If you love to kayak, chances are good that sooner or later you will want to anchor your kayak. Whether it’s for fishing or for taking a lunch break or just going for a swim, there are many reasons you might want to anchor your kayak. There are many styles and choices for kayak anchors. What is the best kayak anchor for you? Let’s discuss the different types of kayak anchors and where you might use them.
Types of Anchors
There are many types of anchors and they all look different. What kind do you actually need to keep your kayak from drifting away? The answer is not that complicated. Your kayak doesn’t weigh that much or have that much windage. You do not need a very big anchor.
For reference, a 30 foot cruising sailboat that weighs 5000 lbs can be easily held in place with a 15 lb anchor. If you have a kayak that weighs 75 lbs and you’re a heavy person at 300 lbs, that is still 375 lbs total. If a 15 lb anchor can hold 5000 lbs in place in a storm, you need a lot less.
Anchors come in 4 main types
- Fluke Anchors
- Dead weight anchors
- Auger anchors
- Sea Anchors
To learn more about different types of anchor click here.
The below video has a good explanation of anchor types relating to kayaks.
Kayaks are just about the smallest vessels out on the water. They have very minimal needs when it comes to anchors. You are not likely to leave your kayak anchored out in open water during a storm with a rocky beach downwind of you. For a fluke or drag anchor you need an anchor less than 5 lbs. For a dead weight anchor you need 8 to 10 lbs of weight.
Fluke anchors have large flukes or claws or teeth that dig into the sand or mud when they are drug across the sea floor. They work by digging into the ground. Some fluke shapes also work for rocky bottoms. Common fluke anchors are Danforth, Bruce, Navy, Claw, CQR, and Grapnel. Most of these styles are not available in weights that are suitable for a kayak. The main types you will see in small weights are Grapnel and Danforth. There is currently a couple of small Navy anchors available too.
1 – Airhead Complete Grapnel Anchor System
The grapnel anchor is a small claw with 4 folding teeth. This anchor is good for holding onto rocks and can dig into sand as well. These work well for a short term anchor for a few hours. They work very well in streams and rivers with rocky bottoms. Because the teeth are folding they pack into a very compact package. If the one you buy is not rubber coated you will want to be careful not to scratch your kayak with it.
If you are using it in sand, a couple of feet of chain between the anchor and rope make it much easier to set the anchor. This is true for all fluke anchor types. These make very good all purpose anchors when your just not sure what and where you will be anchoring at.
- 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
- Durable nylon storage case is padded for added protection
2 – Airhead PWC Fluke Danforth Anchor
Danforth anchors are very common for 20 to 40 foot boats. It’s one of the most common anchor types you will see. Almost every new boat that includes an anchor comes with this type. They work great on sand and mud bottoms. The 2 sharp flukes are good at digging down into the bottom. They provide a very secure anchor once they are set. A few feet of chain attached to the anchor makes them much easier to set.
They need a large amount of scope or anchor line to work well. They need a scope of 5:1 to 8:1 to set and hold. That means if you are in water that is 10 feet deep you will need 50 to 80 feet of line. It will be very difficult to get the anchor to set with less than 5:1 scope. You will be pulling up on the anchor which will prevent the flukes from digging down.
With larger boats and heavier danforth anchors, they can take some effort to pull up. With an appropriately sized anchor, for a kayak, of less than 5 lbs you will have no trouble no matter how well it is set.
Dead Weight anchors
The next category of anchors is dead weight anchors. These work by acting as a dead weight sitting on the bottom. A large ship may need 100’s of pounds of weight to be secure. A kayak will stay in place with 8 to 10 lbs of weight. If it’s storming out with 50mph winds and large waves you might need more. Why are you leaving your kayak anchored in the water through a storm rather than pulling it up onshore? You probably aren’t.
These are the easiest anchors to set and retrieve. You simply lower them into the water until they hit bottom and tie off the line. They do not need large amounts of anchor scope to stay set. An anchor line going vertical from the anchor up to your kayak is enough. Make sure if you are anchoring where there is a tide swing that there is enough anchor line at high tide. A few feet of extra line never hurts.
3 – Danielson Mushroom Pe Coat Anchor
Mushroom anchors look like the shape of a mushroom. They work best in sand and mud bottoms. Their mushroom shape can develop suction with the sand underneath them. If they are heavy enough they will work anywhere. If they tip over they will dig into the sand while dragging. These are very easy anchors to set and they don’t need a large amount of scope. You just lower them into the water and let them sit where they land. If you don’t mind and weight and size of a 10 lb mushroom anchor, this is one of the best kayak anchor options that can be used almost anywhere.
