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Spinning reel recommendations for salmon/steelhead

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  • Spinning reel recommendations for salmon/steelhead

    I am planning my first salmon or steelhead fishing trip soon. I am trying to determine what a good reel and rod combo would be. Something that could be a good starter that is versatile enough to do either in the future.

    I have heard that the amount of line that a reel can hold is big in the decision making process but the person didn't give me a number of yards
    Last edited by Anatoliy; 12-26-2016, 04:25 PM.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum!

    If you are on a tight budget, the Shimano Sienna is a decent option for around 30-35 bucks. The Shimano Sedona runs about 60 bucks and is also a good reel, and will obviously be better quality than the cheaper model. You would want to go with the 4000 size in Shimano reels (Shimano reels are numbered 500 to 4000, higher numbers = larger line capacity and stronger drag), or a comparable reel that would hold 120-200 yards of 12 pound mono. The Sienna has a much weaker drag, but if you are running 25 pound mono for salmon it would still be enough.

    As far as a rod goes, I would suggest going with an Ugly Stick. They are a decent rod at about 60 bucks. If you wanted to go more expensive you could look at North River graphite rods for 80 bucks (Fisherman's Marine in Oregon City, their house brand) or something like the North Rivers in the same price range. Graphite rods similar to the North Rivers will run 75 to 90 bucks. The Ugly Sticks are fiberglass. At this price point and this being your first rod I personally would lean towards the Ugly Stick.

    Higher yet, you could get an entry level Lamiglas G200 series rod which are in the $120 range. Lamiglas makes quality rods, and they are made in Washington. The other rods I mentioned, and almost all rods in this price range and below will be made in China.

    It really all comes down to what you want to spend. Going with an Ugly Stick and Shimano Sedona 4000 reel you would be right around 100 bucks or less.

    If you wanted to spend 20-30 bucks more I would highly suggest going with a better reel, like the Sedona, not a more expensive rod.

    If you had a price of $200 or less in mind I would suggest going with the Lami G200 and a Shimano Sedona 4000, and you would see a large increase in rod quality over the Ugly Stick.

    Keep in mind that a spool of good line will be 10 bucks for mono (braided line will be more expensive and adds a whole new level of complexity, and these kinds of things can get overwhelming fast). I would suggest no more than 12 pound good quality line for steelhead and 20 or 25 for salmon. Your drag should be set at 1/3 the breaking strength of your line.

    As far as rod weight goes I would suggest a rod rated at 8-15 pounds for steelhead, or 10-30 pounds if you intend to use it for both steelhead and salmon. Those numbers are the size of line you should be using. The action should be "medium" or "medium-heavy" for steelhead only, or "medium-heavy" or "heavy" for steelhead and salmon as well. The action is essentially how much "backbone" the rod has, and how easily it will bend.

    I hope that this wasn't too much information at one time. I tried to cover any other questions that might arise. If you do have other questions I'll do my best to answer them.

    Be sure to keep in mind everything that others post as well as what I said, and make a decision after you have gathered plenty of advice. There are a lot of people on here with great advice, and I'm sure that other people will have more to add.
    Last edited by Anatoliy; 10-10-2013, 11:47 AM. Reason: typo


    • #3
      wow good answer, my first setup was a 8'6 meduim action ugly stick with a sedona 4000.
      Since then i have upgraded my rod but i still buy the sedona's, they are very nice reels for the price.


      • #4
        Anything in the 4000 series by Shimano will make you very happy with your purchase for a long time. Excellent quality that can stand up to a bit of abuse. You might consider looking at Shimano rods as well. I have always been very happy with their performance. Good luck this year!


        • #5
          What's your budget and how do you plan to use said setup?

          The only thing I would personally ever use a Ugly Stik is bobber fishing for salmon. (although I still wouldn't do that even)

          Personally I would recommend getting two setups. One for steelhead and one for salmon. The generic 10-20 lb rod isn't going to do either setup any justice.

          Will you be bank or boat fishing? Drift, bobber, side drift, jig, etc.


          • #6
            Thank you everyone for all your responses!

            I plan to mostly bank fish for salmon. However the reason I was thinking I could potentially find a setup to do both salmon and steel head is because I have a friend who wants to take me on his boat to the Columbia. I understand these are two different types of fish in size, etc. I guess I was just hoping I could find something versatile enough.

            I am currently trying to get into this for as cheap as possible.


            • #7
              Find a Buzz IM8 or Okuma SST when on sale, in the 9' 10-20 range. (on sale they are $50-60)

              You'll be a little undergunned for some Chinook, but ok for most.

              Like many have others have said any Shimano 4000 size reel will work. (Sienna, Sedona, Sahara, or Symetre)

              You'll never use a spinning rod in a boat, as you are usually trolling...which is awkward with a spinning reel.


