Anchor Selection

Anchor selection is not difficult, the real problem is no single anchor is best suited for all applications. The size of boat and the make up of the bottom of your body of water are the two most important factors in making your anchor selection.

Anchor Defined

Richter Anchor 5 Prong 5 Prong Richter Anchor

When used as a nautical term, anchor describes the use of a weighted device that connects a boat or vessel via a cable, line, rope or chain to the bottom or bed of a body of water. Its purpose is to prevent the boat from being moved on the surface due to wind or current. Anchors also provide safety when used during inclement weather or if you lose power to be able to secure your boat in a peaceful cove out of waves, wind and storm fury. Your anchor selection is as much for utility and convenience as it is for safety.

Anchor Terms Defined

Anchor Term Definition
Rode Cable, Chain or Rope that connects the vessel to the anchor. Many anglers have lost an anchor because the Rode, (cable, chain or rope) was not connected to the vessel.
Fluke, Flake, Cleat Usually a flat piece of strong metal that is pointed on an anchor, such that when the Rode is tightened, its design will grab, dig into and hold onto the bottom of the body of water. Many of these anchors will have two Flukes. Not as good on grassy bottoms, or hard bottom. Often will have a slip mechanism to aid in removal from the bottom.
Spike, Prongs Usually a pointed piece of metal that resembles a very large "Nail" - a half inch in diameter for example. Anchors that empty these spikes will often have 4-6 of these spikes. Better than flukes on rocky bottoms, about equal on normal softer bottoms. Not ideal for grassy bottoms.
Mushroom Mushroom in Nautical Terms applies to the shape of an anchor. Relying on its mass or weight more than its ability to dig into the bottom. Not as good as flukes or spikes on windier days. Better when it can sink into the bottom. Will need a heavier mass than other anchors to do the same job.
Scope This term applies to the ratio between the length of the Rode or anchor rope that is let out compared to the depth between the vessel and the bottom of the body of water. As a rule this ratio should be about 5:1. Five times more rope let out to the anchor compared to the depth of the water under the vessel. This will tell you approximately how much rope you will need for your anchor depending on what the depth you will want to be able to fish when anchored.
Aweigh Anchors Aweigh, Want to sing with me? Aweigh is that time when you break your anchor away from the bottom. Think in terms of when you do that, you actually have the weight of the anchor in your hand, or on your winch.
Anchor Pulley A pulley device attached to your vessel through which the Rode, rope or cable passes when the anchor is released and when it is pulled back into the vessel. Many of these also offer a locking device to set the desired length when the appropriate Scope is reached.
Winch These can be manual or electric devices that serve as a crank to pull in the anchor rope.
Anchor Ring A heavy duty connecting device often used on the anchor as a method of connecting your anchor cable or rope to the anchor.
Anchor Pulley Manual Winch w/ Anchor Pulley

Anchor Selection

In general the bigger the vessel the bigger the anchor you will need. When making an anchor selection for a small, one person craft, you would choose an anchor that weighs 2-3 pounds. An anchor selection that is ideal for a twelve to sixteen foot flat bottom boat would be a bit bigger usually between six and 12 pounds. Larger freshwater fishing boats up to 21 feet often will use 15-25 pound anchors. It is important with your anchor selection to read the data provided for that anchor as to which size will best suit your needs. If in doubt your anchor selection should be one size larger than you think you need.

Anchor Weight vs Anchor Dig

Navy Anchor Weighted Navy Anchor

Anchor selection then moves to deciding between weight and "digging in" capacity. Permanent mooring can be done using a very heavy anchor or weight. Several hundred pounds of concrete on the bottom with a cable connecting to a float on the surface will hold fairly large vessels. Obviously, you won't want to carry a several hundred pound chunk of concrete on your 18 foot fishing boat as an anchor. Some anglers will make their own anchor with 10-15 pounds of concrete which works well.

Digger Flake Anchor Flake Anchor

Small Anchors

The term small anchor has at least two common meanings - distinguishing large vessel anchors from the small anchors that are commonly used on pleasure craft including most freshwater fishing boats and secondly, there are a variety of literally small anchors (two -four pound) which are specifically designed for use on personal water craft such as float tubes for fishing, or one person pontoon fishing craft, and kayaks.

Common Small Anchors - Freshwater Fishing Boats

If this is your first anchor it is advised to talk to guides, friends, or someone else at the lake you see fishing and find out what they use and what they like. There may be something very specific about your body of water that people have found a very specific anchor works best.

Common Anchor Definition, Use
Mushroom Anchor Resembles an upside down Mushroom. Relies on its weight for holding power with a minimal amount of resistance because of the Mushroom Lip. Best on soft bottoms, and in light wind or current. Or when you increase the size or mass of your Mushroom Anchor for extra holding power.
River Anchor This is a derivative of the Mushroom Anchor. Generally these have 3 flukes that have been made in place of the Mushroom Cap. Not sharp, they will still dig into soft river bottoms. They will also grab onto some rocks. A good 5:1 Scope tends to work best. In heavy current or high winds you may find other anchors work best or possibly using a two anchor system.
Grabber or Spike Anchor Typically these anchors utilize 4-6 spikes, resembling 1/2 inch nails sticking out of the main body of the anchor. These have a tendency to grab or stick into the bottom better than the river anchor. Often there is a build in method to slip the anchor ring back in order to remove the anchor with more ease. A good Scope is also helpful in making this work optimally.
Cleat or Fluke Anchor These anchors offer great holding power, when the flukes can dig into the bottom. Many of these anchors also have a built in mechanism that breaks or reversed the plane of the anchor line when ready to remove the anchor and begin its retrieve. Not the best on Grassy Bottoms.
Navy Anchor These generally are heavy anchors that have a very traditional look. Generally featuring two heavy weight flukes many anglers swear by these. Not as common on fishing boats since they rely more on their weight for holding power. Pretty good in grassy bottom areas.
Plough Anchor The term describes an anchor whose digging portion looks similar to a plow used in farming. These are relatively new but report great holding power. Perhaps not as good on sandy bottoms as they don't go as deep as other anchors.
Claw Anchor Considered an all purpose anchor that usually works in a variety of conditions. Relies on one fluke to dig into the bottom but also resets itself should the boat turn.

Best Boat Anchor

The best boat anchor for you is the one that does the job you need it to do. For most freshwater fishing boats a 15 - 20 lb Flake, Spike, or Digger anchor is likely to work well. Click on Types Of Anchors to read more about these different options.

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