Salmon Fishing With Powerbait: A Comprehensive Guide

Salmon fishing with Powerbait can be good for large salmon like this one help by one of my guides.
Salmon fishing with Powerbait can be good for large salmon like this one help by one of my guides.

In this article, I’ll discuss my experience and knowledge on salmon fishing with Powerbait. With my background as an experienced fisherman and guide of 22 years, I’ve had the opportunity to use and test Berkley Powerbait Doughs under various conditions, targeting both wild and stocked salmon species.

This article also includes my unbiased assessment of salmon fishing with Powerbait dough and how it compares to salmon fishing with other baits.

And, as a bonus, I’ll provide the 5 most effective Powerbiat rigs that I use when guiding.

Salmon Fishing With Berkley Powerbait

An angler salmon fishing with Powerbait

I wish to establish up front that my conclusions are derived from my own experiences and acquired skills and are nearly my opinions. I am in no way affiliated with Berkley or its products.

I will tell you that “yes”, Berkley Powerbait can be used to catch salmon of all species once these salmon enter the river to spawn. However, there are some things you should know before you go and stock up on Powerbait Dough and fish salmon fishing.

I highly recommend reading to the very end to get see my conclusions and true thought about salmon fishing with Powerbait.

About PowerBait for Salmon Fishing

A jar of Powerbait Dough
A jar of Powerbait Dough

PowerBait, also called dough bait, is a moldable substance that can be rolled into tiny balls using your hands. It is made from PVC, oil-based resin, and an array of scent-related compounds.

The manufacturer contends that this bait releases a tantalizing aroma that draws in fish.

I have read that the company says that scientific trials have confirmed it’s better than salmon eggs and other pre-made baits.

However, I know from experience in other industries, that trials can be manipulated and misleading, especially when done by the manufacturer. I’m not saying that’s the case here, but since I’m skeptical I decided to find out in real-life conditions if Powerbait truly is better than salmon eggs.

And since I have a vast experience with salmon fishing with just about every salmon bait there is, and knowledge on salmon feeding behavior, I think I can quickly figure out if Berkley Powerbait is good for salmon fishing.

Is Powerbait Natural?

A jar of Powerbait Glitter Dough
A jar of Powerbait Glitter Dough

PowerBait is promoted as a natural-scent trout bait that mimics live bait in taste and appearance. However, it’s not entirely natural.

The bait is fortified with natural ingredients commonly found in traditional trout bait to enhance its ability to attract salmon.

Why Salmon Eat Powerbait

Contrary to common assumptions, salmon will often eat just about anything that drifts past them that is small enough and looks like potential food. This means there are times when salmon will readily feed on various baits, including Powerbait.

I don’t know if this is out of hunger, instinct, or habit, or out of aggression, but regardless, some salmon will eat any well-presented bait.

This is in my opinion why salmon will occasionally grab a well-presented Powerbait.

I mean, Why would they not eat a Powerbait rolled in a little ball on a hook when they will eat a hard glass bead? In fact, many anglers are claiming beads are their most effective bait for salmon in the last few years, and you can easily make your Powerbait small and round like a bead.

Choosing PowerBait For River Salmon

Powerbait Eggs
Powerbait Eggs

Berkley Powerbait Dough is a favored choice among anglers targeting rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout, but more and more anglers have been trying it for salmon fishing in rivers.

There are many options of colors and a few formulas some even contain glitter which is believed to be an attractant.

My favorite Powerbait product is the Berkley Powerbait Worm
My favorite Powerbait product is the Berkley Powerbait Worm

Berkley also has other Powerbait products such as Powerbait eggs, and Berkley trout worms which without a doubt are very effective for trout, steelhead, and salmon. This is one Powerbait product I truly believe it.

However, the effectiveness of Powerbait doughs is questionable. What I will tell you is that they can be successful under specific circumstances combined with a proper rig and a good presentation.

Some Berkley Products To Consider: I’ve been able to catch salmon on all of these.

  • Berkley PowerBait Magnum Power Eggs
  • Berkley PowerBait Magnum Garlic Power Eggs
  • Berkley PowerBait Power Wigglers
  • Berkley PowerBait Floating Trout Bait Dough
  • Berkley PowerBait Natural Scent Glitter Floating Trout Bait Dough
  • Berkley PowerBait Power Honey Worm
  • Berkley Trout Worm: My most effective Berkley product

One thing I will tell you is that, like any bait, the bait can be ineffective when combined with the wrong hook and the wrong-sized leader.

Selecting the Perfect Powerbait Hook

Choosing the right hook is crucial for successful salmon fishing with Powerbait. Often, anglers struggling to catch fish do so because of a bad hook or because of how they put the bait on the hook.

Even though bait-holder hooks are frequently recommended by other websites, it’s essential to note that top guides and seasoned anglers do not use bait-holder hooks and instead prefer high-quality hooks with a high hooking and high holding rate.

Hooks like the Raven Specimen or Gamakatsu Octopus hooks in sizes 6 to 10 are good choices for Powerbait.

When rigging Powerbait on a hook, it’s important to leave space in the hook gap and leave the hook point exposed. I’ll explain why this is so important below.

