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Power-Pole Boat Control

Thursday, March 27 2014 5:00 pm - for Boat Rigging
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Gary Parsons Power PoleLast month, I covered how I rig the bow of my boat for optimum boat control. This month, let’s look toward the back of the boat. 

One thing on our fishing boats the past couple seasons that stands out (literally), is our Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchoring System. When these first came out, you only saw them on bass boats and in-shore saltwater rigs, but walleye fishermen are learning every year that these can be an invaluable tool to help you in so many walleye fishing situations. 

Not only is the Power-Pole an awesome shallow water anchoring system perfect for keeping you in place for shallow water pitching and casting presentations, but since they introduced the Drift Paddle last year, the applications to walleye fishing increased significantly. 

For instance, consider a situation where you need to troll really slowly, like 1 to 1.75 mph. With the Mercury Pro-4 Verado 300 mounted on our Nitro ZV-21s, we can get the boat to troll down to a speed of about 2.8 to 3 mph. By deploying the Power-Pole with the Drift Paddle attachment, we can slow down to 1.7 mph. And by using this setup, it allows us to operate from the console seat as opposed to standing at the kicker motor all day, which in big waves can be a real advantage.

Bottom line is, with the proper tools for boat control, you’re much better equipped to get your Next Bite!

Note: If you have questions or comments on this or other articles of mine you may have read, contact me through the website  

by Gary Parsons


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FlatsBoats 1
The 18 LTS Inshore from MAKO boats is a classic flats boat, shown here in a classic flats-boat setting.

Popularity of fishing the marine flats and shallow waters of the world has grown exponentially and continues to grow at a rapid pace. Numerous vessels manufactured specifically to fish these skinny waters have emerged to form a spectrum of offerings.  

Extremely shallow draft and quiet operation — the two primary requirements of a skinny-water vessel — are met by a series of watercraft, beginning with non-motorized paddleboards; then canoes; followed by paddled or electric-powered kayaks; and concluding with outboard-motor-rigged flats boats and bay boats.  

Flats boats begin that class of marine vessel that relies on regular outboard engines to get from port to the flats (and in between), but then tilt up the engine and rely on push-pole power to pole the flats with a deliberate track versus the aimless meandering that drifting by breeze affords. Not surprisingly, the other term for flats boat is "technical poling skiff." In other words, if there's no push pole affixed by holders/brackets on the gunwale, thereabouts or in usage, it's not truly a flats boat.

The general size range for flats boats is 14 to 18 feet. A stern mounted over-the-engine-poling tower is essential.  

It's best to think of a flats boat as a stealthy hunting tool that gets you easily into shallow waters, typically measuring a foot or less, in pursuit of tailing bonefish or redfish. Therefore, the draft (the vertical distance between the waterline and the deepest part of the keel) of a flats boat should be no more than 10 to 12 inches — a vessel with this sort of draft is capable of taking on and pursuing the smallest flats species. Larger game fish, such as tarpon and permit, require deeper water on the flats and, therefore, present no problem given the shallow draft of your boat.  

Quiet poling operation of the flats boat is essential. This means a great deal more than the obvious "no-stamping-around-in-the-boat-or-slamming-hatches" rule. It means choosing a flats boat with a hull that features chine and side designs that minimize the "slap" of small wavelets caused by wind, as well as water volume shifts caused by the poler when turning to go after a newly sighted fish.

Regarding the hull bottom design, although flat-bottom boats draw less water than V-bottomed boats, the latter shape with the newest configurations and features will not only make the ride to the flats much smoother and less "bangy," it also holds its own as a "quiet hull" when poled.

Ability to pole shallow is the first of the two features you want in a flats boat, and this is determined by hull configuration, design, weight of materials used in construction, as well as weight of contents — people, tackle, ice chest, gas and, last but not least, weight of the outboard engine.

Poling quietly is affected not just by poling thoughtlessly; poor weight distribution, such as too many anglers on a bow already challenged with an electric motor, can create a heavy entry in the front of the poling track. I advise anglers to avoid electric bow-mounted motors if they are strictly flats fishing, not only because of the weight, but for the clutter the motor creates, which snags stripped fly line and causes trip-and-fall problems for anglers whose eyes are glued to game fish targeted outside the boat.

