How to Anchor a Kayak in 4 Easy Steps

Last Updated on April 25, 2021 by KayakPro

While you’re using your kayak, you might reach a pretty location where you want to stop for a little to take a nice photo.

You might also be fishing on your kayak and it’s time to stop at the ideal fishing spot in the lake or river. The only problem is, you don’t know how to keep your kayak still.

Of course, you won’t be spending the rest of the day flapping around to keep the kayak apparently still. Instead, you need to know how to anchor a kayak.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about anchors and how to use them. This includes anchoring in still water or running current. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Types of Kayak Anchors

Many people that would simply use any heavy object tied to a kayak to keep it in place. However, this system is extremely inconvenient and can cause multiple problems.

With little thought and choosing the right type of equipment, you’ll be able to prevent tons of unwanted situations while in the middle of a lake.

Here are the types of kayak anchors that you may stumble across on your search.

Folding Grapnel Anchor

SEACHOICE Folding Grapnel Anchor 3-1/2 lbs. 41000

Folding grapnels are the most commonly used anchors among fishing kayaks. They’re the typical looking anchor with 4 folding flukes and a sliding locking collar along a metal bar. They’re usually tied to anchoring chains of suitable length.

It has a perfect level of grappling, which makes it ideal for most rough underwater grounds. They’re easy to store by unfolding and they’re available in different sizes for various water deepness levels.

Shallow waters a small anchor of about 1.5 lbs. However, deeper waters and faster tides need about 5 lbs or more, depending on your kayak size too.

Claw (Seahook) Anchor

They’re also known as “Bruce Anchors”. As the name suggests, these ones look like large hooks or claws, which are better at sticking to softer grounds like sand and mud.

Their main drawback is that they take a large space of the kayak. However, many new claw anchors are also available in folding varieties.

Similar to the folding grapnel anchor, the claw anchors also require an anchor chain for maximum efficiency.

Stake-Out Pole Anchors

Wang Anchor Stake Out Poles

Stake-out pole anchors are among the most affordable and easiest types to use. These anchors are simply durable poles that are made of fiberglass or PVC with sharp ends.

They don’t require anchor chains and can be used through scupper holes in the kayak.

They’re available in different lengths, starting from 5 and all the way to 12 feet. Unfortunately, they only work with calm water like shallow lakes and rivers.

Mud Anchors

These anchors are basically heavyweights with a durable chain tied to a kayak. They’re only suitable for limited uses. This includes soft lake beds with calm water and so on.

The commercial ones are known as “mushroom anchors” because of how they look. However, you can easily make them at home by doing the following:

  • Fill a flowerpot with cement or concrete
  • Add a hooking loop to it before it solidifies
  • Attach an anchoring chain or a nylon rope to it

Besides only working on shallow grounds, they’re also too heavy for their purpose, which makes them a bit inconvenient. Yet, they cost almost nothing to make.

Drift Chute

Drift chutes aren’t exactly anchors, as they don’t keep you still in the water. However, they can slow down the drifting of the kayak.

How to Anchor a Kayak in a Strong Current River

Here’s a step by step guide to anchor your kayak correctly in strong current.

Step #1: Choose the Right Type of Anchor for You

To choose the right type of anchor, you have to find the deepness of the lake or river you’re using the kayak in.

The most commonly used anchor for most situations is the folding grapnel hook. They’re easily stored and stock to most lake beds no matter their terrain.

For shallow water below 20 feet, a 1.5 lbs anchor will do. For deeper than 100 feet, you’ll need an anchor a large anchor of about 5 or 6 lbs.

You’ll also need to attach an anchor line to your anchor. However, nylon anchor lines can also do the trick, especially in shallower water.

For maximum efficiency, you need a chain link line. As a rule of thumb, for every 1 foot of water, you need 7 to 10 feet of anchor line.

Step #2: Add an Anchor Trolley System to the Kayak

As you already know, there are different types of anchors that suit different situations. However, anchoring the kayak isn’t always about anchoring itself, as there’s also the anchor trolley system, also known as the “running rig”.

This trolley is basically a loop or cord that runs between both anchor pulleys that are positioned at both ends of the kayak. This loop is joined with a ring-shaped structure at which you pass the anchor line.

Using the trolley, you’ll be able to switch the anchor between the two ends of a kayak and cast it at the side you prefer.

This system is extremely handy while in a kayak because it makes the job of switching the anchor from one end to the other a lot quicker and easier.

This is also much safer than switching the anchoring side manually, where you’ll face a lot of challenges to pull it off in the tight confinement of a kayak space.

Step #3: Choosing the Right Position for Anchoring

After choosing the right type of anchoring equipment, it’s time to link them with your kayak. In most situations, you need to anchor your kayak because you’re in any form of running current that can cause you to drift away. Usually, this comes in the form of wind, waves, or other flow.

In an ideal setting, you will need to sit in line with the direction of this current to reduce its impact on the kayak. This way, you’ll stay as stable as you can be.

For reference, the front of the kayak is called the bow while its back is called the stern. Also, the sides of the kayak are known as the beams.

As a rule of thumb, any kayak would be at its maximum stability along the length of its body rather than its sides. So, you should always tie your anchor to the bow or stern, but never to the beam.

Here’s a brief overview of the different locations where you can tie an anchor to your kayak. 

Positioning at the Stern

By positioning the anchor at the stern, it’ll be at the back of the kayak. This means that you’ll be sitting in the kayak facing down-stream or down the wind direction.

It’s usually the most common spot for tying your anchor because it’s wider and easier to work with, as it’s usually closer to your hands.

Positioning at the Bow

If you position the anchor at the bow, it’ll be at the front of the kayak. This helps in keeping the kayak up-stream or up-wind all the time, which helps in keeping the kayak perfectly still in choppy water conditions.

Ideally, you need to tie the anchor as centered as possible to eliminate the effects of the stream or wind as much as you can. This can be easily done by tying the anchor to the tip of the bow. This also applies to the stern.

However, adjusting the tying position isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s why you’ll need the anchor trolley system installed to get the job done from the comfort of your seat.

Positioning at the Beams

The sterns are located on either side of the kayak. they’re the worst spots to tie an anchor for their lack of stability against the prevailing wind.

The problem here is that by doing this, you face the stream or wind side-on. As a result, any strong wind or a high wave can cause massive disturbance to the kayak’s stability, which can lead to strong drifting or tipping over.

In fact, even moves as simple as leaning back and forward vigorously or shaking the boat can also cause it to capsize.

Step #4: Deploy Your Anchor

Paddle to the spot where you want to deploy your anchor. Once you’re there, prepare your anchor for deployment.

For example, if you’re going to use the folding grapnel anchor, unfold it before you sink it in the water.

Make sure you attach a piece of foam float to the other end of the anchor line. This way, you’ll be able to collect your anchor easily if you decide to detach your kayak from the anchor.

Wrap Up

With that said, you now know how to anchor a kayak. As you can see, it isn’t extremely difficult. However, a lot of things can easily go wrong while anchoring if you don’t know how to do it correctly.

Poor execution can lead to some of the most dangerous scenarios on top of a kayak, especially in deeper water.

Also, Anchoring a kayak depends mainly on multiple factors, including the weather and environment where you’re anchoring.

With consistent practice, you’ll be able to master the skill of anchoring your kayak even in the roughest conditions.

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Ryan Stoltz

Ryan Stoltz

Avid kayaker and lover of the outdoors. Having been kayaking for over 7 years, I love sharing my experiences and learnings along the way. Currently kayaking in upstate New York and always open to new adventures!

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