Choosing the Appropriate PowerBait for Salmon

To enhance your success rates, it’s advisable to buy 2-3 jars of PowerBait in different scents and colors.

This provides alternatives to match the salmon’s preferences based on the fishing conditions.

Floating baits are ideal for still fishing methods like plunking, but sinking versions are best if you plan to fish under a float, or if you are bottom bouncing or drift fishing.

Some PowerBait options come in pre-sized nugget shapes as well, making them easy to press onto your hooks.

Choosing the Most Attractive PowerBait Color for Salmon

In terms of selecting your PowerBait’s color, bright shades such as orange, green, and rainbow tend to be more effective in attracting salmon.

These vibrant colors increase the bait’s visibility, especially in murky water conditions.

Also, PowerBait with glitter can reflect sunlight, further enhancing its allure.

Colors like orange closely mimic salmon eggs, a preferred food for salmon. Yellow PowerBait, available in “corn” and “cheese” flavors, has also proven to be successful.

Basic Strategies for Salmon Fishing with PowerBait

PowerBait is particularly effective when targeting stocked hatchery salmon.

However, it’s worth noting that PowerBait can also be successful for catching wild salmon, particularly in fast-moving water where salmon have less time to scrutinize the bait.

The most prevalent technique involves molding a marble-sized ball of Powerbait Trout Bait dough onto your hook.

Use effective salmon fishing methods like Float Fishing, Bottom Bouncing, Drift Fishing, Bobber Doggin, and even Plunking.

Advanced PowerBait Tips and Techniques

Here are some extra tips to augment your success when fishing for salmon with PowerBait:

Bait Your Hook Properly: Correctly mold the PowerBait onto your hook by rolling it into a ball and pushing the hook through. Mold the bait around the hook, ensuring the hook’s point is exposed. This technique increases the likelihood of a firm hookset when the salmon bites.

Consider Line Visibility: Salmon have sharp eyesight and can often detect fishing lines, especially heavier test lines used in slow clear currents and in bright light. To enhance your chances of success, go for a lighter test fluorocarbon leader, such as 10 to 14-pound test, which is less likely to be noticed by salmon.

Fish in Suitable Weather Conditions: Salmon tend to feed more actively during overcast weather conditions and in the early morning and late evening. Time your fishing trips accordingly to optimize your success rates.

Experiment with PowerBait Varieties and Colors: If you’re not having luck with a particular PowerBait color or type, don’t hesitate to switch things up. Combine different colors or try a different scent to find the blend that attracts salmon on a particular day.

Fish at the Right Depth: Salmon typically swim about 1 to 3 feet off the bottom. Adjust your bait depth to match their preferred level. Using the floating variant of PowerBait can help maintain the bait suspended at the desired depth.

Explore Different Locations: Salmon may prefer different spots within a body of water. Some may like areas with structure, such as logs or underwater vegetation, while others may prefer open water or rapids and riffles. Try fishing in various locations to increase your chances of connecting with salmon.

Utilize Multiple Hooks: Depending on local laws, you may be allowed to use 2 to 3 hooks for salmon fishing. Leveraging multiple hooks lets you test different colors simultaneously or you can fish multiple levels of the water column by stacking one bait 2 to 3 feet over the other.

Rig Up Properly and Effectively: Whether you fish in still water like lakes ponds and reservoirs, or you fish small or large streams, you need to use a bait rig that works for that type of water. Check out my 5 most effective Powerbiat rigs that I use when guiding.

Is PowerBait the Best Choice for Salmon Fishing?

While PowerBait can be effective for catching salmon, it is essential to consider other bait options as well. Based on my experience and feedback from guides and anglers, more natural baits often outperform PowerBait, especially when targeting wild salmon and in still-water environments.

In my opinion, using other natural baits like spawn bags, shrimp, insects, and even worms are frequently more successful in enticing salmon to bite and hold on.

I don’t know why, maybe it’s the rigging, or the size, shape, color, or glare, but salmon fishing with plastic and glass beads has also proven to be more effective for me and others than Powerbait.

It is always smart to have a selection of proven baits including some Powerbait on hand to adapt to the fish’s preferences on any given day.

Ultimately, the objective of any fisherman is to use the most effective bait to maximize their chances of success.

While PowerBait has its merits, it may not always be the top choice for targeting salmon. By exploring different bait options and strategies, you can enhance your chances of landing more salmon and enjoy a fulfilling fishing experience.

Do Guides Use Powerbait For Salmon

I have been around a lot of guides over the years, I even trained a lot of guides, and I can’t honestly say that many or any actually use Powerbait Doughs for salmon, at least not consistently.

However, salmon guides are using Berkley worms as well as Berkley Power Eggs with some good results.

Guides that I know tend to use other baits that are proven effective for them and consistently produce. This just solidifies my opinion that although Berkley Powerbait doughs can work for salmon, they do not work as well as more productive baits.

And since I don’t believe in using less effective baits, I do not use Powerbait doughs. However, it is rare that I don’t run a Berkley Powerbait pink worm or another brand of pink or red worm through a salmon run at least a few times before I’m ready to leave the spot.

Salmon Fishing With Powerbait Doughs Q&A

If you have any questions, comments, or advice on salmon fishing with PowerBait, feel free to contribute them in the comments section below.

Tight Lines,


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