FlatsBoats 2
Large storage compartments under flush, uncluttered decks are the signs of a fine flats boat.

The interior design should feature raised casting decks, fore and aft, that have totally flat and unencumbered surfaces. All good, large casting decks afford storage through hatches that close quietly, have good rustproof hinges, and that drain water into the cockpit sole and then sump via integral channels and drain holes. All hatch handles, cleats and hardware should be recessed or flush-mounted wherever possible to facilitate a walk-around-in-battle ability for close hookups and release moments. Ideally, gunnels should be wide enough for an angler to stand on or cross over at any point during presentation and battle.  

The next choice flats anglers face is the location of the helm for the motor. In the recent past, this meant choosing a stern-oriented, tiller-operated engine. Current choices include side-mounted consoles or center consoles with electric-start motors, although side-mounted consoles seem to be less popular these days.  

There is a direct relationship between helm placement, size and weight of the flats boat, and the size/horsepower and weight of the engine used to power it. Some of the newest skiffs manufactured by a vacuum bag process of super-strong, yet super-light, materials weigh very little — sometimes just over 400 pounds. Not only do they float in just inches of water, but also require only very small engines -- often no more than 40 horsepower — to get on plane and run very fast. If the engine is a four-stroke, it can run all day with very little gas consumption.

It really furthers the ultra-shallow objective of these super-light skiffs to forego the weight of a center console and use an electric-start, tiller-handled engine. (You may have seen them in operation, but it's best to avoid the "pull-start" tiller-operated engines, unless you have the strong hands of a guide.)

The two major cons of a tiller engine are that the rear placement of the operator reduces over-the-bow visibility when underway, and it adds approximately 200 more pounds of stern weight. Standing while running with a tiller handle extension can compensate for this, though I feel this adds accident risk to the picture. The rear weight of the tiller operation can also be somewhat offset "out of the hole" by trim tabs, but these tools still do not match performance provided by center placement of the guide and console. Furthermore, these super-light, super-shallow flats boats belong in the calmer inside flats. During rough weather with big breaking waves, they simply do not hold their own with heavier flats boats with bigger engines, higher sides and center consoles with grab handles. 

I always advocate center-console flats boats when big waters, big weather and big fish are involved. The center console may add some weight, but the added visibility for the operator, added storage capacity, added space for electronics and gauges, clustered access to helm controls and trim tab controls next to the steering wheel seal the deal for me. Some center-console flats boats function quite well with outboard motors as light as a 60 horsepower model. These engines feature power tilt and trim, which makes careful motor operation on and off the flats a simple matter.

FlatsBoats 3
Most livewells on flats boats are fed by electric water uptakes.

Electric-powered trim tabs are a necessity, not just for jumping on plane quickly, but also for modifying the running angle of the vessel when it encounters large waves off the beam, bow or stern. Some center-console flats boats have jack plates, which enable the engine to be vertically adjustable on the stern to allow for shallow water running. I confess to being ambivalent about jack plates since I generally oppose running flats boats over the shallows — inevitably, the sea grasses suffer.  

All good flats boats should have more than ample rod storage. The three classic placements are under the gunnels with rod racks and bow tubes, in the gunnels, and vertical storage alongside the center console. The first form of storage is most friendly to fly rods, which are often 9 feet long and necessitate horizontal non-jarring placement. In-gunnel rod storage is specific to a few manufacturers only and often supplemented by a small storage cluster against the center console. I personally carry ten rods each trip and store fly rods on rod racks under the gunnels, as well as some shorter 6-foot plug rods in tubes mounted vertically on the center console. I have never had center-console rods spook flats fish, but, in order to eliminate risk of entanglement on the backcast, these must be repositioned if the angler is fly fishing.

I would not be comfortable with any flats boat that does not have some sort of livewell. Flats fishing is too dynamic and demanding a sport to eliminate a feature that would have live crabs, shrimp or pinfish available when the fish refuse artificials or flies. Though some purists eschew the livewell, I do not, and I assume the average inshore angler would not either.  

