20 Best Salmon Fishing Reels in 2020

There are three types of salmon reels, which are conventional trolling reels, spinning reels, and fly fishing reels. Salmon fishing from a boat is typically done by trolling with a flasher and hoochie or mooching with herring. In rivers and streams, salmon can be caught with spinning reels or fly fishing reels.

best-salmon-fishing-reel-shimano-tekota-600

When trolling for salmon it is nice to have a line counter on a conventional style reel. This allows the distance behind the boat and depth of lure to be determined. When setting a lure with a downrigger a line counter on the reel is not needed because the downrigger displays the ball depth. The line counter is helpful when setting a flatline out the back or setting lures deep on a dipsey diver or jet diver.

When mooching for salmon it is very important that the reel has a line counter. The technique for mooching is to pitch a 6-ounce weight with a herring on a leader to a depth up to 250 feet. If fish are marked on the fish finder at a certain depth this becomes the target depth range for the bait. Also if someone hooks a salmon it is good to know that depth as salmon frequently swim in schools.

When fishing in rivers and streams you can bank fish or draft fish in a small boat. It is common to use an 8-20 pound fishing line on spinning reels. For fly fishing, a 7-10 weight rod and reel are typically used. Fishing in the open oceans and in streams are both productive ways to catch salmon. Here are the best fishing reels to use to catch salmon.

Here Are the Best Salmon Fishing Reels


1. Shimano Tekota 600 Line Counter Salmon Reel

shimano-Tekota-levelwind-line-counter-salmon-reel

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Price Range: $180-$270

Models and Specifications
300: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 13.3 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 185/16, braid 255/30.

500: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 15.3 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 285/16, braid 390/40.

600: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 16.0 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 240/25, braid 750/80.

700: Drag 24 lbs, weighs 28.8 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 350/30, braid 430/80.

800: Drag 24 lbs, weighs 30.0 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 450/30, braid 640/80.

The Tekota 500 and Tekoata 600 are great salmon reels to use for trolling or mooching. Having a line counter is very important when mooching for salmon. These are high-quality reels that work in freshwater and saltwater.

For salmon, I typically use 30 pounds mainline and a 30-50 pound leader. The 500 and 600 size reel both hold enough line to catch salmon in 200 feet of water. If you are targeting salmon deeper than 200 feet, I would recommend the 600 size reel.

Features of the reel include an all-metal body, carbon fiber drag, and 3+1 corrosion resistant ball bearings. It also has a super free spool which reduces spool friction during a cast. This is an important feature when mooching for salmon. The video below shows how to mooch for salmon and why having a line counter reel is important.


2. Shimano Tekota A 600 Line Counter Salmon Reel

shimano-tekota-500-line-counter-level-wind-star-salmon-fishing-reel

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Price Around: $180

Models and Specifications
600: Drag 24 lbs, weighs 17.1 oz, retrieves 38 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 240/25, braid 460/50.

The Shimano Tekota A 600 is offered as a line counter reel and as a reel without a line counter. In the listing get the once size option for a line counter. The 600HGA does not come with a line counter. A left-handed version is available with a line counter and is the 601HGLCA model. The 6.3:1 gear ratio allows for 38 inches of line to be retrieved per turn of the handle which is significantly more than other reels that are this size.

The 600 reel model is a good size for trolling or mooching in depths over 200 feet deep. Key features of the reel are an all-metal S-compact body, carbon fiber drag, A-RB corrosion resistant ball bearings, and a super free spool. This is a great reel for trolling and mooching for salmon.

Shimano Tekota A 500 Line Counter Salmon Reel

shimano-tekota-500-line-counter-level-wind-star-salmon-fishing-reel

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Price Around: $210

Models and Specifications
500: Drag 24 lbs, weighs 16.4 oz, retrieves 38 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 285/16, braid 330/50.

The Shimano Tekota A 500 line counter reel works well for both trolling and mooching for salmon. In the picture, the reel does not show a line counter but the listing is for line counter reel. A good fishing line for salmon is Maxima Ultragreen. Using a 30-pound line is good for the mainline and a 30-50 pound line is good for the leader purposes.

This is the exact reel I had on about 10 fishing rods last season while running fishing charters in Sitka Alaska. A levelwind did break on one reel right out of the box and had to be sent back. The other reels held up for the season. The size 500 works well to troll and mooch up to about 200 feet of water when using a 30-pound line. If you are going to be fishing deeper than that I would recommend the size 600 reel.

