Choosing the Perfect Salmon Fishing Reel: Finding the Right Size

The Ultimate Guide: What Size Reel for Salmon Fishing


Salmon fishing is an exciting and challenging activity that requires the right equipment. One crucial component of your gear setup is the reel, which plays a significant role in landing those prized salmon. However, choosing the appropriate size reel can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. In this comprehensive guide, we will help you understand the factors to consider when deciding on the ideal reel size for salmon fishing.

Factors to Consider

Fishing Location and Technique:

The location where you plan to fish for salmon greatly impacts your choice of reel size. Are you targeting salmon in freshwater rivers or deep-sea saltwater? Different environments call for different setups. Additionally, your preferred fishing technique—whether it’s casting, trolling or fly-fishing—will influence your decision as well.

Targeted Salmon Species:

Different species of salmon vary in size and strength. Coho (silver) and pink (humpy) salmons are generally smaller than chinook (king) and sockeye salmons which can reach impressive sizes. Understanding the average weight and power of your target species helps determine a suitable reel capacity.

Line Capacity:

When selecting a reel, considering its line capacity is vital since it affects how much line you can spool onto it. Optimal line capacity ensures that you have enough backing while preventing potential issues such as running out of line during long battles with powerful fish like king salmons.

Determining Reel Size

Suitable Reel Sizes:

For lightweight freshwater applications like river fishing or using spinning rods/reels:
– 1000-2500 class reels are recommended if targeting smaller species like coho or pink salmon.
– 3000-4000 class reels are more suitable for larger species like chinook or sockeye salmon.

For heavier applications such as saltwater fishing, offshore trolling, or using conventional rods/reels:
– 20-30 size reels work well when targeting smaller species in shallow to moderate depths.
– 40-60 size reels offer greater line capacity and drag power for tackling large salmon in deep-sea environments.

Matching Reel with Rod:

Remember to match your reel choice with an appropriately sized rod. A balanced setup ensures optimum performance while reducing fatigue during long battles with hard-fighting fish. Consult the rod manufacturer’s recommendations and consider factors such as casting weight and line rating before making your decision.

Additional Considerations


Salmon fishing can be physically demanding for both angler and equipment. Ensure that the chosen reel is built to withstand harsh conditions, resist corrosion from saltwater exposure, and endure rigorous use over time.

Drag System:

A reliable drag system is crucial when battling strong salmon. Look for a reel that offers smooth yet powerful drag capabilities, enabling you to successfully land these mighty fish without putting excessive strain on your gear or risking break-offs during those intense fights.


Choosing the right reel size for salmon fishing involves considering various factors such as fishing location, targeted species, line capacity requirements, and overall durability of the equipment. By understanding these elements and matching them with appropriate rod choices, you can enhance your chances of success on the water while enjoying a thrilling angling experience with this magnificent fish species. Invest wisely in a suitable reel today – it’s time to make unforgettable memories out on the water!