Best Salmon Lures For Rivers: Top Gear for King, Coho & More

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Best Salmon Lures For Rivers: Top Gear for King, Coho & More

Tackle Village is reader supported. If you buy a product through links on the site we may make a small commission

Updated on:
Best salmon fishing lures for rivers feature image

Salmon are an incredibly popular target for anglers in the regions where they live, and there are many artificial lures on the market that do an excellent job at catching them.

Our 10 Top Salmon Lures for Rivers

Vibrax Spinner
Vibrax Spinner
Vibrax Spinner
Our Score

The Vibrax spinners by Blue Fox feature a two-part design that was designed to emit low-frequency vibrations that imitate the vibrations that baitfish make when swimming, thus calling in and triggering steelhead to bite.

The Blue Fox spinners are available in both silver and copper metallic finishes along with painted bodies and blades.

The body of the Blue Fox Vibrax is designed to function as a bell. As water flows over and around the bell it causes it to clack against the lure shaft causing noise and vibration and literally rings the dinner bell for salmon as you retrieve it.

Last but not least, the Blue Fox Vibrax comes in both non-skirted and skirted versions, with the skirted version being known as the foxtail.

Vibrax spinners are one of the best salmon fishing lures for rivers.

  • Skirted and non-skirted options
  • Bell body design
  • Metallic and colored versions
Steelhead Slammer Spinners
Steelhead Slammer Spinners
Steelhead Slammer Spinners
Our Score

Steelhead Slammer spinners are awesome lures for salmon fishing and are becoming very popular among salmon anglers around the country.

These will work exceptionally well when worked through the runs of your favorite river, and the colored blades and bodies offered are very appealing, along with the classic silver and metallic colors available.

Like many salmon fishing spinners, the slammer features a high-quality razor-sharp single hook design.

Kodiak Custom Tackle Spinners
Kodiak Custom Tackle Spinners
Kodiak Custom Tackle Spinners
Our Score

Kodiak spinners really stand out among the crowd for salmon fishing, with brightly colored paint jobs and uniquely colored blades which include holographic blades that give off both flash and bright colors. 

Kodiak custom spinners also come in both treble hook and single hook variants, and these things are built tough and can withstand repeated punishment from monster salmon.

Yakima Baits Maglip Plug
Yakima Baits Maglip Plug
Yakima Baits Maglip Plug
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The Yakima Baits Maglip can withstand any punishment you or a salmon can dish out.

The flatfish style of action that the Maglip produces is a time-tested action that has been proven to trigger big salmon into striking time and time again, and this action is created by the unique lip design of the Maglip.

The Maglip dives far deeper than other lures that are the same size, letting you fish deeper without the addition of weight, and the plug maintains its’ action at slow trolling speeds, up to a moderate retrieve with ease.

Brad’s Wiggler Plug
Brad’s Wiggler Plug
Brad’s Wiggler Plug
Our Score

The Wiggler is one killer crankbait for salmon fishing.

The Wiggler features a great agitated and attractive wiggling action that simulates a feeling or stressed baitfish.

Along with the great action, you will also have some great hook ups using this bait as they feature two premium VMC hooks along with a water-activated sealed unit.

The Wiggler is also great at trolling for salmon, and can reach depths of 17 feet when trolled, and even has a respectable maximum depth of 13 feet when used casting.


Last but not least, there are some great color patterns available, and the line tie is completely tunable.

Luhr Jensen Kwikfish Plug
Luhr Jensen Kwikfish Plug
Luhr Jensen Kwikfish Plug
Our Score

The Kwikfish is a great crankbait to use for trolling through transition areas where salmon stage before migrating into the rivers. The lure will also work great when casting in rivers as well.

The crankbait has a simple but very effective design and has an action that is characterized by wide swinging and wobbling.

The line tie is easy to manipulate and adjust for tuning purposes, allowing the angler to make it run straight and true, or let it wander or “walk” from one side to the other.


The Kwikfish comes in a wide variety of very unique color patterns that you will be hard-pressed to find on lures of other brands.

  • Unique color patterns
  • Great wide swimming action
  • A great option for trolling
Dick Nite Original Spoons - Size 1
Dick Nite Original Spoons - Size 1
Dick Nite Original Spoons - Size 1
Our Score

Dick Nite spoons are an example of simplistic perfection, and they will serve you well when salmon fishing in a wide array of conditions.

