A Strategy Guide to Splatoon 3’s Salmon Run Mode

Salmon Run is complex, deep and difficult. The game changes very quickly and can be very chaotic. This guide explains everything and more - from working around bosses, to weapons and their roles, to controlling and defending specific maps - there's nothing left uncovered!

A Strategy Guide to Splatoon 3's Salmon Run Mode

Splatoon 3’s Salmon Run mode mirrors other game’s player vs enemy modes, such as Call of Duty’s zombies mode. It pits four real players against a swarm of Salmonids, zombie-like creatures that overwhelm the player with high numbers. These Salmonids come in many forms, offering a ton of strategic combinations. Not only does the game have a variety of Salmonids, but also weapons. All of this knowledge combines to make Salmon Run a surprisingly deep and complex gamemode. This guide for Splatoon 3’s Salmon Run will run down everything you need to know.

This does not cover basic things like behavior of bosses, how to play the game, and so on. If you need a refresher on any of these, check out the Splatoon wiki, which covers all of that basic info!

Splatoon 3 - Salmon Run Next Wave Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Salmon Run Bosses

Bosses can be tough to work with, especially on higher ranks where there’s swarms of them. Strategies will be written for every single boss currently in the game.


Technically a boss, although they behave like Chums or Cohocks. The only difference between these and other non-boss Salmonids are their high health and their drops. They drop at least one Golden Egg on death, sometimes three, sometimes five, and sometimes ten. They only spawn naturally in Fog, and they work differently in the Goldie Seeking event.


Another reason they’re so difficult is the manner in which they need to be taken out. Their lids open when shooting missiles, at which point players need to throw a Splat Bomb into both containers to defeat it. In a rush, aiming a bomb can be difficult – but there’s a couple alternatives. The explosive shots from a Crab Tank, Inkjet shots, shots from Exploshers, turrets in the Cohock Charge event, or well aimed Drizzler missiles. Furthermore, the piercing specials Triple Inkstrike, Killer Wail 5.1 and Booyah Bomb can defeat the Smallfry piloting the Flyfish quickly and easily.

Flyfish flying near the shoreline. Take these out immediately. - Splatoon 3 Salmon Run Guide

Flyfish flying near the shoreline. Take these out immediately.

A very niche and rare situation is, if a Flyfish is next to but not under a Slammin Lid’s shield, throwing a splat bomb at it so it hits the pilot will instantly kill the Flyfish. Incredibly difficult to do but possibly.

Big Shot

Big Shots offer a big strategic advantage to players. Their cannons can be loaded with Golden Eggs, which then shoot off towards spawn. This makes retrieving Golden Eggs near the shoreline much easier to get to the basket. This tool is especially noticeable on low tide. On top of that, Slammin Lids or Steel Heads can be used to claim the area around a cannon easily and quickly on top of obtaining a large amount of Golden Eggs. Keep in mind that Big Shots can spawn very, very often when a cannon is placed. On higher difficulties, this can mean a nonstop assault of cannonballs, and a lot of enemies to back them up.


Drizzler’s missiles being both fairly predictable and redirectable is a huge tool for those who know how to use it. As mentioned before, Flyfish can be killed with a well aimed missile. All bosses (except for Steel Heads) can be killed very quickly with these. High damage weapons like Splatlings or a Luna Blaster very easily take care of unprotected Drizzlers. Players can also fire at them when they reposition, though this is difficult to do. They are also killed by all piercing specials.


Their bombs are annoying for sure, but typically they offer very quick damage in a large area. Just like the Flyfish and Drizzler, Steel Heads can be taken care of with piercing specials. A prepared sniper can easily take care of a Steelhead and everything around that.

A sniper aims at a Steelhead, preparing to blow it up. - Splatoon 3 Salmon Run Guide

A sniper aims at a Steelhead, preparing to blow it up.

Steel Eels

Typically the easiest way to deal with Steel Eels is to lead it to where players can easily kill it. Splat bombs also explode immediately when they hit the eel, which can be used for quick damage on nearby enemies. They take a lot of space and control it very well though, so make sure they’re not in tight corridors or places where escape is difficult.