This is a top-quality reel that is small and lightweight. My only complaint is that the star drag would loosen over time. This made it so the drag would have to be tightened from time to time while fighting a fish. It was not a huge deal but it would be nice to set the drag and not have to adjust it after that.


3. Shimano Tekota A Levelwind Salmon Reel

shimano-tekota-level-wind-salmon-trolling-reel

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Price Range: $153-$210

Models and Specifications
300: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 13.3 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 185/16, braid 255/30.

500: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 15.3 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 285/16, braid 390/40.

600: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 16.0 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 390/16, braid 750/80.

700: Drag 24 lbs, weighs 28.8 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 350/30, braid 430/80.

800: Drag 24 lbs, weighs 30.0 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 450/30, braid 640/80.

This Shimano Tekota is the same as the first Tekota reel but does not have a line counter. The Tekota A in the second listing is a more compact reel but the standard Tekota is a bit more durable and is about the same weight.  This reel does have levelwind so the line gets placed evenly on the spool.

A line counter is not needed if the reel will only be used on downriggers. The size 500 and 600 are the best for salmon fishing. We use a size 800 for trolling for tuna and mahi-mahi offshore. Shimano makes a similar conventional reel called the Tyrnos II that does not have a levelwind and works well for halibut fishing. The high force on the line when reeling in a large halibut could bend the levelwind.


4. Penn Fathom II Levelwind Salmon Reel

penn-fathom-II-line-counter-salmon-reel

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Price Range: $200-$260

Models and Specifications
15: Drag 30 lbs, weighs 19.8 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 215/20, braid 310/50.

20: Drag 30 lbs, weighs 20.9 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 315/20, braid 450/50.

30: Drag 30 lbs, weighs 26.1 oz, retrieves 31 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 375/30, braid 725/50.

50: Drag 30 lbs, weighs 27 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 320/50, braid 770/80.

The Penn Fathom II is a quality saltwater rated levelwind reel that is great for salmon fishing. It comes in 4 sizes, left-hand configurations, and has an option for a line counter in the 20 and 30 size models.

The size 20 and 30 reels are a good size for salmon trolling. These reels can also be used for mooching and jigging. This is one of the more durable levelwind reels on the market and for that reason, it is a popular reel for charter fishing operations. The body and side plates are made of all metal and the reel has 4+1 stainless steel ball bearings. It has the HT-100 drag system with carbon fiber drag washers.  The video below provides more information about Penn Fathom reels.


5. Penn Squall Levelwind Salmon Trolling Reel

penn-squall-levelwind-line-counter-salmon-reel

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Price Range: $105-$150

Models and Specifications
15: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 16.2 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 220/20, braid 305/50.

20LC: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 16.9 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 315/20, braid 455/50.

30: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 20.9 oz, retrieves 35 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 370/30, braid 710/50.

50: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 24.6 oz, retrieves 32 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 320/50, braid 775/80.

The Penn Squall is a lightweight conventional style salmon reel at a reasonable price. Only the size 20 comes in the line counter options. The size 20 is a great size for salmon trolling and mooching.

I have used the size 50 version of this reel to fish for tuna and mahi-mahi in the Florida Keys. This is a good reel for stand up fishing because it is lightweight. It is made with a graphite body and holds up well over time. Key features of the reel are the HT-100 drag system with carbon fiber washers, bronze main gear, stainless steel pinion gear, and 2+1 stainless steel ball bearings. The video below shows an overview of the Penn Squall series of fishing reels.


6. Penn Rival Salmon Trolling Reel

penn-rival-level-wind-salmon-fishing-reel

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Price Range: $67-$80

Models and Specifications
15: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 17.7 oz, retrieves 29 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 215/20, braid 305/50.

20: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 18.40 oz, retrieves 29 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 315/20, braid 455/50.

30: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 22.0 oz, retrieves 27 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 370/30, braid 710/50.

The Penn Rival is a good salmon trolling reel for anglers on a budget. Only the size 30 comes in a line counter version. This reel holds more than enough line for all types of salmon fishing and still only weighs 22 ounces. The reel also comes in both left hand and right-hand retrieves configurations. If you are right-handed you want the reel handle on the right side of the reel.

