fly fishing for king salmon

most fall fishing will be in rivers and streams and you’ll need fast sinking tips

Chinook, or King Salmon are the largest of the Salmon species and found in deep water and faster flowing rivers. They start showing up in the Fraser River in British Columbia, in late May and run until late November.


King salmon are tough and nasty with the endurance and grunt to match. They’re named Kings for good reason and they won’t give up. You’re in for fun and a great fight.


We’ll concentrate on the fly fishing techniques in this article.

Fly Fishing for King Salmon

Fishing tackle : here’s what you’ll need

Fly Fishing Weights – Avoid using 5 and 6 weight. While this can work, it will tire out the Chinook so much that it will likely die. If you’re fishing for dinner, this is not a problem. However if you’re fishing for catch and release, this is bad. Go with a 8 weight or 9 weight instead.


The price for fly rods in this weight range run between $160 to $320 +. You’ll need a serious rod to cope with the pull of these fish. Along with a rod, you’re going to need a reel, which is not part of the $160 to $320 price tag.


Choose a reel that can hold 150 yards of line at 30 pounds. Make sure your reel is built for saltwater if you plan to be fishing on the west coast and in estuaries. Freshwater reels will not last as long and will seize up after a few years.

  • Pick up a few extra spools and keep at least one spooled and ready to go.

Fly line runs between $50 to $90. Like anything else, it depends on the type of flies you’ll be using, the strength and habitat you’ll be fishing. For the most part you can pretty much forget about a floating line.

  • The best lines for most situations are sinking tip lines, though the rate at which they sink is different. Begin with a ghost tip line as it has a clear tip for the first 15 feet and has a slow sink rate.

A ghost tip is perfect for slow or still backwaters and spots where you only need to get down a couple of feet and you’re looking for cruising fish. This is perfect for catching Chinook in landlocked lakes.

  • Most fall fishing will be done in rivers and streams and you’ll need fast sinking tips. Go with a fly line that has between 200 grains up to 500 grain weight.

Here’s some rods and also value outfits, depending on your budget to choose from to get you started and out amongst the King Salmon.


Best Lure Colors

King Salmon lures should be silver, green and chartreuse colored lures when the sun is out.

On cloudy days, go with a copper or copper and red for best results.

  • The best depth for fishing for Chinook on the west coast is around 40 to 50 feet deep.

Using Wobblers and Setting Your Rigging

Avoid using a braided line. We suggest using a good quality line, like a TUF-Line or PowerPro. The line test should be no more than 10 pounds for Great Lakes fishing and other lakes, and no less than a 40lb test for ocean fishing. For ocean fishing, use 6 foot leaders.


Avoid using sliders unless you have a lot of experience with them as they tangle a lot if you’re not methodical about letting them out slowly consistently.


When fishing in a weak tidal exchange, such as the lower Fraser river or the Columbia river, use a light wobbler such as a Brad’s Mini-Extreme. However, if the water is running faster, then use a regular wobbler.