Flipper Floppers can take control of an area instantly, yet they are one of the weaker bosses in Salmon Run. When their zone is cleared, it cannot get inked by Salmonids. This means a temporary but useful area to hold when low on ink. Apart from that, there’s very little interaction between Flipper-Floppers and other bosses.

A Steel Eel unable to paint ground for a short time as a Flipper Flipper lays on the ground. - Splatoon 3 Salmon Run Guide

A Steel Eel unable to paint ground for a short time as a Flipper Flipper lays on the ground.


Weapons like Blasters and Shooters make quick work of Stingers with area-of-effect or frequent damage, as each pot has little health. Chargers and Rollers struggle to take care of them efficiently so keep that in mind.


Keep in mind which way a Scrapper is facing – hitting them to face a wall is awkward. They can also provide cover for Salmonids behind them, which can be awkward. Using a piercing special might be of use, since they can pile up at higher difficulties.

Slammin Lid

The Slammin Lid is an interesting tool to use in a Salmon Run. Because they can instantly kill anything below them, baiting bosses like Scrappers or Steel Heads into the shield range can be very beneficial. They can also be used as high ground if needed, though players will be knocked off after some time on a lid. As with Steel Eels, throwing a bomb at the shield blows it up instantly.

A Slammin' Lid almost perfectly covering a Fish Stick.

A Slammin’ Lid almost perfectly covering a Fish Stick.

Fish Stick

Fish Siticks offer important strategic placements for long range weapons like Splatlings or Chargers, as most Salmonids cannot climb the stick. Do be careful of Maws, which can pop up suddenly and can be hard to avoid if you’re busy hitting the Smallfry on the Fish Stick. Flyfish missiles almost instantly hit the top of a Fish Stick if a player is on top, making it much harder to avoid too – happens more than you’d think! Finally, Drizzlers – they can be an issue as standing still on a stick with a storm overhead is very likely to kill a player. Thankfully this is usually not an issue as a player on a Fish Stick can easily send their missiles back at them.

However, beyond those two issues, they offer strategic and relatively safe vantage points for a small price. Sometimes weaker Salmonids will even build up at the base, unable to climb, allowing for an easy splat bomb drop or another player to finish them off. They also allow for weapons to easily target Steel Heads and avoid all the shorter bosses.

The view of Sockeye Station from the top of a Fish Stick on medium tide. - Splatoon 3 Salmon Run Guide

Sockeye Station from atop a Fish Stick.


Maws are excellent at being taken to near the basket, then defeated. That gives a free 3 Golden Egg bonus right away. If you happen to have 2 Maws popping up near the same place, only 1 splat bomb is necessary to take them out, too!

King Salmonid – Cohozuna

As of right now, there is only one King Salmonid in the game. The King appears on the Xtrawave, a wave that happens only when all players have a decently full salm-o-meter (or “smell meter” internally) total. The goal is to do as much damage as possible in order to get Fish Scales and to survive, as usual. Killing the King Salmonid instantly ends the wave and completes the run.

King Salmonid growling during its spawn animation.

King Salmonid growling during its spawn animation.

The difficulty with Cohozuna is rarely the king itself. The problem is the absurd amount of damage that the King can take makes it impossible to reasonably target anything behind it, and it’s by far the largest Salmonid, including stuff like the Slammin Lid’s shield and the Mothership. 

Taking care of other bosses is extremely important in an Xtrawave. They provide significant damage through launching Golden Eggs, for both the King and other bosses. Using a Golden Egg against is never a bad idea – it will be a net gain of 2 Golden Eggs instantly and at very little risk. Otherwise, bombard the King as much as possible!