This is one of the best low-cost trolling reels you can get and it works in both freshwater and saltwater. Key features include a graphite body, bronze main gear, brass pinion gear, HT-100 carbon fiber drag, and 2 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The video below provides more information about the Penn Rival fishing reel.


7. Penn Senator Conventional Salmon Reel

penn-senator-high-speed-star-drag-salmon-fishing-reel

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Price Range: $110-$180

Models and Specifications
112: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 22.0 oz, retrieves 29 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 300/30, braid 625/50.

113: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 30 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 370/40, braid 925/50.

113LW: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 31 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 490/40, braid 1200/50.

114: Drag 22 lbs, weighs 45 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 450/50, braid 1075/80.

114LW: Drag 22 lbs, weighs 48 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 560/50, braid 1350/80.

The Penn Senator is a classic salmon fishing reel. I used these reels as a kid trolling and mooching for salmon near Seattle Washington in the Puget Sound. The size 112 holds about 600 feet of fishing line which is plenty of line for both trolling and mooching for salmon. It comes in both right hand and left-hand configurations.

The reel is constructed with side plates that have stainless steel reinforcement rings, anodized aluminum spool, bronze main gear, stainless steel pinion gear, and 2 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. A multi-disk drag star drag is used. The Penn Senator 112 reel has a 4.0:1 gear ratio and retrieves 29 inches per turn.

In the video below I show how to set the drag on different types of fishing reels. For lever drag reels I use a pull scale. This is also a good idea on star drag reels to get an idea of what different drag levels feel like when hand pulling line off the reel to test the drag.


8. Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Salmon Reel

okuma-cold-water-line-counter-salmon-trolling-reel

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Price Range: $95-$100

Models and Specifications
153: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 14.6 oz, retrieves 23 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 290/12, braid 290/40.

203: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 15 oz, retrieves 23 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 290/14, braid 290/45.

303: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 20 oz, retrieves 24 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 420/20, braid 420/65.

453: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 21.8 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 580/20, braid 580/65.

The Okuma Cold Water is a very popular line counter fishing reel. The size 303 is a large reel that holds plenty of fishing line for salmon fishing. This reel has a wide opening on the levelwind and can be used with monofilament line, braided line, or copper wire-line. Key features of the reel include a multi-disk carbonite drag system, 2+1 stainless steel ball bearings, large brass drive gear, brass pinion gear, and a two-tone anodized spool. The ratcheting drag system allows for fine adjustments.

The Okuma Cold Water Cw-553ls is a large levelwind reel that also works with wire-line but does not have a line counter. This is a large reel that can hold enough wire. Most anglers use 45-pound copper wire as a weighted line to get the lure down deep. The Tekota 800 is another option for a high capacity reel for wire-line. It is important to have a Twili tip installed on the end of the rod when fishing with a wire line.

A lead core line is another option to get lines deep and is easier in my option. Most reels will work with a lead-core line. These techniques are mostly used when fishing in the great lakes for salmon and walleye.


9. Okuma Coldwater Low Profile Salmon Reel

okuma-coldwater-line-counter-salmon-reel

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Price Range: $114-$165

Models and Specifications
354D:
Drag 25 lbs, weighs 12.5 oz, retrieves 26.1 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 150/20, braid 250/40.

454D: Drag 22 lbs, weighs 17.2 oz, retrieves 46 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 220/20, braid 220/65.

The Okuma Coldwater low-profile reels are large baitcasting reels with a line counter. The reel is made with a diecast aluminum frame, 3+1 stainless steel ball bearings, a large XL drive gear, and an anodized aluminum spool. Key features of the reel include multi-disk carbonite drag, clear view line counter, and a ratcheting drag system for fine adjustments.

These would be great reels for mooching for salmon. The 454D holds about the same amount of line as a Shimano Tekota 500 and is about the same weight.

I have not used this reel for salmon mooching but think it could be the best reel out there for this purpose. The baitcasting reel would be able to be set up to reduce backlash for novice anglers. This reel could also work for trolling although it is uncommon to troll with a baitcasting reel. The smaller 354D would work for casting lures and baits to salmon in the ocean or in streams.


10. Okuma Magda Pro Salmon Reel

okuma-magda-pro-line-counter-salmon-reel

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Price Range: $50-$60

Models and Specifications
15: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 12.6 oz, retrieves 23 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 290/12, braid 290/40.

20: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 13.8 oz, retrieves 23 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 290/14, braid 290/35.

