11 Best Rods For Salmon Fishing In Rivers

The best rods for salmon fishing

It’s been a busy summer and the guide season is in full swing now, but one of my clients just asked me about the best salmon rods for the upcoming salmon runs, so I decided to do this article about the best rods for salmon fishing in rivers for him and for you.

The best salmon rod for casting lures is the 9’2 Lamiglas Infinity and for the best economy rod for salmon fishing, it’s the 9’6 Lamiglas X-11 Salmon rod or the 10’6 Fenwick HMX Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod.

The best float rod for salmon fishing is the Lamiglas “The Closer” Centerpin Rod.

This article is part of a series starting with our very popular article called Salmon Fishing: A Complete Guide, where we discuss everything we could think about for salmon fishing.

Update: July 2022 – One new rod was tested and added to the list

The Best Rods For Salmon Fishing In Rivers

Using the right rod when salmon fishing is important because a good rod will help you present your lure or bait better, it will help you cast farther, and it will also help you control and land more big salmon.

These are all longer rods than your traditional 7-foot rods that some guys think are suitable for salmon fishing in rivers. The longer rods have many benefits and will help you land more salmon.

But not any long fishing rod will be good for salmon so let’s get into the best rods for salmon fishing in rivers.

Why the Best Rods For Salmon Are Long?

Long rods are by far the better way to go when fishing for salmon in rivers. The best rod length for salmon fishing will depend on the method of fishing you do the most. So why are longer rods better?

The longer rods protect lighter lines from breaking, they allow you to get longer casts, and they allow you to keep the line higher and off the rocks when the big salmon are running up or down the river and through shallow sections of the river.

These are things some anglers don’t consider, but as a river guide, I’ve seen it all, and I want to use the rods that help my clients land more salmon.

On this page, I will recommend the best rods for different budgets and let you know which rods are best for each method.

I even list some inexpensive rods because I know there are many guys that can’t afford or don’t want to spend $500.00+ on a rod for salmon fishing that only lasts two to three months of the year.

Best Rod Length For Salmon

If you are buying a rod you should make sure you get the right length, and as I mentioned previously, the method you use will determine the best rod length for salmon.

The best rod length for salmon fishing if you float fish is 13 to 14 feet long. The best rod for Drift Fishing and plunking methods is 11 to 13 feet. And the best rod for casting lures is 7’6 to 9’6. However, size of the river can also determine which end of that range you should be at.

On smaller rivers, shorter rods might be best. On very large rivers, longer rods are usually best.

It might take you a while to get used to fishing with a 13 or 14 foot rod but most anglers and guides that use these rods find it difficult or awkward to go back to shorter rods.

Best Salmon Rods For Casting Lures

The other rods will cost you more but you get what you pay for and when it comes to big strong salmon, you are less likely to break a more expensive rod. Sometimes buying cheap means you buy twice, so keep this in mind when buying a good salmon rod.

Lamiglas Infinity Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

The Lamiglas Infinity salmon and steelhead rods are one of the best rods I have used and therefore I recommend it for salmon fishing for anglers that want to cast lures to salmon on the great lakes rivers.

This rod comes in sizes from 7’9 to 10’6, but for casting lures to big salmon, I recommend the 9’2 rod model number ISS92MHS.


  • Graphite handles with grip panels
  • Lightweight technique-specific blanks
  • High-quality stainless steel guides with Zirconia inserts
  • Manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty

If you want to float fish more than casting a lure, consider the 10’6 rod. This rod is a quality rod that sells for about $359.00.

Lamiglas SI Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

Lamiglas SI Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod For Salmon Fishing

The 9’4 Lamiglas SI Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod might be the best rod on the planet for casting lures to salmon, especially on bigger faster rivers. I find using this rod gives my lots of power to turn big salmon even in fast currents.

The only downside to this rod is the price which is around $425.00, but if you want the best, then you’ll have to pay for it.

