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Best Anchor Systems for Kayak Fishing in 2022

Written by: Pete D
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Fishing in rivers, tidal estuaries, or anywhere else currents or wind push your ‘yak away from where you want to be can be an exercise in frustration.

I’ve had to fight currents fishing for smallmouth over rocky bottoms on the upper James River, and I know just what it’s like to suffer at the hands of a tide while trying to catch my limit of specks, too.

The solution is an anchoring system that matches the specific conditions you fish rather than a one-size-fits-most anchor recommended by people who’ve obviously never spent a day on the water. 

Many of the recommendations you’ll find on the internet are simply ridiculous, and the products you’ll see reviewed are clearly designed for anchoring small boats or jet skis overnight.

But don’t worry - if you need a kayak fishing anchor, we’ve got you covered. We’ll demystify this topic and review a few of our favorite solutions.

Quick glance at the best kayak fishing anchors:

Related:

Best Kayak Fishing Anchors Reviewed

Seattle Sports Kayak Anchor Kits - Best Folding Grappling-Style Anchor for Kayak Fishing

Seattle Sports Kayak Anchor Kits, 3.25-Pound

Amazon 

Seattle Sports makes a folding grapple-style anchor just for kayaks, skipping the larger, heavier anchors and unnecessary floats more common for boats and jet skis. Instead, kayak anglers get exactly what they need without the clutter of things they don’t.

Seattle Sports offers two weights: a 1.5- and 3.25-pound option.

I’d strongly recommend the heavier option, especially since you’re not going to be running enough line (rode) to really set your anchor. In my experience, that’s more the rule than the exception, and you’ll be using the weight of the anchor in conjunction with the flukes to hold (or slow) your kayak’s movement.

The four flukes fold up against the shaft (or shalt) of the anchor and are held in place by a heavy metal collar. This kit comes with two carabiners, a ring to set up a trolley, 50 feet of nylon rope, and a stuff sack. 

Seattle Sports’ anchor is pretty much a solid hunk of mild steel, painted to increase corrosion resistance. Even minimal care will keep it in fine shape for the rest of your life, though you will need to replace the line every few years.

Ideal for rocky bottoms where the flukes can catch and hold, this is a great kayak angling anchor for shallow rivers or tidal zones.

Pros:

  • Comes with everything you need
  • Good weight
  • Works well
  • Corrosion-resistant and durable

Cons:

  • ???

Newport Vessels Premium Mushroom Anchor - Best Mushroom-Style Anchor for Kayak Fishing

Newport Vessels Premium 5lb Mushroom Anchor Kit w/Bag, Rope, Buoy, & Stainless Hardware, Black

Amazon 

Newport Vessels hasn’t designed this mushroom anchor specifically for kayaks, as the attached float demonstrates. Nevertheless, this 5-pound mushroom anchor works really well on sandy or muddy bottoms, catching and holding just as it should. 

Due to its weight and shape, this anchor works well even if it isn’t deployed perfectly.

It comes with 30 feet of strong nylon rope, a stainless carabiner, a floating buoy, a stainless shackle, the anchor itself, and a carrying bag.

For shallow water and soft bottoms, this is definitely the way to go, and it’d be my choice anywhere a stake doesn’t provide the reach or security I need.

Pros:

  • Good weight
  • Works well
  • Corrosion-resistant and durable

Cons:

  • ???

Lindy Drift Control Drift Sock - Best Kayak Fishing Drift Sock

Lindy Drift Control Drift Sock Boat Bag Parachute Drift Anchor for Fishing Boat, Fisherman Series, 18'

Amazon 

Lindy’s drift sock is ideal for inshore fishing from a kayak or other situations in which the current or wind is a problem, but the water is too deep to use an anchor.

Lindy recommends kayak anglers use the 18- or 24-inch in breezy conditions, the 25- or 30-inch in moderate wind, and the 36- or 42-inch in heavy wind.

This drift sock works wonders, dramatically slowing your movement and keeping you where you need to be without any struggle on your part. This sock also packs easily and weighs almost nothing - an added advantage for kayak anglers.

Please be aware that you’ll need to supply your own line for this drift sock, and I’d recommend a carabiner on each end - one at the shute and one to attach the line to your ‘yak.

Pros:

  • Packs down
  • Very light
  • Works well

Cons:

  • ???

YakGear YakStick Floating Stake - Best Kayak Fishing Stake

YakGear - YakStick Floating Stake-Out Stick - 6 Foot

Amazon 

For really shallow water and soft bottoms, nothing beats YakGear’s YakStick.