Pushpoles come in a variety of materials ranging from fiberglass, graphite, various composites and more. My advice is to buy a pushpole of the lightest weight possible since you'll be using it all day on the flats. Remember to pole the boat without wild swings of the pushpole since flats fish easily see this motion and spook. Ideally, it helps to have retractable pushpole holders, since this will help fly-line management on the bow.  

These are some of the most important considerations related to choosing and outfitting a flats boat. Hopefully, these suggestions help get you started on a form of angling that is currently taking the fishing world by storm.  


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Deciding On a Downrigger

Tuesday, April 30 2013 7:00 am - for Boat Rigging
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DecidingOnADownrigger Cannon
Downriggers allow you to present your lure at a precise depth while trolling.

In order to be a successful angler, one must present his or her lure at the precise depth that a fish resides in. Sounds simple enough, but it can be a difficult task to achieve once you are out on the water, casting away to your heart's content.

This is where the technology of the downrigger steps in. With this nifty invention, you now have the ability to get your lure down to the magical "strike zone" and having it stay putt, ultimately resulting in more fish to fight. The only problem with this scenario is making the decision on which one to buy. A tough task for the beginner, but a piece of cake for those that willing to learn a little bit about the product before entering the store.  

What is a Downrigger?  

A downrigger is a piece of equipment that consists of an arm and a rod holder base, all attached to a spool of wire line that is then lowered into the water. On the end of this wire is a heavy lead weight, which allows your lure, which is connected by a cable release, to run at the appropriate depth. Long winded, I know, but hopefully the prose has painted you a basic picture of what this item is.      

The options for running a downrigger are virtually endless — from freshwater lakes and rivers to the saltwater stretches of the ocean. Wherever game fish can be found, chances are a downrigger will help you fish for them more effectively and efficiently.  

How to Decide on Downrigger Arm Length  

When deciding on a downrigger for your boat, the options and model types can be quite confusing to say the least. Much of the guesswork of choosing a downrigger can be done away with when basing your purchase on the size of the boat you plan to install it on.    

Short Arm — For those that are running boats less than 15 feet in length, a short arm downrigger is definitely the route to take. With a craft this size, a compact downrigger design with an arm length that falls between 20 and 24 inches will do the job nicely. 

A set up of this type will allow an angler access to the downrigger arm from a sitting position, alleviating the need for standing up during rough weather. (This is also the most common posture for trolling when out in a small boat.) 

Reaching over to change a weight or alter the release is very easy and simple when dealing with a short arm, something that is not always feasible when working with a boom that is more than 24 inches in length.      

Long Arm — For boats that are greater than 22 feet in length, choosing a long arm downrigger model is mandatory. The size of the boom can vary, but the standard length will fall somewhere between 30 and 48 inches. If you plan on running riggers both out to the side and from the stern, make sure to choose the 48-inch booms for each side. (This extra "clearance" will allow lures to remain untangled during the operation of the boat during trolling runs.) For single downrigger placement, any size within the spectrum should get the job done. 

If your boat has a high freeboard, a longer arm will also be necessary. In this situation, the extra length will ensure that the swinging weight will not bang the side of the boat when it is brought up to the surface.      

DecidingOnADownrigger FinnedDownrigger
Winching a heavy downrigger weight can be quite tiresome for deep-water anglers.

For boats that fall between 16 and 21 feet in length, going short arm or long will all depend on the number of riggers you plan to run, the mounting locations and your particular style of fishing. The variables can be great, but for the most part, either of the two models will work under most conditions.  

Manual vs. Electric Downrigger

Luxury certainly comes with a price, and if you choose to go the electric route, be prepared to spend the extra cash to do so. That being said, for many anglers, choosing an electric downrigger is a necessity, and here are the reasons why.    

Electric — An electric downrigger allows an angler to raise and lower the cable and weight through the simple art of flicking a switch. Unlike the manual downrigger, where "muscle" power is required, the electric variety can be operated effortlessly and with speed, allowing you more time to actually spend fishing.      

