10 Amazing Lures for Coho Salmon in Rivers

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Best Coho Salmon River Fishing Lures

I always look forward to fall Coho Salmon fishing season. The rivers come alive with activity once we enter our wet season and blesses us with the opportunity to harvest salmon as they key in on their natal steams. I have compiled a list of the best Coho Salmon fishing lures. Each lure on this list has its own place and time. And you should really consider having a selection of each when you head to your local river to catch Coho Salmon.

Coho Salmon Fishing in Rivers

September, October and November are prime months to head to the local river and fish for Coho Salmon. As the Coho Salmon return to our western rivers and start their spawning mission, there are many techniques and lures that will trigger a bite. As a river salmon fisherman, there are many factors that determine the where, when and how to catch Coho Salmon.

  1. Where on the river are you fishing? Tidewater? Middle? Tributary?
  2. What time of the season is it?
  3. How high is the river level?
  4. How long have the Coho Salmon been in the river?

These are the questions that determine what will be the best technique and lures that trigger a Coho Salmon to bite.

These are my favorite Coho Salmon fishing lures…

Vibrax Spinner

The Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner is a wildly popular lure in every river that hosts a Coho Salmon fishery. This is one of the most well-recognized lures for Coho Salmon fishing. A well placed cast and a slow retrieve with a Vibrax Spinner can entice these curious fish. I will fish a Vibrax Spinner in a slow current or any area on the edge of the river that has no current but enough depth to hold salmon. Make sure you have a good selection of Size 4 and 5, occasionally a Size 6 if the rivers are high and the water is murky.

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If you really want to trigger aggressive Coho Salmon in big water, rig a small plastic squid on the hook for a larger profile.

Steelhead Slammer Spinners

Hand crafted in Oregon, designed by a river angler with a passion for quality gear. Steelhead Slammer Spinners have a low-profile brass body that sinks fast into the strike zone. I like the lower profile body design, as it seems to sink in the current quickly.

Yakima Baits Maglip Plug

Mag Lip Plugs are one of my favorite lures when I am fishing from my drift boat. These plugs run true and are offered in many great color patterns. My personal favorite size is the Maglip 3.5, which seems to work well in any water condition. But if you want a larger profile, the Maglip 4.0 is effective and you can easily wrap a sardine fillet on the belly. Back-trolling in the river current, or troll it in the lower tidal stretches of our rivers.

Brad’s Wiggler Plug

When I am Coho Salmon fishing on my local Seattle area rivers, I always have a good assortment of Brad’s Wigglers on my boat. They can be used for trolling, back-trolling or casting into deep dead water, pools or slow water.

Dick Nite Spoons

Sometimes Coho Salmon are very finicky when they enter the lower stretches of our rivers. This is especially true when Coho move into the rivers before the fall rain rises the river levels. When a larger lure is in danger of spooking them, a smaller presentation is all you need to entice their spawning aggression. And there is no doubt that the tiny Dick Nite Spoon is the prime low-profile lure.

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It is almost comical how such a small lure can produce a limit of hefty Coho Salmon. This is the go-to lure for Puget Sound’s Skagit River, Stilliquamish River, Snohomish River, Skykomish River and Green River. When Coho are fickle biters, even the smallest change in spoon color or size can make all the difference. Drift fishing with Dick Nites can be the best method in some areas.

Coho Salmon Twitching Jigs

Fishing for Coho Salmon with twitching jigs has become a mainstream technique. A jigging action that gives a marabou or rabbit fur jig the lift-and-fall-lift-and-fall action will trigger violent strikes. If the Coho are tucked in tight to woody structure or milling around dead water on the edge of the river, break out the twitching jigs!

Aerojig Rabbit Salmon Twitching Jig

Aerojig Rabbit Twitching Jig comes in 3/8 Ounce and 1/2 Ounce. The rabbit fur body has a little added action with rubber legs that makes it deadly effective.

Aerojig Death Jig for Coho Salmon Fishing

Aerojig Death Jig pairs a super durable plastic hoochie skirt on a 1/2 Ounce jighead. It’s that perfect combination of weight and action that makes this a top choice for Coho Salmon fishing everywhere on the Pacific Coast.

Lil Corky Drift Bobber

If you haven’t heard of a Yakima Baits Corky, you are probably just getting into fishing around here. It is one of the most iconic fishing lures here in Salmon Country. It is a very important component of the drift fishing technique. What does a Corky do, you ask? It slides down to the front of a hook and acts as buoyancy to lift the presentation off the bottom of the river bed. There are a hundred color offerings, and anglers are very selective in their choice of color and size. It is often paired with a tuft of colorful yarn or cured salmon roe on the hook.

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Cheater Drift Bobber

Similar in make-up and purpose to a Corky, but made by Beau Mac Tackle. Drift fish the Beau Mac Cheater with a tuft of yarn or a cluster of cured salmon roe. If you are a veteran salmon fisherman, you might argue that they are a little more buoyant than a Corky. In my opinion they are interchangeable.

Floats and Cured Salmon Roe

A Coho Salmon’s spawning aggression is often triggered by the smell and visual presentation of a cluster of salmon eggs. If the spot you are fishing is deeper than 4 feet and has a slow current, floating bait under a bobber is a deadly tactic. So next time you catch and keep a female salmon, make sure you have a jar of salmon egg cure at home and save those eggs! A 1/2 to 1 ounce bobber is perfect for most Coho Salmon fishing scenarios.

Time to head to the river and catch some Coho Salmon!

Now that I’ve shared my favorite Coho Salmon lures, you have a great start to catch your first Coho Salmon. It’s time to get out and explore new rivers and experiment with some new tackle. Good luck out there.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>