How to Prepare Canned Tuna for Salmon Fishing

Many salmon anglers have come to realize the effectiveness of canned tuna as a bait source for salmon fishing.  Canned tuna, especially packed in oil, has many uses as a salmon bait.  It is often wrapped in mesh to form tuna balls, wrapped onto plugs, stuffed in Super Baits, or added to eggs as a flavor enhancer, and because canned tuna is sold in every grocery store and is transported with no refrigeration needed it is an extremely versatile and cost effective bait.  While basic tuna taken directly from the can has, and continues to be, the most used variation of the bait there are a some things we can do to make our tuna fish even better.

Myself and many other anglers throughout the northwest have discovered that there are often extra things we can do to our tuna to make it fish even better than taking it directly out of the can.  The end result is what we often call Tuna Concoctions, or mixes of scents, cures, salts, and a few other key ingredients that takes that old boring canned tuna and turns it into a very dynamic bait that can be tailored to any salmon fishing situation presented.

The following steps are just a simple version that some would consider just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to development of tuna concoctions.  The information provided here is presented in a way that might open up your mind to many possible ways to improve you salmon fishing success with the use of canned tuna.


Tuna (packed in Oil)

Salt (non iodized)

Super Dipping Sauce ( My Favorite )

Measuring Spoons

Container with a lid

Can opener 


Step 1:

Open the can of tuna and drain off the oil.



Step 2:

Add tuna to container (preferably one with a lid)



Step 3:

Add salt to your tuna. The amount varies depending on time of year and where the fish are in the system.  As a general rule of thumb for Chinook it seems that the farther you get from the ocean and the warmer the water the more salt the fish crave, I often add anywhere from a tablespoon to a half a cup per can of tuna.



Step 4:

Add scents and additives to this mixture.  A must have line of scents for me are Super Dipping Sauce scents by Money Maker Fishing.  I add a table spoon of each scent I want to use to per each can of tuna.  My all time favorite is the Garlic Super Dipping Sauce.







Step 5:

Refrigerate overnight or place on ice.  Give this mixture time to set up and really let the scents and salts get into the tuna.  The next morning your tuna concoction will be ready to fish!


As you can see this is a very easy and quick process that will give your tuna an extra kick.  The sky is the limit as far as what can be added to this mixture.  Always be experimenting because you never know when you might stumble upon the cant miss recipe that fills your boat with limits.

Look for blogs in the near future that discuss how to wrap tuna on plugs, rig tuna balls, stuff / rig Super Baits, and other creative ways to fish this versatile bait.

Don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter and enter yourself for a chance to win a free fishing trip.  We draw a random winner from our email list every July and January.

15 Replies to “How to Prepare Canned Tuna for Salmon Fishing”

  1. Winning a free fishing trip would be nice.have signed up for a lot of them but have never won anything

    1. We will draw a name in July and January. Watch for the announcement in our newsletter, as that is the only place we announce the winner.

  2. where do you buy your dipping sauce ? It looks like the bottle you are showing is just garlic powder ?

    1. I buy it from . I have pictured the Garlic dipping sauce. That particular flavor is my ultimate favorite and a must have on my boat! They have other great sents as well, and they are worth every penny that they sell for.

  3. I stumbled across your blog after days of surfing the internet for *useful* information regarding salmon fishing, particularly on the Reach. Not having any luck, but will give this a try. Thanks for some good info!

    1. I hope this helps. Keep fishing. It’s been a little tough lately. Most guide boats are getting 4-6 a day. That will change though soon.

    1. I have never tried tuna for Steelhead fishing so I don’t have much info to add, but it does hold scent well and my guess is that it might work with the right scent added.

  4. We fished with a guide below Bonneville Dam. He ran large Kwikfish I think K16. He used two bait wraps one was a Sardine wrap with a scent added. He used a wrap of Tuna right out of the can and added I think Anise to the Tuna. We hooked seven fish that day. One client even reeled in a 34″ Summer Steelhead caught on a K16. That plug was wrapped with Tuna. I read later that Steelhead do like Tuna.

    1. Bob, I’m with you on being a skeptic about Steelhead not liking tuna. I have caught quite a few Steelhead on plugs that were wrapped with tuna while targeting fall Chinook. Although I haven’t really tried tuna when targeting Steelhead. I think that needs to change.

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