Welcome to Warmwater Fishing!

And More On Soft Anchors


By Tim Lunceford (MOturkE)

Joe Hyde suggested I write an article about my own version of the soft anchors he designed. He now has three articles in the Warm Water archives about his anchor system for a canoe. I've seen kayak anchor systems on the web but none of them were as clever as Joe's soft anchors. Most of the other systems utilize a hard anchor, either the mushroom style, grappling hook style (as I call them), or the dumbbell/disc weights for workout rooms and gymnasiums. None of these hard anchors thrilled me at all.

Joe has the right idea with a soft system; it won't scare the fish when in use, isn't clumsy, and has no points or edges that might damage the watercraft. I also like the idea of a double anchor system to keep the boat in position and prevent the tendency to spin around when the wind blows. I'd have never thought that one up, at least not right away.

Another feature in his design is the ability to control each anchor individually from the other without having to move around in the boat. How amazingly safe, easy, and convenient is that? There's no question that this soft anchor system is hands down the best thing since the last best thing. I just knew that my kayak would be a better fishing vessel with it, but for me there were some minor issues in Joe's design. That's the reason for my modifications.

First, I wanted to do as little work as possible to build and install the system. (As stated in another of my articles, I'm a bit lazy.) I also didn't want to spend any more money than absolutely necessary for the system. (As I've also mentioned before, I'm a cheapskate.) One issue with Joe's anchors was the cost of shot and the excess that I might have if I had to buy it in bulk. I only needed about 10-15 lbs total. So, I began to ponder my options.

I reconsidered the dumbbells first; they were about the right size. But they were hard cast metal covered with a soft foam coating that would likely rot after exposure to water. Also, most of them were in lovely, soft pastel colors, not exactly what this gentle-angler had in mind. And, I could've used a window weight from on old house if I wanted a noisy piece of metal hanging off the side of the yak. No, the dumbbells were out, as were the other metal anchors and weights. I really wanted to stick with the soft anchor, but I couldn't see making my own.

I kept trying to think of some place to buy weighted pouches; maybe the hardware store would have sandbags. Then it hit me; I just needed to buy some ankle weights. Actually, not as popular as they were in the '80s, they're still available at sporting goods stores. The set I found are "Weider" brand adjustable weights with five, sealed plastic, 1 lb. shot pouches inside each cloth ankle wrap. The plastic pouches would eliminate the possibility of corrosion and the tendency for bacteria to grow in the loose shot causing the cloth to rot. Another nice thing about the ankle weights is they have a Velcro strap that keeps them rolled up, or you can leave them flat to increase drag if you're just drifting in the breeze.

Soft

My next issue with the system design was the fairleads attached on the bow and stern. I cringed at the thought that I might have to drill more holes in the kayak. I wanted something that would attach easily and wouldn't be permanent. U-bolts were out for sure. I thought about using the lifting handles to run the anchor ropes through, but eventually the string on the handles would wear through and I'd be back to the problem of attachment. I decided to hook carabineers to the lifting handles to run the ropes through. The added attraction of these is that I can easily unhook the anchor ropes from the lifting handles and stow the weights inside the hull for transport.

Soft

At one point, I considered one of the more popular features folks use with kayak anchor designs, a trolley system. An anchor trolley only uses one anchor that can be transferred to any location between the bow and stern by simply pulling a rope through pulleys attached at each end of the yak. That system was impressive, but I wanted the stability of double anchors. Also, the idea of drilling screw holes to attach pulleys and brackets or rings to clip the rope to the kayak was not an option. So, I stayed with Joe's double rope feature.

Finally, I wasn't able to find cam-cleats locally to use on the yak. I was so impressed with cam-cleats when I saw them in Joe's articles that I was almost tempted to spend money on the web to get some. That idea was very short-lived and I opted for a 5-inch traditional-style cleat. I put a "D" ring on each ankle weight to attach ropes, then tied 50' of rope on each weight. Most of the areas I fish don't exceed 30' of depth, so I haven't invested in buoys to keep from losing my anchors. (Very risky for a cheapskate.) The ropes then pass through the carabineers and then to the cleat. I tie both ropes to the single cleat, usually the aft anchor is tied first and the fore anchor is tied over it. After the anchors are pulled up they both stay above the water's surface if they're rolled up. If they're left flat they don't clear the surface and will cause drag while paddling. I can't reach the bow anchor to lift it to the deck, but the aft anchor is fairly easy to reach and stow on the aft deck while paddling.

Soft

This anchor system was fairly inexpensive. The weights cost less than $20 per pair at M-C Sports, from Wal-Mart the rope was less than $2 and the cleat was about $4.99, and carabineers from the local hardware at .99 each finished off the system. A very affordable system considering how difficult it is to paddle with one hand and fly cast with the other. Hopefully, this write-up will help some of you adapt Joe's system to your own watercraft. I have more photos of my kayak at http://www.lunceford.org/fishing/yakrig.php. ~ Tim

About Tim Lunceford:

Tim lives and fishes near Kansas City, Missouri. He's been married 23 years, is the father of four kids and is now enjoying his first grandchild Caleb Thomas. He works as a Heat and Frost Insulator for Local Union #27 in K.C.

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