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Home Articles How to anchor your kayak when fishing using a running rig

How to anchor your kayak when fishing using a running rig


After choosing your fishing kayak you will need to select key accessories to get started… high up this list should be an anchoring system. Kayaks are only small things on the water, even light winds can blow them off a fishing spot faster than you realize,  an anchor system is essential for your success, save you paddling more than fishing and safety…

By safety I mean having the wrong or poorly made system could get you in real trouble… be it a system that puts you side on to swell or wind heightening the risk of  capsize … or a system that fails setting your kayak adrift while you snorkel around thinking your kayak is at anchor…these are but a couple of scenarios…to avoid these and more here is my system which works efficiently everytime and is made to last…

First up is the anchor running rig… basically this is  a system of ropes,  pulleys, saddles & shackles, which allows you to easily set your anchor from the bow or the Stern of your kayak depending on the situation and makes it easy to retrieve your anchor or move it out of the way when playing a fish… that’s the basics.. here’s the reality…there are a lot of systems out there claiming to do this but in reality they either dont do it well or just dont last.

As anchoring is important to me I want a system I can trust, that works and is safe… for this I have chosen theSalt’s’ Life anchor running rig..its made by Kayak fisherman for Kayak fisherman. … aside from quality what I like most about this system is the unique way it can easily transfer to different length kayaks, Ihave 2 of these running rigs which I  transfer between my 4 kayaks… SOT fishing kayak, single sea kayak & Double sea kayak… before reading on see my review/tip video below

let me explain the key qualities of this running  rig…

  • Made using high quality ropes, available in 5mm or 6mm
  • Supplied with quality 316 stainless hardware…
  • Fully adjustable length, 2 options available one for kayaks lengths from  4.3m or less  and 4.4 – 5m (although I am using this one on my 5.9m Barracuda  Kayaks double sea kayak no problem )
  • Swivel snap clip on the leader prevents twisting allowing quick anchor attachment and change over


Drift Anchor –  the drift anchor, sea anchor or drogue is my preferred way to fish as I seldom like to be fixed in one spot, the drift anchor offers the ability to slow your drift over a reef or spot X. Attaching the drift anchor to the running rig I prefer to set it off the bow of the kayak. I can then cast in front and either retrieve the lure back to me as I drift or set it in the rod holder. Setting the sea anchor off the stern has never made sense to me becuase you are casting forward and drifting forward over the bait or lure you just cast? .. setting off the bow means you get more time to work the lure or bait.
I am sure there are scenarios where setting off the stern is more suitable but mostly I dont see the need… the running  rig makes it very easy to get drift anchor out of the way when hooked up..this is the only situation where the drift anchor ends up set off my stern so I can safely play the fish off the bow without the risk of snagging on anchors..the other advantage here is with bigger fish the sea anchor off the stern will help to stabilize the kayak… not such an issue for me as I am not landing too many XO fish 😉
The basics of a drift anchor.. let me assume you dont know how  drift anchor works..simply put the drift anchor is like a parachute slowing you down when the wind is blowing you, the larger the drift anchor the slower you will drift… the drift anchor does not work to slow you down when the current or tide is moving you..it simply moves with the water and sometimes drifts past you! in this situation you are better using a grapnel/fixed anchor.. the only time a drift anchor will make any difference to the speed you travel
in this situation is if the wind is blowing you faster than the tide/current.
Selecting your Drift Anchor – Even though the kayaks are small I use a large heavy duty sea anchor designed by Stephen Tapp…I have had mine for 5 years and it is still as good as the day I purchased it (and it has had plenty of use!).. being larger means it is ideal for all winds… I have acquired a couple of smaller/cheap sea anchors over the years which serve only as good reminders that sea anchor i prefer is far superior out in the real environment… some quality points of difference of the Stephen Tapp drift chute
  • The large float on the end prevents the Drift Chute from sinking down too far and makes it much easier to retrieve.
  • The stainless steel ring on the attachment cords slides to prevent the chute collapsing in choppy conditions
  • Made from durable canvas – made to last!

Grapnel/Fixed anchor – A grapnel is a great way to keep you fixed in one spot, weather you are fishing your berley trail, fishing a current/tidal location or a reef..there are times when being fixed in one spot is essential to your success..the anchor running rig is your best friend in this situation. here I prefer to set the anchor off the stern so I can cast in front and let the moving water take the bait or lure away from the kayak, then set it or work it back to the kayak.
Having it off the stern means it is out of the way when you are playing a fish/ no chance of fouling on your anchor rope…and in the case of a big fish this will add stability to the kayak assuming you keep the rod tip pointed to the bow.
Choosing a grapnel kit for a kayak –  the basics are very much the same as for a boat except remember you are the winch and the motor transporting all that anchor, chain & rope over the ocean so be kind on yourself…there are a number of fixed anchor kits available that are best suited for kayaks… some key things to look out for when buying or making your anchor
  • Winding board … having a board to wind your rope and a chain will not only make the kayak less clutter but will make it safer to set and retrieve the anchor
  • Chain.. have a length of chain to keep the anchor set
  • Grapnel – either have a grapnel that’s prongs will bend if they get stuck or make sure you tie the grapnel so it can be retrieved when stuck
  • Quick release with float –  in situations where you have strong currents or are chasing large fish a quick release system is recommended. the idea being you can quickly drop the anchor if you are either hooked to a whopper and off for a slay ride or it is too dangerous to retrieve the anchor without potential capsize etc…( anchor is snagged, current too strong etc..)

some kits I recommend
I hope that helps, be sure to send me any questions… PaddleguyJas


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