Kayak Anchor System for Beginners | Kayak-101.com

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How do you find the right kayak anchor system for beginners?

  • The best kayak anchor system is one which has enough weight to hold down the kayak without adding bulk or weighing it down.
  • It should also have the right size to grab at the bottom of the substrate but be compact and fit easily into the cockpit when not in use.

Using an anchor on a kayak is effective and practical. It allows you to be at the right places irrespective of the current and wind conditions. However, finding the right kayak anchor system can be a challenge when you’re first starting out.  This is partly due to the overwhelming options on the market as well as trying to establish your preferred devices.

What are the different types of anchors on the market?

The different types of anchors on the market are based on size and type.

Based on size.

Large size – These sizes of anchors typically weigh 3 to 3.5 lbs and are made of galvanized iron or stainless steel. They come with 40 to 50 feet of braided nylon anchor rope.

The large arms or wings of the anchor have a better capacity to grab on the substrate. They offer more stability irrespective of the size of the kayak and the weather conditions.  These anchors can be bought separately or with a protective foam case.

Grapnel 3.5-5.5 lb anchor kit

A great example is an anchor I bought from Amazon called the Grapnel kayak anchor system. It is the #1 seller last time I checked and I can see why. At only $23 and some change, it comes with everything I need to drop anchor underneath the Perrine bridge and photograph base jumpers leaping from the bridge rails. Purchasing the anchor got me:

  • 3-1/3 pound 4-fluke folding anchor will hold in mud, sand, gravel, and rock
  • Designed for boats, sailboats, personal watercraft, inflatable boats, canoes, and float tubes
  • Fits under most boat seats, in PWC storage compartments, or in PWC storage canisters
  • 25-foot long marine-grade rope
  • A durable nylon storage case is padded for added protection

If you do buy this anchor from Amazon (using this link), here’s some helpful tips for you:

  1. Untie the rope it comes with and re-tie it to the opposite end of the anchor. Then, where the anchor originally was attached, attach the rope to that loop with a zip tie.
  2. Add some weight to the rope just before the anchor handle. This can be done by adding a length of chain to the rope before the anchor.
  3. The reason to retie the rope to the opposite end of the anchor and to place a zip tie at the original location is that doing so will give you a different angle to pull the anchor from should it get lodged somewhere. Ideally, if the anchor gets stuck, you can pull on the rope hard enough causing the zip tie to break and changing the angle your pulling at and hopefully dislodging the anchor.
  4. The reason to add weight to the rope is that as the anchor sits in the water, there are times where the hooks of the anchor don’t grab to the ground. Instead, it’ll glide across the bottom. Adding weight just before the handle will cause the handle end to tilt to the seafloor and increasing the chances the hooks will grab onto the ground. I added a foot of chain from Home Depot onto mine. If I’m not mistaken it costs about three dollars or so for that length of the chain.

Small size – These sizes of anchors has a standard weight of 1.5 lbs and is also made of galvanized iron. Depending on the brand, they also come with braided nylon anchor rope which is 40 to 50 feet.

These are the preferred anchors for kayak fishing in shallow waters. They provide excellent stability as well. It is easily transported and can be bought separately or with the thermal protective case.

For under $20 you get one like the BeGrit 1.5 lb anchor kit. It comes with the same standard stuff:

  • small boat anchor is only 7″*1.77″*1.77″ when closed. Weight 1.5 lb/0.7kg; Carbon steel galvanized material is not easy to rust
  • 4 fluke grapple design is ideal for sandy, weedy or rocky bottoms
  • Complete boat anchor accessories kit: includes grapnel anchor,10M Anchor Tow Rope, a buoy ball, and a storage bag
BeGrit 1.5 lb kayak anchor

Based on the type.

  • Folding anchors – The arms of these anchors can be easily folded and hence the name. They are compact, and portable which is why they are a favorite among the kayak fishermen.  They offer great stability in any type of soil at the bottom which makes them great for kayak fishing. They are also the most widely available anchors as well as affordable. The two anchors listed above are in this category.


  • Stakeout pole – These types of anchor poles are ideal for fishing in shallow waters. Jam the pole into the substrate and tie on. The Yak Gear Stick Mud anchor is a popular model among fishermen. You can see it here on Amazon.