4 – Airhead Sand Bag Anchor
Sand bag anchors are a bag you fill with sand, mud or rocks to act as a dead weight. You fill it with anything you have available as long as it will sink. Once you fill the bag you lower it into the water until it’s on the bottom and you are set. These are very compact and easy to store on your kayak. They are an empty bag that can be bunched up when not in use. You can store the anchor line in the bag. If you want to anchor somewhere not near shore where you can find rocks and sand they will not work.
5 – Dumbbell Weight
This is a really cheap easy solution for a kayak anchor. The local SUP board rental here uses these for anchors for SUP Yoga class. You tie some line to a 10 lb dumbbell and use it as an anchor. You can wrap the anchor line around the dumbbell for storage. The line does not have to be very thick or strong. Don’t go crazy buying thick anchor line.
Auger anchors work by screwing something into the bottom. Once it is screwed in it is very secure. You have to be in shallow enough water that you can easily reach the bottom. The bottom has to be sand or mud so that you can screw into it. You can’t screw an auger into a rock. They do not need much anchor line because there is nothing to drag and set. They only work in shallow enough water where you can physically touch the bottom.
6 – Airhead Screw Anchor System
This anchor works by screwing it into the sand. It needs to be soft since you don’t have a lot of leverage with the small handle. Once screwed in, it will provide a very secure anchor. Be cautious if you are paddling somewhere with several feet of tide swing. You don’t want to anchor in shallow water at low tide that is too deep at high tide to reach down and unscrew the anchor.
7 – SandShark 18″ Sand Anchor
This anchor will work in a more firm bottom because of the larger handle. It can fold up for storage in the included bag. Similar precautions are needed as the other sand auger. Do not sure in a place with a lot of tide swing if you can’t reach the bottom at high tide to unscrew and remove it.
Sea Anchor or Drogue
Sea anchors or drogues are an underwater parachute. These work when you are in water that is too deep to use any other kind of anchor and too far from shore to pull up somewhere. They drag in the water and keep you from drifting. If you are in water with current, you will drift as fast as the current moves.
8 – MOOCY 24-Inch Drift Sock Sea Anchor
There are a few accessories that can make anchoring easier on your kayak.
1 – Anchor Chain
A few feet of chain will make any fluke anchor grab and set in sand and mud easier. Those anchors work by digging down into the ground. The chain weighs down the anchor line making it pull the anchor flat to the ground instead of a small up angle. For a lightweight vessel such as a kayak using a lightweight anchor you only need a few feet.
2 – Anchor Line
If you need buy an anchor that doesn’t come as a package with line, you’ll need to get some line to use with it. If you plan on kayaking somewhere with deeper water and need more line you may need to bring along an extra anchor line.
Kayak Anchoring Tips
Even if you have the absolute best kayak anchor available but do not know how to set an anchor it won’t do you much good. Anchors have been frustrating boaters since the invention of boats. Below are some useful tips and videos for how to anchor your kayak.
These are the most difficult anchors to get set. The biggest reason people have a hard time setting a fluke anchor is they don’t use enough anchor line or have any chain. The line needs to have at least a 5:1 ratio. If it is 5 feet deep, the line needs to be 50 feet long. You can get by with a little less if you have a few feet of chain. If you use less line, it will have a slight up pull on the anchor keeping it from digging in. The anchor line needs to be dragging across the bottom with the anchor for these to set correctly.
After you put out enough line and tie it off to your kayak, you should back paddle away from the anchor to get the anchor to dig in. Otherwise, it will just be resting and dragging across the bottom. You don’t have to paddle really hard. Enough to be able to tell if you are dug in or not.
The below video shows a good demonstration of anchor line length and why it matters.
The below video has some good general anchoring tips that apply to kayaks, canoes and SUPs.
If it’s really calm out with very few waves and light winds your kayak probably won’t go anywhere whether the anchor is set or not. The more wind and current there is, the more caution you need to take that your anchor is securely set. If you plan on leaving your kayak and swimming away from it, you should spend some time checking how well it is set before leaving it there.
For some more tips on using fluke anchors click here.
Dead weight anchors
The main thing to check with dead weight anchors is just to make sure you have enough anchor line out for any tide swing that may happen while your anchored. If the water is going to rise 3 feet, make sure you put out at least 3 feet of extra line. As a pre-caution always leave out a few extra feet of line. There isn’t really a need to tie the anchor line really tight.
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.