Whether you’re an experienced salmon angler or new to the game, your hands will shake with pure excitement as you cast into a school of salmon cruising through the surf in WA’s pristine south.
Hook up, and it’s game-on for one of the most spectacular land-based fishing encounters you’ll experience with an acrobatic sport fish.
It’s addictive. It’s unmatched. It’s iconic to Western Australia and we are already seeing some great catches submitted into Australia’s biggest land-based fishing competition – The Salmon Slam!
To help you increase your chances in the Salmon Slam, supported by Shimano and Western Angler, we’ve pulled together a heap of top tips from the pros on the best rods, reels and lures that will help you land more of these hard-fighting beauties this autumn.
And don’t forget, if you land yourself a salmon between 1 March – 1 May and enter it into the comp using the Salmon Slam app, it means you’ll automatically go in the running to win a share of $10,000 in prizes – so let’s improve your odds with the tips below!
The best rods:
If you’ve never fished for salmon before or just want to get a new rod for the season – because, let’s be honest, you can never have too many – it’s hard to look past a 9ft to 12ft spinning rod.
Most rods of this length rated in the 6kg to 15kg range will work a treat and not only are they strong, but they are also flexible – allowing you to whip your lures or bait out as far as possible.
While big salmon schools frequently venture close to the shore and allow fishers a closer opportunity to reach them via lures or baits, schools can also be a fair way offshore and often difficult to reach with the casting range of shorter rods below 7ft in length.
To smash your lure out to the hungry salmon while fishing from the beach, a 9ft to 12ft spinning rod will give you the casting distance to reach schools out the back of the surf.
Rods designed to help you cast longer distances are a great option for salmon fishing, especially if you need to cast over any swell while chasing big schools from the beach. The Shimano Speedmaster Surf range is great option, with 9ft, 10ft, 12ft and 13ft lengths to suit your personal preferences.
Another very popular rod used by salmon fishers is the Assassin Fishing Spin Tech rod, which is included in the prize pack for the overall four longest salmon in the 2023 Salmon Slam.
Not only can this rod easily handle salmon up to one metre in length, but it’s impressive how far it can launch heavier salmon lures offshore.
Thankfully, we’re blessed with world-class beaches in the Great Southern and South-West where salmon love to explore the shallows in close, so it’s always plenty of fun keeping the sand between your toes along the coast while chasing salmon schools.
A rod rated from 3kg-6kg to a big 12kg-20kg – with a cast weight between 30g and 50g – will be effective for a variety of salmon fishing styles.
The best reels:
From spinning reels to the old-school side-casters, salmon chasers aren’t afraid to mix up the style when fishing during the annual salmon migration.
One of the most reliable reels for beach fishing in general is the Shimano Vanford 5000 reel, which is a very strong, light and durable reel that can handle the salty and sandy conditions across our southern and South-West beaches.
Loaded with 20lb braid, this reel has landed plenty of hard-fighting salmon in autumns gone by.
Thanks to Shimano, there are four Vanford 5000 reels up for grabs as prizes in the 2023 Salmon Slam and Recfishwest are also awarding one random premium member this great reel every month for the next year!
While smaller reels in the 2000 to 3000 size range are still capable of landing salmon, a 4000 or 5000 size definitely suits a 9ft to 13ft casting rod better when chasing salmon.
The best lures:
Now that we’ve gone through potential rods and reels, it’s time to talk another essential piece of gear – lures!
One of the best things about salmon is they’re generally not fussy eaters and during the annual autumn migration, they’re particularly hungry and will aggressively take most lures they see.
While anything from metal slices, to poppers, plugs, soft plastics or high-end stickbaits will entice a salmon, it’s best to keep it simple and just use a lure with the weight needed to cast into the schools.
If you’re catching and releasing the salmon, be sure to crimp the barbs on your trebles or rig your lures with specialised single lure hooks to make unhooking and releasing salmon easier.
If you’re chasing a reliable lure, it’s hard to look past Halco when chasing salmon as they have a wide range of lures that work perfectly on the surface or below it.
The Halco Twisty in particular has always been a very popular choice for targeting salmon and other pelagic species as its reflective metal chrome design imitates baitfish nicely under the surface or below it depending on your retrieve speed and can also be launched a long way offshore.
The trusty Halco Roosta Popper is another fan-favourite for enticing the most entertaining salmon strikes on the surface, which frequently leads to an aerial acrobatic display similar to what you would witness after hooking a barramundi in our State’s north!
If the salmon are being unusually fussy by what they take, stickbaits can be the go as they combine a long casting range with a great action slightly under the surface of the water that is irresistible to salmon.
The CID Shiverstick range is a very popular stickbait that comes in a range of sizes and colours that salmon fishers love because of the side-to-side wiggle motion close to the surface that attracts salmon and a wide range of other pelagic species.
Richter Lures also have a new lure range out called the ‘Sickbait’ that was specifically designed for chasing salmon in WA conditions. It is rear-weighted to cast into strong winds and improve the range you can achieve on casts and will be available in four sizes and six colours. This will be available just in time for Easter at local tackle stores!
Dr Hook are another Western Australian brand known for having a great selection of lures that have been a popular go-to for salmon fishers along the South-West and southern coastline as these lures can also be flung more than 50 metres out next to the schools if they are not venturing closer to shore.
Fishing soft plastics for salmon is also plenty of fun, with even a quick straight-retrieve often being enough to fire up the fish, especially on those rare occasions when they’re being a little fussy which can happen from time to time.
Join us on the run this autumn!
Now that you’re up to date for the best gear up in here – make sure you join Recfishwest on the run this autumn and celebrate West Aussie salmon as the iconic southern sportfish they are during the Awesome Autumn of Salmon, from March 1 to May 1.
Supported by Western Angler magazine and our partners Shimano, the annual celebration showcases the safe and accessible sportfishing WA salmon provide.
With tens of thousands of WA fishers spending $331 million annually to chase salmon, this is a much-loved recreational fishery worth celebrating and protecting.
We are already seeing great catches being submitted into the Salmon Slam app, so make sure you get involved and get out there!