              • #8
                Originally posted by veilside180sx View Post
                You'll never use a spinning rod in a boat, as you are usually trolling...which is awkward with a spinning reel.
                What he said.

                My recommendations were assuming you would be bank fishing only. From a boat you would want a baitcasting rod and reel (also called level wind or conventional). As far as baitcasting reels go, I would highly suggest an Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5000 or 6000 series, or a similar reel by another quality manufacturer like Shimano or Okuma. These reels would be in the 70-100 dollar range. My best advice for buying a baitcaster is don't buy a cheaper ($70 or less generally) "Made in China" model. They are crap.

                As far as rods go you should be looking for something in the range of 8.5-10 feet, 10-30lb medium or heavy action if you are fishing from a boat for salmon or steelhead. Like I said before, North River makes decent rods in the $80 range. That's a good price range to be looking at for any graphite rod of the type I mentioned.

                For a decent baitcasting setup you would be looking at about $160 to start at if you buy a quality setup that you will be happy with. If you go to a place like Fisherman's Marine tell theem you will be fishing out of a boat for salmon and that you want to look at Abu Garcia, Shimano, or Okuma baitcast reels in the $80 range, and a good quality rod to go with it that is within your budget, and they will be able to set you up with what you need. (Keep in mind I'm using Fisherman's name repeatedly as an example. I am not affiliated with them, and you can go anywhere you want.)

                The reason I didn't advise a baitcasting setup in the first post is that I was thinking you would be on the bank, and baitcasters are a challenge to cast if you have never used them before. Also keep in mind that baitcasting and spinning rods are different, and they are only compatible with their own type of reel. Spinning reels sit on the bottom of the rod, and baitcasting reels sit on the top of the rod.

                If you will be primarily bank fishing, I would personally suggest getting a spinning reel and rod setup as your first purchase, and if you go on a boat use a rod and reel that the person that is taking you owns.


                • #9
                  Great answers Sam!

                  I would only add a suggestion, to start w/ a spinning rod/reel from the bank. They are much easier to master, than a casting rod. You can use spinners, spoons, bobber n' bait, bobber n' jigs, plunk bait or plugs, etc. with a spin rod. I'd suggest a minimum of 8.5 feet w/ a long n' strong handle, so you can better fight the biggies.

                  When you feel it's time to "move up" later on; you can get a good casting rod which will improve your bobber/lead/bait/jig/plug control and catch rate. But for now, a spinning set up will do you justice.

                  Good luck and welcome to OFF.

                  P.S. You can use that rod to flip spinners, spoons and plugs from a boat too. But, for most boat situations, you'll want to consider a bait casting rod n' reel set.


                  • #10
                    Just ordered my Ugly Stik 8'6" M with the Shimano Sedona 4000 FD Spinning Reel. EXCITED!! But now I have to wait. :( But it will end up arriving around my birthday Jan. 17!!! Happy Birthday to me! Thanks for all the people that posted info. I will sure post any catches i make with this set up, been working on my frist Steelie for about 4 months. My dedication will hopefully pay off. Thanks!


                    • #11
                      you could check in the archives for one of the other times this question has been asked... there should be around 50 threads with this exact title and scores of great answers there aswell. For this thread I will say ditch the spin gear or drift rod and buy a centerpin rod and drift very large globs of roe.. this would be most likely the most effective way to catch the steel in Oregon Territory- Good fishing


                      • #12
                        Oky, I'm really late to this forum, but I have a question for everyone: why do you think it is easier to master a spinning reel than a baitcaster? In my 40 years of experience using both types of reels, a spinning reel is a much more complicated beast to master - to really understand - than a baitcaster. Easier to cast without backlashes, sure, but more than capable in more situations if you understand how to get the most from them. I had my baitcasters down in about a year. It took a lot longer to learn how to get the maximum out of a spinnning reel.

                        Just curious, since I see it written so often... and it goes completely against the grain of my experience with both.


                        • #13
                          I agree - for (what's the current lowest cost for a centerpin setup? $700 and up?).


                          • #14
                            for anyone else with this question, I picked up 3 okuma celilo rods and I love them. about 50 bucks is what they'll cost and sometimes even less.


                            • #15
                              I picked-up a Daiwa DXS, 8'6" XH with an extra fast action for $70 to use as a light tackle surf rod and like it so much I'm holding it for salmon instead of the surf. It's IM7, but it's a lot more sensitive than the 9'0" IM8 Okuma SST MH that replaced it, and the Daiwa is much better built than the Okuma. Much better. I just wanted an inexpensive rod to thrash the sea for surf perch and the Daiwa turned into a surprise. Daiwa doesn't get a lot of love, but for a strong, sensitive, and LOW COST spinning rod to use for salmon, I think I'd have to search a long time to match it.