Lastly, make sure to use specials in only two situations: to take care of a large group of Salmonids, ideally bosses, or to hit the King Salmonid near the end of the round. Extra damage on the King is always nice, but shouldn’t be used immediately – Golden Eggs do 600 damage flat on hit. All three Killer Wails targeting one enemy does 660. Prioritize obtaining eggs over doing damage to the King. That being said, if you don’t have bosses near you and it’s near the end of the round, specials are perfect. Only exception is the Crab Tank – using only the main shoot option, it does well over 3000 damage to a single target. If there’s any special you prioritize for the King directly, it’d be that.

Salmon Run Events

There are many events that occur in Splatoon 3’s Salmon Run. These events can vastly change the way enemies spawn or work.

  1. Normal
  2. Rush (or Glowflies)
  3. Mudmouth
  4. Cohock Charge
  5. Mothership
  6. Fog
  7. Goldie Seeking (or Gushers)
  8. Grillers
  9. Tornado

Apart from the normal waves, which don’t have any special gimmick, these will be explained in-depth.

Rush (or Glowflies)

Generally the way to survive a Rush is to group up as a team of four, defending an area with only one entry point. Chargers, rollers and piercing or area-of-effect weapons like Blasters can make nice work of the Chums. Rollers especially can just stand at the entry point, rolling over anything that comes by – an incredibly powerful tool for defense. Goldies tend to push into the roller as well, dying even faster than normal. It’s still very hectic, but defending a spot helps a ton. This is especially notable on Marooner’s Bay, where standing near the egg basket makes for a perfect defense point.

Line of Chums and Goldies rushing towards the glowfly player.

Line of Chums and Goldies rushing towards the glowfly player.

Using specials can be borderline necessary. Large specials like a Booyah Bomb or Inkjet are incredibly useful. Inkjet especially allows you to survive longer and do nice area of effect damage.


Due to the lack of other boss salmonids, these waves tend to be significantly more manageable when compared to even normal waves. Flyfish and Stingers aren’t able to disrupt your movement, Scrappers and Steel Eels can’t shield other salmonids, and so on. Furthermore, the first two Mudmouths spawn entirely alone, which means a pretty easy 6-10 Golden Eggs before you have to be too careful. Golden Mudmouths can be an issue with the amount of Cohocks that spawn, but piercing weapons like Chargers or the Explosher can shred through them quickly. However, normal Mudmouths that spawn Smallfry can also overwhelm players, especially Chargers that struggle at hitting several small targets. Piercing specials can kill Mudmouths too in a pinch.

A Golden Mudmouth with a line of Cohocks exiting.

A Golden Mudmouth with a line of Cohocks exiting.

Cohock Charge

This is a very straightforward event. The turrets offer incredible offensive capabilities at near infinite range. They help in removing the mass of Cohocks, but they’re incredibly helpful against bosses as well. Flyfish are easily killed by the turret’s rockets, and the fire rate makes them really easy to take out. Stingers, Scrappers, Big Shots, and Steel Eels can be trivialized when in a turret. The only thing to keep in mind is players need to retrieve Golden Eggs – 2 people on turrets and 2 people getting the eggs is usually pretty solid. Just make sure no Flyfish or Maws target you while you’re in a turret, as they’re very hard to see.

Cohock Charge showing the charge and the turret.

Cohock Charge showing the charge and the turret.


After some time, the Mothership will begin to approach the egg basket. Once it gets there, it will suction eggs out of the basket until it is defeated. This is arguably the most major threat throughout the entire wave, as the eggs it takes cannot be recovered directly. That being said, long range weapons can easily target the Mothership far before it gets to the basket. Chargers, Jet Squelchers, Exploshers, Crab Tanks and more do very well in keeping it at bay. Note that using Booyah Bombs or Triple Inkstrikes can instantly kill Chinooks that spawn from the Mothership, dropping a lot of additional Golden Eggs right next to the basket. Keep that in mind!

A heavily damaged Mothership stealing eggs from the basket.

A heavily damaged Mothership stealing eggs from the basket.


Only major thing to keep in mind is to use your “This Way” command to keep others in the loop. This is useful for pointing out where Salmonids are coming from and for large Golden Egg drops. Goldies can be baited near the basket as well! Goldies follow the last player that hit them, which makes it easy to guide them wherever.

