Do I Need an Anchor When Kayak Fishing? 

When kayak fishing, you very strategically select the places you’ll drop your line. You would hate to be prematurely pulled from that spot, which has made you wonder, do you need an anchor to keep your kayak secure?

An anchor is an excellent idea when kayak fishing since both the wind and waves can move your boat. Although you won’t go far without paddling, an anchor is still a valuable tool so you can stake your claim.

In this guide, we’ll discuss in more detail why an anchor when kayak fishing is so great. Then we’ll delve into the various types of anchors so you can choose the right one for your kayak fishing adventures! 

This Is Why You Need an Anchor When Kayak Fishing

Going back to the point that we touched on in the intro, kayak fishing is a very precise thing, as is any other form of fishing. 

When you find an eddy for fishing or a slice of the shoreline that’s perfect for reeling in fish, you want to explore that area to the fullest. 

Eventually, you’ll move on, but that should be at a time of your choosing and of your own volition.

The thing about kayaks though is that they’re lightweight vessels. If you’re fishing on a day with a strong breeze, the wind can gradually skirt you through the water.

That can also be the case if you’re fishing in especially strong currents.

You might not notice that you’re moving right away, but once you do, you’ll be agitated that you’re not at your original starting point. 

Even if you do get back there, the wind or current or both can easily pull you back out. 

You’ll spend all day wrestling with Mother Nature, and Mother Nature always wins. You might be so tired by the end of the day that you can barely kayak back to shore.

Worse yet, you were so distracted that you didn’t even catch that many fish! 

An anchor will keep you steady in one spot for hours. You merely drop the anchor when you want to stay a while and then lift the anchor when you’re ready to move on or go home. It’s simple! 

The Types of Anchors for Kayak Fishing

When determining which type of anchor you’ll use for kayak fishing, you have a huge selection of various anchors to choose from. Let’s go over the different types now.

Drag Chain

First is among the most versatile types of kayak anchors, the drag chain. You can use this for any type of surface bottom as well as in any type of water. 

A drag chain, as you might have guessed from the name, unfurls and drags along the seafloor as it does. This will reduce your speed in the water but not stop it 100 percent. 

Downrigger Weight

The next type of anchor to consider is a downrigger weight. 

A downrigger weight anchor is only for soft bottoms but is usable in waters of any depth as long as you’re not dealing with any winds. 

The anchor features a ball at the base that sits firmly on the sea bottom and keeps your kayak in one spot. That said, this anchor works best in calm waters, not waters with heavy currents. 

Bruce Claw

The L-shaped Bruce claw is intended for muddy or soft waters of any depth. 

The anchor features triple curved flukes that make a crudely-shaped shovel. The shovel will scoop up the sand or mud of the sea floor and hold the kayak in place. 

Due to the design of a Bruce claw, its use is not conducive to hard sea floors or rocky surfaces. 

Brush Gripper

A type of plier anchor, a brush gripper can grasp onto brush, trees, and weeds. As such, it’s only usable in shallow waters, and the closer to the shoreline, the better. 

In deeper waters, a brush gripper has nothing to grab! 

Sand Anchor

Consisting of a metal stake with a series of corkscrews, a sand anchor grips into sandy terrain such as that you’d see when kayak fishing on the beach.

This anchor also works in soft mud. It should be used in shallow waters for the best results. 

Drift Chute 

A drift anchor or drift chute is like a parachute. You toss it into the water and as it fills up, it sinks.

Suitable for any type of seafloor and designed for deep waters, a drift chute does not stop your kayak entirely. Instead, you’ll lightly drift across the lake or ocean (hence the name).

This can be beneficial to you, as you might not have to paddle as far out when using a drift chute. 

Mushroom Anchor 

The bulky mushroom anchor features a rounded, flat base that’s designed to sink to the bottom of the water and dig into soft floors such as mud or sand. 

These anchors, despite that they’re durable, only work in shallow, calm waters. Rough waters can lift the mushroom anchor, sending your kayak floating away! 

Stake-Out Pole

Although you wouldn’t think so, a stake-out pole is indeed a type of anchor.

You insert the pole through your scupper hole or kayak mount into the sea floor below. The pole will pierce into mud, sand, or another soft bottom, and there you’ll stay. 

Like a mushroom anchor, you can only use a stake-out pole if conditions are calm. The water should have a barely-moving current and be quite shallow as well. 

Folding Grapnel Anchor

The last type of anchor for kayak fishing is the folding grapnel anchor.

This versatile anchor is resilient enough to be used in any type of water, but it’s best for floors consisting of weeds, sand, or rocks.

The anchor includes four flukes that can fold up when not in use. When the flukes are open, they dig into the seafloor so your kayak stays mostly still. 

Visit Our Kayak Fishing Pages for More Great Tips

How to Choose a Kayak Anchor

We just went over a lot of different types of kayak anchors. How do you possibly choose the right one for your boat? 

Here are some factors that will guide your decision-making. 


Since your kayak itself is not a very heavy load, there’s no need for your anchor to be weighty either.

At the very least, the anchor should weigh about 1.5 pounds, especially if you’re kayak fishing in slow-moving currents, calm waters, or close to the shoreline.

In stronger-moving currents, an anchor weight of three pounds suffices. 

Water Depth

How deep is the water where you’re kayaking? That too is an important consideration to keep in mind.

For shallower waters, you have lots of options for your kayak anchor. You can use a stake-out pole, for instance. 

The deeper the waters go, the heavier your anchor must be to withstand the depths of the sea. 

Seafloor Type 

By far, the biggest determining factor in which anchor you should use for your kayak is the type of sea bottom.

A soft bottom affords you many more anchor choices than a rocky floor does, but there are anchors no matter what you encounter! 

How to Anchor a Kayak

You bought your anchor and you’re ready to use it for your next day of kayak fishing.

First, the anchor must be connected to your boat, or else it won’t do you any good. 

On your kayak deck, you should have some loosely-coiled rope attached to the anchor. Drop the anchor from the side of the boat and then clip the line using your anchor trolley’s carabiner.

Pull the anchor trolley to either your stern or bow as the line continues to unfurl. Once the anchor drops to the bottom of the sea floor, let more line out. 

The goal is to have two times the line than how deep the water is.

Next, grab the anchor rope and pull it tight. Use a plastic cleat to tie off the line or even a jam cleat. 

Now you’re ready to get anchoring! Here’s how.

Chart showing what anchor we suggest when kayaking and fishing in the ocean, river, and lake

Anchoring Your Kayak in a River or Lake

When kayak fishing in a river or lake, consider a drag chain. This won’t get caught in rocks or stones, especially if the current is heavy. 

You can skip the anchor trolley here and send the rope attached to the anchor through your kayak’s stern. 

Even if the current is moving quickly, anchoring your boat this way will not knock it sideways, possibly sending you capsizing. 

Anchoring Your Kayak in the Ocean

Are you doing some ocean fishing today? Find a reef or wreck for anchoring to stay more secure. 

Release the anchor, preferably a folding grapnel anchor, with its flukes open so they can catch onto the seafloor. 

Final Thoughts

To prevent the currents or the wind from taking your kayak away from your intended location, it’s handy to have an anchor to drop. 

You can choose from many different types of anchors depending on where you’re fishing, so stock up on what you need! 

Further Reading

For Kayak Fishing Tips and Tricks, click here.

For our tip picks of fishing kayaks, click here.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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