Master Art of Plunking for Salmon: The 3 Best Setups Tactics

Plunking For Salmon

Plunking for salmon is a popular fishing technique that involves using a stationary fishing rig called a “plunking setup.” Anglers anchor their gear in strategic locations along rivers or streams, allowing the bait or lure to drift naturally in the current.

The key to successful plunking is choosing the right location, understanding the behavior of salmon, and using enticing bait or lures.

This method is favored for its simplicity and effectiveness, making it accessible to both novice and experienced anglers seeking a rewarding salmon fishing experience.

Plunking For Salmon

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Plunking, in the context of fishing, refers to a stationary angling technique where an angler uses a fixed or anchored fishing setup, often along riverbanks or shores.

The term “plunking” is derived from the sound made when the fishing weight or lure hits the water.

This method involves casting the bait or lure into a specific location and allowing it to remain stationary, relying on the natural current to attract and entice fish, particularly salmon.

Plunking is known for its simplicity and is a popular choice for anglers targeting salmon in rivers and streams.

Description of Plunking Rig:

A plunking rig is a specialized fishing setup designed for the stationary angling technique known as plunking, commonly used when targeting salmon in rivers or streams.

Rod and Reel:

  • Main Line:
    Strong and durable fishing line, often monofilament or braided, with a pound test suitable for salmon fishing.
  • Terminal Tackle:
    Weight: A sinker or weight attached to the main line to keep the bait or lure anchored in place. 
    Leader: A section of the line connecting the main line to the bait or lure, typically made of monofilament or fluorocarbon.
    Hooks: The size and style of hooks depend on the type of bait or lure being used and the target fish species, in this case, salmon.
  • Bait or Lure:
    Natural baits such as salmon eggs, roe, or cut bait are common choices.
    Lures can include plugs, spinners, or other artificial baits designed to attract salmon.
  • Bobber or Float (Optional):
    Some plunking rigs may incorporate a bobber or float to suspend the bait at a specific depth in the water column.
  • Rod Holder:
    A stable holder or support system to secure the fishing rod in place while waiting for a bite.
  • Anchor Setup:
    Depending on the location and current, an anchor may be used to keep the rig stationary. 

The plunking rig is strategically positioned along the riverbank or shore, allowing the bait or

The plunking rig is strategically positioned along the riverbank or shore, allowing the bait or lure to drift naturally with the current, enticing salmon to bite.

Anglers often choose this setup for its simplicity and effectiveness in targeting salmon in river environments.

Naturally with the current, enticing salmon to bite. Anglers often choose this setup for its simplicity and effectiveness in targeting salmon in river environments.

Choosing the Right Location:

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Choosing the right location is crucial when employing the plunking technique for salmon fishing.

  • River or Stream Characteristics:
    Look for areas with moderate to slow currents, as these allow the bait or lure to drift naturally without excessive turbulence. Identify pools, eddies, or deep runs where salmon are likely to rest or move through during their migration.
  • Salmon Migration Routes:
    Research and understand the typical migration patterns of salmon in the specific river or stream you’re fishing. This knowledge helps in positioning your rig along its route.
  • Depth and Structure:
    Choose locations with varying depths and underwater structures, such as gravel bars, boulders, or drop-offs. Salmon often move along these features.
  • Bank Access:
    Ensure convenient access to the riverbank or shoreline for setting up your plunking rig. Look for areas with sufficient space and minimal obstacles.
  • Legal and Environmental Considerations:
    Familiarize yourself with fishing regulations and any specific rules for the waterbody you’re fishing. Be mindful of environmental considerations, such as protected areas or spawning grounds that should be avoided.
  • Weather and Time of Day:
    Consider the weather conditions and time of day. Overcast days or early morning/evening periods can be favorable for salmon fishing.
  • Observation:
    Observe the water surface for signs of salmon activity, such as jumping fish or ripples, which can indicate their presence in a particular area.
  • Local Knowledge:
    Seek information from local anglers, fishing reports, or bait shops. Local knowledge can provide valuable insights into productive fishing spots.
  • Accessibility:
    Ensure that your chosen location is easily accessible, especially if you need to carry fishing gear or navigate uneven terrain.
  • Safety Considerations:
    Prioritize safety by avoiding areas with strong currents, slippery rocks, or other hazards. Wear appropriate gear, such as waders with nonslip soles. 