  • Fuji K titanium guides
  • Handmade precision-graphite blanks
  • Carbon fiber handle with custom grip panels
  • Manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

St. Croix Triumph Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

The St. Croix Triumph Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod is a great rod for anglers looking for a salmon rod from a great rod brand for under $150.00.

I have used a lot of Triumph rods in the past and this one is one that I can feel comfortable recommending for salmon fishing around the great lakes.

For casting lures, check out the 8’6 medium or medium-heavy model number TRSS86MF2

Lamiglas X-11 Salmon Rod

If you are looking for a rod that won’t break the bank and that will fit into most anglers budgets, the 9 foot 6 inch or the 10’6 Lamiglas X-11 Salmon rod is one of the best salmon river rods that you can use for casting lures that will cost you less than $120.00.

The LX96MSGH model is a Drift/Float/lure rod. but the LX 106 MLS is good if you intend to float fish more than throw lures.

They also have a great 8’6 rod model number LX86MHS that is excellent for the lure guys.

You also have the choice of a cork handle or a graphite handle.

The Lamiglas X11 spinning rod sells for around $109.00, depending on which model you get.

Fenwick HMX Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

Fenwick HMX Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod – This is a very popular rod for great lakes salmon and steelhead and is one that some of my buddies use. For casting lures, I recommend the medium action 10’6″ long 8-15lbs model # HMX106M-MFS-2.

This rod will run you about $109.00

A new one from Fenwick worth checking out is the Fenwick Eagle 2 Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

Best Salmon Rod Under $100: For Casting Lures

These rods will fit into most budgets because they come in under $100. However, when buying a rod in this price range, you get what you pay for.

I say that because big river salmon fighting in fast currents can put a lot of strain on a rod and these economy rods are the rods you will often here about snapping when fighting big salmon.

But if under $100 is all you want to spend on a salmon rod then these are the best salmon rods for casting lures under $100 or as a multi-purpose salmon rod.

Bass Pro Shops Fish Eagle Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rod

The 9 foot and 10 foot Heavy would be best for casting lures.

  • Premium RT3 Graphite blank
  • Carbon cross-wrap reinforced butt section
  • Sea Guide stainless steel tangle-free guides
  • Braid-friendly aluminum-oxide guide rings
  • 1-pc. skeletonized reel seat
  • Premium cork handle with reverse-taper foregrip
  • Average Price $79.99

Shimano Scimitar Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

This is a serious budget rod coming in at around $50.00. Both the 8’6 and 9 footer would be good for catching salmon in rivers.

  • Graphite composite construction
  • Full cork handle
  • Fuji aluminum oxide guides and tip

Fenwick Eagle 2 Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

Coming in at $89 to $99 this is the best salmon rod for casting lures under $100.00

  • Premium cork and TAC grips
  • Cork rod butt
  • 24T Carbon blank material
  • Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts
  • Ergonomic minimal reel seat
  • Hook keeper
  • Classic Fenwick Actions – time tested and proven from the original graphite rod company
  • 5 year limited warranty

Update: Ugly Stik Elite Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rod

I’ve had a few opportunities to try this rod while casting lures for salmon over the last couple of falls, and since I thought this was a decent rod for under $80.00, I should add it to the list.

For the price and based on all the recent positive reviews I’ve seen on it, this is another decent salmon rod at a budget price of under $80.00.

This rod felt good in the hands when fishing, and after landing a dozen big salmon, it held up well and did the job nicely.

Best Float Fishing Rods For Salmon

I float fish a lot, and I do a lot of guiding with float rods using both spinning reels and with Centerpin reels. Most float rods can be used with either type of reel since the reel seat will fit both.

If you want to know more about float fishing for salmon, check out my page Float Fishing For Salmon, but for now, check out these great float rods for salmon.

You can also use these rods for Drift Fishing or Bottom Bouncing.

3 Best Float Rods For Salmon Fishing

Guides Choice

Lamiglas The Closer Centerpin Rod $599.99

The 12 foot 2 piece medium-heavy is the best float rod for salmon fishing in rivers.

