How To Attach An Anchor To A Kayak & More: In-Depth Guide

by Jason | Last Updated:   May 1st, 2022
How To Attach An Anchor To A Kayak & More: In-Depth Guide
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So, you’re wondering how to attach an anchor to a kayak? Or maybe you’ve stumbled across this article and didn’t know a kayak could have an anchor.

Either way, you’re intrigued by the thought of having an anchor on your kayak.

There are many reasons why you might entertain putting an anchor on your kayak. One of the main reasons would be to keep your fishing kayak (learn how to choose a fishing kayak here) in place when you’ve found the sweet spot.

But you could also use it when you’re fighting against the river’s current and need to take a short break. Or maybe you just want to admire your surroundings for a little bit and take some pictures without drifting away.

In this article, I will explain how to attach an anchor to your kayak. But that’s not all this article will be about. Instead, I wanted to make this a complete guide to kayaking anchors so you’ll have no questions by the time you finish.

With that being said, let’s get started:

Kayak Anchors 101: Everything You Need To Know

If you’ve been thinking about adding an anchor to your kayak but have no idea where to start, this section is for you.

Throughout this section, I’m going to give you a full breakdown of kayak anchors, including the styles, how to install them, how heavy they should be, and so much more:

The 5 Styles Of Kayak Anchor

Having an anchor on your kayak can be beneficial… as long as you choose the right style. Yep, that’s right, you have five different types of anchors you need to think about, and if you don’t get the right one, you’re going to struggle.

So, in this section, I’m going to detail the three styles so you’ll be able to find the right one for you:

Drift Anchor

The first anchor I want to talk about is drift anchors, also known as drift socks. And while it’s not your traditional style anchor, it still does a job.

A drift anchor is essentially a parachute attached to your kayak and is used to slow your kayak down. 

Anglers commonly use drift anchors, and although they won’t put you to a stop, they will slow you down in windy conditions. And this will allow you to fish more comfortably in one area without getting blown around too much.

Anchor Pole

The next style of anchor I want to introduce you to is called the anchor pole, and it’s probably the most basic of the bunch. And this anchor is used in shallow waters and is not suitable for deep water.

It’s basically a 6-12 foot long pole that can be placed through the scupper hole of your kayak and then pushed into the mud on the river/lake.

Some people also like to connect a long rope to the pole and use it as a base point, so they have a bit of movement but don’t go too far.

Folding Anchor

A folding anchor feels more like the traditional anchor we see on boats. They are commonly known as a folding anchor.

The anchor features four flukes that will open when you’re anchoring and close when you’re not using it. The anchors themselves are usually pretty small and weigh around 4 pounds.

One of the great things about using this style is using a long anchor line. And it’s the horizontal drag along the bottom of the surface that locks it in place.

If you’re struggling to keep the anchor in a horizontal dragging position, you can add a few feet of chain between the rope and your anchor. 

Another thing you should think about is what weight rating you’re going to need for your kayak, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Bruce/Seahook Anchors

These anchors we designed to be used in soft sediments like sand, mud, or gravel. And instead of having a folding design, they have fixed shovel-style flukes. And these are perfect for digging into the sediment.

The downside is that they are usually a bit heavier, which can challenge your weight capacity if you carry a lot of kayak fishing gear.

Mud Anchors

The final style of anchor I want to talk about in this section is the mud anchor. You’ll use this anchor if you’re fishing on still water like lakes, ponds, or canals.

Essentially they are just heavyweights that are heavy enough to sink into soft mud to help you stay in place.

One of the best things about this style is people can make them themselves relatively quickly by using a brick attached to some rope.

How Heavy Should A Kayak Anchor Be?

Now you know a little more about the different styles of anchors, we should probably speak a bit about the anchor’s weight.

Here’s the thing:

Your fishing anchor should be heavy enough to hold the kayak in place without adding too much unnecessary weight to your kayak.

And it’s not just about adding too much weight to your kayak; they also need to be easy to bring back on the boat. And finally, you need to ensure you’ll be able to keep the anchor line out of the way when you’re not using it.

