What Action Rod for Salmon Fishing

When it comes to choosing the best rod and action for salmon fishing, there are a lot of opinions out there.

They are not all wrong and some of those are less correct than they are right.

Considerations for rod selection include things like the type of salmon you are targeting – Salmon species enter freshwater at different times of the year.

There are some overlapping run times between species and then there is the choice between fishing in saltwater or freshwater as well as the fishing technique.

For example, trolling for salmon requires a different rod configuration than tossing flies for silver salmon.

All of these factors create a myriad of options for choosing a salmon rod with the correct action.


Let’s start with what action really means for fishing.

Action is the amount the pole bends and where the bend occurs when weight is applied from the line – such as when you have a fish on.

It is also a reflection of the amount of time it takes for the rod to snap back to its original position.

Light action rods are slower because they bend farther, so it takes more time for the tip to snap back.

A heavy rod is faster because the rod tip bends less, so it has less distance to go to snap back to the original position.

Action is a measurement of force – how much force it takes to bend the rod.

What action rod is best for salmon

Light action or medium light action is fine for smaller salmon, such as pinks.

A medium- action rod has enough strength to handle bigger fish such as Silvers.

If you are fishing for king salmon, you probably want a medium-heavy action rod.

Pink Salmon which average between 3-5 pounds but can crest the 10 pound mark are quite a different fish from Silvers and King Salmon, which are significantly heavier.

A silver salmon is on average about 10-18 pounds and quite a fighter. An average King salmon is around 30 pounds, but the record is close to 100 pounds.

The point being that action and rod choice will vary from one type of salmon to the next.

How heavy should a salmon rod be

If you are wondering what type of rod to buy for salmon and are concerned about choosing the right action or rod weight, then you will need to consider the type of salmon you want to target.

As a general rule:

Nine weight rods that are 9-10′ long and have a medium or light action for fish under 25+.

Ideally, A medium action would serve most salmon anglers well. it has enough strength to handle most big fish and will also handle thicker line and heavier lures.

For bigger Salmon – those over 25+ a 10-weight or 11-weight rod with a medium for medium-fast action is a good choice for freshwater fishing.

If you are rolling for salmon consider a rod with heavy action. It will allow for the thickest line or braided line along with heavier bait or lures.

What rod do you need to catch salmon?

For general fishing, a 9-10 foot rod for freshwater with a light-medium action or medium action if you plan to target multiple species of salmon.

Six-eight-foot rods with heavy action for trolling.

When trolling for salmon in places like Alaska where the salmon fishing is insane, you just never know what is going to snatch your lure.

The heavier action can generally handle that fish – even Salmon sharks which can weigh 700 pounds.

Is a medium-heavy rod good for salmon?

Medium-heavy fishing rods are good for fish bigger than 25 pounds. That does not mean you cannot use them for smaller fish, but you lose some accuracy when casting.

For trolling or drifting a medium-heavy is good.

Why are salmon rods so long?

Longer poles give you the option of picking up more expelled lines especially when you are setting a hook.

With Salmon setting a hook is exceptionally important as salmon are larger fish with more fight.

A poorly set hook means “the big one got away.”

Shorter rods pick up less line when you hookset.

They are preferable in situations such as trolling for salmon, where the forward speed of the boat and the fish’s bulk in the water set the hook.

Can you use a 5 weight fly rod for salmon?

Yes, you can use a 5-weight fly rod for smaller salmon such as pinks.

While many fly rods are 5-weight, they will not hold up well to bigger salmon.

For larger salmon, such as silvers a 7-weight or 8-weight is ideal.

Can you use a bass rod for salmon?

Yes. A bass rod can work for salmon fishing, but it may not be the best choice.

The reason is that salmon are larger and stronger and when they run, they extrude a LOT of line.

If the reel holds enough line to battle a salmon then a longer bass pole will probably be okay.

The big deal in choosing the right rod and grip to the fish you want to target is matching up line size and lure weight to the fish.

If you are looking for a salmon rod, go for one that is 9′ long, medium weight, and medium action.

It is a good all-around rod for most types of salmon.

If you are headed to the big country to target king salmon, choose a rod and reel that are larger and rated for big salmon – 10′ long, heavyweight, medium-heavy, or heavy action.

That choice comes down to line size – most salmon anglers choose braided lines, which are thicker and stronger.