13 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.

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The Best Rods For Salmon Fishing In Rivers

Using the right rod when salmon fishing is important because a good rod enures I present the lure or bait better, it improves my casting distance, and it will also help me control and land more big salmon.

I use and recommend longer rods than a traditional 7-foot rod. Which are not always suitable for salmon fishing in rivers. The longer rods have many benefits and will help land more salmon.

Why Are Salmon Rods 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 used. So why are longer rods better?

The longer rods protect lighter lines from breaking, they allow me to get longer casts, and they allow me 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.

There are different rods for budgets of all sizes and methods.

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

When buying a rod, make sure to get the right length, and as I mentioned previously, the method used will determine the best rod length for salmon.

  • Float Fishing Rods: The best rod length for salmon fishing when float fishing is 13 to 14 feet long.
  • Drift Fishing Rods: The best rod for Drift Fishing and plunking methods is 11 to 13 feet.
  • Casting Lures: The best rod for casting lures is 7’6 to 9’6.
  • Size Of River: The 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

Some rods will cost 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.

Lamiglas Infinity Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

The Lamiglas Infinity salmon and steelhead rods are among the best rods I have used, and I recommend them for salmon fishing for anglers who want to cast lures to salmon in 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 me 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

When looking for a rod that won’t break the bank and that will fit into most budgets, the 9 foot 6-inch or the 10’6 Lamiglas X-11 Salmn rod is one of the best salmon river rods for casting lures under $130.00.

The LX96MSGH model is a Drift/Float/lure rod. 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 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 is 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.

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 hear about them snapping when fighting big salmon.

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

Daiwa Acculite Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod

The 8’6 or 9-foot Medium Heavy would be best for casting lures.

  • HVF carbon fiber technology blanks
  • Fuji Guides aluminum oxide guide rings – diamond polished to an ultra-smooth finish
  • Natural cork grips
  • Manufacturer’s one-year limited warranty 
  • Average Price $59.99

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

Okuma Connoisseur Steelhead Spinning Rod

I’ve been using the Okuma Connoisseur Steelhead Spinning Rod for great lakes salmon. The 2-piece 24-ton carbon blank is both tough and responsive, providing an excellent feel.

Its UFR-II tip technology gives precision casting, but still handles big fish. Thanks to the stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts, it’s lightweight performance. Comes with a graphite reel seat, full cork handle grips, and a stainless steel hook keeper.

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 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.

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

3 Best Salmon Float Fishing Rods

Guides Choice

Lamiglas The Closer Centerpin Rod
Lamiglas The Closer Centerpin Rod

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 Centerpin rod

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

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.

Salmon Twitching Rods

My favorite rod for twitching jigs for coho salmon and Great Lakes king salmon is the G. Loomis IMX Twitching and Spinning Rod. This is a rod that is actually designed for twitching jigs for salmon or steelhead in rivers. Check Price

Other Suitable rods are:

  • Okuma SST New Generation Spinning Rod: 7’6 Medium Heavy -MODEL: SST-S-763MHA, or the 8 foot Medium Heavy – MODEL: SST-S-802MHA – Check Price
  • St. Croix Premier Spinning Rods: The 7’6 Medium Heavy or heavy power Premier is an excellent choice for twitching jigs and lure fishing for larger salmon. Check Price

Other Salmon Rods

For plug fishing for salmon, check out:

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.

Tight Lines


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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

    1. Hi James,

      Near the bottom of this article I updated it with a few salmon twitching and jigging rods to consider.

      On of my favorite rods for twitching jigs for coho salmon and great lakes kings is the G. Loomis IMX Twitching and Spinning Rod.


      1. Thanks for your response Graham! In this article you recommend LX86MHS for a lure salmon rod. Lamiglass describes this rod to also be used for twitching, would you agree? I am in the market for a dual purpose salmon rod for both lures and twitching jigs if possible. I live in NW Washington and we receive a variety of salmon species.


          1. Thanks Graham. Have you considered adding a Patreon account to your webpage? You seem very experienced and produce quality educational content with comprehensive advice that many people I’m sure would gladly donate to you in appreciation.

          2. Hi James,

            Thanks for the advice, I’ve considered it but I would rather provide the information for free, I like to teach and talk fishing. The best thing readers can do for me is to share the website with friends and fellow anglers whenever they can.