Having an electric downrigger is certainly a matter of convenience for most, but there are certain variables that require one. The first consideration is the depth of the water you fish. If you are consistently working in water that is greater than 75 feet deep, an electric downrigger will become invaluable for your day-to-day trolling runs. (Winching and lowering a heavy weight by hand can become quite tiresome after a while!)      

Running multiple downriggers off your boat can also be simplified by turning to electric, as manually operating upwards of six or eight downriggers is almost impossible for most. Also, if the boat you are fishing from is on the large size, electric riggers will almost always get the nod for the ease that they provide.      

Electric downriggers also come with many other perks, (depending on which you choose,) as some can be plugged into sonar units for automatic raising and lowering of the weight, or automatic stopping power when the weight reaches the surface. This feature can be extremely useful for putting an end to the occurrence of banging cannon balls. Some even have internal sonar units that can be "linked" to other downriggers, in order for them to work in tandem as a team.

Manual — Manual downriggers come standard with a hand winch, allowing the user to turn a handle in order to raise or lower the cable and weight. Although not as fancy or spectacular as the electric versions, they still get the job done, and for some anglers, they really are the best choice.    

DecidingOnADownrigger Scotty1099
Small boat owners will find that a compact manual rigger will get the job done more than adequately.

Small boat owners will find that a compact manual rigger will get the job done more than adequately. For the most part, small boats will be fishing small water; therefore the "deep water" factor will not come into play. The manual models for small boats are also more compact and portable, allowing for easy mounting (non-permanent) for fly-in trips or rental boats.  

And lastly, money comes into the picture. For those on a budget, a manual downrigger will always be the hands-down winner.  

Portable or Permanent Mounting?  

When it comes to downriggers, the angler has two different options for mounting — portable or permanent. A portable downrigger utilizes clamps that are tightened to the gunnels of the boat, allowing quick and easy attaching and removal. This option works great for those that like to rent boats, or for the angler that likes to adjust the positioning of the mount periodically. They are especially good for the small boat owner. 

It goes without saying that clamp mounts are not as rigid as a permanent mounting brackets and may slip or move if the proper tension is not applied. 

Permanent downriggers rely on mounting plates that are screwed onto the boat itself, or to a makeshift platform that is fitted to the top of the gunnels. These mounts work best for large boats, and especially those that are running more than one downrigger. They provide a sturdy and trusting fit for your rigger, and are the ultimate design for tackling the big water. Before drilling commences, make sure that the clearance and measurements are correct and accurate.  

Fishing Rod Holders  

A rod holder is part and parcel of your downrigger purchase, but not all holders are created the same. Make sure that the rigger you buy comes with a fully adjustable rod holder, one that can be tilted into varying positions for the most efficient placement of the rod. Sturdy is the way to go, so ensure that the housing is tough and resistant to scrapes and bangs. The last step to look at is how easy it is to remove the rod. You should be able to pull the rod up and out in one fluid motion, allowing for quick and easy hook sets. If you struggle to release the rod from the holder, the seconds that elapse will most certainly be costly to hooking that fish that just hit.      

As you can see, downriggers can go a long way towards improving your fishing success. By helping you stay with the fish, your chances of connecting are greater...and that is the number one objective we have every time the boat hits the water.


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Fishing has long been known as a game of stealth. Putting yourself in the optimum position for making that next cast (while being extra quiet) can also lead you on your way to a hearty bend in the rod. These two characteristics are what make trolling motors a godsend for the fishing fraternity. Not only can anglers have total control over their craft at all times, they can also move effortlessly from spot to spot, and ultimately put more fish in the boat. Come and jump on the trolling motor bandwagon, and find out which is the right pick for you and your boat.

Importance of Thrust

Trolling motors, or electric motors, use battery power in order to propel a boat. The amount of power or strength needed to move through the water is described as "pounds of thrust." This power rating is common to all motors on the market, and is one of the most important aspects to consider when selecting the right unit to match your craft. With insufficient power behind you, working your boat through wind, high waves or weedy conditions can be all but impossible.

