Spoons or Spinners – Which Lure to Use for Salmon?

Spoons or Spinners – Which Lure to Use for Salmon?

The age old question posed by all great fishermen goes like this, “I want to catch the biggest salmon west of the Mississippi, but where do I start?!” 

Well whether you’re brand new to the world of sport fishing, or a seasoned veteran with decades of experience, logic would say that the tools used in the process are vitally important.

One could easily make the case that the most important tool of all would be…..(drumroll)…..the lure! Ah, and now, we arrive at our inevitable predicament of what style of lure to use, a “Spoon” or a “Spinner”?

Have no fear, you have come to the right place! In this article, we’ll break it all down. From what each type of lure actually is, then to what the pro’s and con’s of each type are, along with the conditions and environments in which each style excels. We’ll end the article with a succinct summary of what was discussed, with the hopes of giving you all the confidence you’ll need to embark on your very own quest to hook your biggest salmon yet!

Spoon Lure vs. Spinner Lure: What is the Difference?

A spoon lure looks a lot like you might think it would based on its name. It is roughly shaped like a spoon, but one that has been significantly stretched out to make it resemble the shape of a small fish, swimming through the water. Traditionally, the lure is made of hard and often reflective material, like metal, in an effort to allow light from above the surface to reflect from the lure, drawing the salmon’s attention.

The surface of the lure is usually very smooth, with a deliberate concavity on one side that causes the lure to make sporadic and somewhat unpredictable movements as it travels through the water. This aids in creating the illusion that the lure is an actual fish, and not a foreign object, while being stocked by salmon.

On the other hand, a spinner lure functions much in the same way as you might think it would based on its name. We all learned in school, (albeit we may have forgotten by now). That “form follows function”. That rule applies with spinner lures. The lure is constructed similarly in form as a boat propeller. Much like the blades of the propeller spin when traveling through water, so do the blades of the spinner lures.

Spinner lures are often composed of multiple pieces that are woven or tied together, whereas most spoon lures are essentially one metal piece, with a hook affixed. While more complex than the spoon lure, the spinner lure creates a much more dynamic lure behavior while traveling through water, thus often attracting fish of a more predatory nature. 

Pros and Cons of Spoon and Spinner Lures:

While the list of pros and cons for both styles could be endless theoretically, based on the experiences, preferences, and styles used by various sport fishermen, there are some very distinct differences between the two types of lures, each with certain advantages.

Spoon Lures are much more effective when fishing for more sedentary types of salmon, perhaps of a more mature nature, and with less predatory instincts. The lures are quite simple in construction, making their maintenance much easier. Spoon lures attract fish mainly by appealing to their sense of sight, therefore they are most effective on days with good lighting and clear water conditions.

Unfortunately, the lures tend not to attract the largest of salmon, due to the fact that they present a much less dynamic baiting experience for the fish. Although not always, Salmon caught with spoon lures tend to either be older fish, past their prime, or much younger and immature salmon without a refined predatory instinct. These lures are also much less effective in murky water, and lowlight conditions.

Spinner Lures are excellent at attracting much larger fish, with a greater predatory instinct. The lures present a much more dynamic baiting condition due to the “propeller-like” movement created as the lure travels through the water. Spinner lures are much less reliant on whether conditions, as the lure attracts salmon by appealing to their ability to sense vibrations in water. 

The negatives of fishing with spinner lures are that they traditionally require the expertise of more experienced fishermen in order to be able to dictate the movement patterns of the lure. Unlike the spoon lure that can simply be cast, then retrieved in a simple line, the spinner lure requires a more nuanced manipulation, with different types of castings and retrievals  being needed. They are also much more complex in their construction, making them much more difficult to maintain and repair. 

When to Use a Spoon Lure

Our recommendation would be to use spoon lures when the fisherman is more novice and less experienced. Ideal lighting conditions, with clear water and clear skies are opportunities to maximize on this type of lure’s potential. Given the more simple construction style of spoon lures, we also recommend newer fishermen use these lures, as they offer a simple, and easy to use baiting system that can attract salmon, and other types of fish for that matter.

When to Use a Spinner Lure

When it comes to using spinner lures, we recommend that the fisherman have quite a bit of past fishing experience using multiple types of lures. The lure requires a more sophisticated understanding of the casting and retrieval process in order to maximize on the extra benefits that a spinner lure provides over the spoon lure.

Spinner lures are also much more effective in lowlight conditions, and murky water conditions. The vibrations created by the spinner lure are the predominant way in which the lure attracts predatory salmon, and thus is less reliant on lighting and reflective capabilities to attract salmon.


In conclusion, just remember that the most important thing is to enjoy the process of learning and growing in your sport fishing craft. Take your time to experiment with different types of lures and techniques, and find out what you believe works best for your specific conditions, preferences, and style.

While the information above has been extracted from years of anecdotal experience and common knowledge amongst fishermen, you may find that certain things may work better for you. We recommend being open-minded and using this information more as a guide to help you navigate the wonderful world of salmon fishing.

We appreciate you choosing to read our article, and hope that you found it helpful along your journey!

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