Engineered log jams (ELJs) are increasingly being used in large rivers to create fish habitat and as an alternative to riprap for bank stabilization. However, there have been few studies that have systematically examined how juvenile salmonids utilized these structures relative to other available habitat. We examined Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), coho salmon (O. kisutch) and trout (O. mykiss and O. clarki) response to the placement of engineered log jams (ELJs) in the Elwha River, Washington State, USA. We used summer snorkel surveys and a paired control-treatment design to determine how engineered log jams in a large river system affect the density of juvenile salmon. We hypothesized that densities of juvenile salmonids would be greater in habitats with ELJs than in habitats without ELJs in the Elwha River and that this ELJ effect would vary by species and size class. Juvenile salmonid density was higher in ELJ units for all control-treatment pairs except for one pair in 2002 and one pair in 2003. Positive mean differences in juvenile salmon densities between ELJ and non-ELJ units were observed in two of four years for all juvenile salmon, trout greater than 100 mm and juvenile Chinook salmon. Positive mean differences occurred in one of 4 years for juvenile coho salmon and trout less than 100 mm. The results suggest that ELJs are potentially useful for restoring juvenile salmon habitat in the Elwha River, Washington State, USA. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.