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5 Best Kayak Anchors, Trolleys and Drift Socks

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Just like larger boats, a kayak needs an anchor if you plan on staying put for a while. While it can be tempting to use the first heavy thing you find, it’s not always a great idea for a kayak.

The best kayak anchors must keep your boat in place without weighing down your kayak. With a tiny vessel and lots of gear, the last thing you want in a kayak fishing or diving anchor is some bulky hunk of metal taking up space.

The most common solution is the use of folding or grappling anchors — lightweight devices with foldable teeth that hook into rocks, sand or mud. As opposed to weight-based anchors, grappling anchors can be packed neatly away when not in use — saving space for your other gear.

The Best Kayak Anchors – American Paddler’s Picks

There are a few things to consider when choosing the best kayak anchor system, such as weight, rope length and whether to use a kayak anchor trolley. We’ll go over those in our guide below.

A QUICK RUNDOWN: THE BEST KAYAK ANCHOR SYSTEMS OF 2017 (COMPARISON CHART)

ANCHORWEIGHT/ MATERIALROPEINCLUDED IN KITAP RATING
BEST Marine and Outdoors Kayak Anchor3.5 lb galvanized iron40'Storage bag, buoy ball, quick-release hook
Compass Kayak Anchor Kit and Dry Bag3.5 lb painted steel40'Free 5-liter dry bag, storage bag, buoy ball, snap hook
Shoreline Marine Propel Kayak Anchor with Trolley1.5 lb50'Anchor trolley system, storage bag
Seattle Sports Kayak Anchor1.5 or 3.5 lb galvanized steel50'Anchor trolley system, storage bag
OceanMotion Kayak Anchor Kit3.5 lb galvanized iron40'Inline buoy, storage bag, clasp

Best Kayak Fishing Anchor

BEST Marine and Outdoors Kayak Anchor

Weight: 3.5 lb galvanized iron
Rope: 40-foot marine-grade
Size: 12”x3” closed
Included in kit: Nylon storage bag, buoy ball, stainless steel quick-release hook
Ideal for: Heavy currents, fishing, canoes, jetskis

A strong anchor for strong currents, BEST Marine and Outdoor’s 3.5-pound kayak anchor is a popular choice among kayak fishing anchors — especially anglers who carry more gear.

Made of super-strong rust-proof galvanized iron, this anchor locks on and won’t let go of silt, sand or seaweed, thanks to its four expanding wings. With 40 feet of marine-grade rope for more horizontal drag — enough for about 6 feet of depth — you’ll get a firm bite and not have to worry about drifting while luring a stubborn catch.

In windier conditions, the manufacturers recommend adding up to 3 feet of chain to add weight to the anchor, but you shouldn’t need this in most cases. And for more depth, rope can easily be added.

A nice safety features is the quick-release hook. If the waves get too rough, this could prevent your kayak from capsizing in an emergency, and the attached buoy means you won’t lose your anchor if you do.

The BEST Marine anchor measures just 12”x3” when closed — small enough to fit easily among your gear — yet big enough when opened to provide a strong grip. To open or close, simply slide the iron collar, which also locks the wings into place.

Considering the included nylon bag, 40 feet of rope and one-year money-back guarantee, the BEST Marine anchor is a fantastic bargain.


Best Steel Kayak Anchor

Compass Kayak Anchor Kit and Dry Bag

Weight: 3.5 lb painted steel
Rope: 40-foot marine-grade
Size: 12”x3.5” closed
Included in kit: Free 5-liter dry bag, nylon storage bag for anchor, buoy ball, stainless steel snap hook
Ideal for: Heavy currents, fishing, canoes, jetskis

Foldable and durable, the Compass anchor kit’s four steel flukes dig strongly into whatever they encounter — mud, rocks or sandy riverbeds included.

Painted red for high visibility and low rust-ability, this powerful steel anchor is perfect for holding your kayak in place while fishing, swimming or enjoying the lake. With 40 feet of durable marine-grade rope to create a nice drag in shallower waters, the Compass grips the bottom and doesn’t let go.

Like the BEST Marine anchor, the Compass is a space-saver. It collapses into a compact nylon bag to be stored easily in bulkheads or under your kayak’s cockpit.