Goldie Seeking (or Gushers)

This event is very straightforward. Use “This Way” to notify your teammates that you found a Goldie when you do, and you should be good. A fun little tactic, however, is standing in front of the Goldie’s path with a roller held out. This makes the Goldie repeatedly run into your roller, doing high damage with ease – especially with Dynamo Rollers. This tactic works with the Rush too!

Goldie standing on a gusher shortly after erupting.

Goldie standing on a gusher shortly after erupting.

Goldies also drop different amounts of Golden Eggs and do so differently than all other bosses. Rather than being quickly killed, dropping 3 Golden Eggs (or Goldies usual 1, 3, 5 or 10 random drops), they take damage over a period of time. After certain health thresholds, they drop a single Golden Egg. After a ton of health, they die, dropping 3 Golden Eggs – no range.


Grillers are brutal. They can be very difficult for short range weapons (like Brushes) to hit, their Smallfry swarms overwhelm weapons like Jet Squelchers and Chargers, and their instant kill behavior is tough to play against. Due to all of this, teamwork is of utmost importance. Rollers, Blasters and Sloshers make the quickest work of the horde of Smallfry. Chargers, Splatlings and Shooters are good at taking care of the Grillers themselves. Don’t be afraid to use your specials here – it’s brutal and you need whatever you can get.

Note! High damage weapons like Grizzco weapons, a Hydra Splatling or an E-Liter can instantly (or near-instantly) stun Grillers at low risk. A single fully charged E-Liter will always instantly stnun a Griller at very low risk.


Now, that would be tough if that were it. However, each Golden Egg deposited counts as 2. That makes these rounds quite easy, even in higher difficulties. In my personal experience, I have never lost a Tornado round and they’re my favorite event. Bias aside, just make sure to not get rained upon and chain your Golden Eggs effectively. Marooner’s Bay especially is quick if you’re efficient – throw the eggs over the side of the spawn area makes it super quick.

Weapons Strategies

With all of the info out of the way, we can delve a little deeper into how weapons fit into gameplay, where to be in maps to defend, and so on. The weapon variety in Splatoon 3’s Salmon Run is impressive, though it’s important to note that no sub-weapons apart from Splat Bombs are usable.

Single-Target Weapons

Chargers, Shooters, Brellas, Dualies, Stringers, Splatanas and Brushes fit in this category. Because of how they work, they tend to take care of single targets very well. Most bosses are easy to take down with these as they have either high range, good defenses or good movement.

Stringers are easily the most single-target focused weapon in the game, so they’re a bit different. They can’t take out Stingers very well, and neither can chargers. Chargers also can struggle putting down a lot of paint. Keep in place and a charger or stringer is a powerful tool for long-ranged damage! REEF-LUX also paints super well, so keep that in mind.

Shooters and brushes are very similar in their high fire rate, low damage, middling range. These can all do well against multiple targets due to either high fire rate or piercing, keep that in mind. Splatanas can also fit here, as they can pierce with melee and very high close range damage. All of these paint quite well, so support your teammates with worse painting weapons!

Finally, for all brellas but Undercover Brella, shooting out the brella is a powerful tool, especially against weaker Salmonids. Note that bumping into enemies with the shield up can do extra damage easily, especially with Undercover Brella. Shooting up close while bumping with the brella is fun and a bit quicker, if risky.

Multi-Target Weapons

Blasters, Rollers, Sloshers and Splatlings fit into this category. Blasters, sloshers and rollers mow through weak Salmonids with ease, and Splatlings tear through just about anything after some time charging. Apart from Blasters, all of these also paint very well when used properly, so keep that in mind!

Blasters excel at taking care of groups of enemies, especially those funneled by pathways or chokepoints. They also demolish Stingers super quickly due to their large hitbox. Plus, as usual, aiming is more of a suggestion with Blasters. Sloshers are similar, though they’re weak against Stingers. Slosh over a group of enemies to do optimal crowd control.

