Welcome to the most comprehensive article on the best trolling spoons for salmon. With the help of numerous salmon anglers and salmon charter captains, we will provide insights on most effective salmon spoons, and the best spoon colors and sizes used throughout the seasons, as well as which colors and sizes the charter guides use at different depths.
This article is an amalgamation of information from many sources and from many experts who have been experimenting and perfecting spoon trolling for salmon for many years. We did the research for you to find out what salmon anglers and salmon charter captains are saying their most effective lures are.
And if you are new to open-water salmon fishing, be sure to check out my article Trolling For Salmon: A Complete Guide.
Best Spoons For Salmon Fishing
Anglers and guides know that the best trolling spoons for salmon can vary based on factors like the time of year, the water clarity, and light. You will also hear the experts discussing the importance of considering various brands and sizes for better success.
Keep in mind when reading this that everyone has their favorite trolling spoons, and someone’s favorite spoon may not work for you under certain conditions.
That’s why myself and other fishing guides will have multiple spoon options, and we will rotate through different sizes and colors when we’re not having success.
Choosing The Right Trolling Spoons For Salmon
The best spoon for trolling depends also depends on the target species and the forage they are feeding on.
While coho salmon might prefer a certain size and color, king salmon my prefer something different.
Not all spoons are the same. There are different types of salmon spoons for different applications.
Most Popular Trolling Spoon Brands
- Moonshine Lures: Said to be the best for glo-spoons.
- Michigan Stinger
- Northern King Spoons
- Sliver Streak
- Yeck Spoons
- AP Tackleworks spoons
Casting Vs Trolling Spoons
Versatility of Spoons: Spoons can be used to catch almost any species in various situations. However, it’s essential to differentiate between casting spoons and trolling spoons. Trolling spoons are typically thinner, allowing them to have more action at various speeds. However, they can be easily bent by larger fish.
Casting spoons are used for spoon fishing for salmon fishing on rivers and from shorelines and they are thicker and heavier so they can be casted far.
Material and Durability of Trolling Spoons
- Material Composition: Most fishing spoons are made from metals like stainless steel, brass, or nickel. The type of metal used can significantly influence the spoon’s durability. For instance, stainless steel spoons tend to be more resistant to corrosion and wear than brass spoons. Softer metal and thinner spoons can be easily bent by larger fish.
- Coating & Finish: Many spoons come with a protective coating or finish, such as chrome or gold plating. This not only adds to the lure’s visual appeal but also provides an added layer of protection against the elements, especially saltwater, which can be corrosive. Most spoons are also painted and some will have reflective tape on them.
- Thickness: The thickness of the spoon plays a direct role in its durability. Thicker spoons are generally more durable and less prone to bending or warping. However, they might not flutter as much in the water, and a nice wobble or flutter is a desired action for most salmon species.
- Bending Of Spoons: Thinner spoons and softer medals will bend. Some anglers will purposely bend spoons to get a certain action. Spoons can bend for other reasons, which we discuss below. Because of the abuse a big salmon can put on a spoon, they only last so long, so when you find a very effective spoon, make sure you have a few extra as backup.
Pro Tip: Captain Caleb from Migrator Fishing Charters says that Moonshine lures are durable and can last a long time if not lost. They withstand repeated use and still perform effectively.
- It is affected by the type of line, leader size, trolling speed, and attractors like flashers and dodgers.
- A spoon’s performance can differ based on depth and, some say, even water temperature can effect spoon action.
- Test your spoon’s performance at the side of the boat at various speeds so you know how it’s running at various depths and speeds.
- Every different blank (size, shape, and brand) produces different actions at different speeds.
But spoon size can vary depending on the time of year because baitfish sizes vary between spring and fall. Most salmon trollers will emphasize matching the size of the baitfish, which varies between spring and fall.
Spring Spoons: In spring, expert anglers prefers bigger baits becuase the baitfish like Ailewife are as big as they are going to be just before the spawn, so a magnum sized spoon will be best.
Summer Spoons and Fall Spoons: While in the summer and fall, smaller spoons work well as they resemble the younger baitfish.
Some experts stress the importance of spoon size over the actual pattern or color, and they suggesting that both smaller and larger spoons can be effective depending on the day. For this reason, it makes sense to not only rotate through your color option, but also sizes to determine what the salmon want.
It’s crucial to match the lure with the predominant forage in the water. Have salmon, spoons that imitate alewives, gizzard shad, or smelt.
I still remember when I owned a tackle store, and the salmon guys would come in asking for specific trolling lure colors with crazy names like”Monkey Puke”, “Chicken Wing”, and ” Kevorkian” and “wonderbread”.
Some experts believe that while color is important, too much emphasis is placed on it. However, most anglers do have a preference for specific colors based on the type of fish they are targeting and based on past experience.
For salmon, many experts prefer spoons with green, blue, black, and chartreuse with silver backs. Other colors include white, purple, and orange, and mixed color combinations.
I have heard salmon trollers explain a strategy of starting the season with blue colors, transitioning to greens, and ending with orange and purple colors. You will also hear anglers recommending always running at least one black spoon and one green spoon.
Mornings and Low Light Spoons: Contrasting colors on spoons make them more visible to fish. A combination of UV and glow-in-the-dark strips with non-glowing parts can be effective, especially in low-light conditions.