Many factors fall into the equation when deciding on the necessary power needed for optimum performance. Some common questions to ask yourself are: Is your boat heavy, and what is the length? Do you store a lot of gear, or fish with more than one person? Do you fish in adverse conditions, such as high winds and rough water?

The chart on the right details the minimum amount of thrust required depending on the size of your craft.

MinThrustRequired trollingmotorsThis chart is meant to convey "normal fishing conditions." If you answered "yes" to any of the previous questions I posed, moving up to the next level of thrust is highly recommended. If your boat, gear, and passengers are extremely heavy, going to a motor with even more thrust would be your best bet.

Many professionals believe that the best rule of thumb is to buy the biggest motor you can afford, all within reason of course. (A big, overpowering motor can also offer disadvantages if it literally "dwarfs" the size of your boat.) Choose wisely and weigh all of the variables. Running a motor that is under rated for your craft can only lead to misery and headaches when venturing out on the water.

Voltage & Batteries

Electric trolling motors come in three separate power systems: 12, 24 or 36 volts. To make it easier to understand, a 12-volt trolling motor is run off of one 12-volt deep cycle marine battery. In order for a 24-volt motor to work, it must be run off of two separate batteries, and a 36-volt version requires three.

A 12-volt trolling motor is the most inexpensive and easiest to run. It does, however, lack the staying power and thrust that the other two provide. A 24- or 36-volt system will allow the angler to fish longer periods out on the water, as they draw lower amps while providing increased thrust for more power.

If your boat is 16-foot or smaller, a high-thrust 12-volt model will be adequate for the conditions that you will face. If your boat is any longer, moving up to a 24- or 36-volt system is the only way to go for hassle-free boating.

Be certain not to scrimp and save on the batteries. Buying a high quality, deep-cycle marine battery (some are designed specifically for electric motors) will ensure that you are receiving the maximum power and longevity that is on the market. This will provide piece of mind in case you ever find yourself stranded out on the lake, nursing an overheated or blown outboard motor that just won't fire up!

Bow or Transom Trolling Motor?

There are two kinds of trolling motors available: a bow mount (installed at the front of the boat), and a transom mount (manufactured for the back). In order to install a bow mount, you must have sufficient room up front, as well as a mounting bracket or plate to affix the housing. You must also have a flat bottom platform to fish from in order to make the set-up feasible.

A transom motor simply clamps onto the stern of the boat and will work with any style of craft.

A bow-mounted motor will provide superior maneuverability and better control, allowing the angler to fish easier and more efficiently. (This increase in maneuvering ability is due to the fact that bow-mounts "pull" your boat through the water, in comparison to a transom "pushing".) If your boat is 14-foot or larger and can accommodate a bow-mount, most certainly go that route. You won't regret it.

For small boats, dinghies and canoes, a transom mount would be the best choice. These motors work great for general positioning and trolling application — exactly what they were designed for. Whatever you decide, owning any kind of trolling motor is definitely better than not.

Hand or Foot Control Trolling Motor?

If you decide to purchase a bow mount motor, the next decision to make is whether to operate it by hand or foot. Although both have their merits, trying each version and finding which is most comfortable to use is probably your best bet. The following chart outlines some advantages and disadvantages for both:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Foot Control
  • Hands-free usage
  • Easy to use  
  • Can be used anywhere in boat
  • More clutter on deck (pedal)
  • More parts to break or malfunction
  • Slower response time on some models
Hand Control
  • No clutter on deck
  • Real-time response
  • Hand not always on your rod
  • Can only be used from bow

My personal preference is for the foot-control model, as this allows me to have a completely hands-free fishing experience. Some will argue that the hand control outweighs the merits of the foot. Taking the time to talk to different users of both models will enable you to figure out which is best for you.

Whatever version of motor you choose, both will require practice on the water in order to become comfortable with them. Once you do, however, the possibilities are endless.  

Shaft Length

Shaft length is important for optimum control of your boat. If the shaft chosen is too short, the prop may not be sufficiently submerged during rough or adverse conditions. If it is too long, shallow water operation may pose a continuous problem. Finding the appropriate length for the size of craft you own will ensure safe and carefree boating.

