Hunting down thumping green-back salmon with lures in the surf is darn addictive fun that doesn't require a whole lot of gear or time on your side, but can provide consistent fun on these hard pulling, high flying fish.
The simplicity of spinning the surf for salmon wins hearts, but also on a sheer fish catching level it's hard to ignore this approach if you're results driven. The ground you cover spinning compared to bait fishing, gives you good odds of running into sambos, and it's rare not to rustle up a few fish worst case, or best case walk off the beach covered in sand and fish slime after a fish-a-cast marathon!
Outfit wise for salmon spinning, take the time to put together a long casting combo you can confidently thump lures of mixed weights out into the surf with, for long periods. There's a clear shift away from 12-foot rods and large reels for spinning in favour of lighter 9ft graphite rod options, paired with compact threadline reels filled with braid. From Shimano a likely combination would be the Revolution 902 Spin / Twinpower XD C5000XG with 20lb Power Pro braid. You can go lighter and smaller with your outfit in milder conditions, but if you want to throw heavier lures around you'll need a bit of backbone to your setup.
When it comes to the lures you take it's more about covering likely scenarios to arise than bringing your entire lure collection with you. There's nothing like a long walk on soft sand to convince you to keep weight to a minimum! Metal lures are still probably the best starting point when looking to search for salmon on the beach and cover water with casts and provide great accuracy. Depending on the surf conditions, the distance needed to be cast and the outfit in use you could be throwing anything from 30 to 100g plus metals for salmon. Always take some heavier options for windy conditions or reaching schools that are holding well away from the beach.
You'd also regret not taking a few surface lure options just in case you hit the salmon motherload, with lures like stickbaits and poppers simply the best way to catch salmon when they're in reasonable numbers and competing hard for their next meal. Regardless of your lure tied on consider swapping trebles for inline singles to aid in catch and release and for a better hook-set that salmon won't reject with their wild head shakes.
Salmon schools can stick out like a sore thumb, especially when silhouetted against the pale backdrop of sand. Often they are dark black and circular in shape, although can be elongated and quite light grey or brown in colour if the fish are more spread out or on the move. Many schools aren't obvious also, and may not reveal themselves until you're on the beach, where they can drift in seemingly out of nowhere.
Salmon schools are a luxury when they happen, but if you can't spot them your day isn't over by a long shot when spinning, but rather it becomes imperative to spy some promising water to fish and keep working the sweet spots.
Gutters, holes near structure, reef edges, lagoons, beach corners, foam lines, the edge of sand bars and any other likely points where a salmon will be patrolling or holed up should be cast over. Ideally if you want to see the beach at its best try fishing early morning or late arvo, or around high tide, but like any fish if you have a line in the water you're in the game.
A bit of a salmon spinning hack is also to berley up the fish in a gutter then pick them off with lures. These fish can become frenzied and numbers can stack up with berley, and it's worth a try if there's no schools about.
Dedicated spin sessions about being mobile, which means freeing up your hands for casting, and storing all terminal gear in a backpack. Usually all you need is a little practical spread of lures, trace line (like 30-40lb Ocea fluorocarbon or Tiagra Leader), camera, water, braid cutters and pliers.
Of course you don't need to dedicate the entire day to spinning if you don't feel like it, and if you're bait fishing always have a few lures in your arsenal as well. If the salmon come on thick and fast bait fishing can soon become ho-hum (well after decking a bunch anyhow!), and there's no greater way to spice up a sesh than to introduce a mixture of lures and even lighter tackle and get crashed, bashed and smoked. Grabbing a spin stick and going for a wander up the beach is also a great way to break up bait efforts.
Attach a length of trace line to your braid to offer some shock absorption on casts, with a good casting knot like the FG well suited to repetitive metal slinging in the surf. If you can keep the leader to mainline knot off your reel and ideally between the reel and the first or second runner it will allow confident and long casts.
Walking a high energy beach after surf salmon, armed with a spin stick is something special and some easy sportfishing action when it all works out!