target King Salmon post thumbnail image

King Salmon, also known as Chinook Salmon, are the largest and most prized of all salmon species. Their size and fighting spirit make them a favourite among anglers. If you’re looking to target King Salmon, you need to be prepared with the right knowledge and gear. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to successfully catch King Salmon, from understanding their behaviour to selecting the best equipment and techniques.

Understanding King Salmon Behavior

To effectively target King Salmon, you need to understand their behaviour. King Salmon are known for their migratory patterns. They spend most of their lives in the ocean but return to freshwater rivers to spawn. During this migration, they are at their most vulnerable and accessible to anglers. Typically, King Salmon runs occur from late spring to early fall, with peak seasons varying by location.

King Salmon prefer deep, cold waters and are often found in large rivers with strong currents. They are also known to be held in deep pools and near underwater structures where they can rest before continuing their journey upstream.

King Salmon fish in the river

How to Target King Salmon

Choosing the Right Gear

Having the right gear is crucial when targeting King Salmon. Due to their size and strength, you’ll need robust equipment to handle the challenge.

Rods and Reels

Opt for a medium-heavy to heavy action rod paired with a sturdy reel. A baitcasting reel or a high-capacity spinning reel is ideal, as they offer the strength and line capacity needed for long battles with these powerful fish.


Use a strong fishing line, typically 20-40 lb test. Braided lines are popular due to their strength and sensitivity, allowing you to feel even the slightest bites.

Lures and Baits

King Salmon are attracted to a variety of lures and baits. Spoons, spinners, and plugs are effective for mimicking the movements of their natural prey. Additionally, using bait such as herring, roe, or shrimp can increase your chances of success.

Techniques for Targeting King Salmon

There are several techniques you can use to target King Salmon effectively. Here are some of the most popular methods:


Trolling is one of the most effective ways to target King Salmon, especially in large bodies of water. Use downriggers to get your lures or baits to the desired depth. Maintain a slow, steady speed to mimic the natural movement of prey.

Drift Fishing

Drift fishing involves letting your bait drift naturally with the current. This technique works well in rivers where King Salmon are known to hold. Use a weight to keep your bait near the bottom, and watch for any movement indicating a bite.

Casting and Retrieving

In areas where King Salmon are actively feeding, casting and retrieving can be highly effective. Cast your lure upstream and retrieve it with a slow, steady motion, allowing it to pass naturally through the water column.

Fly Fishing

For those who enjoy fly fishing, targeting King Salmon with large streamers or egg patterns can be a thrilling experience. Use a heavy fly rod and sinking line to get your fly down to the fish’s level.

Best Locations to Target King Salmon

Knowing where to fish is just as important as how you fish. Here are some top locations for targeting King Salmon:

  • Alaska: Alaska is renowned for its King Salmon runs, with rivers like the Kenai, Kasilof, and Nushagak offering prime fishing opportunities.
  • Pacific Northwest: States like Washington and Oregon have numerous rivers, such as the Columbia and Willamette, that host significant King Salmon runs.
  • Great Lakes: The Great Lakes region, particularly Lake Michigan and its tributaries, is another excellent area for targeting King Salmon.
  • British Columbia: The rivers of British Columbia, such as the Fraser and Skeena, are famous for their robust King Salmon populations.

Tips for Success

Here are some additional tips to help you successfully target King Salmon:

Be Patient: King Salmon can be elusive, so patience is key. Be prepared to spend time on the water and adapt your techniques as needed.

Check Regulations: Always check local fishing regulations before heading out. Ensure you have the proper licenses and are aware of any specific rules or restrictions for King Salmon fishing.

Stay Informed: Talk to local anglers, guides, and tackle shops to get the latest information on King Salmon runs and successful techniques.


Targeting King Salmon is a thrilling and rewarding experience for any angler. By understanding their behavior, choosing the right gear, and employing effective techniques, you can increase your chances of landing these majestic fish. Remember, patience and persistence are key. With the right approach and a bit of luck, you’ll be reeling in King Salmon in no time. Happy fishing!

Related Post