Kayaks are awesome for getting you into skinny water where few other boats can. After you’ve padded up creek and sighted that monstah bass the last thing you want is for the wind to start whisking you away. Proper kayak anchors can help you avoid getting pushed around by the breeze and keep you on some fish. We’ve rounded up both the most popular anchor types and anchoring systems for kayaks.
Not every kayak anchor system can accommodate every anchor type. So it’s important to match the shape and weight of your anchor to the system you’re using.
Kayak Anchoring Systems and Anchors
It doesn’t get much simpler than grabbing a rope, tying it to something heavy, and throwing it overboard. That’s effectively all a throw anchor is. Throw anchors typically have a float at the top of a long length of rope. The float is especially handy because you can leave your anchor and come back to it later, and with any luck it’ll still be there. This feature, along with its simplicity, is one of a throw anchor’s biggest advantages.
Throw anchors are especially useful for in-shore and off-shore deep water because they can be easily made to any desired length. Just tie some cord or rope to an anchor and then tie on a float near the top. Put all of that in a bag and throw it on your yak before you hit the waves. If you want to get fancy you can tie a carabiner or snap-hook for to easily secure the rope to the boat.
While the throw anchor isn’t exactly elegant or high-tech it is is an incredibly simply and versatile anchoring solution. Sure you might get your hands wet, but you won’t put a dent in your wallet or be that upset if you end up losing it.
The Brush Gripper is an ingenious device every river paddler should have in their arsenal, and this isn’t our first time touting it’s utility. While the Brush Gripper will keep you in place it does so by grabbing a branch or tree limb rather than the river bottom. Paracord routed through the handle of the gripper ensures a proper grip. As the current pulls the cord more taut the pressure causes the gripper to clamp together with greater force. Because of this feature it’s more likely that the tree branch your on will break before the Brush Gripper does, so choose your shrubbery carefully.
You might be wondering why you would want a Brush Gripper, especially if you’ve already got an anchor system installed. First off – redundancy is a great practice for kayak angling. Second, the Brush Gripper has a ton of practical uses. It makes anchoring near the bank an absolute breeze. It also comes in handy when you’re hanging out on shore and don’t want your yak to drift away. Just grip it on a branch and you can quickly resume your beer can shotgun challenge with your friends. For under $20 this is an excellent piece of kit. Grab some extra cord while you’re at it
An Anchor Lock is a simple mechanism that aids in dropping and raising your anchor. The stem has a lever that applies pressure on the rope which prevents the anchor from dropping prematurely. Lift the rope up at an an angle and the lever disengages which allows the rope to fall freely. Anchor locks are pretty robust systems and will work with heavy anchors. The biggest downside is that you’re pot committed to your anchors location; it’s impossible to change it up on the fly, since you know, it’s locked.
Scotty’s is one of the oldest and better known brands in marine accessories. Their kayak anchor lock comes in both permanent and base mounted versions. The 2″ wide base will fit on most gunwales or bows and the lock can rotate around the base for fine tuning. The lock easily detaches from the base mounted version for easy storage during transport.
Where you attach your anchor line on a kayak is just as important as what you’ve got on the other end of the rope. Depending on the conditions you might want to have your bow facing the current so you can cast for a more natural presentation. Or, if there’s a honey hole downstream from you, then stopping north with your stern in the current makes more sense. Making these changes manually can be difficult and dangerous. Unclipping an anchor line under tension can easily put you in a compromising situation and quickly lead to a yardsale (capsize).
Anchor Trolleys provide a quick and convenient way to switch up your anchoring secure point. Two pulleys and some line guides mount to the side of your yak. With just a tug of the rope you can move the the line forward and aft. In practice the trolley makes it incredibly easy to launch the anchor, position it to the bow, and then re-position it by your hands for retrieval all without leaving your seat. Anchor Trolleys are one of the most popular kayak anchor systems because of their low cost and versatility. If you want to keep your hands dry you can pair an Anchor Trolley with the Anchor Wizard Crank for maximum efficiency.
Bruce VanScoyoc was tired of pulling up anchors by hand from cold waters during Michingan winters. Pondering a better way he found inspiration in the cranking mechanism of a hose reel. A few prototypes later and the anchor wizard was born.