The Dick Nite spoons are versatile and will work well in rivers, streams, and just about anywhere else that salmon lurk, and can be effectively trolled, cast, or even jigged.

Each blade is made from a combination of nickel and brass, and it’s composition is 50% of each to be precise, come in some excellent colors, and features an eagle claw siwash hook.

Lil Corky Drift Bobber
Lil Corky Drift Bobber
Lil Corky Drift Bobber
Our Score

The Lil’ Corky drift bobber is great when using as a float when fishing salmon roe, egg sacks, or beads, and has the perfect amount of buoyancy for the task.

This float has a whopping 130 color choices to choose from which is out of this world. You are sure to find any color pattern you want and make spotting the float easy in the fast-moving river water.

Cheater Drift Bobber
Cheater Drift Bobber
Cheater Drift Bobber
Our Score

Featuring a tear drop shape the Cheater drift bobber has become the go to drift bobber for many anglers in the salmon fishing world.

The Cheater is known for having a very high level of buoyancy for its’ size, and they come in some excellent hand painted colors.


These have been one of the most popular floats in salmon fishing for the last two decades.

Floats and Cured Salmon Roe
Floats and Cured Salmon Roe
Floats and Cured Salmon Roe
Our Score

Fishing with other types of bait other than artificial lures is a big part of salmon fishing. Most of this bait consists of using roe or salmon eggs.

There are a few companies that create artificial salmon egg sack imitations, that can work well, and many anglers are very successful when running simple bead rig setups, but it’s hard to be actual fresh roe.

A good way to get your hands on some fresh salmon eggs is to harvest a female fish and use the roe for bait, by tying them up in bundles using roe netting.

Running these roe presentations with salmon eggs under a float in the current of a river is a great way to catch salmon during the spawning seasons in the fall, and will likely become one of the most common ways you catch them.

Types of Salmon and Lures

The Best King Salmon Lures for Rivers

Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, can be caught on a variety of lures, and respond well to spoons, spinners, and crankbaits.

Plugs, trolling flies behind flashers, and vertical jigging spoons for king salmon are very popular in the Puget Sound of Washington, and on the Great Lakes trolling spoons is very popular, with many anglers using silver spoons to mimic the alewife minnow (click here to get a good one) that the king salmon predominantly feed on.

The Best Coho Salmon Lures for Rivers

Coho salmon will respond to many of the same lures or lure types as other salmon species like the king salmon, and if you are targeting coho salmon in rivers you can never go wrong with spinners, small spoons, or crankbaits.

Skirted jigs (click here to purchase a good one) also make for great Coho salmon lures as well.

The Best Pink Salmon Lures for Rivers

The pink salmon is the most common and abundant salmon found on the pacific coast all the way north to Alaska, and the pink salmon be found in the Great Lakes as well due to stocking.

The pink salmon is the smallest of the salmon family, so be sure to downsize your presentations as this may be key when salmon fishing.

As with the king salmon, coho salmon, and other species, they will respond well to crankbaits, spoons, and spinners

The Best Sockeye Salmon Lures for Rivers

Sockeye salmon can be found on the northern Pacific coast and in landlocked areas in the western United States.

They respond very well to rig presentations like the hoochie rig, and many anglers troll these rigs behind big flasher spoons.

Spoons and spinners are also great when salmon fishing for the sockeye in rivers.

The Best Chum Salmon Lures for Rivers

Chum salmon have the largest range of all salmon species, and are commonly found in Russian waters, Korea, Japan, and along the Pacific coast of the United States.

Skirted jigs and skirted streamer presentations are very popular methods of catching chum salmon in rivers, and are the go-to salmon fishing lures for many anglers.

Plugs like the Luhr Jensen Kwikfish are also a great salmon lures to catch chum salmon when river fishing.

Final thoughts on best salmon lures for rivers

River Salmon are a blast to catch, they fight hard and when they are running upstream to spawn your day on the water can be action packed. As anglers we must take care to fish responsibility to conserve salmon populations and support work like this that dedicated people are doing to assist with salmon runs. Although you may fishing for chum salmon, King Salmon, Coho Salmon and Sockeye Salmon, plus Atlantic Salmon, essentially when it comes to lures salmon are salmon and the lure that works for one species may very will work for catching others.

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AUTHOR
Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species.