What weight rod for Salmon or Steelhead?

I was looking at buying a rod for fishing for salmon on the sound and in the rivers this year for fishing with my dad. Usually when I've gone with him in the past I've always used a spincast reel and setup. This year I'd like to get a decent rod that will work well, but isn't going to cripple the bank and get a lower end reel like a Cabela's Prestige until I can afford a really nice real.

I was looking at the Echo Ion rod and I'm trying to decide whether to get an 8wt or 9wt? I've only really done trout fishing with a fly rod, but would really like to try salmon and saltwater fishing. Any other brands that won't break the bank but are a quality rod?

Presently all I have for rods is my backpacking setup, which is a 5wt 5 piece cabela's and a scientific anglers double pawl reel. I don't think I'd want to be taking that salt water or salmon fishing.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
A 6 will handle most but during heavy water flows and using heavy files and lines you might need to go up to an 8wt. Check your Outdoor Outfitters (formerly Sportsman's Warehouse) for Redington RS4 rods. Most can be had for $100. Great bang for the buck. I use a 6 from the beach. I use a 6 for summer river low flows. I use an 8 for winter river heavy flows, heavy flies. Since you've already got a 5 I would lean toward a 7 or 8 so you can have most bases covered with two rods (or buy ten more rods like too many of us). Good luck.

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
For salmon and steelhead, I'd say you can't go wrong with an 8wt. It's the best all around rod for most of the species you'll be trying to catch.
id probably say a 7or8 wt. if your gonna be doing more sound fishing then lean more towards a 7, but if your gonna be fishing rivers a lot then go with an 8.

if you got a 5/6 i would vote 8/9 cortland has a starter rod that is sweet... thinking of buying one, but i dislike the reel. they are around 160 8/9 # with case and all "outfit"

Jay Burman

Fly Fisher, Bon Vivant, Layabout.
An 8 Wt would be a perfect addition to your collection. It's great for steelhead and salmon plus it's also ideal for Largemouth Bass, Bonefish, carp, shad and Stripers..
I've got an 8wt TFO that I've used for fishing from the beach for pinks and it's worked well. I wouldn't hesitate to take it steelhead fishing either.


Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
So, Alpinetrout, I'm completely confused on how your comment is related to the topic of the thread?

My comment is: I don't have enough experience with any fly rod to offer advice. I do know that this forum has some real experts and I believe what they write, particularly when it comes to gear, technique, and where to fish.


Active Member
steelhead in moving water, 8wt. salmon? depends on which species of salmon you are after. hog sized chinook will not be fun on an 8wt.


I live with wind knots
So Karl, I am completely confused as to why you found that offensive. I read your blog, you write well, are funny sometimes, and that was a bit of humor stuck in a thread. We are all bored fishermen sitting here reading other bored fishermen's meanderings about this and that. I am sure you can understand a slight deviation off topic on occasion, right?
BTW Rooinator...a 7 weight is fine, an 8 weight gets the job done better. Hope we didn't rooinate your thread. :)
steelhead in moving water, 8wt. salmon? depends on which species of salmon you are after. hog sized chinook will not be fun on an 8wt.
Exactly. Rod choice depends a lot on which species and where you're fishing. For Chinooks in big rivers I'd want a 9 wt. For Pinks in the Sound and most summer steelhead I'd want a 6 wt. Deschutes (and other large desert rivers) summer steelhead I'd want a 7 wt. to help beat the wind. For winter steelhead and most salmon in rivers, I'd want an 8 wt. Of course, for all of those scenarios I'd rather use a spey rod, but that's a whole 'nother set of issues. My advice is to think about which rivers you'll fish most often, and ask fly shops in those areas for their recommendations. Alternatively, if you're not going to be targeting specific rivers, go with an 8 wt as an all around choice.