Rollers run through enemies very well, especially Dynamo. Dynamo can run over Cohocks without stopping. All of them paint quite well too, giving good options for escape, and high damage as well.  Note that with all rollers, flicking next to a Salmonid will hit it with the flick, and then immediately hit it with the roll. Very useful for quick damage! Sometimes, the game doesn’t bump you back if you do this too, allowing for a ton of damage very quickly. You’d also be surprised how well you can survive surrounded by just rolling in circles, as rollers push enemies back.

Finally, Splatlings. These have the highest damage per second of any weapon in the game per full charge, and it’s not even close. Hydra Splatling does over 2000 damage per full charge, which is borderline absurd. They also tend to have high range, so support other players if you have one! Mini Splatlings want to be in the frontlines, though, due to their tiny charge time and good mobility.

Grizzco Weapons

The only “class” of weapons not mentioned here are the Grizzco weapons. Grizzco weapons only appear on a rare ???? rotation, shown below.

Green ???? appearing instead of weapons in the lobby menu. - Splatoon 3 Salmon Run Guide

Green ???? appearing instead of weapons.

Green ???? rotations mean any weapon, including certain Grizzco weapons, can appear. There is no set rotation in any manner. For example, in the rotation shown, you could get any weapon and the Grizzco Charger. The Grizzco Charger is a charger that is instantly at full power – no charge time – and devours ink. Otherwise, it’s comparable to an E-Liter crossed with a Bamboozler. If they are to return in Splatoon 3, Yellow ???? rotations mean exclusively Grizzco weapons are played. It’s also important to note that Big Run will always have a Green ???? rotation for variety.

All Grizzco weapons are incredibly powerful, and easily take care of massive groups of enemies. Only thing to keep in mind is the ink usage of certain weapons like the Grizzco Slosher and Grizzco Stringer. The Grizzco Slosher and Grizzco Splatana are also notable in that they pierce all armor; going through Scrappers, Drizzlers, Steel Heads, and Flyfish directly. They’re, in short terms, overpowered.


Finally, maps. Maps drastically change the way players move and what positions they should defend. For example, Spawning Grounds on high tide is almost exclusively grates, making ink recovery, movement and defense much, much harder. On the contrary, Marooner’s Bay is very large even on high tide, with almost exclusively paintable ground and a lot of land. Splatoon 3’s Salmon Run is currently made up of 2 original maps and 2 maps returning from Splatoon 2. This does not include Big Run maps, as they’re picked within a week of Big Run and likely won’t return soon.

Sockeye Station

A very well rounded map. It has a lot of space on medium tide, a fair amount of space on high tide, and a lookout tower. The tower is probably the most defendable place in any map as it has both a vertical access and a ramp up to it, making for quick player access but slow Salmonid access. Naturally, you’ll want to defend the tower in most situations, and it’s an invaluable spot for any Chargers or Stringers. Surprisingly, the spawn is also a very respectable place to defend. You’ll want to keep bosses like Fish Sticks and Drizzlers away, and keeping the space open for direct Golden Egg deposits is incredibly important. That’s true of all maps, but here it’s something important.

Arial view of Sockeye Station.

Arial view of Sockeye Station.

Chargers, keep your eyes peeled to support front line fighters. Front line fighters, keep the walls of the spiral painted – especially the ones opposite to spawn on medium tide. It makes movement a lot easier! Furthermore, long and even some medium range weapons have an easy time hitting the Mothership before it arrives on the tower.

Gone Fission Hydroplant

On medium tide, this map can be a little hard to traverse. The outer walls of the main map are not paintable, which makes it significantly harder to move around in, especially if you fall off of the top. Speaking of, the highest peaks on this map tend to be very easily overrun by bosses like Fish Sticks and Drizzlers. That means it can be hard to control those high spots, but with two or three people there it’s very manageable. That being said, the way the map is designed has two very direct corridors, allowing players to bottleneck enemies and control the swarm.

