Salmon Fishing With Marshmallows

Can salmon fishing with Marshmallows catch large salmon like this one.
Can salmon fishing with Marshmallows catch large salmon like this one? And do guides and expert anglers use marshmallows? Let’s find out.

I’ve been a salmon guide for more than 20 years and have extensive experience fishing for salmon for over 36 years. About three decades ago, I first heard about people using salmon fishing with marshmallows and actually catching fish with them.

I’d already been experimenting with marshmallows for steelhead with limited success, so I decided to see if salmon fishing with marshmallows was actually good.

Experimenting with different approaches, I tested whole marshmallows, ripped them into chunks, and even shape them into small balls of various sizes.

Surprisingly, I managed to catch salmon using marshmallows as bait. Since then, I have extensively tested marshmallows under different conditions, and they have proven to be effective for both wild and stocked salmon. However, there are some important factors to consider before you give up your other baits and start fishing salmon with marshmallows.

In this article, I will share my honest thoughts on using marshmallows as bait for salmon and compare marshmallows to other popular methods. Additionally, I will provide useful tips to increase your success rate when salmon fishing with marshmallows.

Using Marshmallows as Salmon Bait

Is it true that marshmallows make good bait for salmon? Can marshmallows help you catch more salmon? Should marshmallows be your go-to bait for salmon fishing? Do professional guides use marshmallows as bait for salmon fishing? These are the questions I will answer in this article. Read on to find out!

Marshmallows are primarily known as sugary treats for kids, but they can also serve as a somewhat effective bait for salmon. Some anglers even enhance their effectiveness by adding scents or attractants to the marshmallows.

Do Marshmallows Really Work as Bait for Salmon Fishing?

While salmon are considered intelligent creatures, they are opportunistic feeders and will often bite various baits, including non-food items like marshmallows. However, it’s important to note that their curiosity, rather than the marshmallow itself, drives this feeding behavior.

It’s also worth mentioning that when an object drifts close to a salmon in a swift current, the fish has little time to inspect the bait and may grab it out of curiosity.

This is less likely to happen in slower or still water, where salmon have ample time to examine the bait. As a result, marshmallows may work better in faster water compared to slow or still water.

So, do marshmallows actually work for salmon? In my opinion, they do work to some extent. However, when compared to other baits, their effectiveness is debatable, as I will discuss further below.

Marshmallow Choices for Salmon

Some anglers do use marshmallows as bait when fishing for salmon in rivers or from piers and shorelines but which marshmallows are the most effective, or does it matter?

In my experience, the small, multi-colored mini marshmallows used for baking or snacking are the most popular choice and are the most effective. Although, these brightly colored marshmallows attract the attention of salmon, do they hold on after grabbing them?

You can also buy larger marshmallows and trim them down, as I tend to do anyways with the smaller ones.

I use marshmallows of varying colors and adjust their size based on the conditions and what I believe will entice the salmon the most.

In higher or murkier water, I choose larger and more brightly colored marshmallows. In low and clear water, I trim down the marshmallows to a size smaller than a green pea, approximately 6mm to 8mm wide.

I’ve even tried using food dye to change their colors, and I have had success with this.

Selecting the Right Hook for Marshmallows

These are good hook for your Float Fishing Leader

Factors such as hook type, size, and baiting technique are essential considerations for maximizing your success.

Choosing the right hook is crucial for successful salmon fishing with any bait, especially with marshmallows.

Experienced guides prefer hooks that significantly increase the chances of landing fish.

When looking for a great hook, you want a short shank, wide gap hook with a razor-sharp point. Not all hooks are created equal, so it’s important to choose wisely. A good hook will easily penetrate the fish’s mouth and provide a secure hold during a fight.

The Raven Specimen hook is one of the best trout hooks for most situations
Raven Specimen Hook

For salmon fishing with mini marshmallows, I recommend using Raven Specimen Hooks or Gamakatsu Octopus hooks in sizes 6 to 8.