30: Drag 17 lbs, weighs 16.4 oz, retrieves 24 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 420/20, braid 420/65.

45: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 17.4 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 580/20, braid 580/65.

The Okuma Magda Pro is a very popular salmon trolling reel on the great lakes. It is a low-cost line counter reel that works with wire-line and lead-core line. This is also a common reel used for salmon rod and reel combo packages. It is about the same cost to buy them separately and I provide listings for good salmon fishing rods later in this article.

This reel comes in left-hand and right-hand retrieve handle configurations. The reel is constructed with a graphite body, graphite spool, 2 stainless steel ball bearings, brass gears, and a stainless steel levelwind guide. Twin paddle handles come on the smallest 15 size reel. Features of the reel include multi-disk carbonite drag, self-lubricating gearing, and a line counter that measures line distance based on the number of handle turns.


11. Daiwa Seagate Levelwind Salmon Reel

Daiwa-Seagate-Levelwind-salmon-reel

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Price: Around $115

50: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 19.5 oz, retrieves 42.9 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 430/25, braid 430/40.

The Daiwa Seagate is a large reel with high line capacity that works well for lead core and copper wire fishing line. This reel is built to work in freshwater or saltwater. The reel is constructed with a durable composite frame, 5 total ball bearings, a wide line guide opening, and a large soft-touch handle knob. Key features include ultimate tournament carbon drag and a loud click spool.

If you are fishing for salmon with a monofilament line this reel is larger than is typically needed. Running copper wire or lead core lines allows lines to be set at mid-depths without using a downrigger. If you do not like using heavy lines you can use a dipsey diver or jet diver on regular monofilament line. These are common fishing methods in the great lakes. Occasionally, anglers will carry these tactics over to saltwater salmon fishing. The reason it is less common in saltwater is that each person is only allowed one rod in the water at a time. Also, in the spring most pacific salmon are deeper than 60 feet and are primarily caught with downriggers.


12. Daiwa Accudepth Plus-B Salmon Reel

Daiwa-Accudepth-Plus-B-salmon-line-counter-reel

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Price Around: $63

27: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 15.4 oz, retrieves 24.4 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 210/20, braid 300/40.

The Daiwa Accudepth Plus-B is a line counter reel that is commonly used for both salmon and walleye fishing. It does hold as much line as other reels. For this reason, it works well when fishing in less than 150 feet of water with a 20-pound line or less than 100 feet when using a 30-pound monofilament fishing line. This reel is available in left-hand and right-hand handle configurations.

Key features include the analog line counter that measures distance in feet, click spool, and a smooth Teflon impregnated felt drag system. The reel is made with a composite body, brass gears, and a ball bearing drive. This is an average quality reel that is primarily used in freshwater.


13. Piscifun Salis X Salmon Reel

piscifun-salis-x-salmon-trolling-reel

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Price Range: $96-$103

Models and Specifications
3000: Drag 26 lbs, weighs 25.7 oz, retrieves 39 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 330/24, braid 290/80.

5000: Drag 37 lbs, weighs 35.6 oz, retrieves 49 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 490/30, braid 520/80.

This Salis X is a levelwind reel that is designed to work in saltwater or freshwater. The 3000 size holds plenty of fishing line for salmon fishing. It does not have a line counter so this is a good reel to use while trolling with downriggers.

The reel is made with a graphite frame, braid ready aluminum spool, stainless steel crank handle, Hamai cut gearing system, comfortable medium-sized knob, and a stainless steel foot to connect the reel to the rod. Key features of the reel include durable line winding, bait clicker, and a high 6.2:1 gear ratio.


Okuma Classic Pro Salmon Trolling Rods

okuma-classic-pro-salmon-rods

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Price Range: $27-$80

Models and Specifications
Down Rigger Rod:
7 ft to 8 ft 6 in.
Power – Medium-light to medium.

Lake Trolling Rod: 7 ft 6 in.
Power – Medium.

Precision Trolling Rod:
7 ft to 8 ft 6 in.
Power – Medium-light to medium.

Salmon Rod: 8 ft 6 in to 9 ft.
Power – Medium to medium-heavy.

Copper Leadcore Rod: 8 ft 6.
Power – Medium.

Dipsy Diver: 9 ft – 10 ft 6 in.
Power – Medium

These rods are commonly sold as a combo with the Okuma Magda Pro reel. However, the rods work with the other salmon reels on the list as well. These are some of the lowest-cost salmon rods on the market and work in both saltwater and freshwater.

