The coho salmon is quite a fun fish to fish for and catch. While it lacks size compared the its larger cousin the chinook salmon, the coho certainly still has more more than enough fight inside to please most anglers. Nothing about how to catch coho salmon is very hard so as long as you remember to follow where they are. They have a very special diet similar to other salmon such as the sockeye. Their diet is different than the king salmon because they do not feed on alewives very often. When they are young, they primarily feed on plankton and insects.

When they get older, their diet consists of almost exclusively baitfish in saltwater such as anchovies, sardines, and sandlance. This equates to a smaller although still feisty fish species. This means that the equipment you use to target them does not need to be nearly as heavy as when you are after the king salmon. Instead, you can keep your tackle slightly more on the lighter side if you wish and you can still catch a lot of them. Here is the process explained.

Coho Salmon Fishing Location Guide 101 – The Big Ones

The life of this species of fish is pretty unique. While they exclusively in saltwater, coho are  anadromous. This means that travel to their local freshwater tributaries and streams to spawn and lay their eggs. Spawning happens from September to November when the water hits a certain temperature. Called a salmon run, this is when the female deposit thousands of eggs on gravel bottoms before the males spread milt to fertilize the offspring. This period of the spawn is the very end of the salmon’s life. All coho that make it to this point will have their last ride here.

This means all of the males and females will eventually die soon after where they will become food for a bear or some other animal.  This means all of the fish that you catch during the run will be old and perhaps bigger. This can help you find the fish easier. They live in the northern Pacific Ocean for all of their lives inhabiting coastal places such as central Oregon to southeast Alaska. They will always manage to make it here regardless if any food is available. If you want to locate them, it always best to check rivers first. In the great sea, you can find them a bit deeper.

Using The Right Tackle Is The Best Way To Catch Them

Coho salmon laying on green grass with a fly fishing rod laying on top of it.

Tackle selection is a very critical part of your general success. Luckily for you, you don’t have to go out of your way to purchase a specific salmon catching combo. Chances are, if you fish saltwater already, you have already got the perfect rod, reel, lure, and line setup that you need to catch all the fish you could ever hope to hook into. You can use almost anything. A shark rod, a big catfish combo, a sea bass stick, a pike pole, and many other setups will work fine. You can even bust out old faithful who has been good to you over the years. You know it, the fly rod.

Try to use live bait if you can and try to offer things like salmon egg sacks, wax worms, nightcrawlers, live or cut minnows, and shrimp or clams. Live bait produces for quite a lot of people. If you cannot get natural bait, they can also be taken on a variety of artificial fishing lures such as casting or jigging spoons, jigs, spinners, plugs, and hoochies. Try going for bright colors first to get a curiosity going and if these do not work, try naturals like chrome and baitfish patterns. Try using colors like pink, orange, red, green, yellow, and neon to attract the fish.

Lure Selection And Bait Options That Work Everywhere

The common and the most popular choice that will give you best odds up hooking up with a monster is to use natural bait. Natural bait is usually readily available and very effective. One of the best if not the best natural baits to use is actually salmon eggs. Often called roe, these soft eggs can make an awesome hook bait to catch fish on. Try holding it on with a leader and an egg loop knot. Many prefer to use circle hooks if you are going to leaving your rod in a rod holder. If it is not available, try using the baitfish that they naturally feed on to entice a bite.

A copper and black fishing spoon lure with a hook connected to a fishing rod.

As far as lure selection goes, the most popular lures are spoons. Spoons are pieces of metal with a hook on the end. They swim erratically and imitate fleeing prey. These are usually the most popular but you can also catch them on crankbaits, jigs, spinners, and hoochies. Select color carefully and make sure you are overtly aggressive with the brightness. Choose very bright greens, yellows, oranges, and similar neon colors first. Add a little chrome for greater chances.

Techniques That Are Popular For The Coho Salmon

Float Fishing

Many people love to use float fishing for catching their fish. Although it will not win any tournaments, it will outproduce many techniques on certain days. Natural bait accounts for literally millions of coho salmon caught by many people. Live bait usually works best right after salmon egg sacks. A bobber and a single sack of roe held onto a circle hook with the egg loop knot will do the job just about everywhere. Make sure that the bobber or float is the right size for the size fish you are trying to catch. Bigger fish tend to be lighter biters so keep this in mind.


Jigging is a very productive technique that can outperform all other techniques if you know what you are doing. Jigging was not always a part of the salmon fishing arsenal. it started as a way for crappie and largemouth bass anglers to get a few extra bites. Today, it has become one of the favorite techniques used by coho fishermen. The most popular jig is a marabou jig. It is just basically a lead head, with marabou wrapped around the body. You can jig these jigs on a boat for the best results. You can try some vertical jigging or you cast and jig the lures yourself.


If you already have a boat on hand as well as a trolling motor absolutely nothing stops you from trolling. Trolling can be especially effective when the water is clear. Try trolling lures like trolling plugs, casting or jigging spoons, blade baits, and crankbaits. The main thing you need to remember is that trolling can be effective when the fish are out at sea but useless during the spawn. This is a great idea if you want to cover water quickly. Keep your colors bright. Green, yellow, pink, and orange. Troll with a rod that is spooled with strong fluorocarbon fishing line.

Fly Fishing

Your favorite fly rod is old and faithful. It will work perfectly if you are a fan of trying to catch some fish on a fly. Always use a fluorocarbon leader that is long enough and try to upsize the size of your fly. Try to use fly lures like gummy minnows or bucktails. The preferences of the fish can change almost suddenly. If you catch a few on a fly and no more, try the same bait in another color or use the same one with some flash to help entice a strike. Look for still water when your fishing the stream and make sure to give the topwater baits a try first for results.

To Sum Everything Up – Many Ways To Catch Coho

If how to catch coho salmon is a topic of to much discussion for you, we can sort of settle that debate down by saying there are many ways to do it. There is really no best way to put it simply. All techniques have their place just the same ways lures do. You can be successful on many techniques and once you master it, it becomes easier. The main thing is you need to get your bait in front of salmon if you want to catch fish. Do you have any better techniques that work for you to catch more? Tell us those in a comment below this post! Comments really do help out!

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  1. Ricky Hampton says:

    This is a great post! I needed a good way to catch coho! Thanks for the post!

    1. David Moore says:

      We are you enjoyed it! Please stay tuned for more!

  2. I’m newbie in fly fishing, is “300 grain commando head medium mow tip” a polyleader?

    1. David Moore says:

      A polyleader is a kind of leader that connects to the end of a fly line. It contains composite material that covers a braided or solid core. A 300 grain commando head medium mow tip is an item called a sink tip. A sink tip describes a ton of different fishing lines as well as line extenders. Sink tip lines are made up of one solid piece without any knots to get caught up in your guides. A sink tip can be either-or. In other words, if it is not a solid piece, it is a sink tip. If it is, it’s a polyleader.

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