Anchoring in a current

I’m seeking some of your collective paddling wisdom. If this topic has been covered previously, please point me to the relative thread.

Those of us who have attempted to anchor a canoe in a river’s current have found that it is not quite as simple as it sounds. There are quite a few factors to consider.

-Depth of water

-Strength of current

-Type of watercraft

-Composition of river bottom

-Length of anchor-line

-Type of anchor

-Attachment point on canoe/kayak

-Retrieval of anchor


To me, these factors depend mostly on the first two—depth of water and strength of current. In shallow water in a very mild current one can drop nearly anything heavier than water overboard and attach it at nearly any point on one’s boat with a light line. However, as the water gets deeper and the current gets stronger, the dynamics of the situation change.

I’ve done some experimenting over the past few years in a 15ft and a 17ft canoe. Usually I can plant my boat wherever I want to be. [When you find an area where the smallmouth and/or walleye are biting it’s good to be able to keep your boat right there—right?] But when the river runs higher things change. The water gets deeper. The current gets stronger. The hydrodynamics change.

What are the limits? What theories on anchoring in a current have gotten good results for you?


My basic theory is this

– Last Updated: Dec-07-06 11:53 AM EST –

Don't anchor in current.

I agree that it's possible in mild current in shallow water to anchor with relative safety. If you have any question about how to go about anchoring, just don't. Fishing is expensive enough without risking everything in the canoe - including yourself - for the purpose of catching a few more fish.

I don't have an anchor on my canoe right now, but I'll be adding one. My kayaks don't have anchors, though I may also add them there.

Up until very recently, when I began to admit that there may be some rare instances where an anchor would be more useful than catching an eddy, or grounding out the boat on a rock or sandbar. Otherwise, my usual thought about anchoring a canoe or kayak in a river was equivalent to saying "I don't know when I want to die, but I know I want to be wet."

If it takes more than a 2# or 3# weight to hold you, the current's too strong for safe anchoring. Most folks I know use a 2# or a 3# rubber coated dumbell.

- Big D

You can use a length of heavy chain to
slow downstream drift without a significant increase in rist, Its a technique long in use by river fishermen.

I fish the Susquehanna river frequently and have a number of views concerning anchoring.

A bad experience I had was fishing in an eddy with an anchor out and then decided that I should move out about 10 feet to fish new water. I have a trolley system on my kayak and just put the anchor overboard and was going to adjust it as a matter of fact. Unfortunately, when I lowered the anchor the current was strong and the kayak immediately spun with the anchor up stream and the kayak down stream with the anchor rope around the kayak. To make things more interesting, the anchor became stuck in the rocks and I could not move it.

The time of the year was early March and going for a swim was not a desirable option. After giving the situation some thought, trying to manuever the kayak, trying to retrieve the anchor all to no avail, I decided to cut the anchor line. That fortunately got me out of the situation.

I guess that about 2 years have passed since that event when I decided that an anchor was more trouble than it was worth. I did buy an anchor system from Bass Pro but had not used it until 2 week ago.

I again decided that I needed the anchor. This time I decided to stay close to shore. I established the line that I wanted to fish and let the anchor out with the trolley in the fully established rear position. I was able to drag the anchor each time I moved to find a new fishing position. I did not experience the problems that I describe of the earlier trip. That I am thankful for.

An anchor is very useful to maintain the position of the kayak for fishing. I will use it again hopefully with the knowledge of how to avoid a near disaster.

ALthough I do have anchor

– Last Updated: Dec-09-06 2:08 PM EST –

on both my kayaks, I do not use them if there is an alternative, such as grounding out on a rock, a large stationary log, gravel bar, etc etc. Stepping out and wading may also be an option..depending...

In addition, I do not drop an anchor unless I can see the bottom and KNOW what I'm dropping my anchor into. Having your anchor caught under an under-cut ledge or in a sharp "V" can ruin your day. I use my anchor in the Doah with quite a bit of regularity, clear water or no...but then...I've been paddling the river for over 25 years and know the bottoms pretty well .

Drift sock
Have you tried a drift sock? It can hold you in position but not like a anchor. Swift current is always a problem. Just use common sense when deploying an achor or drift sock. FishHawk

Drift socks are not holding devices.
In fishing, they are meant to slow your drift and help in controlling direction of the drift. They are a bad idea in moving water.

Bad Experience
I, myself, tried to rig up a dumb bell anchor once and found that a 4# anchor wouldn’t hold me in the current I was in. I agree with the previous post that more than a 2-3# weight necessary could mean that anchoring could be unsafe.

A worst situation is failing to secure the anchor when NOT in use. I ended up getting turned over while in some deep, heavy current while paddling up to the downside of some fallen logs my lure & hook caught on. I was trying to pull my hook loose and got sideways when the current came up over the side of my sit-in yak and rolled me. Not too big a deal except that the anchor sitting behind my seat came out and hit the back of my neck. I was ok, but have not carried an anchor since. If fact, I would imagine that that one is still at the bottom of that section of the river, since I was so ticked off that after I got to shore with my swamped yak, I cut it and dumped it!

anchors away
good discussion. I flyfish from a 15 foot canoe and i use an anchor mostly in lakes to keep from getting blown around by the wind. Not any problems so far for me with this.

In rivers i prefer to get out and wade or if its a particularly toothsome spot i want to fish from the canoe, i may try and tie off to shore or maybe a convenient log. Often it seems like the places i want to fish usually have a good place to land and get out and wade or to tie up. It may be that good fishing spots and good landing spots have a common structure, or maybe its just a coincidence.

I don’t usually anchor in strong current so can’t add anything there.

conditions allow I sometimes use a milk jug filled with sand for an anchor.If need be i can cut or untie and let it go with minimal loss.A drift sock wont do anything much as it will be moving with the current as well.They work on still waters fine but no use on rivers.

fast release
If you go with a disposable anchor (rock in a bag or sand in whatever) then I recommend using a section of 8 lb test monofiliment line to connect the anchor to your rope. This will break if you get hung up and release you befor you get in trouble.