The six tries were shared, but Salford scrum-half Marc Sneyd, an off-season signing from Hull, put the boot into his former club, landing seven goals from as many attempts.
Castleford had seven new signings in their 17 - one fewer than Salford - and Joe Westerman was the pick of them.
Salford were the better team and worthy winners. There were numerous errors, particularly early on, from both teams, but the visitors were more desperate.
Castleford looked vulnerable on their right side and their attack never really got going. Late on, Jake Mamo made a break, but Bureta Faraimo wasn't on the same wavelength and the pass went into touch, which summed up Tigers' lack of cohesion.
Scrappy the game may have been, but it was end-to-end, the lead changed hands throughout the first half and there were some good tries scored, especially the visitors’ third.
Salford were caught offside in front of their own posts twice in the opening 10 minutes and Tigers tapped both, which proved to be a mistake.
The first was wasted by a knock-on at the play the ball and on the second occasion they created some space on their right, but the pass from Niall Evalds which sent Bureta Faraimo over was forward.
After 12 minutes it was Tigers’ turn to be caught offside close to their line and Sneyd took the two.
Most of Tigers’ new faces were involved in the set leading up to the opening try on 18 minutes, Mahe Fonua and Kenny Edwards in particular rocking Salford with strong carries before, on the last, Paul McShane dabbed a kick over the line which George Griffin touched down.
Danny Richardson added the extras, but Salford regained the lead with some inventive play 10 minutes later. Sneyd caught Tigers unawares with a kick to Joe Burgess from deep in the visitors’ territory; the winger could not go all the way, but Salford moved the ball right and Ken Sio went over at the corner from Tim Lafai’s pass.
Tigers did show what they are capable of when they scored a fine try to go in front for the second time, on the half hour. Jake Trueman, returning from the back injury which plagued him last year, set the ball rolling and Evalds and Edwards were also involved as play was moved left to Fonua and his pass gave Derrell Olpherts lots of room to cross against his former club.
That was unconverted and Salford stunned the home team with back-to-back tries just before the break, in what was the defining period of the game. First King Vuniyayawa - the Fijian prop who joined Salford from Leeds Rhinos at the end of last year - crashed over from close-range; then straight from the restart Deon Cross went over following Joe Burgess’ break.
Castleford finished the half a man down after Faraimo was sin-binned in the final minute for a high tackle on Shane Wright.
Olpherts went over for his second try, which Richardson improved from the corner, eight minutes into the second period, but Sneyd booted two more penalties to give Salford a two-score advantage going into the final quarter and then added yet another with eight minutes left, before hitting a post with a drop goal attempt in the final seconds.
Radford admitted: "We werer second-best, but there is so much improvement in us and that's what we'll be striving for next week.
"It shows where we're at and what we need to be better at."
Castleford Tigers: Evalds, Faraimo, Mamo, Fonua, Olpherts, Trueman, Richardson, Smith, McShane, Griffin, Edwards, Sutcliffe, Westerman. Subs Turner, Watts, Lawler, Matagi.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Sio, Lafai, Cross, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Akauola, Ackers, Burke, Wright, Greenwood, Taylor. Subs Addy, Vuniyayawa, Costello, Luckley.
Referee: Tom Grant (Leeds).
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