Want to Catch Sturgeon? You’ll Need the Right Gear

November 28, 2021

Sturgeon Fishing Rods

Sturgeon can be very lite biters, so you need to be able to see and feel the bites without spooking the fish.  For sturgeon fishing, I always use a rod with a soft tip. We use the Shimano Tallus Blue Water Series 8′ 40-60# rods.

Lots of people use salmon rods, and they will work. But you never know when you’re going to hook that big 8-footer, and when you do, you’ll need a rod with the power to get the job done quickly, without over-stressing the fish.  You’ll want something that can handle 6 to 16 oz. leads and 50 to 65# line. Most of the Columbia River in the Portland area, the Willamette River and the lower section near Astoria can be fished for sturgeon with a medium weight 8-foot rod.

If you want to catch big sturgeon and you’re fishing the deep, fast water below Bonneville or the Dalles Dam, you’ll need to step up to a rod that can handle big bait and heavy lead – a rod that’s 6-1/2 to 7 feet that can handle leads up to 48 oz. and 80# J-Braid.  We use the X-stream 6-1/2 foot 60 to 80#.  Pair that with a good quality reel that has a strong drag and can hold lots of line.  Most Oregon fishing guides in these areas use the Avet xl 2 speeds filled with 500 yards of 80# J-Braid.

Sturgeon Fishing Reels

As mentioned, I prefer using Shimano reels in the Portland and lower Columbia River areas.  The Tekota 700 is my personal favorite.  As professional Columbia River Sturgeon Fishing Guides we don’t take chances with equipment. We won’t risk a client losing the fish of a lifetime because of a broken rod or a locked-up reel!

When we fish upriver and below Bonneville or the Dalles dams we leave the Shimano products at home.  Although I really like Shimano reels, from my personal experience, they just don’t hold up to the heavy leads and the big fish in these areas.  For weekend fishing, the Avet xl 2 speed will probably last a lifetime. These are big, heavy-duty reels for those who want to invest in a high-quality reel to use only for sturgeon fishing.  Fill it with 550 yards of 80# J-Braid and you are ready for some serious Columbia River Sturgeon Fishing!

Sturgeon Fishing Line and Tackle

Line:  We exclusively use J-Braid mainline.  It’s strong, flexible, and abrasion-resistant.  It’s ideal for either salmon or sturgeon fishing.  The 65# is perfect for sturgeon fishing in the Portland area and the lower Columbia River around Astoria.  When we head upriver to Bonneville or the Dalles Dam we break out the 80# J-Braid.

Leader:  Most Oregon fishing guides use either 96# nylon sturgeon leader or 130# tuff line.  We use 130# braid for leader in the lower river since it’s stronger and has a much smaller diameter; we use the 96# nylon up river because it’s much more abrasion resistant.

Hooks:  We use only one the Gamakatsu Octopus (Barbless) hook; the 7/0 downriver when fishing near Portland or Astoria, and the 12/0 when fishing upriver below Bonneville or the Dalles Dams. Their unique shape makes a big difference in hooking sturgeon, and keeping them hooked when fighting, and especially while Jumping!  There’s nothing worse than fighting the fish of a lifetime only to feel him go airborne and come unhooked! These hooks have been a game changer for us.

Have questions?  We’ll be happy to answer your email or call us at (503) 490 3099.

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