In conjunction with a good trolley, this stick will keep you put in a tide, current, or breeze and allow you to orient your bow for optimal casting.

6’ 3”, the Yak Stick has the length you need to really stick in mud or sand, and it doubles as a very effective push pole when needed.

Made from hollow fiberglass, the YakStick will even float.

Pros:

  • Very light
  • Works well
  • Durable

Cons:

  • ???

YakGear Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kit - Best Kayak Fishing Anchor Trolley

YakGear Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kit

Amazon 

While you can use any of the anchoring systems we review without an anchor trolley, you’ll really make your life a lot easier if you bite the bullet and add one to your ‘yak.

An anchor trolley is simple: it’s essentially just a length of line that stretches along the side of your kayak. On that line, you’ll run a metal loop that allows you to adjust the position of your kayak relative to your anchoring system. 

That lets you change where your bow is pointed without raising your anchor.

YakGear’s anchor trolley system comes with everything you need, and it’s relatively easy to set up with even the most modest DIY skills.

Pros:

  • Works well
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • ???

What You Need to Know About Kayak Fishing Anchors

You may have noticed that, unlike many of our review articles, we don’t have that much to say about these products.

That’s not because we’re not interested; it’s because anchors are pretty simple tech, and either they do the job they’re designed for, or they don’t.

That said, anchor failures can be chalked up to user error rather than poor product design, and a little know-how can save you a lot of frustration later.

If you pick the right anchor for the bottom, you’ll get much better performance.

Anchor types

Ship anchors aside, even most small boat anchors aren’t designed for kayaks.

Instead, they’re made to hold several tons (or more) of boat in place, often for days at a time. 

Kayak anglers don’t need floating ropes or buoys to mark their lines, and just a few simple designs cover all their bases:

  • Folding grappling anchors - Folding grappling anchors are designed for hard, rocky bottoms or coral where the flanges can catch and hold.
    They fold to take up less space and make stowing them on your kayak easier, and though you can buy non-folding options, I really wouldn’t recommend them.
  • Mushroom anchors - Mushroom anchors are shaped just like you’d think, and that round, scooped bottom is designed to grab loose, soft bottoms like sand and mud.
  • Drift socks - Drift socks are like small underwater parachutes that fight the wind and slow your drift.
    When deployed, they can almost stop small boats like kayaks, keeping you where you need to be to fish.
    They’re ideal for water that’s too deep to deploy an anchor, and you’ll typically see them used on large lakes or in the salt. 
  • Stakes - Stakes or anchoring sticks can be driven into soft bottoms by hand, and when used with a rope or an anchor trolley, they’re ideal for very shallow water.

Anchor choice

Now, as you can imagine, using a grappling anchor on a sandy bottom just isn’t going to offer the performance you’re looking for.

best kayak anchor

Instead, you need to match your anchor solution to the bottom types you regularly fish, as well as the water depths you encounter.

How to use an anchor

Any captain worth their salt knows how to set an anchor properly.

For large boats, that means deploying at least 7 times the length of rode to depth of water, allowing the anchor to rest on its side and bite. Then, by running the engines in reverse, they’ll really set it, recognizing a job well done when the boat surges forward after they release the throttle.

how to use anchor

For kayaks, that’s obviously not possible or practical.

Instead, you’ll need to work with a much shorter line and without a powerful engine to set your anchor. In practice, that’s just fine, as the needs of kayakers and captains don’t overlap a whole lot!

Just keep in mind that a kayak anchor may not keep you absolutely still, relying more on friction and drag than true staying power.

Don’t go big, either. Proper kayak anchor weights are in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 pounds, with heavier weights working better in heavier currents. 

More than that is just overkill.

To set an anchor on a kayak, use enough line to lay the anchor over on its side. That’s it - you’re ready to fish!

Drift socks are just attached to your kayak via a trolley and tossed into the water. They’ll inflate and catch on their own, and you use the trolley to adjust your heading as needed.

Finally, stakes are dead simple to use. Just drive one into the bottom at least 12 inches - more is better in the sand - and attach your trolley.

Final Thoughts

The right anchor system for the kayak can make a huge difference when you’re fishing in a current or breeze. And if you do your homework and study the bottom where you kayak, you’ll make the right choice for your needs.

We can guarantee that you’ll be happy with whichever product you pick from our shortlist, and as always, we’re here to help you with any questions you might have.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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