For salmon fishing, the best rods length is between 9 foot and 10 foot 6 inches. This is true for both downrigger rods and mooching rods. When running charters in Alaska all of the rods we had were 10 feet 6 inches in length. The long rods help keep the line clear of the boat and help reduce slack in the line when a salmon initially bites.

Even though the best rod says dipsy diver, these are great rods for trolling, mooching, and running flat lines. The rod is made with an e-glass blank, EVA grip, titanium oxide inserts, and a rubber butt. These are fairly durable rods that work well for catching salmon.

G-Loomis Salmon Mooching Fishing rod

g-loomis-salmon-mooching-fishing-rod

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Price Around: $355

Models and Specifications
1265C:
10 ft 6 in.
Power – Heavy
Action – Moderate

G-loomis salmon series rods come in lengths for 8 foot to 12 foot three inches. The company G-loomis makes the best salmon rods on the market. The 10 foot 6-inch rod is the rod I used last year for all the salmon setups for charter fishing in Alaska. The rod line weight is 10-40 pounds and is rated for lures between 1 and 6 ounces. This rod works to catch all types of salmon including large king salmon. We even managed to reel in some mid-sized halibut without any issues.

This rod works great for trolling with downriggers or mooching for salmon. The rod is two-pieces but we never had any issue with the rod coming apart. The handle is a cork handle and you may want to heat shrink a protective outer layer. To prevent the reels from loosening on the rod we would use electrical tape over the top threads. This was just in case the reel would loosen when fighting a fish. The reel does fit securely with these rods. Another top quality salmon rod is the G-Loomis EX-6.


14. Shimano Stratic Ci4+ Salmon Spinning Reel

shimano-stradic-salmon-fishing-reel

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Price Range: $190-$230

Models and Specifications
41000HG: Drag 7 lbs, weighs 5.6 oz, retrieves 31 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/6, braid 95/10.

42500HG: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 6.7 oz, retrieves 35 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 140/8, braid 145/15.

43000HG: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 6.7 oz, retrieves 35 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 140/10, braid 145/20.

44000HG: Drag 24 lbs, weighs 8.1 oz, retrieves 39 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 160/12, braid 175/30.

The Shimano Stratic Ci4+ is an ultralight spinning reel that can be used to catch salmon. When fishing in streams and rivers for salmon anglers use a fly reel or spinning reel. A fishing line that is between 8-20 pounds is typically used and a large heavy reel is not required. It is more enjoyable to fish with light-tackle when possible.

This is a rigid lightweight reel that features the Ci4+ carbon frame, Magnumlite rotor, Hagane gear, and G-free body. It has 6 A-RB shielded ball bearings and an anti-reverse bearing. The reel is saltwater rated so it can be used in the ocean as well as in streams. The video below provides more information about the Shimano Stratic Ci4+ spinning reel.


15. Pflueger President Salmon Fishing Reel

phlueger-president-salmon-spinning-reel

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Price Range: $50-$60

Models and Specifications
20:
Drag 6 lbs, weighs 6.1 oz, retrieves 20.2 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 100/4, braid 100/8.

25: Drag 8 lbs, weighs 7.5 oz, retrieves 22.4 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/4, braid 110/8.

30: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 8.8 oz, retrieves 25.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 130/8, braid 160/10.

35: Drag 12 lbs, weighs 10.7 oz, retrieves 28.1 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 155/10, braid 160/14.

40: Drag 14 lbs, weighs 11.5 oz, retrieves 31.6  in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 195/12, braid 200/20.

The Pflueger President is a freshwater spinning reel that works well for catching salmon in streams and rivers. This reel is primarily used for a bass fishing reel but has sizes that are large enough to catch salmon. Although it is mostly used in freshwater it has a sealed drag system and corrosion resistance ball bearings so it will hold up decent in a saltwater environment.

This reel is made with a graphite body and rotor and has a braid ready spool. Pflueger the company also makes the Pflueger President XT and Pflueger Supreme spinning reels. These are a bit higher quality but are also more expensive.


16. Penn Spinfisher VI Salmon Reel

Penn-Spinfisher-VI-salmon-spinning-reel

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Price Range: $140-$200

Models and Specifications
2500: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 10.7 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 140/10, braid 160/20.

3500: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 12.2 oz, retrieves 37 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 220/10, braid 220/20.

