Mastering the Art of Bank Fishing: The Ultimate Salmon Fishing Rig Setup

Welcome, fellow anglers, to the world of bank fishing for salmon! Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, understanding the intricacies of the

Jeffrey Fosse

Welcome, fellow anglers, to the world of bank fishing for salmon! Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, understanding the intricacies of the salmon fishing rig setup is crucial for a successful fishing expedition. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various components and techniques that will help you become a pro at bank fishing for salmon. So, grab your fishing gear and let’s dive in!

When it comes to bank fishing for salmon, having the right rig setup is the key to landing that prized catch. A well-designed rig not only increases your chances of success but also enhances the overall fishing experience. From selecting the appropriate rod and reel to choosing the perfect bait, every aspect plays a vital role in achieving optimal results. So, let’s explore the essentials of the salmon fishing rig setup, step by step.

Selecting the Ideal Rod and Reel

Summary: Choosing the right rod and reel combination is crucial for bank fishing salmon. We will discuss the factors to consider and recommend the best options for an efficient and rewarding fishing experience.

Factors to Consider

When selecting a rod and reel for bank fishing salmon, there are a few key factors to consider. Firstly, consider the rod’s length and action. Longer rods, typically between 8 to 10 feet, provide better casting distance and control over your line. As for action, a medium to medium-heavy rod is ideal, as it offers the right balance of strength and flexibility to handle salmon’s powerful strikes.

Another important factor is the reel’s size and gear ratio. Opt for a reel with a high gear ratio, such as 6:1 or higher, as it allows for faster retrieval, especially when dealing with strong and fast-swimming salmon. Additionally, ensure that the reel has a smooth drag system to handle the high-intensity fights that salmon are known for.

Recommended Options

For bank fishing salmon, some popular rod and reel combinations include:

1. Shimano Stradic CI4+FB Spinning Reel paired with a G. Loomis E6X Salmon Mooching Rod.

2. Penn Battle II Spinning Reel paired with a Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod.

3. Daiwa Lexa 400 HD Baitcasting Reel paired with a Okuma Cedros CJ-65S Spinning Rod.

These combinations offer the right blend of strength, sensitivity, and durability to handle the challenges of bank fishing for salmon.

Understanding the Line and Leader

Summary: The line and leader are essential components of a salmon fishing rig setup. We will explore the different types, strengths, and lengths of lines and leaders, as well as provide tips on selecting the most suitable ones for bank fishing.

Types of Fishing Lines

When it comes to fishing lines, two popular options for salmon fishing are monofilament and braided lines. Monofilament lines are more forgiving and offer good knot strength, making them suitable for beginners. On the other hand, braided lines have a smaller diameter, resulting in increased sensitivity and better hook sets. However, they may require the use of a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to prevent line visibility.

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Choosing the Right Line Strength

The line strength you choose depends on the size of the salmon you’re targeting and the fishing conditions. For smaller salmon species, such as pink or coho, a line strength of 8 to 12 pounds should suffice. However, for larger species like Chinook or Atlantic salmon, opt for lines with strengths ranging from 15 to 30 pounds. It’s crucial to match your line strength with the fish’s power to avoid breakages during battles.

Length of Leader

The leader is a separate section of line that is attached to the end of the mainline. It helps prevent fish from seeing the thicker fishing line and provides additional strength. When bank fishing for salmon, a leader length of 2 to 4 feet is generally sufficient. However, if you’re targeting particularly wary or line-shy salmon, consider extending the leader to 6 to 8 feet to increase your chances of success.

Exploring Effective Bait Options

Summary: Selecting the right bait is crucial when bank fishing for salmon. We will guide you through the top bait options, including lures, flies, and natural bait, and offer tips on when and how to use them effectively.


Lures are a popular choice for bank fishing salmon, as they mimic the natural prey of these fish and entice them into striking. Some effective lure options for salmon include spoons, spinners, and plugs. When selecting lures, consider the water conditions and the salmon species you’re targeting. Brightly colored lures, such as those with silver or gold finishes, tend to work well in clear water, while darker or more vibrant colors are suitable for murky or stained water.


Fly fishing for salmon from the bank can be incredibly rewarding. Flies imitate insects or baitfish and are typically presented using a fly rod and reel setup. Popular fly patterns for salmon include Woolly Buggers, Egg Sucking Leeches, and Egg Patterns. Experiment with different colors and sizes to find the ones that attract the most attention from salmon in your fishing spot.

Natural Bait

Using natural bait, such as salmon roe, shrimp, or herring, can be highly effective when bank fishing for salmon. These baits release natural scents that attract salmon from a distance. When using natural bait, make sure to rig it properly on your fishing rig to ensure it stays securely in place. Additionally, check local fishing regulations to ensure that using natural bait is permitted in the area you plan to fish.

Mastering the Art of Rigging

Summary: Proper rigging techniques can make a significant difference in your salmon fishing success. We will walk you through the step-by-step process of rigging your setup, including tying knots, attaching swivels, and incorporating attractants.

Tying the Improved Clinch Knot

The Improved Clinch Knot is a versatile knot that is commonly used to tie hooks, lures, or swivels to the fishing line. To tie this knot, follow these steps:

  1. Thread the tag end of the line through the eye of the hook or swivel.
  2. Wrap the tag end around the standing line for 5 to 7 turns.
  3. Pass the tag end through the loop above the eye of the hook or swivel.
  4. Thread the tag end through the larger loop created by Step 3.
  5. Moisten the knot and tighten it by pulling the tag end and the standing line simultaneously.
  6. Trim any excess tag end.
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Attaching Swivels

Swivels are essential components in a salmon fishing rig setup, as they prevent the line from tangling and twisting. To attach a swivel, use a Palomar knot or an improved clinch knot. Make sure the swivel is securely attached to the mainline, as it will bear the weight of the fish during fights.