When it comes to the weight your anchor should be, it really depends on what style you’re using and what water you’re using it in.

So, let me break it down for the folding grapnel anchor and bruce/sea hook anchors:

Folding Anchors

  • 1.5 lb folding anchor: It’s more suitable for shallow waters no more than 20 ft with a low flow and rough ground.
  • 3.5 lb folding anchor: They’re best for depths around 100 ft where the water has a moderate flow. You can also use them on more ground types if you use them with an anchor chain.
  • 4.5 lb folding anchor: You can use these anchors for depths greater than 100 ft when the tides are faster. Again, you can use them on any ground type if you connect the anchor to a chain.

Bruce/Seahook Anchors

  • 2.2 lb sea hook anchor: Best for depths around 100 ft with low to moderate tides. They also work best with sandy, muddy, or gravel ground.
  • 4.4 lb sea hook anchor: Best for depths over 100 ft that have moderate to fast tides., Again, you should use them on soft grounds like sand, mud, or gravel. 

As you can see, the weight you need for your anchor to be successful really depends on what waters you’re paddling.

You may have also noticed that adding a drag chain between your anchor and the rope increases the effectiveness and prevents snagging on rocks.

How Do You Mount A Kayak Anchor?

Mounting an anchor to your kayak really isn’t as hard as it seems. It’s a simple case of attaching some rope to your kayak and tying it tightly.

The problem is:

If your kayak anchor didn’t come with an anchor trolley system, you might want to think about mounting one to your kayak.

Using an anchor trolley allows you to switch which end of the kayak the anchor is attached to, making your life a lot easier.

So, if you want to add an anchor trolley to your kayak, here are some of the things you’ll need:

Materials You’ll Need To Build An Anchor Trolley

  • Around 50 feet of marine rope
  • Two pulleys
  • A heavy-duty split ring
  • 5 pieces of steel eyes

How To Install Your Anchor Trolley System

Okay, you know what you need, but how will you put everything together? Well, this is what we’re going to be talking about in this section:

  • Cut two pieces of your marine rope into 1-foot lengths. To prevent the ends from fraying, you should melt the ends with a lighter.
  • Take your first piece of 1-foot rope and use it to connect one of your pulleys to the front of the boat using one of the steel eyes. You should do the same with the second pulley and 1-foot piece of rope but at the rear of the kayak this time.
  • Install the remaining steel eyes at equal distances between the pulley systems.
  • Thread the long piece of anchor trolley cord through the first pulley, through all the eyes, and then the final pulley.
  • Now connect both ends of the rope to the split ring using a good knot; this could be something like the Trilene knot. 

That’s just a simple run-through of how to install your DIY anchor trolley system, but I’d suggest following the steps with this video:

And if you don’t fancy making a DIY system, you could purchase an anchor trolley kit. They come with everything you need to attach an anchor to a kayak without any issues.

How To Rig A Kayak Anchor

So, we know how to set up your anchor trolley, but did you know there are different ways to rig your kayak anchor. And which method you choose will really depend on what you’re aiming to create.

In my opinion, there are three anchor setups you should be considering:

  1. Anti-Snag Setups
  2. Quick Release Setup
  3. Direct Kayak Anchoring

And in this section, I want to speak a little bit about the set-ups and what you can expect from them. 

Let’s take a look:

1. Anti-Snag Setups

There’s nothing fun about getting your anchor snagged, and it can really increase your chances of capsizing, which is not something we want.

And to make things worse:

Having to cut your anchor can be extremely costly, so it’s worth using an anti-snag set up to reduce the chances of having to cut the line.