  • Perfectly balanced
  • Woven carbon fiber handle
  • Oversized black RECoil guides* 
  • Manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty

Best Salmon & Steelhead

Raven IM8 Float Rod

Not necessarily a dedicated salmon rod, but this is one of the rods I use for guiding, and it has caught hundreds of salmon on this rod and thousands of steelhead too.

For about $270.00, this is a good choice.

  • PacBay TiCH high frame guides
  • Premium quality Portuguese cork handle
  • Custom edition walnut reel seat and butt cap (select models)
  • Sliding rings with gold finish aluminum butt cap
  • Manufacturer’s Lifetime Extended Coverage
  • Manufacturer’s 1 Year Warranty Against Manufacturing Defects

Best Under $200

Lamiglas Redline HS CenterSpin Float Rod

This is a good float fishing salmon rod for under $200.00

  • Graphite black gloss blank
  • Rubber Sliding Rings for choosing any reel position, fitting any reel seat size
  • Rubberized Aluminum Butt Cap for durable protection and balance
  • Manufacturer’s lifetime limited warranty

In this article, I will discuss the best salmon rods that I, my guides, and other salmon river guides are using. If you are new to salmon fishing be sure to check out How To Fish For Great Lakes Salmon in Rivers: Guide Tactics

Other Best Rods For Salmon Fishing

Anglers will often ask me about other rods that are not on my list. The truth is that I don’t like recommending rods that I have no experience with or no knowledge of. Therefore, I can’t honestly recommend other rods even if they might be good.

The good thing is I’m always using and testing out new rods, and if one of my guides or buddies finds another great salmon rod, I will update this page.

If you have any questions or comments or even a rod for salmon fishing that you love, be sure to let me and other readers know in the comments sections below.

Tight Lines


Cool River Fishing Accessories

Simms Taco Bag

Simms Taco Bag

It’s a wet wader bag for storing your waders after a day on the water and it’s a mat to stand on to keep your feet dry when getting your waders on and off.

Duffel Bags and Stream Packs

SIMMS Duffel Bags and Stream Packs

Having a dedicated bag to pack and carry your waders, vests, boots, jackets, and more is a good idea. Waterproof and mesh bags are available.

Waterworks Release Tool

Waterworks-Lamson Ketchum Release Tool

Protects your flies from damage caused by forceps, This tool gets all hooks out easily. Even deep hooks come out with this tool.

Clip-on Magnifiers

When I flip these down to tie knots a lot of guys say ” I need to get some of those”. These are great for anyone that ties knots. Make sure they are lined up properly for the best view.

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  1. Thanks for the great info .. It’s always good to get refresher courses in different Fishing methods for Salmon And Steelhead ..
    Far as Best rods Go … Everyone has their own feel and preference they like in a rod .. Lamaglass for example doesn’t make a rod that feels good in my hand … I own a couple Lamiglass RedLine rods , they’re nice … But don’t hold a candle to my G Loomis IMX Med Hot Shot , an 8 ‘2 one piece rod that works for pulling plugs and drift fishing , Another great Rod Is the G Loomis IMX 8’6 hot shot , awesome drift rod , pull plugs do it all rod .. Also G Loomis EX6 8’2 one piece hot shot All are Med /heavy Fast action .. And lastly they really don’t make them like the older ones but Cabelas Rods , The Fish eagle 2 is versatile and affordable , great feel as a drift rod plenty of backbone .. the Loomis Rods are on the same level and price point as the Lamiglass infinity … I fish West coast bigger rivers , high flows( When we’re not in a drought ) and theses rods get it done .. Like I said Rods and reels are personal prefrence … IMO , you won’t find a better baitcasting reel for bank fishing beads for Salmon than the Shimano Curado k 200 … Bullet proof after 4 yrs of catching big Salmon and Steelhead … The Shimano Chronach MGL is great for Steelhead …buttery smooth retrieve and casts anything from small, spinners to plugs and no backlashes … Anyhow
    Thanks again