Incorporating Attractants

Adding attractants to your fishing rig can significantly enhance its effectiveness. Scented bait oils and gels, such as those made from herring or shrimp, can entice salmon by releasing enticing aromas into the water. Apply the attractant directly to your bait or lure to increase its appeal. Additionally, consider incorporating attractant beads or scented yarn into your rig to create additional visual and olfactory stimuli.

Navigating the World of Weights and Sinkers

Summary: Understanding the role of weights and sinkers in bank fishing for salmon is essential. We will discuss the different types, sizes, and applications of weights and sinkers, helping you optimize your rig setup for various fishing conditions.

Types of Weights and Sinkers

There are several types of weights and sinkers available for bank fishing salmon, each serving a specific purpose. Some common options include:

1. Egg Sinkers: These round or oval-shaped sinkers are versatile and can be used in various fishing setups. They are often used in conjunction with a sliding rig, allowing the salmon to take the bait without feeling the weight.

2. Bank Sinkers: Bank sinkers have a flat, streamlined shape that helps them resist strong currents and stay in place. They are ideal for fishing in rivers or areas with heavy water flow.

3. Split Shot Sinkers: Split shot sinkers are small, removable weights that can be easily added or removed from the line. They are perfect for adjusting the depth at which your bait is presented.

Selecting the Right Size and Application

The size of the weight or sinker you choose depends on multiple factors, including water depth, current speed, and the weight of your bait. As a general rule of thumb, start with a lighter weight and gradually increase it until you find the optimal balance. Itis important to ensure that your weight is heavy enough to keep your bait near the bottom, where salmon are known to feed.

In areas with fast currents, using heavier sinkers like bank sinkers may be necessary to maintain control and prevent your rig from drifting too much. On the other hand, in calmer waters or when fishing closer to the surface, lighter weights such as split shot sinkers may be more appropriate.

Experimentation is key when it comes to selecting the right size and application of weights and sinkers. Adjusting the weight and position of your sinker can make a significant difference in your success rate. Keep in mind that salmon are constantly on the move, so being adaptable with your weight choices and making adjustments as needed will increase your chances of enticing a strike.

Perfecting the Presentation: Floats and Bobbers

Summary: Floats and bobbers are valuable tools for presenting your bait effectively. We will provide insights into selecting the right floats and bobbers, adjusting their positioning, and maximizing their effectiveness in attracting salmon.

Selecting the Right Floats

Floats, also known as bobbers or strike indicators, serve as visual markers that help detect when a fish bites your bait. When choosing a float for bank fishing salmon, consider the size, visibility, and buoyancy. Opt for a float that is large enough to support the weight of your bait and sensitive enough to respond to subtle movements or bites. Brightly colored floats are often preferred, as they are easier to spot against the water’s surface.

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Adjusting Float Position

Adjusting the position of your float is crucial for presenting your bait at the desired depth. Start by setting your float at a depth slightly shallower than the water you plan to fish. Gradually lower the float until your bait is just above the bottom, where salmon are likely to be feeding. Pay attention to any changes in the water depth or current, as this may require adjusting the float position accordingly.

Maximizing Effectiveness with Bobbers

Bobbers, also known as slip floats, are an excellent option for presenting your bait at varying depths. Unlike fixed floats, bobbers allow your bait to move freely, giving it a more natural presentation. To use a bobber, thread your mainline through the hollow center of the bobber, and then attach a stopper knot or a small bead above the bobber to prevent it from sliding further. This setup allows you to adjust the depth of your bait easily and effectively target different sections of the water column where salmon may be cruising.

Advanced Techniques for Bank Fishing Success

Summary: Elevate your bank fishing game with advanced techniques that can significantly boost your chances of success. We will explore drift fishing, backbouncing, and other proven methods that will take your salmon fishing rig setup to the next level.

Drift Fishing

Drift fishing involves allowing your bait or lure to drift naturally with the current while periodically making slight adjustments to maintain the desired depth and presentation. This technique is particularly effective when targeting salmon that are actively feeding and moving along river channels or near drop-offs. Use a combination of weights and floats to control the drift and keep your bait in the strike zone.


Backbouncing is a technique commonly used by anglers fishing from a drifting boat, but it can also be adapted for bank fishing. It involves slowly bouncing your bait along the river or streambed, imitating a wounded or distressed prey. To employ this technique from the bank, cast your bait upstream and allow it to sink to the bottom. Then, retrieve the line slowly while occasionally lifting and dropping your rod tip to create the bouncing motion.

Side Drifting

Side drifting is another effective technique for bank fishing salmon in rivers or streams. It involves casting your bait upstream at an angle and allowing it to drift downstream. By adjusting the speed of your retrieve and the angle of your cast, you can cover a larger area and present your bait in different sections of the water column. This technique can be particularly effective when targeting salmon that are holding in deeper pools or along the edges of fast-moving currents.

Bottom Bouncing

Bottom bouncing is a technique that allows you to keep your bait near the riverbed while simultaneously covering a larger area. Attach a weight to your line and allow it to bounce along the bottom as you retrieve the line slowly. The bouncing motion creates vibrations and attracts the attention of nearby salmon. This technique is especially effective when fishing in areas with rocky or uneven riverbeds.

In conclusion, bank fishing for salmon requires not only patience and skill but also a well-designed rig setup. By understanding the intricacies of selecting the ideal rod and reel, choosing the right line and leader, and mastering rigging techniques, you will be well on your way to a rewarding salmon fishing experience. Remember to experiment with different bait options, weights, floats, and advanced techniques to find what works best for you. So, gear up, head to your favorite fishing spot, and enjoy the thrill of bank fishing for salmon like never before!

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