These hooks are favored by professional guides and can enhance your chances of landing salmon using any bait, including marshmallows.

It’s best to avoid treble hooks, as they can harm fish and are challenging to remove if deeply lodged. Instead, opt for high-quality single hooks with excellent hooking and holding percentages.

Hook Size For Marshmallows

Bait and hook size
This bait is way too small for this hook which could result in the fish seeing the hook and refusing to eat the bait. Match the hook to the size of the bait.
Good Hook Size For this bait
This bait is a good size for this hook and the hook gap is wide enough to hook a fish.

Using the right hook size in relation to the size of the marshmallow bait is crucial. An oversized hook may be visible to the salmon and deter them from grabbing the bait.

On the other hand, a hook that’s too small might not effectively hook the salmon during the hookset, leading to a weaker hold while fighting the fish. Smaller hooks are also more prone to bending or breaking with large salmon.

Rigging A Marshmallow On The Hook

How to put a bait on a hook
An example of where you want to put your bait on a hook to be sure most of the hook is covered but also to be sure the hook gap is wide enough and the hook point is not covered.

I will tell you the same thing I tell my clients, and this goes for any bait, not just marshmallows. Rigging your bait properly can double or triple the amount of salmon you catch.

I’d bet many guys that claim they didn’t get a bite, probably did get a bite, they just didn’t know it. With improper rigging of the bait, a salmon can grab the bait and spit it out in seconds. I’ve seen this with my own eyes and have seen underwater video of this.

I always ensure that the hook point is fully exposed and not obscured by the marshmallow or any bait. This is important for increasing your success rate. An exposed hook point has a great chance of self hooking the salmon.

This pictures shows the placement of the bait on a short shank wide gape hook
This picture shows the placement of where the bait should go on a short shank wide gap hook. If your bait will not fit within the green area it’s probably too big for this size of hook.

Without getting into the theory behind this, I’ll tell you I’ve seen many salmon, steelhead, and trout get self-hooked simply by the current pulling on the line a bait.

If the hook point is not exposed, this will not happen.

Additionally, the gap of the hook should be wide enough to securely hook the salmon.

Methods for Fishing Salmon with Marshmallows

A bottom rig for trout , steelhead and salmon fishing ponds, lakes, and in reservoirs.
A bottom rig for trout, steelhead, and salmon fishing ponds, lakes, and in reservoirs. Use 2 to 4 pound leader for trout, 6 to 10 pound for steelhead, and 10 to 14 pound for salmon

When using a bottom rig, cast your line and allow the bait to descend to the riverbed.

Maintain a slight slack line, giving the salmon a bit of freedom before feeling the resistance, which can improve the chances of a successful hookset.

When the salmon takes enough line to bend your rod, give a firm hook-set.

Steelhead Leader Formula
My Steelhead Leader Formula when using 2 baits. You could also omit the middle bait.

For float fishing, a slip float is recommended for deeper water that exceeds the length of your rod.

When fishing in rivers, a fixed float is preferable. Instead of using round bobbers, opt for pencil-style or thin-style floats, such as the Raven FM float, which is favored by experienced guides.

Want more great salmon setups used by guides, if so check out: 5 Most Effective Salmon Fishing Rigs Used By Guides.

Finding Salmon with Marshmallows

If you’re having difficulty catching fish in a particular location, consider altering your casting range or changing spots or your method.

When using the stationary bottom rig, start with a long cast, and if you don’t get any bites within five minutes, reel in your line about 20 feet and allow the bait to rest again or completely reel in and move 50 feet over and try again.

If you continue to struggle, it may be worth exploring new fishing grounds or trying different bait options.

If you are fishing a river, make sure you cover all areas of a spot with a focus on potential concentration areas or migration routes.

For river fishing, don’t forget to check out my article on strategies for effectively covering a spot on a river.

