5 Easy Steps How to Anchor a Kayak

When on the water, your boat moves even when you stop paddling, either steadily along with the current or it simply sways in a stationary position. Because of this, it’s hard for kayak anglers to focus on catching fish or carry out simple activities like having lunch. 

This is where anchors come in. An anchor helps anglers maintain a stationary position in order for them to concentrate on whatever they’re doing.

There are different types of anchors but not all of them will be suitable for your type of kayak. Make sure to choose the right anchor for your boat as well as the type of water body you’re fishing in.

Types of Kayak Anchors

There’s a whole plethora of anchors out on the market. These, however, are the most appropriate ones for kayaks:

1. Folding Grapnel Anchor

Simply known as a folding anchor, this is the preferred anchor for most anglers. Though simple in its design and functioning, the grapnel anchor is one of the most effective, explaining why it’s a favorite for many.

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

The most common anchors are the 1.5lb grapnel anchor and the 3.0lb grapnel anchor. The former is used for anchoring in shallow water; and the latter is used for anchoring in moderate and, sometimes, deeper water.

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

2. Stake Out Pole

Though grapnel anchors go down to 1.5lbs for shallow waters, they’re not the only option. One other popular anchor for kayak fishermen in such waters is the stake out anchor pole.

The stake out pole 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 fishing.

Most stake out poles are less than 12 feet, meaning you need to use them in the most shallow water bodies i.e., those with a depth of fewer than 12 feet (canals, shallow lakes, etc.).

These are also easier to use than grapnel anchors. 

3. Drag Chain

Drag chains are more popular for anglers kayak fishing in rivers. They’re effective at holding onto the rocks that are commonplace in such waters.

Chains are also used together with grapnel anchors. 

In moderate conditions, a 1-meter chain is suitable. If in tough 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

A drift chute, also a drift anchor, performs the job of slowing down your kayak, not stopping it. This is more useful in waters where the fish cover a large area, not where you need to be static or else you’ll miss 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 ensures your kayak moves slowly.

5. Powered Anchoring Systems

If you’ve understood how a drift chute operates, a powered anchoring system is the exact opposite. This system is used when you need to make a quick halt, for example, if you’ve just seen a fish swim by and still have a chance of hooking it.

To set it up, simply push a button and the motor will set out a stakeout pole to fix your kayak in place. Due to its ease of use, this is the best method to use if you’re new to kayaking.

Before Attaching an Anchor to Your Kayak

There are some things you need to know:

1. Anchor 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; if the water is 10-feet deep, you’ll need 70 feet of anchor line. For kayaks, however, an anchor line double the depth of the water is enough. 

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

3. Rope Size

The most common size 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 is too light, it will most likely break. 

4. Rope Type

A polyester clothesline is the most common anchor rope type used. It’s  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 with a rope, two pulleys, and a ring attached to the rope.

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

To use it, simply drop your anchor into the water and pull the anchor trolley line. This moves the carabiner and anchor line to the bow or stern of your kayak.

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

How to Attach an Anchor to a Kayak

We’ll start with a warning—don’t anchor your boat from the side. Your boat is at higher risk of toppling over when faced with strong wind conditions or strong currents if set up this way.

If it’s not clear, a kayak anchor is 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 (a more effective way of kayak fishing).

If you’re not sure where to set up your anchor, use the anchor trolley. Because it 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 conditions before proceeding to moderate and more challenging conditions. Small steps are crucial in a lot of things, but kayak anchoring is definitely one of those activities that this applies.

When storing your anchor on the kayak, ensure that you keep it close to you. As 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. 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. Use more line if needed.

When 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 need to withdraw your trolley, and retrieve your anchor from the surface.


To anchor a kayak, it’s a good idea to practice in calm waters before trying it out in deep water and under strong wind conditions. 

Not only because anchoring is a skill that needs mastering for any angler (amateur level doesn’t work here), but also because faltering just a bit can lead to some unpleasant disasters.

If you want to buy an anchor, go to any paddle sports retailer. You’ll also get more useful information there as they’ll answer any question you’ll 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 soon.