As Reviewed by YakGear Brand Ambassador Edward P.
Why You Need to Stop:
It seems counter-intuitive to think about stopping a kayak. The vessel itself is designed to move and to do it as efficiently as possible. It’s slim and streamlined, built to cut through the water. Stopping it would seem to be as easy as moving it, but when you stop your kayak, the water keeps moving. It’s a simple idea that makes situations become complicated quickly. In a car, your wheels are making contact with the ground and gravity creates friction that holds you still. On the water, the road is moving. Constantly. And you don’t have adequate friction to hold you still. So when you do need to sit still for a minute to stalk a fish, make a cast, eat lunch, watch the sunset, or whatever you may be doing, there are several ways to do it. I’m going to attempt to explain all of the different ways to stop and highlight the best method for some of the more common situations. Let’s begin with different ways to park your yak.
Ways to Stop: Anchors
Let’s begin with the most common method of stopping, the anchor. There are three types of anchors that are used by most kayakers: Grapnel, Bruce Claw, and Mushroom.
1) Grapnel Anchor
The grapnel anchor is probably the most popular anchor type among kayakers because of its versatility. The grapnel anchor has four tines that splay open as the anchor is descending and can be folded up for easy storage. When the anchor makes contact with the bottom, it will roll on its side and one or two of the tines will dig into the bottom and provide a fairly secure hold. This anchor works well on soft and sandy bottoms but is not as reliable on rocky bottoms. YakGear offers both 1.5lb and 3lbs options. The 1.5lb is plenty for a kayak in everything but the strongest of winds and currents. The 3lbs option is good for small boats and extreme conditions.
2) Bruce Claw Anchor
The Bruce Claw anchor works by using a plow or “claw” to dig into the bottom. This design is very effective on soft and sandy bottoms but is nearly useless on rocky bottoms. This makes it less versatile than the grapnel anchor, but it is perfectly suited for water with strong currents, strong winds, or for anything coastal. The YakGear Bruce Claw Anchor weighs 2.2lbs and that is more than enough for most situations. This claw anchor is what I carry in my kayak for fishing everything from lakes to Galveston Bay.
3) Mushroom Anchor
The mushroom anchor is the simplest form of anchors. It is simply a weight that is shaped like an upside-down mushroom. The idea behind this design is that the weight alone creates enough stopping power that it doesn’t need to dig into the bottom. One of the nice features of this style is that it rarely gets stuck and causes very little damage to the bottom. It is only useful in situations where the current and wind are slow or non-existent. The most common size for kayaks is 8lbs, which is more than double the weight of the grapnel and claw style anchors and also takes up more space.
Ways to Stop: Special Situations
There are other ways to stop beside an anchor. In some special situations, an anchor may not get the job done and you may need something else. Here are a few other types of anchoring devices and the situations you might use them.
1) The Stick Anchor
The stick anchor is also known as a yak stick, mud stick, anchor pole, stake-out pole, or shallow water anchor, but all of those names mean the same thing: it’s a stick you press into the bottom and attach your yak to. That’s it. As simple as the idea sounds, there is no better way to secure your yak in shallow lakes and ocean flats and marshes. I do a lot of flats fishing here on the Texas coast, and the Yak Stick is absolutely the best way to go when anchoring quickly in shallow water. You don’t need a lot of line, you can set it and recover it instantly, it’s easy to use, and it’s far stealthier than a clunky anchor. What more can you ask for when stopping your yak in shallow water?
2) The Drift Chute
The drift chute is technically not an anchor because it doesn’t stop your yak, it just slows it down. It is particularly useful in situations where you want to cover a large area while fishing, such as a bay or lake. You can set the chute to slow you down and allow the wind and current to slowly move you along, freeing up your hands to fish. The drift chute works in the same manner as a parachute, it funnels water into a big opening and out a smaller opening, creating resistance as you pull it through the water. It can be attached to your yak in the same ways that you would connect an anchor. We’ll discuss more of that later. For more on Drift Chute Rigging, check out our article on How to Rig a Drift Anchor.
3) The Brush Anchor
The brush anchor is basically a clip that you use to secure your yak to something inanimate like grass, reeds, bushes, mangroves, docks, pilings, etc. You simply clip the brush anchor to whatever you have available for mooring and then tie it to your yak the same way you would connect an anchor. Make sure when using the brush anchor that it is securely clipped to your mooring point and that your mooring point (the brush) is secure and will not come free in the next gust of wind. When in doubt, use your anchor or stick too.
4) The Wreck Anchor
The wreck anchor has been adapted for use in kayaks from the original wreck anchor used on ships. On a ship’s wreck anchor, the wire tines would be formed from Steel rebar. On the kayak version, the weight is much smaller and the tines are made from thick gauge steel wire. The idea behind the wreck anchor is that you can use it to basically get snagged on a wreck or other submerged structure. The only problem is that once it’s snagged, it can be very difficult to retrieve. The situations where this type of anchor are useful are limited, and as such, this anchor is not very popular.
Rigging an Anchor
When attaching an anchor to your line, there’s more to consider than what type of knot to use. For most anchors, you want to rig it in a manner that will allow you to pull the anchor from the bottom, not the top, to pull it loose if it becomes stuck on the bottom. For this example, we will use a Bruce Claw anchor.
To start, you will need to attach your anchor line to the bottom point of the anchor, meaning the point that would be pointing down when you drop the anchor in the water. You will then run the line up the shaft of the anchor to the top, and you will secure it there with a zip tie. You can also replace the zip tie with a piece of mono, but then you have to deal with knots. If the anchor gets stuck, all you have to do is position your kayak above the anchor, and pull hard straight up. This will break the zip tie and pull the anchor from the bottom, freeing it from the bottom. I use the smallest zip tie I can get my hands on so that it will break easily when the anchor is stuck. Be sure to keep extra zip ties in the kayak with you to replace it if you have to break it. More information can be found in the Yak Gear Rock Rig Kit.
The Golden Rule of Anchors
One of the most common mistakes involving anchors is using too little anchor line when trying to set the anchor. For boats, the golden rule of anchor lines is 7:1. That means for every 1 foot of water you are in, you will need 7 feet of anchor line. For example, if the water is 10 feet deep, you would need 70 feet of anchor line. For kayaks, 7:1 may be a little extreme, but it’s always better to have out too much line, rather than too little. The idea behind the golden rule of anchoring is that you do not want the anchor line to be straight up and down in the water. If it is, the anchor will not fall on its side and will not catch the bottom effectively. Too little anchor line will result in drag. With a longer anchor line, the angle of the anchor line to the bottom will be much less, allowing the anchor to dig into the bottom much more effectively.
Keep in mind that as the water level changes with tides and currents, you may need to adjust your anchor. When in doubt, always use more anchor line than you think you will use.
Having the right anchor for the right situation is half the battle. Knowing how to use said anchor is the other half. Stayed tuned for part two of this series where I go in-depth on anchoring techniques, including why having an anchor trolley is an absolute must on a fishing kayak. Note – The 4 Reason You Need an Anchor Trolley can be found here.
We want to know what you think Yak Gear Brand Ambassador Edward P’s review of these anchors and anchoring techniques products! What kind of anchoring system do you sue while kayak fishing? Tell us what you think! Comment below, reach out to us at [email protected], or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the #YakGear hashtag!