Advanced Tips and Techniques

To increase your chances of catching salmon with marshmallows, consider the following tips:

  1. Bait your hook effectively: Push the hook through the marshmallow so that the point is exposed. This increases the likelihood of a successful hookset when the salmon bites.
  2. Minimize line visibility: Salmon have sharp eyesight and can detect fishing lines, especially heavier ones. Using a fluorocarbon leader of around 10 to 14 pounds, which is less visible underwater, can improve your success rates.
  3. Consider weather conditions: Salmon tend to be more active during overcast weather, early mornings, or late evenings. Fishing during these times can increase your chances of success.
  4. Fish at the right depth: Salmon usually swim about 1 to 3 feet from the bottom. Set your bait at this depth to increase your chances of attracting salmon. Use a floating bead to keep the marshmallows off the bottom and suspended at the appropriate depth.
  5. Add scent: Some anglers enhance their bait’s attractiveness by adding commercial scents or substances like garlic oil.

Marshmallows and Fish Safety

Marshmallows are safe for both fish and humans. Their cost-effectiveness and availability contribute to their popularity as salmon bait.

Understanding Salmon Behavior and Marshmallows

The behavior of salmon suggests that they are not particularly selective when it comes to their diet and they will grab just about anything that drifts past them..

Salmon are known to be experimental feeders and are attracted to bright colored objects, and they will often ingesting non-edible items that resemble food, such as twigs, bark, algae, rocks, corn, Powerbait, and even marshmallows.

I have personally caught salmon using a variety of baits, including corn, bubble gum, candies like gummy bears, Powerbait, corn, pieces of plastic, sponge, and even a chunk of styrofoam. Although salmon will eat this stuff, it doesn’t mean you should use any of it as bait.

I believe it’s very important to choose high-percentage baits that have been proven to be consistently effective, even for larger and more cautious wild salmon.

Comparing Marshmallows to Other Salmon Baits

Although marshmallows have gained popularity as salmon bait, they fall short compared to other baits in terms of effectiveness.

While using marshmallows can be a fun experiment, catching fish with them consistently is less unlikely.

Moreover, it’s difficult to determine if using marshmallows would yield the same or better results than using other proven baits like spawn bags or worms.

Exploring High-Percentage Baits for Best Results

To increase your chances of success, it’s better to rely on baits that have consistently proven to be effective. Professional guides typically use baits that have a higher success rate, even for selective fish and larger, more cautious wild salmon. These baits have been tested and are trusted by experienced anglers.

Baits like worms, minnows, leeches, fish eggs, shrimp, skein, flies, insects, and grubs have shown higher success rates and consistency in enticing salmon to bite and hold onto the bait, significantly improving the chances of landing them.

These are the baits you should be using, and I discuss these and more on my page 10 Best Salmon Baits: How And When To Use Them

Marshmallows Good Or Bad For Salmon Fishing? The Verdict

Based on my experience, I wouldn’t often rely on marshmallows as the primary bait for salmon fishing, especially when guiding clients.

While some anglers may have success with marshmallows, there’s no evidence to suggest that a salmon caught on a marshmallow wouldn’t have taken another bait, such as spawn or worms.

It’s also challenging to determine if an angler using marshmallows is catching all the fish in a spot or only a small percentage. It’s also difficult to say that had that angler used a proven bait instead if they could potentially yield a higher number of salmon.

Should You Use Marshmallows for Salmon Fishing?

I believe marshmallows can be used as an additional bait to try when other better-proven baits are not yielding results. However, I wouldn’t recommend them as the primary choice. It’s always advisable to use baits that have a higher success rate and are trusted by professional guides.

Do Salmon Guides Use Marshmallows?

Most top salmon guides would likely choose not to use marshmallows as bait for salmon fishing, except as a last resort. A good guide’s primary goal is to ensure their clients have the best chance of catching a significant number of salmon. Therefore, they typically rely on superior baits that have proven effectiveness.

Salmon Fishing with Marshmallows: Q&A

If you have any questions, thoughts, or advice regarding salmon fishing with marshmallows, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Tight Lines,


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