This article has been updated for 2017.
There are two questions I always get when starting to talk about fishing: ” What is the best place to fish on the Salmon River ?” and, “What equipment do I need to get started fishing the Salmon River? ” Through the internet, discussion with fisherman and guides on the river plus pure observation, I believe that the best overall equipment to purchase for fishing the Salmon River is a fly rod and reel. This is especially true if you are going to be fishing during the fall salmon run.
The reason I came to this conclusion is when you are fishing during the fall there are lots of people around, so it’s hard to drift with a center pin float rod or a spinning float rod. You typically have to make short casts and smaller drifts and quickly cast, retrieve, and cast again. From my experience and observation the most successful fisherman is very efficient in both casting and retrieving. This is possible using a spinning reel (and I was able to do this) but the fly rod and reel make this a much easier process.
Many of you probably think, as I did at first, that fly fishing is very expensive. You hear names like G Loomis and Orvis and other big names of fly fishing where you can literally spend thousands easily. As a beginner on a budget I was not going to be able to afford a GLoomis rod nor an Allen reel. However, as I started doing some research I found some reasonably priced equipment. Some range as low as $39 with everything included , but when you look at reviews you see that these tend to be low quality outfits. I went to a couple places to look at fly rods and spoke to different fly fishermen and settled on the fact that I should probably get separate pieces instead of buying an outfit. When you do this you can get decent equipment and putting together the line and the reel gives you intimate knowledge of how it all works together. I picked up all the stuff through Amazon– I’m a big fan, with its reviews, and especially with its program Prime – two days free shipping and easy returns.
I ordered a few different rods and reels and based on trying them I found what I believe works well for me and should work for you also.
For a rod I purchased an Okuma SLV Graphite 4-Piece Fly Rod 8 weight 9ft 6 inches. After hooking multiple fish in the 20 lbs plus I appreciate the length and the weight of this rod. I always felt secure that this could handle the large Chinook King salmon.
For a reel I purchased an Okuma SLV Aluminum Fly Reel SLV-89. The other choice of reel is the Okuma Cascade 7/9 wt fly reel. I don’t have the 7/9 wt but I do have the 5wt reel and it feels solid and the drag seems to work well. Also the Cascade reel has a nicer drag operation than the SLV; it has a star shape drag on the side that is easier to operate. The Cascade is cheaper than the SLV, but the SLV does look more substantial. I am sure there are many other differences and in a future day hope to get into the different types of reels and do a comparison, but for today based on budget I would recommend both of these reels.
Once you purchase the rod and reel you have to purchase some backing, fly line, leader and tippet.
Please read here about the definition of backing. I chose Scientific Anglers Dacron Fly Line Backing 30 lbs 100 yards in white. I’m sure there is better, but it seems that most guys use this because it’s cheap and does the job. I chose 30 LB backing in white 100 yards. Most of the fish that ran did not get me spooled , so I think 100 yds is sufficient, but if you want to be safe, choose 250 yds. Some people say you should not use white for backing because it’s hard to see when the fish runs but I did not see any difference. However there are different colors you can choose if that is of concern.
The fly line I am using to match the Okuma 8 weight is a Scientific Angler Air Cel Fly Line Weight Forward 8 weight in Light Green. First, the price is currently under $20 for fly line, which is good considering fly line can run $40 – $70 by itself. It cast pretty well (and I have tried the more expensive lines) so based on the type of casting you usually do on the Salmon River this should suffice.
In my next installment on equipment I will cover leaders and tippets, because that is a long discussion with so many different options.
To sum up, here are the items I would recommend purchasing to get you started fly fishing on the Salmon River.
- Okuma SLV Graphite 4-Piece Fly Rod, 8-9 wt, Graphite Gray fly
- Okuma SLV- 8/9 Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel, Light Silver Choose SLV-8 and be careful not to choose the spool.
- Scientific Anglers Backing 100 Yards 30-Pound Fly LineChoose 30# 250 yd.
- Scientific Anglers Air Cel 8-Floating Fly Line (Green) Choose WF8F Light Green.
- Scientific Anglers Freshwater Nylon Tapered Leader – 2-Pack Clear, 7.5ft – 0X Choose 0X.
As you know, I’m still learning so if you are a more experienced fly fisherman I would love to hear what you think . I’m always looking to learn. If you are a newbie like myself and have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.