The shaft length is dictated by the height of the bow or stern. Deep V boats will require a longer shaft, whereas the shortest length will adequately serve canoes.

ChoosingTrollingMotors MinnKotaTerrova
Self-directional trolling motors allow anglers more time to fish.

Additional Features on a Trolling Motor to Consider

Technology is expanding in the land of the trolling motor, and new features and wrinkles become available anually. Here are a few that are worth checking out:

Built-In Battery Gauge — Some models of trolling motors have battery gauges built in to the housing or head of the unit. This gauge will allow an angler to quickly and easily check how much power is left in the battery itself, making it a no-brainer for estimating fishing time left or when to clamp the charger on.

Digital Displays — High-end models are now coming standard with digital screens, complete with readouts of speed and depth. Although these motors come at a price, the technology is certain to put you on more fish.

Self-Directional Motors — An interesting feature, in that it allows total hand and foot-free operation, and will follow shorelines or depth contours on its very own.It will even steer you in a straight line when the winds are howling!

Here are a few more things to look for when making your final decision:

  • Composite or stainless steel shaft will endure shock and stand up to abuse much better than weaker metals.

  • Make sure the prop is weedless, and that replacement blades are available for your specific model.

  • Ensure that the mount is heavy duty and strong. The less plastic parts it has, the better.

  • If you plan on using the foot-control pedal from anywhere in the boat, make sure the cable is sufficient in length for the size of your craft.

Trolling motors add a completely new dimension to fishing. Perfecting boat control, fishing inaccessible areas and maintaining a silent approach will ensure added enjoyment and more fish for the angler willing to experiment. Shop around, take each style for a test drive and pay attention to detail — banner days on the lake await you.

ChoosingTrollingMotors BPSProwler ChoosingTrollingMotors MinnKotaMaxxum
Bass Pro Shops Prowler T55/40 Trolling Motor Minn Kota Maxxum Bow Mount Trolling Motors
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ChoosingRightAnchor anchorkitFrom the basic "cement-in-a-bucket" to the tried-and-true fluke or grapnel, boat anchors come in a wide variety of shapes and styles. No matter what size boat you skim across your favorite lake in, having an anchor on board assures safe boating, while also permitting the angler to have a controlled and drift-free fishing excursion.

Choosing the appropriate anchor can be a frustrating task if you don't know the merits of each particular design. Follow this handy guide and prepare to become a boat anchor guru.

What Type of Boat Anchor Should I Buy?

Although this question may seem basic, there are many variables that come into play when purchasing your first anchor. Environmental conditions (such as weather and lake structure), the size of your craft and the weight of the anchor itself are all significant parts of the puzzle. Perhaps it's best to look first at how an anchor actually works.

Anchors "attach" to the bottom structure of a body of water in order to hold a boat securely. This is done in one of two ways. Firstly, the anchor can penetrate the bottom surface, creating a suction through the penetration and the weight of the material above the anchor itself, in turn creating resistance. Secondly, when dealing with hard, rocky bottoms, the anchor actually snags in order to create hold.

Out of the many roles that anchors serve, the most prevalent are securing the boat while fishing, keeping boats out of the surf or rocks or allowing the occupants to enjoy a relaxing meal on board without drifting away. (For larger craft, they are also necessary for spending the night while out on the water.)

Boat Safety: How to Anchor Your Boat

There's more to anchoring your boat than just dropping it in the water.
1 arrow pointWatch this boat safety video demonstrate the proper techniques to anchoring. Watch the full video by taking an online boating safety course at

What to Look For in an Anchor

As you will realize after reading this guide, not all anchors are created equal. There are, however, common attributes that you should look for when making your choice.

  • Holds well in all types of bottom: weed, rock, sand, mud.
  • Can be set and re-set quickly and easily under all conditions.
  • Strong craftsmanship.
  • Good holding power.
  • Can be released easily and effortlessly from the bottom.
  • Can be stored easily on deck — compact

Boat Anchor Styles

The following represents a list of the most common anchor designs currently on the market.

