Capilano Coho Gear Fishing Spring/Early Summer Primer

Capilano Coho Gear Fishing Spring/Early Summer Primer

When one thinks of targeting Coho salmon in freshwater, immediately thoughts turn to the changing of the colour of the leaves on the trees, the shorter, chillier days and the colder rains of Fall time. However, the Spring/Summer returns of Coho to the Capilano River would pretty much be the exact opposite of all that.

The leaves are still green, the days are long and warm and if it does rain it’s like a warm shower.  These early returning Coho salmon are generally not as large as what we would expect to see in the Fall time but there still is the chance of seeing a fish up to 6lbs. 

What these Coho lack in size is more than made up by their feistiness and topnotch quality on the table, they’re absolutely delicious! 

Run Timing

Without fail, every year we will hear of some Coho getting caught in the Capilano towards the end of April, but these encounters are on the rarer side of things. Once we see the calendar turn to May, the chances of regular encounters start to increase substantially and by the time we hit mid-May it should be game on! 

Fish will continue to arrive into June and throughout the month but water levels start to become a factor at this time.  As the water drops a few things start to happen, pools start to become much slower moving and fish can become stale and challenging to get to bite plus fish will begin to stage at the mouth of the river waiting for a rain to bump up the river levels.  Needless to say that once the river does get low and you see a good rain in the forecast, plan on hitting the river after it bumps up.

Tackle Set Up

For Fall Coho fishing there is a multitude of different methods to catch fish such as spoons, spinners, floating jigs, twitching jigs and float fishing with artificial (BNR Soft Beads) or natural baits. All of those can be extremely productive and this isn’t to say all can’t be productive for this fishery but float fishing with bait, specifically salmon roe is typically the best (be mindful there is a bait ban implemented August 1st –October 31st). Be sure to check the regulations before you go.


The best float sizes for the Capilano Coho fishery are 20 or 25 gram and the popular brands to use are the Cleardrift floats, Top Shelf floats and DNE floats. All of these floats are set up with a bobber stop and with a lot of the fishing occurring on the Capilano in deep canyon pools we do not put a bobber stop under the float. This allows the float to slide down the line upon retrieval and sit on your weight making casting much easier than if you had a float that was fixed on the line.  


Bobber Stoppers

Some of our most popular float stoppers are DNE Bobber Stoppers, Cleardrift bobber stoppers and P-Line float stoppers ensure that you purchase the size that’s appropriate for the mainline size you’re using for the Capilano 12-17lb mono is the most commonly used. Watch our video on how to rig a bobber stopper.

Bobber Stopper

Weights and Sinkers

For weights we typically use split shot, pencil lead or an egg sinker. The amount of weight used is relative to the float size you’re selecting we don’t want to have too much weight as the float will be going under water during a drift and would make bite detection near impossible.


Too little weight doesn’t load the float properly and you don’t get a proper drift and bite detection is also reduced. The painted portion of the float should be right at the water line once you’ve achieved that you’re good to go.

Leader Material

For leader material we really do like to use fluorocarbon as it is more invisible in the water than a regular monofilament line. Seaguar is hands down our most popular fluorocarbon with Seaguar Blue Label and Seaguar STS being the two most popular. We recommend using 10lb or 12lb for this fishery. If you are using monofilament for leader line then Maxima Ultragreen is the go to in 8lb or 10lb. The leader length for either material would be 18 to 25 inches. 

Leader Material


For hooks, Owner Super Needle Point, Owner No Escape (barbless) or Owner Cutting Points are all good choices as are Gamakatsu Octopus. Recommended sizes are #4-#1. 



To attach mainline to leader line, a barrel swivel is most commonly used. We would recommend #14 or a #12 Angler Barrel Swivels.


Natural Baits and Bait Cures

As mentioned salmon eggs or roe is the most productive for this fishery. We also suggest that it be dyed pink or red. The popular cures from Pro-Cure Bait Cure are Double Redd Hot Double Stuff, Pro-Cure Wizard Cure in Double Neon Red or Pautzke’s Fire Cure in Pink or Red.

Bait Cures

There are other baits to consider as well as a change up from roe that would be shrimp or small pieces of prawn also dyed with the mentioned cures.  Dew worms can be another natural bait to consider.

Artificial Baits

If you’re not fishing in the large canyon pools and are fishing faster moving or pockets that are found mostly in the lower section of the river artificial presentations can be as productive as or sometimes even more productive than bait recommendations would be BNR soft beads or Cleardrift soft beads, Trout Beads, Mad River Soft Eggs or wool combinations. Check out our Hard Beads vs Soft Beads blog post.

Beads for Cohos

Don’t forget to add scents to your offerings be it a natural bait or an artificial adding scents can increase productivity substantially check out our blog post on using scents and attractants to catch more fish.


It’s not a bad ideal to have a few spoons and spinners with you for a day on the Capilano. These fish aren’t quite as reactive to them as what we would find in the fall time but that doesn’t mean that they don’t work.

Good lures to try would be Gibbs Croc spoons in the 1/4oz size, Gibbs Koho spoons in the #35 and #45 sizes or Prime Lures Oval Spoons in the 2/5oz size. We recommended that you carry a variety of colours in silver, brass and copper colours. These are all productive but every day can be different depending on the fishes preference.

Spoons and spinners for capilano coho

Spoons are a nice easy lure to use as they literally can just be tied to your mainline and then cast and retrieved, no extra weight should be added when using these spoons it will change the action of the lure.

Blue Fox Vibrax spinners are also a good lure to give a try. Sizes #2 or #3 would be best and similar to the spoons make sure you have a variety of colours to try.  When using spinners you will want to use a swivel to connect the mainline to a short leader this will prevent line twists from occurring as the spinner blade is constantly rotating, adding some weight to your rig is acceptable as it won’t change the lures action and will aid in casting these lighter lures further. 

Fishing Rods and Reels

Baitcasting and centrepin rod and reel combos are the two main rod and reel that we suggest for the Capilano Coho fishery.  Both of these fishing rod set ups are ideal for float fishing as there is a nice direct connection to your drift, making bite detection and overall control of the drift better.

Fishing Rods

A spinning rod can be used but isn’t as ideal as the other two mentioned for float fishing as the line comes off the spool in loose coils lowering the ability to react quickly to a float going down increasing the odds of “missing” bites. However, if you’re going to cast lures a spinning rod can be a great choice as they do cast a lighter lure very easily. A  8’6”-9’ spinning rod would be the most ideal.

For baitcasting and centerpin set ups a 10’-10’6” rod is the most common length to use. As mentioned these fish aren’t monsters so a lighter rods work well.  For baitcasting rods some good options are the Luhr Jensen Legacy 10’6” medium, Trophy Titan 2106, Shimano Technium 10’6” medium or the G. Loomis GL3 1263

Good reels to match to these rods would be Abu Garcia C3 in the 6500 or 5500 size, low profile 13 Fishing reels such as the Origin A or C, Shimano SLX or Daiwa Tatula.  For Centerpin rods the Fenwick HMX 10’6” medium, Trophy XL 10’ light or Trophy Titan 2106 that could be paired with the Islander Steelheader, Luhr Jensen Legacy or Okuma Raw and Aventa. 

Fishing Reels

Hopefully this article helps in putting some of these tasty early Coho on the end of your line and then on the BBQ.

For more information please contact us by email, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by the shop at #110 1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.

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