Anchoring Your Kayak
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Anchoring Your Kayak
Anchor Trolley

Anchor systems do more than just allow you to stay in one spot where you desire to fish. They give you the ability to fish a large area in a systematic way. Whether you are standing up poling and sight fishing, paddling, or drifting and blind casting the proper anchor system will allow you cover the largest area possible.

Your system should start with an anchor trolley system as the base for your system. It consists of a continuous line running through a pulley on your bow to a pulley on your stern with a snap hook on each end, attached to a ring in the middle. You can attach your anchor line directly to the ring or through the ring, allowing you to adjust it from any point along the entire length of the kayak. 

This setup enables you to point your kayak in any direction you desire in relation to the wind or current, and allows you to cast in any direction with ease.

Position 1Position 2
Bow facing into the wind
Anchor trolley ring pulled forward to the bow
Bow facing off the wind
Current at 45 degrees
Anchor trolley ring on forward quarter
Position 1Position 2
Position 3 Position 4
Bow facing off the wind
Current at 90 degrees
Be careful: this is a vulnerable position
Bow facing off the wind
Current 135 degrees
Anchor trolley ring on aft (back) quarter
Position 3Position 4
Position 5
Bow facing off the wind
Current 180 degrees
Anchor trolley ring at the back of your boat
Position 5

You have rotated the kayak from facing directly into the wind / current, to facing directly away. You can cast in any direction in 360° of water!

360 Degree Sequence

Note: If you decide to get out of your kayak and wade fish, just unhook the forward hook, connect the forward line around your waist and pull the kayak behind you.

To make the most efficient use of your anchor trolley for the type of fishing that you experience most often, use it with one of the following anchor devices:
1.Anchor Line: Carry enough anchor line for the maximum water depth where you will be fishing. Run the dead end of your anchor line through the ring on your trolley system and into the kayak. You should have a cleat or a clam/jam cleat mounted on your kayak to tie and adjust the length of the anchor line (make sure to use a clam or jam cleat with a hole through which to run your line). Tie a knot in the end of your line so if your line comes out of the cleat you will not lose both your anchor and rope.
2.Anchors: A variety of anchor devices are available that suit different types of fishing situations.
  • Grapple Anchor - A 1.5 lb or 3 lb. grapple anchor is the most commonly used for kayaks.
  • Chain - A length of chain works when you are fishing over a rough bottom or on rivers with a rocky bottom that would hang up a regular anchor. A chain also works well on a really soft mud bottom because it sinks into the mud. Adjust the speed of you drift by the amount of anchor line (chain) you let out: the more line you let out, the slower you'll drift. Add additional lengths of chain when you anticipate windy conditions or strong currents.
  • Window Weight – This can be used in combination with your anchor trolley system to control your position. It will not hang up as badly as a grapple type anchor and holds well on soft bottoms.
  • Lead Downrigger Ball – This also makes a good anchor and does not hang up as bad as a grapple type anchor. It also has good holding qualities on soft bottoms.
  • Drift Chute - This is useful when you are in water too deep for anchoring, or if you are drifting across a flat and you want to slow your drift speed. You can also use a drift chute if you are fighting a large fish to make it more difficult for the fish to tow you around: add control by positioning your kayak with your anchor trolley system.
  • Stake Out Pole - A stake out pole is a short pole with a point on one end and a handle on the other. When you want to stop, just stick your pole through the ring in your trolley system and into the bottom. You can change your position by moving the position of the pole with your trolley system.
  • Paddle Pole – This is a long pole with a narrow paddle blade on one end and a point on the other end. You can stand up and pole your kayak using the blade end, able to see fish and other things that you would never see sitting down. You can use the blade to paddle across channels and deep spots, or you can use it as a rudder to control your drift. If you want to stop just reverse the ends and stick the pointed end through the ring in your anchor trolley, into the river bottom. Change the position of the pole by moving your anchor trolley.
  • Mesh Bag - If you are fishing in remote areas and want to travel as lightly as possible, create an anchor substitute by filling a mesh bag with rocks or sand.

Stern Anchoring
Another anchoring system that can be added to your kayak in combination with your anchor trolley system or by itself is to add a fair lead to the stern of your kayak and run an anchor line through it to either a clam cleat by your seat or another position that gives you easy access.

This allows you to hang the anchor of your choice from the stern of your kayak and drop it at anytime simple by releasing the anchor line from the cleat. This system works well in rivers or if you are drifting with the wind or current and need to stop quickly.

Being able to control the speed and position of your kayak and the ability to stop on demand can make the difference between having a pleasant and productive day on the water... and not! Kayak control allows you to fish the water in the most proficient and productive manor possible. Always be sure that you can release your anchor line before you are affected by a dangerous situation with high winds or strong currents. Be especially cautious when anchoring in fast moving rivers

Article By: Jimbo Meador

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