Lures with RV tape are effective as they flash in the water, attracting fish.
Sunny Days: Lures like: Wonder Bread, Flounder Pounders, and other flounder varieties are recommended. Green versions are preferred in sunny conditions, while blue versions are ideal for overcast days.
Cloudy Days: The saying is “Dark days dark colors”. Spoons like the Carbon 14 Moonshine spoons with black glowbacks and black glo-ladder are recommended. UV spoons are also recommended.
Deep Trolling Spoons
The deeper you’re fishing the darker the spoon which is why you will hear guys recommending black glo colors. However green and blue will also work down deep.
Glow Spoons, When, Where, And How
In the morning, Captain Caleb uses a spreader light to illuminate the lures, but a flashlight or even the light from your phone can make the spoons glow.
Once the sun is up, there is no need to enhance the glow further with light, and often non-glo spoons are preferred, but you can continue to run dull glowing spoons in the later morning if they are still producing.
Anglers often say that the Moonshine lures have a superior glow quality. They retain their glow for extended periods in the water, and it doesn’t take much light to get them glowing again. They can glow even after being stored in the dark for extended periods
Pro Tip: It’s essential for the lures to appear natural in the water, so over-glowing them can make them look unnatural and can deter fish.
Presentation Of Spoons
Trolling spoons are often the go-to lure to run off the downriggers, but they can also be used when running Dipsy Divers, leader core lines, or wire lines.
Expert salmon trollers recommend keeping things simple for beginners, suggesting spoons be used on the downriggers and flasher/flies on the dipsys.
Experts will stress the importance of presentation, including using inline flashers, trolling speeds, leader sizes, and even slowing and speeding up the boat or running zig-zag patterns.
Leaders For Spoons
For smaller spoons, using a lighter leader will get you better action from the spoon. The diameter of the leader can impact the action of the spoon so often lighter is better.
Water temperature plays a role in determining trolling speed. In colder waters, fish are more lethargic, so slower speeds are often used. However, salmon will chase baits at higher speeds even in cold water.
Most spoons perform best at speeds between 2 to 2.5 miles per hour.
Pro Tip: Experts also emphasized investing in a good fishfinder and a good speed and temp unit rather than collecting every spoon pattern there is.
Scents, Attractants, and Additives
Many anglers use scents or atractants to help increase hookups. It’s not uncommon for salmon to follow and swipe at a spoon and eve grab a spoon multiple times. So adding a scent can keep the salmon attentions.
Anglers will use scents like:
- Dr Juice
- Smelly Jelly – Herring
- Alewife Scent
- Herring Scent with UV
- Anchovy oil
- Sardine Scent and oil
- Mikes lunker lotion Herring or anchovy
Bending of Spoons
- Purposeful Bending: Some anglers intentionally bend their spoons to achieve a specific action or wobble in the water. This can be effective for mimicking injured baitfish. However, repeated bending can weaken the metal and reduce the spoon’s overall lifespan.
- Accidental Bending: Spoons can bend accidentally, especially when they come into contact with hard surfaces, like rocks, or when reeling in a large fish, or when a salmon twists in the net. It’s essential to check the spoon’s shape and action after such incidents and straighten it if necessary.
- Effects on Action: A bent spoon can have a different action in the water. In some cases, a slight bend might enhance the lure’s effectiveness, but in others, it might deter fish. Anglers should be aware of how the spoon’s shape affects its performance. Run the lure at the side of the boat at various speeds to ensure you have the right action.
- Repeated Bending: Continuously bending a spoon back and forth can lead to metal fatigue. Over time, this can weaken the spoon, making it more susceptible to breaking when fighting big fish.
Spoon, Lure, and Flies Spread
Many anglers will run a spread of lures which include spoons. Learning how and where to run your spoons is important.
It makes sense to have a good supply of flashers and atomic flies to compliment your spoons.
List Of Most Popular Spoon Brands and Colors
We did the research for you to find out what anglers and charter captains are saying are their favorite lures, sizes, and colors.
Recommendations from various users:
|Lure Name||Number of Recommendations|
|Michigan Stinger NBK mag||3|
|Moonshine Flounder pounder||3|
|Dreamweaver Super Slim Glow Froggy||2|
|Northern King Lazer Spook||2|
|Northern King 42nd (Green Thunder with a silver and glow ladder staggered)||2|
|Northern King Blue Dolphin (with an orange ladder down the front)||2|
|NBK Green Glow||2|
|Stinger Green hornet||2|
|Stinger Glow Alewive||2|
|Yecks Coyote or a purple thunder||1|
|kevorkian nk dl28||1|
|stinger christmas tree (green and purple with matching ladders)||1|
|NK Carmel Dolphin||1|
|Nk Lemon Ice||1|
|RV Wonder Bread (both magnum and regular)||1|
|Moonshine Carbon 14 – Captain Carls Most Effective Color||1|
|Moonshine Silver Carbon||1|
|Stinger Mag Gator UV in green & yellow||1|
|Stinger Mag Gator UV in green & yellow||1|
NOTE: NK means Northern King, NBK is Michigan Stingers, DW is Dreamweaver
Best Trolling Spoons For Salmon Fishing Q&A
If you have any questions or would like to add your intel on the best trolling spoons for salmon fishing, let me know in the comments sections below.