4500: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 12.5 oz, retrieves 40 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 235/12, braid 250/30.

5500: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 18.5 oz, retrieves 39 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 230/15, braid 335/40.

6500: Drag 30 lbs, weighs 22.3 oz, retrieves 42 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 205/20, braid 335/50.

Note: The drag values are the max drag for the reel.

Penn Spinfisher VI is a saltwater spinning reel that is commonly used for inshore and offshore fishing. The size 3500 is a great size reel for salmon fishing in streams and rivers. It is saltwater rated so it can also be used to fish from shore or in a boat in the ocean. When fishing from a boat it is not common to use spinning tackle for salmon but it does work well for casing spinners, plugs, and jigs.

These are quality reels that last for many years without issues. Key features of the reel are HT-100 carbon fiber drag, braid ready aluminum spool, and an IPX5 waterproof sealed body. This is a very popular reel because it is well built, durable, has a smooth drag, and is smooth while reeling in lures. The video below provides more information about the Penn Spinfisher VI.


17. Penn Battle II Saltwater Salmon Spinning Reel

penn-battle-II-salmon-spinning-reel

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Price Range: $91-$116

Models and Specifications
1000:
Drag 9 lbs, weighs 8.1 oz, retrieves 22 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 105/6, braid 110/10.

2000: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 9.8 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/8, braid 165/15.

2500: Drag 12 lbs, weighs 10.3 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 140/10, braid 160/20.

3000: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 12.3 oz, retrieves 35 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 130/30.

4000: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 12.8 oz, retrieves 37 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 165/12, braid 185/30.

5000: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 19.8 oz, retrieves 36 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 135/20, braid 240/40.

6000: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 22.1 oz, retrieves 41 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 210/25, braid 335/50.

The Penn Battle II is another saltwater spinning reel that works well for salmon fishing in streams and rivers. The size 4000 holds plenty of fishing line and has a strong drag to catch big salmon.

This reel features a full metal body, HT-100 carbon fiber drags, and 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings. The video below provides more information about Penn Battle II fishing reels.


18. Penn Fierce Salmon Reel

penn-fierce-salmon-spinning-reel

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Price Range: $65-$90

Models and Specifications
1000:
Drag 9 lbs, weighs 7.8 oz, retrieves 22 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 105/6, braid 110/10.

2000: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 9.5 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/8, braid 165/15.

2500: Drag 12 lbs, weighs 9.9 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 140/10, braid 160/20.

3000: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 11.8 oz, retrieves 35 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 130/30.

4000: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 12.5 oz, retrieves 37 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 165/12, braid 185/30.

5000: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 19.6 oz, retrieves 36 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 135/20, braid 240/40.

6000: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 21.4 oz, retrieves 41 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 210/25, braid 335/50.

The Penn Fierce III is a quality saltwater spinning reel that is found at a reasonable price. It has the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, 4 stainless steel ball bearings, an instant anti-reveres bearing, and a strong aluminum bail wire. The size 4000 is the size I would recommend for salmon fishing it weighs 12.5 ounces and hold 165 yards of a 12-pound line which is plenty of line for steam fishing. I have used the size 6000 to catch tarpon and the reel performed well.


19. Penn Wrath Salmon Reel

penn-wrath-salmon-spinning-reel

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Price Range: $29-$50

Models and Specifications
2500:
Drag 10 lbs, weighs 10.5 oz, retrieves 33 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 140/10, braid 160/20.

3000: Drag 12 lbs, weighs 12.2 oz, retrieves 35 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 130/30.

4000: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 12.7 oz, retrieves 37 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 165/12, braid 185/30.

5000: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 21.0 oz, retrieves 36 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 135/20, braid 240/40.

6000: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 22.8 oz, retrieves 41 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 210/25, braid 335/50.

The Penn Wrath is a low-cost saltwater spinning reel. It is made with a graphite body, aluminum spool, two shielded stainless steel ball bearings, and an anti-reverse bearing.

Although this is a budget reel it is durable and has a similar performance to higher-end reels. It works well but I would not expect it to last as long as a high-end reel. If you only fish a few times a year this is a good option. If you are an avid fisherman or using it for fishing charters I would go with a top quality model.


20. Piscifun Sword Salmon Fly Fishing Reel

piscifun-sword-fly-fishing-reel-for-salmon

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Price Range: $63-$70

Models and Specifications
3/4WT: Weighs 4.1 oz,
Line-capacity yd/lb: Braid 50/20.