By considering these factors, anglers increase their chances of selecting a prime location for plunking, enhancing the overall success of their salmon fishing expedition.

Bait and Lures:

Selecting the right bait or lures is crucial when plunking for salmon. Here are considerations for choosing effective bait and lures:

  • Natural Baits:
    Salmon Roe: Fresh or cured salmon eggs are a highly effective natural bait for salmon. Use roe bags or thread the eggs onto the hook. 
    Cut Bait: Slices of herring, anchovies, or other fish can attract salmon with their scent and appearance. 
    Sand Shrimp: These small crustaceans are a natural and enticing option for salmon.
  • Artificial Lures:
    Plugs: Diving plugs imitate injured or fleeing fish, triggering predatory instincts in salmon. 
    Spinners: Flashy spinners with vibrant colors and spinning blades can attract salmon by mimicking the movement of small fish. 
    Spoons: Metal spoons wobble and reflect light, mimicking wounded baitfish. These are effective in various water conditions.
    Soft Plastics: Soft plastic lures resembling baitfish or worms can be effective, especially in situations where a more subtle presentation is required.
  • Matching the Hatch:
    Consider using bait or lures that mimic the local prey species. Observing the natural food sources in the area can guide your choice.
  • Color Selection:
    Experiment with different colors to determine what the salmon are responding to on a given day. Bright colors like red, orange, and chartreuse are often effective.
  • Scent and Attractants:
    Apply scent attractants to enhance the appeal of your bait or lures. Salmon are known for their keen sense of smell, and scent can trigger strikes.
  • Bait Size:
    Match the size of your bait or lure to the size of the salmon in the area. Adjust the size of your presentation based on the prevailing conditions.
  • Experimentation:
    Be willing to experiment with different baits and lures until you find what is working on a particular day. Salmon can be selective, and preferences may vary.
  • Seasonal Considerations:
    Adapt your bait or lure choice based on the specific salmon species, their stage of migration, and the time of the fishing season.
  • Rigging Techniques:
    Learn and use proper rigging techniques for the chosen bait or lure. This includes ensuring the bait is presented naturally in the water. 

By considering these factors and adapting your bait or lure selection based on the specific fishing conditions, you can increase your chances of enticing salmon to bite while plunking.


In conclusion, plunking for salmon is a rewarding and accessible fishing technique that capitalizes on the natural movement of bait or lures in a stationary setup.

By carefully choosing the right location along riverbanks or shores, understanding salmon behavior, and selecting effective bait or lures, anglers can enhance their chances of a successful catch.

The simplicity of the plunking method makes it suitable for both novice and experienced anglers, offering a gratifying experience in the pursuit of salmon in rivers and streams.


1. What is plunking for salmon?

Plunking for salmon is a stationary fishing technique where anglers use a fixed setup along riverbanks or shores. The bait or lure remains stationary, relying on the natural current to attract and entice salmon.

2. What is a plunking rig?

A plunking rig is a specialized fishing setup for plunking, including a medium to heavy rod, reel, main line, terminal tackle (weight, leader, hooks), bait or lures, and optional components like a bobber or float and rod holder.

3. How do I choose the right location for plunking?

Consider factors such as river characteristics, salmon migration routes, depth, underwater structure, bank access, legal and environmental considerations, weather, time of day, local knowledge, accessibility, and safety.

4. What are effective baits for plunking for salmon?

Natural baits like salmon roe, cut bait, and sand shrimp are effective. Artificial lures such as plugs, spinners, spoons, and soft plastics are also popular. Matching the hatch and experimenting with colors can improve success.

5. How do I enhance my chances of success when plunking?

Pay attention to seasonal considerations, adapt bait or lure size, use scent attractants, be willing to experiment with different setups, and stay informed about local fishing conditions and regulations.

6. Is plunking suitable for beginners?

Yes, plunking is considered a relatively simple and accessible fishing technique, making it suitable for beginners. However, learning about local conditions and fish behavior can enhance success.

7. What are the advantages of plunking for salmon?

Plunking is advantageous for its simplicity, making it accessible to anglers of varying skill levels. It’s also effective in rivers and streams, providing a relaxing yet rewarding fishing experience.

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