In case you need to disconnect quickly, the Compass’ stainless steel clip attaches and detaches from the D-rings on your kayak’s bow or stern, and a floating buoy helps you find your anchor if you lose it.

Although not part of the anchor mechanism, the fact that the Compass comes with a quality 5-liter dry bag is a great bonus for the price, which is surprisingly low. It also has a money-back guarantee.


Best Kayak Anchor with Anchor Trolley Included

Shoreline Marine Propel Kayak Anchor with Trolley

Weight: 1.5 lbs
Rope: 50-foot nylon
Size: 8”x2.6”
Included in kit: Anchor trolley system with carabineers and rope (installation required), nylon storage bag
Ideal for: Calm waters, fishing, inflatable kayaks

For a smaller, lighter anchor, the Shoreline Marine kayak anchor provides incredible bite and versatility.

At 1.5 pounds, it’s designed for use in flatwater such as lakes or protected bays. However, with 50 feet of rope, this anchor can hold its own in slightly deeper waters than the BEST Marine or Compass anchors.

A standard rule of thumb is to use about 6 or 7 feet of rope for every foot of water depth. This helps make sure the anchor spikes dig into the bottom, as opposed to dropping straight down.

There aren’t many budget kayak anchors that also come with an anchor trolley kit, which make this a really nice feature. Anchor trolleys are designed to allow paddlers to reposition the anchor along the entire width of the kayak without having to pull it up and re-tie it.

While you can buy better anchor trolley systems, the fact that it’s included in the kit at all is a good reason to consider the Shoreline Marine, especially if budget is a concern.



Most Versatile Kayak Anchor Kit

Seattle Sports Kayak Anchor

Weight: 1.5 lbs or 3.5 lbs galvanized steel
Rope: 50-foot braided polypropylene
Style: Four folding flukes
Included in kit: Anchor trolley system with carabineers and rope (installation required), nylon storage bag
Ideal for: Fishing, rocky or sandy bottoms and deeper waters

The biggest selling point for the Seattle Sports anchor — besides its low price — is its versatility for just about any kind of kayaking or rafting venture.

The 50 feet of braided rope is of higher quality (and longer) than what usually comes with kayak anchors, and the bright yellow color makes it highly visible for other boats.

A great anchor for kayak fishing and smaller vessels such as inflatable rafts, canoes or dinghies, it latches onto rocks, sea grass or muddy surfaces to keep your kayak where it needs to be. With four folding flukes, two carabineers and a ring, there are endless ways to attach this anchor to your kayak, and it folds away nicely in a convenient drawstring storage bag.

Seattle Sports offers this anchor in both 1.5 and 3.5 pounds. The heavier anchor is better for heavily loaded fishing kayaks or paddlers looking to anchor in rougher currents, while the lighter anchor is perfect for shorter kayaks or calmer waters.


Best Iron Kayak Anchor

OceanMotion Kayak Anchor Kit

Weight: 3.5 lb galvanized iron
Rope: 40-foot braided reflective nylon
Style: Four folding flukes
Included in kit: Inline buoy, padded storage bag, stainless steel clasp
Ideal for: Fishing, rocky or sandy bottoms and deeper waters

Kayak anchors don’t have to be pretty; they just need to get the job done. As far as kayak anchors go, the OceanMotion ain’t half-bad to look at — and it certainly gets the job done.

First of all, the 40-foot, blue nylon rope is UV-resistant and reflective for higher visibility in low-light conditions. This isn’t just a style feature. The adjustable inline buoy attached to the rope alerts other boats where your anchor line lies to avoid accidents.

The anchor itself doesn’t need a paint job to avoid rust; the galvanized iron resists damage from saltwater and freshwater better than most. And the four foldable iron blades will grab rocks, sand, silt or seaweed — anything, really — keeping your kayak steady while you fish or swim.

When it’s time to pack it in, you won’t hear the anchor banging around in the bulkhead of your kayak, either, thanks to the padded drawstring storage bag.

The OceanMotion anchor kit comes with a two-year warranty against manufacturer flaws, a pretty good deal for an anchor.


Other options

While foldable anchors are the best way to anchor a kayak, they’re not the only way. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, a drift sock, anchor trolley kit or anchor lock might make it easier for a kayak angler to stay in the “strike zone” or quickly adjust to the direction of your cast.

