How to Anchor a Kayak in a River?


Kayaking is a great way to feel yourself surrounded by nature and calmness. It is very soothing to stand still in the water for some time and fish or just take in the views. Steadying a kayak would require anchoring it, which brings up the question: how do you anchor a kayak in a river?

To anchor your kayak into a river, you will need an anchor and a line. Your kayak should have cleats on it so that the line could be attached to it. Once you are at the bank, dig your anchor into the soil of the bank. Take the line and put it on the anchor pole, and with the other end, tie it to the cleats. This way, your kayak stays on the water surface steadily.

Types of Anchors – Usage of Each

There are different types of anchors. The variety exists because of different types of boats and ships, as well as the depth of water. Let’s take a look at some of the anchors and their purpose.

River Anchor

Widely used for pontoon boats and bass boats, river anchors feature flukes. The flukes are strong and heavy enough to make the boat still. This becomes especially useful in mud lakes and rivers where the soil is slippery and loose because of the presence of silt. Flukes are often made with stainless steel that digs deep down into the mud. An additional rubber coating is added to the flukes to prevent them from scratching the finish of the boat.

River Anchor

Grapnel Anchor

Designed to snag to the bottom structure, grapnel anchors work best in rocky bottoms. The grapnel usually has four pointed arms hooked to a line. When released into the water, the arms snag or get stuck between rocks and stones anchoring the boat. The shape allows the anchor to dig in and hold on to rocks no matter how they are dropped into the water.

Grapnel anchors find their best use in small crafts, canoes, kayaks, and dinghies. A buoyed trip line is hooked to the crown of the anchor so that it could be freed when needed. The lightweight and compact structure of the anchor makes it very easy to handle and store. These anchors, however, do not provide much use in mud or sand bottoms.

Grapnel Anchor

Fluke Anchor

Fluke anchors are also widely used for pleasure crafts. Pleasure crafts are often used in lakes, rivers, and on archipelago or coastal areas and canals. Their main purpose is either recreation, sight-seeing, or looking at marine life. The fluke anchor provides a stronghold when the crafts need to be stopped.

The pointed flukes on the anchor are made from strong and high strength steel. The steel gives it weight enough to dig deep into the mud. Often positioned wide apart, the flukes also give extremely strong hold power to the craft. The design is mainly focused on a proper set every time regardless of what position the anchor lands in. They can work on almost all sorts of surfaces.

Fluke Anchor

Bruce Anchor

Also known as the claw anchor, a Bruce anchor is a one-piece design. The one-piece construction does not have any fused joints or hinges. As a result, the body of the anchor has more strength and fewer weak points. The claw of the anchor digs deep into the mud and sand or in rocky bottoms. After that, it either remains stuck deep into the mud or clamps onto a rock to steady the boat.

With very limited equipment, the anchor can perform very well. On windy days, it remains set in its position and does not waver. The claw shape is designed so that it puts itself in the right position upon landing.

These anchors can be used on small boats, crafters, kayaks, and canoes. But for a Bruce anchor to perform well, it must have a large body and heavy weight. The clawed design also makes it difficult to store it in case it is not attached to a roller. On deck storage takes quite some space. Also, the prongs on this anchor are not very sharp, which makes it perform poorly in grass or clay bottoms. Still, the Bruce anchor is still a go-to for many cruisers and exists to be one of the most affordable anchors.

Bruce Anchor

Mushroom Anchor

Looking like an upside-down mushroom, these anchors get their name because of their resemblance to mushrooms. They usually weigh several thousand pounds. Even though they do have small-sized designs, the weight is often quite heavy. Sizes can range from 5kgs to several tons. Such anchors are usually used for mooring and efficiently hold the boats steady for longer periods of time.

Small boats and canoes or kayaks are suitable watercraft for it. Larger boats may not find them practical. The way these anchors work is quite interesting. Best used in soft mud, they are dropped down to the bottom. Upon landing, they create a dip and form suction. The suction is not easy to break even in case of wind or changing current. It sinks in the mud or sand to a point where it has displaced its own weight at the bottom. This greatly increases the holding power.

Since suction and cohesiveness are very difficult to create on a rocky and irregular water bottom, a mushroom anchor does not act as the best option for those situations.

Mushroom Anchor

Anchor Trolley Pulley

One of the most effective and easy-to-use anchors for kayaks is the Anchor Trolley Pulley. It is made up of three parts: a ring, an anchor rope, and pulleys. The rope goes through the ring and around the pulleys. It is used to adjust the anchor.

While most anchors fixate the boat in one place and direction, an anchor trolley allows movability. When the anchor is dropped, it digs deep in mud, clay, or rocks, holding the boat steady. However, you can still turn the boat in different directions without removing the anchor. Hence, your boat is pinned to a point but is free to face any direction. This quality proves very useful for those who want to fish.

The anchor gives them the freedom to move around for better spots. It is suitable for almost any type of water bottom, but it is not the best option for waters with a high and aggressive current. Lastly, it gives the user total control over the boat due to its smooth and easy retrieval. It could simply be pulled out with a bit of force when you are ready to move.

Anchor Trolley Cleat

An anchor trolley cleat is a small piece of equipment used in the wider assembly of the anchor. Your anchor needs a place on the boat to which the line could be attached. One end of the line is on the boat, and the other is on the anchor. In an anchor pulley system, the cleat provides a tying area for the line. This way, when the line is moved through the pulleys for anchor adjustment, the excessive line could be tied to the cleat or vice versa.

There are quite a few materials used for making cleats. These include wood, galvanized or stainless steel, and aluminum. A cleat is usually attached alongside the edge of the boat, but the optimal position differs from boat to boat. More than one cleat might be used for better adjustment. To securely wind the line around a cleat, usually, an eight-knot style is used. It is always best to invest in large and strong cleats so that they can provide good hold.

Drift Anchor

A drift anchor has an application in regulating the speed of the boat rather than stilling the boat. It features a balloon or a conical chute like structure that is deployed into the waters. Unlike other anchors, it does not completely drown in water; rather, it floats. Other parts include a swivel shackle, rode, and a shackle to connect the rode and anchor. A line is also used, which needs to float on water. If it is made of polypropylene, then it will stay on the water surface, but if not, then a floater is attached to the line, keeping it separated from the rod and within easy reach.

When deployed in water, the chute fills up with water creating drag. The drag slows the boat down. Oftentimes, the speed needs to be slowed to gain better control over the boat, admire the vast structures underwater, see a shipwreck, or when passing above a school of fish.

Drift anchors are also widely popular with fishermen who use it to slow the boat down when nearing fishing hot spots. These anchors are often confused with sea anchors that are more of a safety device. Sea anchors are made with absolute precision and must be approved by the U.S. coast guard. It is larger than a drift anchor and made to keep the bow in water if the boat gets disabled in deep waters that are too deep to hold the boat’s anchor. A drift anchor is used in open waters, seas, and oceans; however, it should match the size requirements of the particular water vehicle.

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