Do You Need an Anchor When Kayak Fishing?

Updated on December 8, 2022 by
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A kayak anchor is a useful tool to fish in a target location without being blown away, but it is not essential for all anglers.

Kayak fishing offers anglers many special advantages that you simply can’t get by fishing from a full-size boat. However, there are a few downsides that come with kayak fishing that can turn out to be a major disadvantage at certain times. 

Fighting the current or wind is one of the most prominent downsides to kayak fishing, which begs the question: do you need an anchor when kayak fishing?

In this article, we’ll answer that question and discuss some of the ways you can use an anchor to help improve your kayak fishing experience. 

Do You Really Need an Anchor When Kayak Fishing?

Having the wind blow your boat around is frustrating enough when you’re fishing out of a full-size vessel, but it’s extremely difficult to deal with when trying to fish from a kayak. If you’ve ever spent very much time kayaking and trying to fish from one, you know how much even the slightest breeze can affect your efforts to fish. 

The short answer to the question of whether or not your really need an anchor for kayak fishing is yes – while it’s true that you can get away with not using an anchor, you will be at a much better advantage having an anchor than if you were to choose not to. 

There are some specific advantages to having an anchor in your kayak, which we’ll cover in the following section. 

Advantages to Having an Anchor for Kayak Fishing 

There are a few different methods of keeping your kayak in place when you don’t want to be blown all over the lake, or taken downstream with the current. The advantages certainly outweigh the downsides of using an anchor when it comes to kayak fishing. Here are a few of the more important reasons why you should have an anchor as part of the gear and equipment you typically bring along when kayak fishing. 

1. Having an anchor allows you to stay on top of the fish. Simply put, having and using an anchor ensures that, when you are able to locate a great fishing spot, you won’t be blown around and you’ll be at less of a risk of losing your position. This comes in extremely handy for fishing in open water on large lakes and reservoirs, as well as coastal waters where you don’t have the luxury of being able to use landmarks to guide yourself back into the position you want to be in. 

2. It keeps you from having to reposition. If you’ve ever fished from a kayak without an anchor, you’ve experienced the frustration that comes from stopping to tie on another lure or do any other task before you make your next cast. 

Many times, you look up only to realize that you’re now hundreds of feet away from the position you’ve paddled to and you now have to put your fishing rod back into the holder and grab your paddle once more for another effort to get back into position. Having an anchor lets you reach the spot you want to be in and drop anchor before you begin any such task so that, when you get ready to make that next cast, you’re still where you want to be. 

3. If you have to go ashore for any reason, it’s always good to have an anchor that you can toss out on land and secure your kayak to prevent it from being swept back out into the water. If you’ve ever fished around areas where there are no trees or rocks to tie your kayak to, you’ll certainly appreciate being able to use your anchor to keep your kayak in the place where you left it. 

I like to use my anchor at times as an extra means of securing my kayak when I know I’ll be on shore for extended periods of time. This is especially useful on camping trips as I’ll usually tie my kayak off to something solid on land and use another rope that’s tied to my anchor as an extra means of securing it ashore. 

kayak anchor

Types of Anchoring Systems 

There are different types of anchoring systems that you can use to keep your kayak in place on the water. Each one has its own advantages and specific uses that might work better in some scenarios than others. 

Anchor Trolley System 

An anchor trolley system is perhaps one of the most popular anchor systems used by professional anglers for a few specific reasons. It’s main advantage is that the trolley system can be mounted on one side of the kayak and it allows the user to position the anchor on the trolley in the spot where it is most efficient. 

Anchor trolley systems are often more expensive than simple bow or stern-mounted systems, but they are versatile and allow you to adjust your anchor position to adapt to changing situations. These are great for fishing on rivers or in areas where there is strong current. 

Power Pole 

Power poles are often very expensive, but are extremely useful for serious anglers who want to have a foolproof method of quickly and easily anchoring their boat in shallow water. The power pole is something that was first made popular by professional bass anglers as they often use two on either side of the stern of a bass boat, but the single power pole is very effective for kayak anglers. 

For anglers who mostly fish on shallow rivers or streams, power poles are often the best overall choice of anchor system. They allow anglers to deploy the power pole at a moment’s notice, even in strong current. They are battery-operated and usually mount on the kayak’s stern. 

Drift Socks 

For anglers who commonly fish in deeper waters, but still need to have the ability to slow their kayak’s movement with the current or against the wind, a drift sock is a great option. Drift socks are basically small bucket-like objects made from soft material that are attached to a long rope. They operate by catching water and slowing the kayak’s movement as it drifts along in the water. 

These are often much more affordable than anchors as they don’t require mounting brackets. They are a big advantage for users who want to lessen the overall weight of their load on their kayaks as the drift sock and its components are usually much lighter in weight than an actual anchor and mounting bracket. 

For areas where the wind typically blows kayaks far outside their chosen position, a drift sock anchor system is usually the best choice. 

Brush Grippers 

For anglers who fish along rivers and lakes, there’s a highly affordable anchor system that also has its own unique advantages when compared to all the other anchor styles. The brush gripper anchor system is one of the better choices for any angler who fishes close to shore, or wants to secure their kayak to standing brush or timber and other structures found in lakes or rivers. 

The brush gripper system is very simple to use and mount to your kayak, plus it’s another lightweight option that takes up very little space on your kayak. It works by clamping onto an outside object and a rope connects the clamp to your kayak. 

I like to use brush grippers for securing my kayak to docks, around bridge pilings, standing timber, trees and other things found along lakes and rivers where my favorite fishing spots are. The brush grippers allow you to secure your kayak without dropping down a heavy anchor and disturbing what’s under the water’s surface. 

Stakeout Poles 

A stakeout pole is a very effective means of keeping your kayak in one position if you’re an angler that fishes along shallow rivers or lakes where there is a steady current. It’s basically a long stick that is secured on the kayak in a position of your choosing and can be quickly and easily deployed with very little effort. 

You can secure the stakeout pole using scupper holes in your kayak, or a trolley rig system. You can also use a stakeout pole externally from your kayak by placing it in the position you choose and tying your kayak to the pole once it’s secured. 

There are stakeout poles of varying lengths, or you can often make your own in a DIY-style stakeout pole if you choose. 

Is it Necessary to Have an Anchor System?

The answer to that question depends on where you fish and whether you need to keep your kayak in one single position for a certain period of time. In the majority of cases, most anglers do end up finding a use for an anchor system, regardless of where they fish, in either freshwater or saltwater environments. 

Choosing the right anchor system will depend on your budget, what you want out of your anchor system, how effective you want it to be, as well as many other factors. You should consider where you’ll be fishing and what type of anchor system will be best for your needs before purchasing one. 


The short answer to the question of whether an anchor is needed for kayak fishing is usually a “yes.” Most anglers can find a use for an anchor system on their kayak and it will certainly prove to be useful at some time during their adventures. Having an anchor means you can rest assured that you’ll keep your kayak in position and it might save you a great deal of frustration and paddling that you would otherwise have to do without one. 

Photo of author

Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler and writer whose work has been featured in magazines for nearly a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States, as well as trout fishing in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. He enjoys keeping up with the latest news and gear items in the fishing industry and is always looking forward to his next outdoor adventure. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, Paddling Space, Man Can Outdoors, Alabama Outdoor News, and Bassmaster.