Best Kayak Anchor Trolley System

As any kayak fisherman will tell you, the ability to change anchor positions on the fly is a must. Rapidly changing winds, currents and the fish themselves demand that your anchor be adjustable at a moment’s notice — without pulling it completely from the water.

kayak anchor cleat
Anchor cleat

Many anglers use a kayak anchor cleat for this job, a small zigzag attachment that can be installed on the side on your boat. However, unless you install multiple cleats all over the kayak, you aren’t likely to have the versatility you want.

Enter the kayak anchor trolley system, an ingenious invention that creates a moveable anchor line along the side of your kayak. The best anchor trolley kits are compatible with most anchors and fishing kayaks, and aren’t that difficult to install with a little DIY know-how.

YakAttack LeverLoc Anchor Trolley

The best kayak anchor trolley system we’ve found is the YakAttack LeverLoc Anchor Trolley, an intuitive design that locks your anchor into place when not in use.

For anglers who don’t want to spend time fiddling with pulleys and twisted zigzag kayak anchor cleats, the quick-lock lever is a huge headache saver. Simply move your anchor, flip the switch, and you’re done. And the pad hooks prevent the anchor line from riding up over your gunwales — another advantage over other anchor trolley kits.

It’s easy enough to install yourself, but if you aren’t sure, consult your local kayak outfitter.

Best Kayak Anchor Lock

For kayaks without an anchor trolley system, an anchor lock mounted to the bow or stern is a must-have. This handy device can be attached with a few simple screws, and allows you to quickly raise and lower your anchor line without having to fumble around with ropes and cleats.

Anchor locks are best used with lighter anchors such as those above, and allow you to let out just as much line as you need — and no more. If anchoring in deeper waters, it also allows you to take a break and rest without worrying about a line that’s too short.

Scotty 276 Kayak Anchor Lock

One of the best kayak anchor locks on the market is the Scotty 276, which comes with a side/deck mount. Scotty is known for making quality kayak fishing gear, and its mounts are compatible with a wide range of gear tracks, including Wilderness Systems and Native kayaks.

The Scotty anchor lock easily grabs and releases the line and doesn’t bind or tangle. The base can also be used with other Scotty products, including rod holders and flags.

Best Kayak Drift Sock

For kayak anglers, the ability to drift bait with the current at a steady, slow pace can mean more time in the “strike zone.” While an anchor can help keep you in place, a drift sock (also known as a sea anchor or drift chute) helps regulate your drift speed and direction to allow you to try different cast angles, lures and presentations.

Because the drift sock acts as a “drag” on the kayak, it not only prevents the kayak from twisting and spinning, it also cuts down on wave effects and lets you work active fishing spots more efficiently by steadying the kayak as you slowly drift through.

Combined with an anchor trolley and a decent kayak anchor, a drift sock can give you the kind of control you might not otherwise get.

Different size drift chutes are recommended for different wind and wave conditions; generally, the more waves and the bigger your kayak, the bigger drift anchor you’ll need.

We recommend the Lindy Fisherman’s Series Drift Sock, a quality nylon-reinforced product built for kayak anglers.

Best Float Tube Anchors

Because float tubes weigh much less than a fully stocked fishing kayak, you don’t need much anchor to keep them still. Honestly, any of the anchors above will work fine for a float tube, but the best float tube anchor should be light and easy to carry.

Keen Aluminum Float Tube Anchor

If you’re looking for something smaller than the typical kayak anchor, Keen’s 13-ounce aluminum snag anchor should do the trick for a float tube. Like those above, it’s foldable and grabs sand, rocks or mud with its spikes. Closed, it measures just 2.25”x8” and fits easily in your gear bag.

Final words

Honestly, you’re unlikely to go wrong with just about any anchor, but the best kayak anchor systems should allow for a hassle-free recreational experience.

Whether it’s an anchor trolley, anchor lock or kayak anchor cleat, make sure you have a reliable way to adjust your anchor to fit your fishing or paddling needs. Most 40- or 50-foot anchor lines are enough for 5-7 feet of fishing depth, but if you want to kayak deeper waters, look into adding line.

And as always, if this guide has helped you, let us know! That’s why American Paddler exists.

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