Arial view of Gone Fission Hydroplant.

Arial view of Gone Fission Hydroplant.

The map’s layout also allows for shorter range weapons to easily hit tall bosses like Steel Heads or Slammin Lids. Fish Sticks also rise much, much higher over the whole map that on other maps. Fish Sticks can’t go on Sockeye Station’s Tower, and Marooner’s Bay and Spawning Grounds have very flat high ground.

Long range weapons have a large area to roam, which gives them a ton of freedom. Furthermore, even on middle tide the front line is pretty near the basket which means long range support can be very useful. Escaping to the lower ground in middle tide can provide a useful, if temporary, escape option. Finally, throwing bombs into the corridors is a very quick way to get a ton of damage in, as with all area-of-effect weapons. Make sure to ink the interior walls too! Moving up them can provide pivotal escapes when spawn is overrun.

Spawning Grounds

On a subjective note, probably the most difficult map. Back to objectivity, this map is very unique in its layout. It’s very large on medium tide, average on low, but deceptively small for high tide. The higher areas make extensive use of grates, making movement, ink recovery, and map control very difficult. As Salmonids do not need paintable ground in order to move, this also only negatively affects players. On high tide, this can be a massive issue, as most of the ground isn’t very playable. Being overrun is an even bigger issue on this map. Low tide is fairly average; the three peninsulas offer three clear bottlenecks, but they’re fairly open anyway.

Arial shot of Spawning Grounds, showcasing the main mid-tide area.

Arial shot of Spawning Grounds, showcasing the main mid-tide area.

That being said, the map is very open and very free. It’s almost a line even on high tide, so Salmonids get bottlenecked very easily. Good players can use this to their advantage and keep the swarm down with good area-of-effect weapons or chargers shooting down a line. Furthermore, the “tower” next to the basket offers a central place for chargers to have very clear vantage points on most of the map. Blasters also have a nicer time exploding in the open area. Just make sure to defend the grated area well and you’ll do well!

Marooner’s Bay

A returning map from Splatoon 2, Marooner’s Bay offers a very large passageway from everywhere to spawn. This means high levels of swarm control are necessary to push the Salmonid front back before it gets too close. Chargers don’t have as clear of a place to stand here, either – the tip of the boat is the best but can be directly attacked by Fish Sticks, Maws and Drizzlers very easily. It’s also a very large map, meaning Stingers and Flyfish offer up even more of a danger when not kept in check. The propeller-lifted pillars on each side of the boat offer very unique movement options however, especially for moving Golden Eggs around. Players can get Maws and Scrappers and sometimes even Steel Heads to climb up, making the distance between them and the egg basket much, much shorter.

Arial view of Marooner's Bay, showcasing the boat and the area around it.

Arial view of Marooner’s Bay, showcasing the boat and the area around it.

Marooner’s Bay tests your movement, stage awareness and defensive capabilities. Despite being a large area, being overrun is still a very real possibility. Keep defensive bosses like Slammin Lids, Steel Eels, Scrappers and Steel Heads away from the basket as they can make getting anywhere very difficult. That being said, the tight corridor that the boat makes gives piercing specials like Booyah Bombs incredible power, especially on high tide.

Final Strategies

Throwing Golden Eggs is necessary. If you master the throw, you and your team will be significantly more efficient, even in normal waves.

Splat bomb usage when your main weapon is out of range is useful. It both paints well and does solid area-of-effect damage where some weapons might struggle. Plus, throwing a splat bomb at the end of a wave allows for free paint for the next wave! Speaking of, between waves (and before the Xtrawave), paint! It allows quicker and easier control of the map, giving you free time to cover more land.

Finally, Dualies offer a little more movement than other sets. This can make for somewhat easier escapes when a Drizzler ink storms you or when a Flyfish’s missiles are tailing you. Do be aware of the recovery lag though, as you have to plant your feet down for a while on some Dualies.

Hope this guide helped all of you! Good luck, and happy running!

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