The Anchor Wizard is one of the best kayak anchor systems out there. It provides a trouble-free and dry anchoring experience. A crank with a clutch controls the anchor tension. Turn it left and your anchor starts to sink. Turn it right and the clutch engages which will stop any more line from playing out. Keep turning right and your anchor comes back to the boat. A shoot tube mounts near the edge of the boat and helps store your anchor above the gunwales when it’s fully retracted.
If you’re in the market for an anchor wizard you’ll definitely want to plan your layout. We highly recommend using a piece of t-track in order to help mount the shoot tube. The t-track will allow you to fine-tune the tube’s position for just the right placement. Yak Attack’s t-track eyelets are also incredibly helpful in keeping the line between the tube and crank out of your way. The anchor wizard will work with a wide variety of anchor types. Make sure you use something under 8 lbs – anything greater exceeds the wizard’s drag limit and won’t retrieve. Finally the Anchor Wizard is available in a full sized (pictured) and low profile version for those who frequent shallower waters.
Power Pole Micro Anchor
The Power Pole Micro-Anchor is the high-tech anchoring solution for shallow water kayakers. There’s no more getting your hands wet, pulling up rope, or cranking in weight. Just the press of a button and your anchored. Press “Up” and you’re free from your mooring. The micro-anchor combines a linear actuator with a stake out pole for an automated and hands-free anchoring experience.
The micro anchor only weighs around 11 lbs with mount and pole attached. Most higher end fishing kayaks have dedicated well nuts molded in on the stern to accept a power pole micro anchor. The Kaku Kayaks Kaku Voodoo currently leads the pack with 5 different mounting positions around the stern. Since this is an electric piece of kit you’ll need to either spring for the custom battery or wire it up to your own solution. At $600 the Power Pole Micro Anchor is a serious investment. But if you’re sick of getting blown around in shallow waters than there’s probably no better kayak anchor system than the power pole micro-anchor.
When you think of an anchor you probably imagine classic naval stock-less anchor, the one Popeye had tattooed on his arm. Grapnel style anchors are a close approximation of the classic sailor jerry designs your grandpa sported. 4 prongs fold down from a main stem to grip onto the ocean floor. Grapnels work best when there’s something for them to hold onto. They’re great in rocky bottoms, gravel, or weedy substrate in low current environments. Use a grapnel in high wind and muddy waters and you’ll be dredging up clams as your dragged out to sea.
Most grapnel anchors are made from cast aluminum and are commonly available in sizes ranging from 1.5 lbs to 6 lbs. Grapnel anchors are fairly ubiquitous in big box stores with an outdoor section and are rarely priced greater than $30. If you’re looking for a slightly higher end option then check out Tightline Anchors. They took the grapnel design and tweaked it to provide greater grip at a lower weight. The stainless steel K4x weighs only 14 oz but provides greater grip than anchors twice its size. Best of all it fits perfectly in the anchor wizard shoot tube.
It’s a great practice to tie your line to the bottom loop (underneath the folding arms) and use a zip-tie or string to secure the line to the top loop. This “break-away” configuration will make it a lot easier to retrieve your anchor if it gets stuck.
Mushroom anchors are named after their shape, which is essentially an upside down toadstool. They’ve been around since the 1800’s and are generally reserved for smaller vessels. In larger boats their higher weight requirements make them impracticale. The rule of thumb is that a mushroom anchor should weigh 10 times the lenght of the vessel. So a 30′ sailboat would need a 300 lb anchor. Good luck hauling that up.
Mushroom anchors excel with smaller craft, i.e. kayaks, and work best in muddy or silty bottoms. Once they’re wedged into the soft sea floor they’ll create a suction effect that aids in keeping your vessel in place. If you’re out on the mud-flats or salt marshes then an 8 lb mushroom anchor is an excellent option for keeping your kayak stationary. Mushroom anchors are easy to find and generally pretty cheap – we’ve seen 8 lbers going for between $10 and $15 in big box stores fairly often.
