Why Kayaks Need Anchors
Most every kayak needs an anchor. Anchors serve two purposes. First, in the event that you lose your paddle or are physically incapacitated, anchoring is the best way to prevent your kayak from drifting into a dangerous area, such as a rocky shore with breaking surf, towards a waterfall or a constricted channel filled with moving boats. From an angling perspective, another use for an anchor is to keep your kayak stationary against wind and current and free your hands so you can fish while your kayak remains perched over your favorite hot spot.
What type of anchor should you choose?
Most kayakers use a 1 1/2- to 3-pound folding grapnel anchor, which is easy to store. For calm lakes or rivers with little or no wind or current, a smaller anchor is generally ok, but for areas with surge, wind and current, a heavier anchor is better. Grapnel anchors and anchor line can be purchased separately or as part of a Grapnel Anchor Kit for Kayaks. If you will be using your anchor when fishing, we suggest you invest in an anchor trolley system. Used along with your kayak’s anchor, these systems create an adjustable attachment point and enable you to easily orient your kayak in relation to wind and current to optimize the direction of your casts.
Other anchors for your kayak
The small size of folded grapnel anchors makes them ideal for use on a kayak. However, other types of anchors can be used—but they can be difficult to store. For anchoring in rocky areas, Lewmar’s Claw Anchor in the 2.2- or 4-pound size is a good option. Pivoting fluke-style anchors offer good all-around performance and work especially well in sand or mud. Examples include the West Marine 4-Pound Traditional Fluke Anchor and the Fortress 2.5-pound Guardian Aluminum Anchor. The disadvantage of pivoting fluke-style anchors is the sharp points of their flukes, long shank and their stock (the bar that runs perpendicular to the shank) can make them difficult to store.
What about anchor poles?
Anchor poles are like a spear with a handle at one end that you use to push the pole into the bottom. If you have a sit-on-top kayak with scupper holes, you can simply push the pole through one of these holes and embed it in the bottom. Anchor poles can also be deployed outboard of a kayak and used along with an anchor trolley system as described above. Ease of use is what makes these poles an attractive option for anchoring a kayak. However, their use is limited to shallow water only.
When should I consider a drift anchor or drogue?
If you are a kayak angler who prefers drift fishing as opposed to fishing from a stationary location, consider using a drift anchor. Drift anchors, also called drogues, are like a small parachute that you drag in the water to reduce your rate of drift and keep your boat perpendicular to waves for enhanced stability and comfort in windy conditions. Drogues, like stationary anchors, can also be used along with an anchor trolley to adjust your kayak’s position in relation to wind and waves.
Think in terms of a complete ground tackle system.
When selecting an anchor for your kayak, think of it as part of a complete ground tackle system. A kayak’s ground tackle system includes the rode, which is normally a length of nylon cord that attaches to a shackle which attaches to the anchor itself. The rode should be long enough to provide adequate “scope.” Scope is defined as the ratio of water depth to the length of anchor line paid out. Most opinions agree that a scope of 7:1 is pretty good. This means that 10 feet of water requires a 70 foot rode. That might seem like a lot, but in all cases the rode must be long enough to enable the anchor to lay flat and dig in. You might be able to get by with less scope by adding a short length of chain to the anchor and then attaching your anchor line to that. Your system should include an anchor bag to contain all the components and make them easy to stow. If you are not planning to use an anchor trolley, you will need to install several cleats to which you will attach your anchor line. Nylon horn cleats are good. We suggest one each at the bow and stern and at least one on each side. When installing cleats, make sure to include backing plates to distribute the load when anchoring.