Choosing the Right Reel Size for Successful Salmon Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide

Choosing the Right Size Reel for Salmon Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide

Salmon fishing can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience for anglers of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, having the right equipment is crucial to maximizing your success on the water. One key component that demands careful consideration is selecting the appropriate reel size for salmon fishing. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about choosing the perfect reel size to conquer those mighty salmon.

Determining Factors When Choosing a Reel Size

Before diving into specific reel sizes, it’s essential to understand the factors that influence your decision-making process:

The Type of Salmon Fishing You Plan to Do

The type of salmon fishing greatly impacts your choice of reel size. Are you targeting smaller species in rivers and streams or venturing into deep waters for larger ocean-run salmons? Determining how and where you’ll be fishing allows you to narrow down your options accordingly.

Your Preferred Salmon Fishing Techniques

Various techniques exist for catching salmon such as trolling, casting, fly fishing, or drift fishing. Each method has its preferred reel size based on line capacity, retrieval speed requirements, and drag system strength. Identifying which technique(s) you intend to use will significantly aid in determining an appropriate-sized reel.

The Average Size Range of Salmon in Your Target Waters

Sizes of different salmon species can vary significantly depending on their habitat and migration patterns. Understanding the average weight range helps in selecting a suitable reel size that provides enough line capacity while still maintaining optimal balance with your rod.

Picking the Right Reel Sizes Based on Different Scenarios:

Fly Fishing for Smaller Salmon in Rivers and Streams

If you’re fly fishing for smaller salmon species like pink or coho in rivers and streams, a reel size ranging from 5/6 to 7/8 should be suitable. These reels offer the right balance between line capacity and weight, making them ideal for casting lightweight flies while having enough power to handle occasional larger fish.

Trolling for Large Ocean-Run Salmons

When targeting big ocean-run salmons through trolling techniques, opt for larger reels with sizes ranging from 9/10 up to even 12/13. These sizes provide ample line capacity to accommodate heavier lines necessary for deep-water trolling. Additionally, the increased drag strength ensures you can effectively battle stronger fish without compromising control.

Casting or Drift Fishing on Inland Waters

For casting or drift fishing in inland waters where medium-sized salmons such as chinook are prevalent, consider reel sizes between 7/8 and 9/10. These versatile reels strike a balance between line capacity and ease of use when repeatedly casting or drifting baits over extended periods.

Additional Factors to Consider:

The Weight of Your Rod

A well-matched rod-and-reel combo is essential for comfortable long hours of fishing. Ensure your chosen reel size complements the weight rating of your rod—for example, pairing a heavy-duty rod with an appropriately sized reel designed to handle its load ensures optimal performance during battles with hefty salmons.

Budgetary Considerations

While it’s tempting to go straight for high-end models, budget constraints are also important factors when selecting a reel size. Strike a balance between quality and price by researching reputable brands offering reliable options within your price range.


Choosing the right reel size is a crucial step towards achieving success in salmon fishing. By considering factors such as your preferred fishing techniques, target species, and fishing location, you can make an informed decision about the appropriate reel size for your needs. Remember to match it with a suitable rod, keeping budgetary constraints in mind. Armed with the right gear, get ready to embark on thrilling adventures while reeling in those magnificent salmons!