Luckily you have three methods to do that:

  1. Anchor Weak-Link Method: This is where the chain is connected to the bow shackle and runs ups to the top eye. The chain is then cable tied to the top eye using a weak link, hence the name. If the anchor is snagged, it will apply pressure to the cable tie, which will break. Once the cable tie has been broken, it will change the angle of the anchor and hopefully come free.
  2. Anchor Trip-Link Method: This method is similar to the weak-link process. But, instead of using a cable tie, you’ll be using trip links with adjustable tension settings. You’ll have to experiment a little with the slider to find the best tension setting.
  3. Anchor Bridle Method: For this method, you’re going to connect a length of black cord from the bottom of the anchor to the top eye. But, you’ll also have the chain attached to the rope, which allows it to run freely between the bow shackle and the top eye. This will give you more of a chance to loosen the snagged anchor.

And of course, these methods aren’t going to work 100% of the time, but they will significantly reduce the chances of having to cut the rope.

2. Quick Release Setup

The following setup I want to talk about is the quick release system, which will allow you to instantly release from the anchor if you need to. And this can be very important if you need to move out of the way of incoming traffic quickly.

One of the best things about using this method is you’ll still be able to retrieve the anchor and reset it when needed.

For this method, you’re going to need four things:

  1. Kayak Anchor Reel: Using an anchor reel will allow you to keep things more organized inside your kayak. But this is only good if you’re using it for shallow water. If you’re going to deeper water, I’d suggest using a diver reel because they are made for underwater use.
  2. Kayak Pick-Up Buoy: Ideally, you’re looking for a large buoy to stay afloat in choppy waters but not so big that it takes up a bunch of room. You should also look for something with a hi-viz color to locate it quickly.
  3. Your Anchor Line: If you’re using a divers reel, there’s a good chance it came with a cord already. But, just in case it didn’t, you’ll need to find a 100m 1.5mm or 2mm polypropylene cord. At the end of the line, tie a carabiner which you can use to clip your line to the anchor and chain.
  4. Rescue Floating Rope: And finally, you’re going to need at least 4-5 meters of brightly colored floating rescue rope. And this is used to position the buoy a few meters away from the stern of your kayak.

So, how do you put it together:

The anchor/divers reel will be suspended below the pick-up buoy, and the floating rope will run from the buoy to your anchor trolley ring using a carabiner. 

When you need to release the anchor from your kayak, the buoy will stay in place and allow you to move away from the anchor without losing it.

The one issue is that it involves slightly more effort to set the anchor. If you need more line so the anchor reaches the bottom of the lake, you need to pull the buoy to release the rope and go again. 

3. Direct Kayak Anchoring

The last method I want to talk about is probably the most straightforward method you can use. This is where you’ll connect the anchor line directly from the cleat and through the anchor trolley ring.

If you’re looking for a method where it’s easy to make an adjustment to the amount of anchor line, then this is the perfect option.

The downside is: 

You have no chance of quickly releasing the anchor if another boat is coming at you. This means the only way to get out of the way is by cutting the line and losing the anchor.

If you’re using this method of rigging your anchor, make sure you have a sharp knife with you at all times.

How To Use An Anchor On A Kayak

If you’ve just purchased an anchor, one of the most important skills you can learn is anchoring. 

And here’s why:

If your kayak starts turning to the side during strong currents or winds, it could flip the kayak. To make things worse, you could get tangled in your fishing line.

So, to avoid this situation from happening to you, you need to learn how to anchor a kayak correctly.

Let’s take a look:

  • You should start with the anchor rope loosely coiled on the deck. From there, drop the anchor out of the kayak, and quickly connect the line to the anchor trolley.
  • Move the trolley deck to the bow or the stern as the line is running. And when the anchor hits bottom, continue letting the line out, so you have almost twice as much in the water as the depth of the anchor.
  • Start pulling on the anchor rope until it becomes tight, and if the anchor moves, let a bit more line out. When the boat stops moving, tie the anchor rope to the kayak.
  • If you’re tying off the line, you can use a small plastic cleat. If you want a quick release connection, you can use a jam cleat to hold the rope in place.
  • When you’re done with the anchor, clean some space on your deck for it. You should then start pulling in the line, ensuring that you’re looping it as you’re pulling it up until your kayak is directly over the anchor.
  • You can then retract the anchor trolley and pull the anchor out of the dirt and into your boat. 