5/6WT: Weighs 4.7 oz,
Line-capacity yd/lb: Braid 100/20.

7/8WT: Weighs 6.1 oz,
Line-capacity yd/lb: Braid 125/20.

9/10WT: Weighs 6.9 oz,
Line-capacity yd/lb: Braid 150/20.

The Piscifun Sword is an aluminum fly fishing reel. Color options include fly reel black, fly green, fly reel pink, and fly reel space gray. For salmon fly fishing the 7/8 weight or 9/10 weight are the best reel size options. The 7/8 is better for smaller salmon species like pinks and reds. A larger 9/10 weight reel is better for silver, chum, and king salmon.

Key features of the reel include a multi-disk cork drag system, a one-way clutch, click-drag, and silent retrieve. Some salmon streams are fly only and having fly fishing gear is beneficial. In some fly only streams, you can fish spinning reels when using trout beads. It is important to understand the rules for the section of stream being fishing. The video below provides more information about the Piscifun Sword Fly fishing reel.

Fly Fishing Salmon Rod and Reel Combo

wild-water-salmon-fly-fishing-reel-with-rod-and-case

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Price Range: $117

The Wild Water fly fishing kit is great for anglers just getting into fly fishing. Similar kits come in size 3/4 weight, 5/6 weight, 7/8 weight, and 9/10 weight. For salmon 7/8 weight or 9/10 weight is recommended.

This kit comes with a 4-piece 9-foot fly rod, diecast aluminum fly reel, travel case, fly box, monofilament leader material, and a line nipper. The flies are not the best for salmon fishing. Check out the best salmon lures for more information.


Frequently asked Questions

What is the best trolling reel for salmon fishing?

The best trolling reel for salmon is the Tekota 500 and Tekota 600 Reels. There is also a compact version of the reel called the Tekota A which is also a great salmon fishing reel. These trolling reels hold enough line to catch salmon at depths over 200 feet. With their small size, the reels work well for mooching and jigging for salmon as well.

The Tekota A is a topless reel and the spool can be easily controlled with thumb pressure. Also, these reels come with a line counter which is extremely helpful when setting flat lines, dipsy divers, and jet divers. The line counter is also very important when mooching for salmon.

What is the best line counter reel for salmon fishing? 

The best line counter reel for salmon is the Tekota 600. Other great line counter reels include the Penn Fathom II, Penn Squall, and Okuma Cold Water. Some people say that line counters only hold up in freshwater but I have not had any issue using them in saltwater. Extra care should be taken and the reel should be rinsed with fresh water at the end of each fishing day.

In the great lakes, line counter reels are used to estimate the depth of lure. This is import when using dipsey divers, jet divers, lead core line, or wire-line. It is also a good way to know how far back plugs are on the flat lines. In the ocean line counter reels are most often used when mooching for salmon. Knowing the line depth allows salmon to be targeted within a specific depth range.

What is the best fishing reel for salmon and steelhead?

The best fishing reel for salmon and steelhead depends on the type of fishing. When trolling offshore the Shimano Tekota series reels are best for both salmon and steelhead. In rivers and streams, the Shimano Stratic Ci4+ is the best spinning reel. It is a lightweight quality reel with enough line capacity to catch large salmon.

When fly fishing 7-8 weight reels are best for pink, sockeye, and silver salmon. For chum, king, and large Coho salmon a 9-10 fly fishing reel is best.  The Piscifun Sword is a quality fly fishing reel at a reasonable price. Also, the Wild Water rod and reel combo is a good kit for anglers just getting into fly fishing.

What is the best rod for a salmon rod and reel combo?

The best salmon rods for trolling and mooching setups are G-Loomis salmon rods and EX-6 series rods. Long rods between 9 feet and 10 feet 6 inches are best for salmon fishing from a boat. G-Loomis rods are the highest quality rods but they are quite expensive.

A lower-cost fishing rod is Okuma classic pro salmon rods. These come in downrigger, lake trolling, precision trolling, salmon, copper wire, lead core, and dipsy diver versions. When using spinning tackle fishing rods that are 6 foot 6 inches to 8 foot 6 inches in length with median power work well for salmon. Lastly for fly fishing rods that are 7-10 weight are best to catch salmon in streams and rivers.


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