Kayak Anchoring How-To Guide: A Step-by-Step Lesson In Keeping Your Kayak Still

Choosing a Kayak Anchor

How to anchor a kayak is a key skill for any kayaker.

There are many reasons you may need to anchor your kayak. Maybe you found the sweet spot while fishing and don’t want to miss a bite while fighting the current for position. Perhaps you want to keep an eye on the kids while they have a little fun, or maybe you just want to take a rest from paddling during a long trip to have a little lunch. Either way, understanding the proper methods of kayak anchoring technique is important before loading up and hitting the water. We laid it out for you in six simple steps so you’ll have no trouble maintaining position while out on the water.

Six Steps to Kayak Anchoring:

Anchoring your kayak is easier than you may think. These five simple steps will help you hunker down to fish, rest, or just enjoy the view.

Step 1: Choose an Anchor for Your Kayak

You may assume that you can use virtually anything heavy to tie down your kayak, but you'll soon realize that you may just experience a lot of drag, and not a whole lot of sitting still, which is not so great, especially for fishing. There are multiple kayak anchors on the market, but we suggest a folding anchor that is between 1.5 and 3.5 pounds. 1.5 pounds will secure most kayaks in most situations, but may be a little efficient in strong currents. If you kayak in rough waters, you may want to lean towards the 3.5 pound end of the spectrum.

The fold away style anchor will be convenient for storing, even in your limited kayak space, and this size is perfect for anchoring most standard kayak sizes and weights. Most will come with a carrying bag, or you can easily find one that will store your anchor and anchor line in one convenient and concise location. 

Step 2: Attach Anchor Line

Now that you have chosen your anchor, you need to attach your anchor line. Generally, anchor line is a nylon rope of medium thickness, which is cut according to the depth of the water. Nylon is durable, but most importantly it is more dense than water, meaning it will sink. 

Usually, 75 feet of rope is a good standard length, but you may need to adjust accordingly if you kayak in water that is significantly deeper or more shallow. Consider that you should have around 7 feet of line for every estimated 1 foot of water. This is because the line will anchor at an angle relative to the ground, so you need more rope than the depth of the water. There are multiple ways to attach the line to the anchor, but one of the most popular and efficient is by using a knot called the anchor hitch, which is both secure and easy to remove later. 

Step 3: Add a Float to Your Line

Next, you should attach a brightly colored foam float to the opposite end of your anchor line. This step is not necessary, but it will save you a lot of trouble and some money if you ever find that you need to suddenly abandon your anchor. It will be easy for you to go back and retrieve your anchor later if it is marked with a colored float. You can purchase an anchor line with a float already attached or you can find line floats in most sporting goods stores and attach one yourself. 

If you don’t have either, a quick hack is to cut a pool noodle to about a one foot length and slide the anchor line through the hole. Make sure the top of the rope is knotted large enough that the rope will not slide through the hole.

Step 4: Hit the Water and Choose an Anchoring Location

Now, you just need to paddle out and find a place to anchor down! Carefully adjust yourself to the approximate location you’d like for your kayak to sit. Start a bit up-current from your desired position to allow time to set your anchor.

Step 5: Drop the Anchor

Drop the anchor into the water, slowly allowing it to lower itself down while holding the anchor line. The line will stop reeling once the anchor has reached the bottom. If you have a folding style anchor, it is important to unfold the anchors prongs before dropping it.

Step 6: Tie off Your Anchor Line

Now, you just need to secure your anchor line to your kayak. There are a few options to consider when tying off your anchor, however. Depending on the current and wind direction, where you attach the anchor to your kayak will determine your orientation. Your kayak will swing in the direction of the wind or water flow, so decide whether you would be better off attaching the anchor line to the bow or the stern of your kayak. You can tie it off using a cleat hitch if you have a cleat on your kayak. This will make it easy to remove and store. If your kayak doesn’t have a hitch, they are relatively inexpensive and require only minutes to install. 

Easier Kayak Anchoring: Try an Anchor Trolley

An anchor trolley system includes a line that is attached to either side of your kayak and an adjustable trolley which attaches to the end of your anchor line. This allows you to easily adjust the anchoring point, or where your anchor is connected to your kayak, as well as the length of your anchor line according to the depth of the water. This means you can easily switch ends to change your orientation or anchor in the middle of the kayak to broadside the current. It is a convenient method for maintaining position in still water when the wind changes direction and will help you avoid adjusting a bunch of tedious knots. Trolley systems are easy to install and can save you plenty of time, especially if you anchor your kayak frequently.