You can find plenty of kayak fishing videos on YouTube that will detail how to drop anchor safely, like this one:

Do You Need An Anchor For Kayak Fishing?

How To Attach An Anchor To A Kayak

The real question is, do you need an anchor for kayak fishing? And here’s the thing, an anchor isn’t always necessary when you’re fishing from your kayak.

If you’re fishing on a calm bay or an estuary, you might find setting up your anchor system more challenging than using your fishing paddle.

But, if you plan to paddle in deep water where the currents are strong, you might find it beneficial to anchor your boat. This will allow you to stay in your sweet fishing spot without drifting away.

So, do you need one?

Well, not really, but it can make your life a lot easier if you’re in strong currents. For this reason, you should really weigh up if you need one or not.

Safety Tips For Anchoring Your Kayak

Before I wrap this article up, I want to leave you with some tips to help keep you safe when you’re anchoring your kayak.

The process can be potentially dangerous, but you can eliminate any problems arising with some understanding of the process.

So, let’s take a look at a few tips:

  • Always Carry A Safety Knife: If you run into any problems, you’ll need to be able to cut the line quickly. This could be to prevent your kayak from capsizing or moving out of the way of an oncoming boat.
  • You Shouldn’t Be Anchored To The Anchor Trolley Mid-Ship: If you’re anchored to kayak at mid-ship, you’re at massive risk of capsizing. Ensure your anchor trolley is towards the stern or the bow to prevent capsizing the kayak.  
  • Make Sure You Practice Anchoring The Kayak: No one is instantly perfect at things. It takes practice to master the art of anchoring your kayak, so make sure you practice when you can. Test out the techniques with a friend and an empty kayak.
  • Remain Calm When You’re Snagged: The harder you start to pull on a stuck anchor, the more chance you have of capsizing. And you shouldn’t move around too much, so the boat remains stable. To add extra stability, hang your feet out on either side of the kayak.
  • Understand You Might Have To Cut The Line: Sometimes, you’re not going to be able to free the anchor. And this means you’re going to have to cut your losses and cut the line to avoid a dangerous situation.

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

And there you have it, my complete guide to everything you need to know about kayak fishing anchors. And I hope it’s helped you understand the different styles of anchor and how to rig them to your advantage.

And remember, understanding how heavy the anchor should be is vital in the selection process. If it’s too light for the job, you’re still going to be drifting away slowly.

And let’s face it, fishing from an anchored kayak can certainly make life easier.

I’d also recommend using the quick release anchoring system; it’s a lot safer and allows you to retrieve the anchor after you’ve got out of danger.

If you’re looking for some more fishing content, why not check out this article on the best fishing kayaks under $1000?

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Do You Attach An Anchor To A Kayak?

The best place to attach your anchor is to an anchor trolley. You should also ensure the anchor is at the bow or the stern to avoid capsizing in high current areas. If you anchor from the middle of your kayak, you’ll run into trouble. 

Is A 1.5 lb Anchor Enough For Kayak?

It depends on what water you’re paddling in. A 1.5 lb anchor should be fine in water less than 20 ft deep with a low current. You should be looking for a heavier anchor for anything more than that.

Can You Use An Anchor On A Kayak?

Yep, you certainly can use an anchor on a kayak; it’s just about finding the right one to get the job done. You need to find the perfect balance of not being too heavy or too light, and you should also think about the ground you’re paddling on.

What Is A Kayak Anchor Trolley?

A kayak trolley is a pulley system connected to the side of your boat and can be used to move your anchor backward and forwards without having to reset the kayak anchor line.

How Much Anchor Line Should You Use If The Water Is 20 Feet Deep?

For 1 foot in-depth, you should have at least 8 feet of anchoring line available. Basically, times the depth by 8 to work out how much anchor line you should have. So, for 20-foot deep water, you should have at least 160 feet of anchor line.

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Hey, my name's Jason, and before I was a writer, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor where I took groups kayaking and camping. Now I use my personal experiences to share tips and tricks I've learned over the years. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about the outdoors, and now I want to share that passion with my readers.