  • Anchor trolley – This is a rope system that is designed to run the entire length of the kayak. The device is particularly handy when you want to make the anchor switch from the bow to the stern. This is how I navigate facing the Perrine bridge when the current or wind switches direction. Moving the anchor from bow to stern allows me to keep myself pointed right at the bridge during photo shoots. Yak Gear makes the best trolley system on the market right now. You can see it here on Amazon.


  • Bruce style anchors – A relatively uncommon anchor, but this type of anchor is best for use in water bodies that have a sandy bottom. MarineNow has a galvanized Bruce anchor and you can see the peculiar shape here on Amazon.


  • Drift chutes – If you are out on a lake, drift chutes are excellent at slowing down the kayak. It is widely used by seasoned anglers. The Lindy Fisherman series drift sock is by far the most commonly used. You can see it here on Amazon.

What is the best type of anchor for a kayak?

The best type of anchor for a kayak depends on a number of factors. They include:

1.  Design of the anchor.

Traditional anchors have a typical mushroom design. It is also called dead weight. On the other hand, anchors for kayaks have a grapnel design with four flukes or arms that are extendable.

However, beginners tend to overlook or are not aware of the design. Therefore, while scouting out the best type of anchors for a kayak, look for those with grapnel designs. They are lightweight and have better holding power.

2.  Hardware used in the construction.

The best type of anchor for a kayak is also one that is made of sturdy and durable materials. And those anchors made of stainless steel and galvanized iron are usually the best. They perform well on almost all bottoms including those with rocks or weed.

These anchors are rustproof and are also more dependable when there is a sudden rise in the tides. The hardware on the fastening components of the anchor should also be adjustable so you can customize it to the desired length.

3.  Anchor weight.

The right anchor weight is paramount when deciding the best type of anchor. For obvious reasons, you cannot use an anchor that weighs 1.5 lbs for a heavier kayak filled with lots of gear. It is neither practical nor safe.

Likewise, a heavyweight anchor with 3.5 lbs on an inflatable kayak would come at the expense of compromising your safety.

4.  Size of the kayak.

This is self-explanatory. Anyone with a little experience with a kayak will agree that small folding anchors are best for a small-sized kayak. On the other hand, a bigger sized kayak warrants a large-sized anchor.

To give you a better idea, kayaks weighing between 50 lbs to 70 lbs can be easily anchored by one that weighs 1.5 lbs.

5.  The wind conditions.

The wind and currents play a significant role in the entire experience of kayaking. Ideally, you want to employ heavier anchors when the conditions are very windy. But if you are on a lake with less wind, lighter anchors will work perfectly.

6.  The type of soil at the bottom.

    • Folding anchors such as the one from Best Marine and Outdoors, are great for enhanced stability in any type of soil. However, they are not the best anchor for a kayak if the bottom soil is sandy.
    • For muddy and unstable soil, Bruce anchors like the ones from Yak Gear are ideal.
    • Stakeout poles are the best type of anchor for a kayak in shallow muddy water bodies.
    • While out on a bigger water body such as a large lake or an ocean where the bottom is not easily accessible, drift chutes work as great anchors for kayaks.

How heavy should a kayak anchor system be?

  • inflatable kayak = 1.5 lbs are enough
  • most non-inflatable kayaks = 3.5 lbs are sufficient

There is an ongoing debate about whether it is the size or the weight or the anchor that matters most. To be fair, although size is a huge determinant in the holding factor, the weight of the anchor cannot be ignored.

In fact, the weight and size of the anchor are the two primary factors that determine the best anchor for a kayak. So how heavy should a kayak anchor be?

It depends on the type of kayak you are using, the weather conditions as well as the amount of gear you have inside the kayak.

If you are using an inflatable kayak, an anchor weighing 1.5 lbs is enough. The weather conditions also play a role here. Calmer weather with a slight breeze to minimal winds, do not require an anchor heavier than 1.5 lbs.

If you have a lot of gear and equipment, heavy anchors weighing 3.0 lbs and 3.5 lbs are the most ideal. This weight is enough to anchor the kayak irrespective of the type and size of the kayak as well as the weather and current conditions.