Kettle Bell/Down-Line Weight
Most anchors are designed to hold between 10x and 200x their weight in the water. Since most kayaks are well under the 500 lb range, even with a portly paddler and all your gear, it doesn’t take much to keep them put. An 8 lb kettle bell will keep all but the biggest kayaks put in calm waters. Kettle bells are available in most fitness stores and usually aren’t that expensive. The big handle makes it super easy to tie a line onto. And the large spherical shape makes it harder to get snagged on a rock.
Down-Line weights are pretty similar to a kettle bell in that it’s a heavy spherical object. They’re typically used in deep sea fishing and are designed to get bait deep into the strike zone. They also happen to make a great anchor for a kayak. Down-line weights are common at ocean side tackle shops and come in a variety of weights. We like the 6 lb version especially because it’s usually just the right size to fit an anchor wizard shoot tube.
If you’ve ever drifted down a river you’ll know that it’s usually best to go with the flow. But sometimes you might want to slow it down a little. It can be a struggle to stay put or paddle upstream. So the best option can be to just slow things down. That’s where a drag chain comes into play. Rather than trying to keep you put a drag chain will act as a brake, slowing your descent.
There aren’t any off the shelf options for a drag chain so this is one kayak anchor you’ll need to make yourself. Luckily it’s probably the easiest kayak mod you can do. Grab a length of 3/4″ chain and snap it on to a carabiner. Wrap the chain in something to deaden the clanging and you’re set to jet. You can loop the chain or use multiple shots in a cat of nine tails configuration. Plastidip, an old rod sock, or even duct tape will all mute your chain and keep your approach stealthy.
A drift sock, also known as a drogue, works in the same manner as a drag chain. It’s like driving with e-brake on. You’ll still go, but you know….slower. The drift sock is a big parachute and sits higher in the water column than a drag chain, typically just below the surface. Drift sock’s are great for deeper rivers or offshore where currents and wind are strong. It’ll also help to keep your boat straight – the tension from the drogue will keep your bow pointed into the current. A drift sock combined with an anchor trolley will let you dial in your angle to get the best position to line up repeat perfect casts.
Stake Out Pole
Heavy mud and silty bottoms can be difficult to anchor in. Loose sediment doesn’t always provide enough purchase on anchors that just drop down. Strong currents and winds can easily push you around and your anchor will drag and stir up muck that will cloud your view. Even worse is that you might get drug too close to the fish you’re targeting and spook them. One of the better options for staying put in shallow and silty water is a stake out pole.
Stake Out Poles are an excellent kayak anchor option for anglers who frequent saltwater marshes, mud flats, or sandy bottom rivers. It’s simply a 4-8′ pole that you shove deep into the mud and tie your line to. As you float down-current your pole will stay put and you’ll be in the perfect range for your quarry. This is a simple DIY project but there are plenty of great commercial options as well.
One helpful hint regarding stake out poles – don’t succumb to temptation and put them through your scupper holes. The friction and stress will wear out the plastic in your hull quickly leading to cracks and splintering. Always stake your pole outside of the yak and tie your anchor line to it.
If you’re fortunate enough to spend your days kayaking to and from sandbars, or posting up on sandy beaches, than the Sand Shark might be right up your alley. The Sand Shark is an auger anchor. A screw tip and handle drive the anchor deep into the sand to provide sufficient mooring power for a wide range of personal watercraft. It’s perfect for the impromptu beer on the beach or a sandy soiree if you’re riding tandem.
Sand Shark offers a wide variety of different auger anchor types. They’re all pretty similar in design but differ in dimensions and materials. We like the shorter stainless steel versions – they’re small enough to throw in your bow hatch and will easily hold you in pace. The Sand Shark is a unique anchor type and really only a very select lucky few paddlers will find this truly useful. Consider grabbing the Sand Shark if you spend a lot of your fishing time around sandy shores.
Yak Logic Kayak Anchors Conclusion
Anchoring isn’t exactly as fun to think about as new fishing lures or fancy pedal drives. But the right proper kayak anchoring system can make one of the biggest differences in your experience on the water. For any new or prospective kayakers out there we highly encourage you to invest in the best kayak anchor system you can afford. If nothing else grab some weight and a dumbbell and use that. Let us know if you’ve found any kayak anchors that we didn’t and happy fishing!