I’ve been a salmon guide for over 20 years and have extensive experience fishing for salmon for over 37 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 fishing for salmon with marshmallows was actually good.
Experimenting with different approaches, I tested whole marshmallows, ripped them into chunks, and even shaped 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, some important factors must be considered before you give up your other baits and start fishing salmon with marshmallows.
I will share my honest thoughts on using marshmallows as bait for salmon and compare marshmallows to other popular methods, which is impoartant.
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!
Using Marshmallows as Salmon Bait
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?
Salmon are opportunistic feeders and will often bite various baits, including non-food items like marshmallows. 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, instink, or habit.
This is less likely to happen in slower or still water, where salmon have ample time to examine the bait. As a result of testing I have found that marshmallows work better in faster 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
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 effective. The can be trimmed or molded to look like fish eggs.
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.
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 the marshmallows to a size of a salmon egg or a green pea, approximately 6mm to 8mm wide.
I’ve even tried using food dye to change their colors, with some success.
Selecting the Right Hook for Marshmallows
Hook type, hook 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.
For salmon fishing with mini marshmallows, I recommend using Raven Specimen Hooks or Gamakatsu Octopus hooks in sizes 6 to 8.
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
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
I will tell you the same thing I tell my clients, and this goes for any bait, not just marshmallows. Proper rigging can double or triple the amount of salmon you catch.
With improper bait rigging, a salmon can grab the bait and spit it out in seconds. I’ve seen this with my own eyes and have seen underwater videos of this. https://youtu.be/peH10oRbX4I
I always ensure that the hook point is fully exposed and not obscured by the marshmallow or any bait. An exposed hook point has a great chance of self-hooking the salmon.
Additionally, the gap of the hook should be wide enough to securely hook the salmon.
Methods for Fishing Salmon with Marshmallows
When using a bottom rig, which is also known as plunking, cast your line and allow the bait to sink to the bottom where it sits in place.
Maintain a slight slack line and when the salmon takes enough line to bend your rod, give a firm hook-set.
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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 to consume. Their cost-effectiveness and availability contribute to their popularity as salmon bait.
Comparing Marshmallows to Other Salmon Baits
I have personally caught salmon using a variety of baits, including corn, bubble gum, candies like gummy bears, Powerbait, 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.
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, skein, 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 with a proven 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 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, beads, or a worm.
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, they could potentially have caught more.
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.