Best Fishing Lures For Catching Puget Sound Chinook Salmon
Fishing for Chinook Salmon is one of the most popular things to do on Puget Sound. Every summer, every fisherman in the Puget Sound area waits impatiently for the Chinook Salmon to return and the fishing season to start. Everyone has their favorite lures, bait rigs and flashers for Puget Sound Chinook fishing, and I put together a list of my best producers based on years of private and charter trips. Most of these are geared towards trolling with downriggers, which is a tactic that allows us to get our troll gear down deep into the zone where most of the Chinook feed. But if you don’t have a boat setup with downriggers, and prefer to vertical jig or mooch, I’ve put a couple really great downrigger alternatives mixed into this list!
Grand Slam Bucktails
Grand Slam Bucktails have been a proven killer for Puget Sound salmon fishermen, and they were my top producing Chinook lure for 2021. The 4″ Needlefish and Herring patterns are the most popular, but I think the 3″ Mini is the true underdog, and produces big-time when the local bait is smaller. Troll them behind a flasher just like you would a plastic squid or Ace-Hi Fly.
Puget Pounder Jigs
The new Puget Pounder Jig is my favorite metal jig lures for salmon. Vertical jigging is a technique that can be very effective if you know what area Chinook Salmon will be concentrated in. Aside from mooching with a herring, fishing with metal jigs is one of the best ways to catch Chinook without having to resort to trolling with downriggers. Very popular lure in the southern areas of Puget Sound near Vashon Island, Tacoma and Gig Harbor. They are available in a variety of sizes and great looking color patterns!
If you plan on fishing for Chinook Salmon in Puget Sound, chances are good that you will be trolling with a downrigger. Chinook are the deepest salmon species most of the time. I might find myself trolling along the bottom at 80′ to 200′ depths. Pro-Troll Flashers will impart action into whatever lure you are using behind it and give off sound, vibrations and flash that will attract salmon. Pro-Troll offers a number of great Chinook-catching color patterns. The choice size is their 11″ flasher, and their lighted flashers are money! I like fishing their green/glow, red/glow, purple haze and jelly crush patterns for Puget Sound Chinook Salmon.
Gibbs High Liner Flasher
British Columbia based Gibbs Delta offers some of the coolest salmon fishing gear available. When I discovered their High Liner Flashers it changed my whole salmon fishing program. Their flashers are very durable and the color selection is amazing! I now fish a mix of Gibbs and Hot Spot flashers. I like to fish a spoon, Ace Hi Fly, or some sort of plastic trolling squid 36″ to 44″ behind my flasher. My favorites are the no bananas, glo crystal green, purple uv stripe, green twisted sista, to name a few.
McOmie’s Custom Glow Spoons
McOmie’s Custom Glow Spoons are one of my best producers for Chinook Salmon (the smaller sizes also work great for Coho and Pinks). They have a hexagon chrome flash back, a painted prism glow front and their Gamakatsu hooks are rigged with a hoochie skirt that adds attraction. Grab some for your next trip.
Gold Star Yamashita #35 Needlefish Squid
The #35 Needlefish Squid is a more slender version of the ever-so-popular Gold Star #35 Octopus Squid. If I am fishing where the main food source for Chinook is the Sand Lance, I think the lower profile of the Needlefish Squid better represents that. Favorite colors are the same as the #35 Octopus Squid.
Gold Star Yamashita #35 Octopus Squid
The Gold Star Yamashita plastic squid is probably the most recognizable salmon fishing lure of all time. Whether you are trolling for Chinook, Coho, Pink or Chum Salmon, you can catch fish with these lures. The #35 Octopus Squid (4.25″) is the standard size used in Puget Sound. For Chinook fishing, tie these up with 40# leader 36″ to 44″ and fish them behind a flasher. You can run a twinkle skirt underneath if you want to add more flash or glow. My top faves are Green Dot (OG78R), Green Splatter Back (OG142R), Purple Haze (OAL12R) but there are a bunch of great fish catching colors available.
Tomic Lures is a long standing family run business based out of the hamlet of Gold River, BC – the gateway to Vancouver Island’s revered Nootka Sound. The Tomic Plug is one of the oldest styles of lures used around here, and to this very day are one of my all time favorites for Puget Sound Chinook Salmon fishing. When you run a Tomic, put it way far back from the downrigger clip (like 30′ to 40′). These saltwater plugs have a very skip-beat and erratic action. There is no need to use a flasher, so when you are fighting that salmon, there is no flasher drag to deaden the fight!. Tomic Plug color options are endless, but if you only had a #602 or #603 in a 4″, 4″ Tubby or 5″ size you would be doing just fine.
Silver Horde Ace Hi Fly
I had been using the Ace Hi Flies almost exclusively for Coho Salmon fishing, but we did start adding them to our normal lineup during the Puget Sound Chinook fishing seasons. These low-profile trolling flies are very flashy and can be productive for Chinook. Fish them behind a flasher.
Silver Horde Coho Killer Spoon
The Coho Killer is one of my all time favorites for fishing Chinook in parts of Puget Sound. This tiny, skinny spoon doesn’t really seem like it would catch the attention of a big Chinook swimming around 100′ down, but it is its very size that makes is so effective. It perfectly imitates of the Chinook Salmon’s main food sources in Puget Sound, the Sand Lance (also called a Candlefish). These tiny forage fish live en masse around major salmon fishing areas, such as Possession Bar, Point No Point, Mid Channel Bank, and the banks of the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. Sand Lance live in the gravel, so get your gear dragging along the bottom and hold on! Use behind a flasher.
Silver Horde 3.5 and 4.0 Kingfisher Spoons
If I only had one lure to use for the rest of my fishing days in Puget Sound, it would be a Silver Horde Kingfisher Spoon. These dynamic fishing lures are productive in every area of Puget Sound. I have done well with Kingfisher Spoons for Winter Blackmouth, Summer Chinook and Coho Salmon. As with all spoons listed above, fish behind a flasher.