How To Anchor A Boat

Learning how to anchor a boat is both a matter of utility as well as safety.  Utility: there will be many times you will want to be able to stay over a specific fishing hot spot, to keep the wind or current from pushing or sweeping you away from that spot.  Equally important, there may be an occasion when knowing how to anchor a boat will keep you safe in a protected cove away from strong winds and waves of a storm.  

Anchor and Rope:  Of course you will need to select your anchor as discussed on this page:  Anchor Selection.     The next most important item in how to anchor a boat is to select your anchor cable or rope.  Also called a rode, its length is best determined by the depth of water where you plan to be fishing and may want to anchor your boat.  For optimal holding power a ratio of 5:1 is recommended.  So, if you find that you ever want to anchor in 30 feet of water,  you will want to begin with a minimum of 150 feet of anchor line.   If there is little wind or current a shorter line may be let out to do the trick.  For most confident results, however, this extra length may be needed.

Anchor Accessories

When learning how to anchor a boat successfully, safely, and easily, begin by having the right accessories.  These include the following:

  • Anchor Shackles
  • Anchor Pulleys
  • Boat Anchor Winches

Anchor Shackles

Anchor shackles are convenient links to secure your anchor rope or cable to the anchor or your boat.  There are a variety of these types of shackles - this one from Seachoice is heavy duty and works well to connect your rope to an anchor.  Available 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2".  Read more or even order one online now at:  

Seachoice #43201 1/2" Stainless Steel Anchor Shackle

Critical Reminder

Be sure to securely connect your anchor rope or "Rode" to your boat or vessel. Many anglers have watched the end of their rope follow their anchor to the bottom of a lake because this was not done.

Anchor Pulleys

The longer the rope, the bigger the vessel and the heavier the anchor you use, you will find an anchor pulley is a useful accessory when learning how to anchor your boat.    You can pull up the anchor by hand or you can pass the anchor rope through an anchor pulley and make the job much easier.   If you choose to use an electric boat anchor winch you will need a pulley, so that you do not rub the rope or cable across the edge of your boat.  Order your anchor pulley today by clicking on the link below either picture.  The removable pulley has an anchor weight limit of 20 lbs.

How To Anchor A Boat

When you are learning how to anchor a boat, it is easier when there is a driver and a second person to help let the anchor out.  Several things to consider:  first is to locate the position where you want your boat to stop,  next is to note the depth so you can let out enough rope, next is to consider the direction the wind is blowing and also whether there is any current flowing.  The boat driver should turn directly into the wind or current and to proceed slowly the approximate distance of how much line you are letting out.  Shift into neutral, stopping your forward momentum, simultaneously let the anchor drop until you feel it hit bottom.   As you do this you will begin to feel the current and/or wind drifting your boat back towards the spot you want to have your boat stop.

Once your anchor rope has drawn tight, give a tug on it to feel if your anchor has dug into the bottom.  Tie the rope off onto the boat when you are certain the anchor is holding.  For added strength, once everything is in place you can put your engine in reverse to gently place additional force onto the line and anchor.  Don't rev the engine.  When satisfied, you are ready to turn your engine off and begin your activities, like casting for the big ones! Realize that if you are in water that is shallow, for example 10 feet, making running the engine at this point may stir up the fishing for a time and would not be wise.

Retrieving Your Anchor

Now that you have learned how to anchor a boat,  when ready to leave you will have to retrieve your anchor.  In its simplest form retrieving your anchor is the opposite of placing your anchor.  Move things out of the way so your partner can access where the anchor is tied to the boat.  Bring in all fishing gear from the water.  Start your motor and turn in the direction of the anchor.  At slow speed position your boat approximately over the top of the anchor, making sure the anchor rope slack is brought onto the boat in order to not let it get tangled with the prop.  Most anchors from this position will release from the bottom with a strong pull.  If it pulls free with the first tug you know you have been living right.

If the anchor does not come free on the first couple of tugs, let the boat do some work for you.  Secure the anchor line to the boat and gently motor the boat in the opposite direction from the original anchor set.  The momentum and weight of the boat pulling the anchor should pull the anchor free.  Keep track of where any slack anchor line is located to ensure you don't get it tangled with your prop.  The placement and retrieval process is not difficult, but will take practice to really master it.  You may find that you will have to reset the anchor if you missed your exact spot or if the anchor did not hold properly.   With experience you will master how to anchor a boat and then retrieving your anchor to your satisfaction on the first try.

Tips for Using Your Anchor

  • Don't tie your anchor cable, rope, line or Rode to the back (stern) of your boat.
  • Keep an extra anchor on board for emergencies
  • Use one level heaver anchor, rope, connectors, etc you won't regret it.
  • If your current anchor is not working, you likely will need one that is heavier, or sharper. (Remember high school physics?)

    Anchor Rope

    There are many different things to consider when you buy anchor rope - different diameters, different strengths and different lengths.  Step up to the incredible strength and quality of Attwood multifilament, solid-braid, 3/8" or try 1/2" line. The advanced construction of this line is stronger, more durable and easier to work with than standard anchor lines. Comes with a snap hook to secure the rope without tying difficult-to-release knots.

    Attwood Solid Braid MFP Anchor Line with Thimble
    Rope King SBN-12300 Solid Braided Nylon Rope 1/2 inch x 300 feet

    This Rope King solid braid Nylon 1/2 inch rope is one the most common ropes purchased, and is extremely strong.  Choose 5/8 inch diameter line in 100, 150 or 200 foot lengths.