Expert’s Guide on Trolling for King Salmon

The king salmon is considered the heart of anglers compared to other species. When it’s summer, it’s the perfect time to troll for king salmon. However, trolling for king salmon requires much to learn before diving into it. There are several tricks to catch lots of salmon than to be frustrated. 

The key tricks are understanding the trolling speed, water temperature, best timing, perfect trolling terrain, lure depth, distance, and many more.  

Nobody wants to be a failure angler during king salmon fishing. So, if you want to make your trolling successful, here’s the complete guide.

Trolling For King Salmon

The perfect way to be successful for professionals and newbies is to go through the well-guided salmon trolling techniques. The given factors below will help you to improve your trolling capacity for this specific species. Let’s check them out-

1. Types of Salmon

Salmon comes in various types, and not all are suitable for the same trolling techniques. The types are divided into two main categories. You must decide which types you’re going to troll for-

Pacific Salmon

The Chinook, Sockeye, Pink, Coho, and  Chum are called the Pacific salmon because these 5 types of salmon are found on the Pacific coast. These salmon are found in the sea but move to the freshwater during their spawning time. 

They can change their color and shape for their safety. The pacific salmon like to be in cold water, and some have a scary look.

Atlantic Salmon

The salmon found in the Atlantic is known as the Atlantic Salmon. Atlantic salmon is related to brown trout. You can find them in the ocean like the Pacific salmon.  

NB: Pacific salmon is the healthiest species compared to Atlantic salmon. Also, these are more delicious. And Atlantic salmon also like to live in cold water.

2. Trolling Speed

The most important factor is to know the accurate trolling speed. The standard trolling speed for king salmon varies from 1.5 mph to 3.5 mph. But when you troll in the larger water body, 4 mph is the best speed for king salmon.

You must notify the bait speed and increase or decrease the trolling speed, considering the bait speed is slow or fast. Again, if you find your bait is running naturally, it means you’re at the right trolling rate.

NB: King salmon often hold deeper water. Therefore, if you troll in the water column with 50 to 150 ft, keep the trolling speed between 1 ½ to 2.5 mph.

3. Trolling Depth

It’s a common concern among anglers “what depth should I troll for king salmon?” The experts suggest keeping the trolling depth between 15 to 25 feet to get outstanding results between late fall and early spring. Salmon like to move in this depth on the seawater. 

So, in the mid-summer, considering the surface, you ought to keep the depth between 50 to 100 ft or even more. 

4. Salmon’s Meal

The king salmon likes to have salmons’ eggs, and shrimp. These two are the most popular baits for them. Besides, slimy mackerel, live squid, or yellow tail are the top baits for a salmon king. All you need is to drop the bait over the boat side. 

Ensure the bait is under the bobby cork. It’s the easiest way to catch them. And if you can use their favorite appeal, it will help you attract their attention fast. 

6. Trolling Direction

Another essential trick is to go in the right direction. To get in the right direction, you can focus on the wave condition of the sea. Also, the light penetration and wind direction will tell which direction to troll with. 

Keep your trolling direction inverse based on those three factors. Don’t go reverse. Going reverse will lessen the possibility of getting more king salmon.

7. Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for king salmon differs from 45° to 60°. However, 54° is considered the prime feeding temperature. So, check out the temperature when trolling for salmon. 

Where To Troll For King Salmon

Some specific locations are usually common and popular for king salmon fishing. Let’s check out the given list below to hit up the highly regarded places for salmon-


  • Columbia River
  • Willamette River
  • California Delta
  • Lakes Michigan 
  • Oregon’s Buoy 10


  • Kenai River
  • British Columbia,
  • Fraser River, etc

King Salmon Trolling Setup

Selecting the right fishing gear and setting them up perfectly is another key technique for salmon trolling. Some of the gears are considered the must-have gears for king salmon. So, check out the list below and the way to set them-

  • Downrigger: It is mandatory to have a downrigger for salmon fishing because it helps take the rod down and close to the fish. Mount the downrigger on the swivel top and adjust the rods.
  • Fish Finders: If you want to know the exact water depth and the fish, the fish finder is another must-have gear. Keep it to your trolling boat.
  • Fishing Rods: Set the fishing rods all around the boat. It will help cover a larger water surface and maximize the catching possibility. Don’t just set them in all together.
  • Fishing Lines: Ensure the fishing lines are placed with either 50 to 65 lbs braided line or 25 to 30 lbs monofilament.

Best Time to Troll for King Salmon

Although the king salmon is uncertain to predict in a specific time zone, late evening is considered the modest time. Again, some of the school of king salmon will be found at night. 

However, the time between dawn and early morning is also considered the best time for this mouthwatering species. If you miss this time, go for noon, it’s easy to find them in the heat of the day.  Salmon keeps biting more readily during that time. 

In the Spring, you can go for the spring-run salmon through June and August. And August and November will be the best timing if you want to go for the fall-run salmon king.  

Best Baits For King Salmon

Using the right bait will take you a step ahead of fishing king salmon. But What is the best bait for king salmon? Several baits are available on the market that will bring you tremendous success in salmon king fishing. 

Here are the two most commonly used baits that work the same as the live baits for king salmon. Try them to develop your trolling method-

1. Gulp Bait for Salmon

It’s the number one choice for pro anglers while fishing king salmon. The Gulp is produced with an attractive scent to stimulate salmon of all sizes to bite. This extreme scent dispersion easily expands the strike zone to catch more fish. 

This bait is made with a combination of shrimp, minnows, and sand crabs in several colors and sizes. You can choose your required color and size while fishing king salmon. 

2. PAUTZKE’S Salmon Egg Bait

These egg baits are one of the best baits to fish the king salmon. It’s prepared with a trade-secret and unique mix of sugar, salt, and some tasty spices to get the real taste of salmon egg. 

Since the salmon egg is one of the top popular meals for king salmon, this bait will allow you to increase your fishing rate. 

Trolling Spoon

Once you’re concerned about the baits, you must study the best trolling spoons for king salmon. The Silver Horde salmon spoons are the best salmon fishing spoon. These are the best fit when king salmon feeds on the small forge. 


What size hook is best for king salmon?

The hook size should be neither too big nor too small. The extremely big hook isn’t suitable to hold the fish, and again, too small a hook won’t be able to feed the salmon. So, both these sizes are not perfect for fishing salmon. The standard length of the hook varies from 1/0 to 5/0. 

What weight fly rod is perfect for king salmon?

From 9 to 10 weight rods are considered the best for the salmon king. These are the best for anglers, especially the Pacific salmon, due to their lightweight design and casting ability. Remember, the fly rod’s length should be at least 9 ft.

What is the 50 Plus 2 method for trolling?

When you let the crankbait out to the 50 ft length and add an extra 2-ounce snap weight to the line, it’s called the 50-plus 2 method. It’s the most popular trolling method for accurate speed.

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to be a master or are already a master at trolling for king salmon, you need to update your techniques. Trolling is undoubtedly the best option to catch salmon, but when you apply some particular tips, your trolling will be more precise. 

Therefore, you should study the crucial techniques that we have included already. When choosing the best place, water temperature, timing, and other significant factors to troll for salmon, the chance will be in your fingers. So, don’t miss the trolling tips before you go salmon fishing. 

Anthony Jones
Anthony Jones

Anthony is an expert in fishing and trolling motor equipment, based in Austin. In his free time, he can often be found out on the water, perfecting his fishing techniques and testing out the latest gear.

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