River Anchor: The river anchor is designed specifically for river currents and heavy drift conditions. The grappling action of the three individual blades provides secure holding power, while the flow-through holes provides easy pull up. ChoosingRightAnchor river
Grapnel Anchor: Most grapnel anchors are made with four arms that easy fold up, providing a compact and easily stored apparatus. This style of anchor is ideal for small boats and dinghies as there are no open flukes to puncture the sensitive fabric of the craft. ChoosingRightAnchor grapnel
Mushroom Anchor: The mushroom anchor offers a wide area cap that offers effective holding power in mud and weeds. The drain holes in the base allow for easy retrieval, allowing water and mud to quickly be displaced. ChoosingRightAnchor mushroom
Navy Anchor: The navy anchor is the traditional style of anchor. The stock is made to fold flat against the shank for easy storage, making these ideal for smaller craft. Navy anchors work well in rocky bottoms, and will also penetrate easily through weeds. ChoosingRightAnchor navy
Fluke Anchor: The fluke anchor, or Danforth, has two "flukes" or appendages that are used to hold on the bottom. The stock-in-head design is what makes this anchor work, not the weight, and it provides extremely high penetration. Flukes work best in sand or loose gravel, literally burying themselves out of sight when lowered. One drawback is rocks or boulders — they can become wedged in so tight that the only option is cutting them free. ChoosingRightAnchor fluke


electric anchor winch
The Bass Pro Shops® Fisherman 25 Electric Anchor Winch will power your anchor up and down with an anti-reverse clutch to prevent free-spooling.

Electric Anchors: This type of anchor is a hands-free style with a electric anchor winch attached to the bow of the boat. With the simple flick of a switch, the anchor can be raised or lowered, allowing the boater more time for other concerns. The one drawback this system has is that the anchor itself is usually in the style of the mushroom — great for muddy or sandy conditions, but a poor choice for rocky areas. However, for people with disabilities or back problems, this anchor system certainly has its merits.

What Size Anchor Do I Need?

Deciding on a certain size of anchor can be a bit of a guessing game. Since conditions are always changing, there is no "right" size for the job at hand. One misconception people make when shopping for an anchor is the heavier the better. This is just not true. Physical size, rather than weight, is actually a better indicator of the anchors holding ability. (Some anchors that only weigh 5lbs. can hold in excess of 1,000 pounds!)

When it comes to choosing an anchor, bigger is almost always better. Bigger anchors have more strength to resist breaking, occupy more of a surface area to resist pullout and will have more weight to penetrate deeper. Go with the biggest anchor you can get by with for the size of your watercraft; the last thing you need when rough weather arrives is an inadequate anchor that doesn't do the job.

Cost & Construction

It goes without saying that buying a cheap or inferior product will usually only turn to heartache. When dealing with something that could possibly save your life, please don't scrimp in order to save a few bucks. Try to buy the best anchor that you can afford, making sure to be on the lookout for spotty galvanizing, poor welds, and other noticeable inconsistencies in the metal. Always remember — you often get what you pay for.

Boat Cleats

Many people buy anchors, failing to realize that they need something to attach the rope to on their boat. This is where cleats enter the picture. Deck cleats are of a simple design, meant for anchor ropes to be wrapped around for a secure hold. Look for strong, large cleats that will withstand the punishment and pull that inclement weather can throw at them.  

Attaching an Anchor to a Boat

Nylon anchor rope is the most common way of attaching an anchor to a boat. These ropes are strong, flexible and have a very high breaking strength.

Diameter        Breaking Strength
3/8" 4,400 lbs
7/16" 5,900 lbs
1/2" 7,500 lbs
5/8" 12,200 lbs
3/4" 16,700 lbs
1"      29,400 lbs

Choosing the appropriate size of nylon rope can be made easier depending on the size of boat you are using.

Boat Length (under) 16-foot 20-foot 25-foot


Rope Diameter 3/8" 3/8" 1/2" 1/2"

Although they may look quite similar in appearance, they really do have specialized attributes that are designed for different purposes.


Shop all anchors at

1 arrow pointBoat Safety Video


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