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How To Anchor A Kayak? (Step by Step Guide)

When a kayak is out on the water, it continues to move, even when you stop paddling – either steadily along with the current or it may just sway in a stationary position.

Because of this constant movement, it’s hard for kayak anglers to focus on catching fish, or even do other simple activities, like eating their lunch.

This is where the importance of anchors comes into play.

There are several types of anchors, depending on your boat and needs. These include the folding grapnel anchor, stake out pole, drag chain, drift chute/anchor, and powered anchoring systems. Whichever option you choose, your anchor should always be set up at the bow or stern of a fishing kayak.

An anchor helps anglers maintain a stationary position so they can focus more easily on what they need to do out on the water.

That’s why it’s important to choose the right anchor for your boat, as well as the type of body of water where you’re fishing.

How To Attach An Anchor To Your Kayak?

Multiple kayaks anchored by the lakeside

We’ll start with a warning—don’t ever anchor your boat from the side.

If you set up this way, your boat is at higher risk of toppling over when faced with strong wind conditions or strong currents.

To be clear, a kayak anchor needs to be set up at either the bow or stern of a fishing kayak.

When set up at the front, you cast up the current.

When set up at the back, your bait is close to you (which is a more effective way of kayak fishing).

If you’re not sure where to set up your anchor, use the anchor trolley.

Because an anchor trolley runs along the length of your kayak, you can easily switch up your anchor from stern to bow without having to get off your boat.

Make sure to test out your anchor in calm water and weather before proceeding into more moderate or challenging conditions.

Just as is the case in many situations, small steps are crucial when it comes to kayak anchoring.

When storing your anchor on your kayak, ensure that you keep it close to you.

Since you’re likely to be seated at the center of the boat, the extra weight of the anchor won’t influence either side – therefore, it will ensure the kayak stays balanced.

Paddle at your desired position on the water, and ensure that your rope is loose enough for you to drop the anchor into the water.

You also want to make sure the line is securely clipped, and, as explained above, pull the anchor trolley line to either the stern or the bow.

Remember that you should use an anchor line twice the depth of the water.

So if the anchor has touched the surface, keep letting the rope run until you achieve this desired length, and use more line if needed.

When you’re done, tie the rope onto the kayak using a cleat.

A jam cleat is especially useful when you want to release your rope at a faster pace.

When you’ve spent enough time fishing, pull hard on your rope and set it onto the boat. Next, you’ll  need to withdraw your trolley, and retrieve your anchor from the surface.

5 Things Before Attaching An Anchor To Your Kayak

Three kayaks unattended along the shore

There are some things you need to know before you attach an anchor to your kayak:

1. Your Anchor’s Weight

A simple rule here is that your anchor should be light enough not to pull your boat down, and heavy enough not to get bullied by the currents.

2. Kayak Anchor Line Length

The “7:1 rule” is a common one: this means that if the water is 10 feet deep, you’ll need 70 feet of anchor line.

However, for kayaks, an anchor line double the depth of the water should be sufficient enough.

If you need more anchor line, don’t be afraid to use it.

3. Rope Size

The most common type of rope is a 3/16 nylon rope.

If you tie an anchor rope that is too heavy, it will weigh down your kayak.

Similarly, if you tie a rope that’s too light, it will most likely break.

4. Rope Type

A polyester clothesline is the most common kind of anchor rope used.

This type of rope is ideal because it’s water-resistant, and it doesn’t stretch when holding your kayak in place.

5. Anchor Trolley System

The kayak anchor trolley is an accessory that includes a rope, two pulleys, and a ring attached to the rope.

This system runs from the center of the kayak to the stern, and is tied with a carabiner.

It also runs from the center of the kayak to the bow, and is tied again with a carabiner on that end as well.

To use this system, simply drop your anchor into the water and pull the anchor trolley line.

This moves the carabiner and anchor line toward the bow or stern of your kayak.

When done correctly, your kayak will be positioned in such a way that the current pushes to the pointed ends of your boat.

Types Of Kayak Anchors

Old white anchor on sand

There’s a whole plethora of anchors out on the market. 

Among the various options, these in particular are the most appropriate ones for kayaks:

1. Folding Grapnel Anchor

Also known more simply as a “folding anchor”, this is the preferred type of anchor for most anglers.

Although simple in its design and functioning, the grapnel anchor is one of the most effective, which explains why it’s a favorite for many kayakers.

The folding anchor has four flukes and a sliding collar that helps open or close them at the appropriate times.

The most common types of grapnel anchors are the 1.5lb anchor and the 3lb anchor.

The former is used for anchoring a kayak in shallow water, and the latter is used for anchoring in moderate and sometimes deeper bodies of water.

The most appropriate underwater surfaces for these anchors are those that are sandy or muddy.

2. Stake Out Pole

Though grapnel anchors can be as light as1.5lbs for shallow waters, they’re not the only option.

Another popular anchor for kayak fishermen in shallow waters is the stake out anchor pole, which is a long anchor pole made out of aluminum or fiberglass.

To use it, slide the pole inside a scupper hole, and push it to the bottom of the water before you start fishing.

Most stake out poles are less than 12 feet long, meaning you’ll need to use them in the most shallow bodies of water bodies (those no deeper than 12 feet, such as canals,  or shallow lakes).

Stake out poles are also easier to use than grapnel anchors.

3. Drag Chain

Drag chains are more popular for anglers who go kayaking and fishing in rivers, because they’re effective at holding onto rocks that are often found in these types of waters.

Chains can also be used together with grapnel anchors.

In moderate conditions, a one-meter chain is suitable.

If you’re in rough weather and strong winds, you’ll need double the length.

If you’re on a tight budget, keep in mind that you can also use a retractable dog leash as a makeshift drag chain.

4. Drift Chute/Anchor

The purpose of a drift chute (also called a drift anchor) is to slow down your kayak, not stop it completely.

This is more useful in waters where the fish cover a large area, not where you need to be static, otherwise you’ll risk missing your catch.

As you can probably determine from the name, drift chutes are basically aquatic parachutes.

They work by keeping your stern facing the wind, which helps to ensure that your kayak moves slowly.

5. Powered Anchoring Systems

If you understand how a drift chute operates, a powered anchoring system serves the exact opposite purpose.

This system is used when you need to make a quick halt – for example, if you’ve just seen a fish swim by and you still have a chance of hooking it.

To set up a powered anchoring system, you simply push a button and the motor will send out a stake out pole that fixes your kayak in place.

Due to its ease of use, this is the best method to use if you’re new to kayaking.


When it comes to anchoring a kayak, it’s a good idea to practice in calm waters before trying it out in deep water or in strong wind conditions.

This is important, not only because anchoring is a skill that needs to be mastered for any angler (amateur level doesn’t work here), but also because faltering even a bit can lead to unpleasant disasters.

If you want to buy an anchor, you can go to any paddle sports retailer.

You’ll also get more useful information there since they can answer any question you have about the process or the anchor.

Also, ensure that you take it slow while practicing.

It takes time to get to pro-level, but if you’re consistent, you’re sure to see a tangible improvement in your anchoring skills in no time.

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