Anchors that are heavier than 3.5 lbs are not recommended for use with kayaks. It is because the weight becomes too heavy and will not function without compromising safety.

How does an anchor trolley work on a kayak?

  • The apparatus consists of a rigging along with a movable ring. Through this ring, the rope of the anchor can be put into place. It runs the entire length of the kayak.
  • This device allows the users to transfer the position of the anchor from the stern to the bow and vice versa. It is particularly essential as you can execute this activity without leaving the kayak.
  • Easily change the position of the kayak according to the tides as well as the direction of the wind. This can be done without the need for an additional anchor cleat which eliminates the need to carry extra gear.

An anchor trolley is an ingenious component in a kayak.  The anchor trolley system comes in very useful while fishing in places that have changing weather conditions. It offers a great range of flexibility to the user.

How should you store and care for your kayak anchor system?

Irrespective of the quality of materials used in the construction of equipment, storage and the quality of care can make a significant difference in its overall performance and durability.

Kayak anchors are typically made of galvanized iron which may or may not be pure. The other common material used to make kayak anchors is stainless steel. They are relatively resistant to rust and regular wear and tear.

However, this does not mean that you should throw it in the garage after you use it.

How to store the kayak anchor system.

    • Protect it from the elements – Exposure to moisture, humidity, and water for extended periods can be harsh on the overall wellbeing of the anchor. This can accelerate the weathering of the hardware as well as other components that constitute the anchor.

Keeping the anchor dry and protected will not only increase its longevity. It will also contribute to its overall performance and efficiency as well.

    • Make use of the foam case – Most manufacturers have a protective case for kayak anchors, especially as part of an anchor kit. This case is made of foam and is thermally insulated. It is a great way to store anchors. This case can be bought separately or along with the anchor at the time of its purchase.

Other storage bags such as the ones made from nylon are also provided with most anchors. Although nylon does not provide the same level of insulation as a foam case, it serves as a protective cover for the anchor when not in use.

Care and maintenance for kayak anchor systems.

  • Cleaning – When you have been dragging the anchor across bottoms of lakes and water bodies, you can be sure that it was exposed to pollutants. That is apart from the mud and sand and the like.
  • When you are done using the anchor, rinse the hardware with clean water. You can either use a bucket or a hose to make it easier. This removes the dirt, sand, and debris on the anchor.
  • Use soapy water or detergent soaked in water to clean the anchor.
  • To remove the stains, you can use an old toothbrush to scrub it off. Unless the stains are deeply engrained, this will work great at removing the stains.
  • Rinse off the soapy residue with plenty of water.
  • Wipe it thoroughly dry with a dry cloth.
  • If you want to take it a step further polish the anchor before storing it. You can use wax or metal polish with a soft cloth to add sheen and sparkle to your equipment.
  • Store the anchor in a foam case or other designated bag. An insulated place is the best place to store the kayak anchor.
  • It is not the best idea to store a metal anchor inside the kayak.

Cleaning the anchor rope.

The small particles of sand and mud along with the water can easily damage the anchor ropes if it is not cleaned and dried after use. Therefore make it a point to clean the anchor rope along with the anchor.

  • To clean the rope, you can use soap and detergent. Never use bleach to clean the ropes no matter how stained they look.
  • Using a bar of soap and detergent usually does the job very efficiently.
  • Mix the water with the cleaner and allow the rope to soak in a large tub. Rinsing will effectively remove the dirt and grime from the rope.
  • You can also put it in a cloth bag and put it in the washer to clean as well. Using a fabric softener will allow the rope to retain its elasticity and texture.
  • Hang it to dry completely.
  • Before you store the anchor rope, inspect to make sure that it is completely dry. This step is important as moisture can encourage the growth of mold and mildew which can be disastrous for the rope.
  • After you are confident that the rope is completely dry, roll it up in the anchor reel and store it in a dry place.


Finding the right kayak anchor system that works for you takes time and patience to establish. However, when you know what factors to look for, it becomes second nature. The most important thing is to strike a balance between the size and weight of the anchor and you are in for a good start.

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