New to salmon fishing

So I'm a trout fisherman from Colorado and mostly fish Tenkara so not too experienced with western fly fishing. Anyways I just bought an 8wt combo today and have a few questions on fishing for salmon as I've never fished anadromous species. Firstly will an 8wt work for salmon, steelhead and SRC? Secondly... anyone have any tips on line setup and types of fly patterns to use for chum and SRC in the South Sound...should I go with sinking line, floating line? Seen a lot of guys fishing chum at the end of mud bay. Thinking about going down there or to Totten this weekend. Just looking for a few tips to get my started and maybe even get a bump, or, who knows, land a nice chum.

Lue Taylor

Lue Taylor/dbfly
Floating, Intermediated &type 3 sink should cover most water. Fishing for Chums & SRC use Floating and a Intermediate line for low and high tide. Steelie need all three depending on water flow and type of fishing you plan Skating, Swinging, or Floating egg patterns


Active Member
Fishing an 8-weight for sea-run cutthroat hardly gives the fish an opportunity to show his stuff. Tough as he is for his size, the cutthroat will only rarely reach a length of twenty inches.


MA-9 Beach Stalker

I moved out here from Colorado 13 years ago and had the same questions. Here is a package to get you started:

Your new 8wt will work great for chum in saltwater and in rivers. Get a floating line that casts well into wind, then get a clear intermediate line like the SA Streamer Express or Rio Outbound. The 8wt will also work well for catching larger silver samon (> 6 pounds) and the occasional chinook salmon in the salt. You can find chum, pink, silver, chinook fly patterns easily on this site by using the search function. An 8wt single hand rod is a good size for winter steelhead fishing, but you will need a heavier sink tip line.

For coastal cutthroat and resident silver salmon or small chinook buy a fast action 6wt rod. Again, you will need a floating line and a clear intermediate line. Cutthroat flies are described throughout the saltwater and fly tying forums. Just pick 3-4 good patterns to start out. Clouser minnows, shock&awe, Delia's squid, epoxy sand lance, Johnson' beach fly work well for resident silvers and cutthroat. Tie your own flies, most fly shops sell junk tied in Asia.

Good luck


5-Time Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
Hey man 8wt is great for steelhead and salmon but a bit overkill for SRCs (doesn't mean you can't use it for srcs)

What the above posters said about sink tips is spot on but a much cheaper alternative is to buy poly leaders of those sink rates that you can attach to your floating line. They cost about $12 which is much less than a premium line like the outbound at $80. Good way to start and then when you start getting the hang of it and realize what you really want then go spend the $80 on a second/third line


5-Time Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
So will my 5wt work well for SRC's or should I get a 6 or 7wt?
5 wt will work just fine. Depending on who you ask you'll get a different answer for what to use on the beach.

A 6wt is said by many to be the sweet spot for rods on beaches for a few reasons. Distance is a key one because more so than any other fishing up here, the furtger you cast the better for beaches (for salmon). Also winds can get nasty so the 6 helps you there. The 6 also allows you to be in better shape when that coho/chinook hits your fly.

That being said I'm new to the beaches so if someone else chimes in take their advice..but this is just what I've gathered from spending too much time on this forum
weight forward 40 + intermediate sinking line for sea run cutthroats on 6 weight rod will work for about 80% of the options

When fishing for resident coho that are feeding on krill and shrimp near the surface, your best bet is to fish a floating line and let it drift over the area where you last saw the dimple on the surface where the fish was feeding, and do very slow small retrieve to make your fly look like it is drifting with the tide.
When the Coho get keyed in on krill near the surface it is hard to get them to take other flies.
A floating line for resident coho in those situations works best.
So will my 5wt work well for SRC's or should I get a 6 or 7wt?
For what it's worth, I fish a 5wt floating line for SRC's or a 6wt with an intermediate, I really prefer the 5wt and fishing shallow beaches when possible.

Lots of good suggestions on here, but the best is the need for a stripping basket, it is simply a must. Good luck on the water!

Hey Andrew, welcome to Wa! Lots of fishing opotunities here from salt, lakes, rivers and streams. I'm kinda surprised nobody mentioned Leland's beach popper for SRC's and resident coho. I use a 9' 5wt with a dry line 90% of the beach fishing, using Leland's fly on the surface is a blast! The fly imitates an injuried bait fish swimming on the surface. The takes and misses are worth the price of admission! I second what Dan said about a stripping basket for the beach. I made mine from a plastic tub, drilled some holes in the bottom and used a wader belt.
Lots of guys recommending a stripping basket...seems like it's a must have. I think I'll try to construct my own. Just to clarify though...this should only be needed for beach fishing SRC's, ya? Another question, is Rio's Powerflex tippet in 2x a good choice in tippet? I've always used Rio tippet for trout with no problems; just wondering what you guys think. And I'm thinking a 2x tapered leader would work best too but I'm not sure how long it should be...I've heard people say 6ft and others say 9ft.


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
Use a stripping basket regardless of what you are fishing for in the salt.
Just my opinion, but forget the trout tippet X whatever for the salt.
Maxima Ultragreen is your friend. Straight shot of 12lb will do the job.