How To Anchor A Boat (And Avoid These Common Anchoring Mistakes)

By: Joseph Simonds on July 17, 2019
Found In:

how to anchor a boat

When you’re dropping down the anchor, a lot can go wrong…

Your hand or leg could get stuck in the rope and you could get pulled overboard…

You could drop the anchor on your deck and be in for an expensive repair job…

You could not tie the anchor on your boat correctly and lose your anchor…

And those are just a few of the things that could go wrong!

Bottom line is, when it comes to anchoring your boat, you need to know what you’re doing.

So we’ve got Salt Strong fishing coach Capt. Mark “Hollywood” Johnson from Florida Keys Fun Fishing to drop some knowledge on us about boat anchors.

In this video you’ll learn:

  • Why boat anchors need chains (and what happens if they don’t have one)
  • The top mistakes newbies make when they deploy their anchors
  • Two popular types of anchors (and which one Capt. Johnson uses for his fleet of boats)
  • The formula for knowing how much rope you need in every depth of water for every condition
  • The top mistakes newbies make when they pull up their anchors
  • And much more!

Watch the video below.


(P.S. want to catch more fish while you’re out on the water? Check out our Insider Club here.)

How To Anchor Your Boat [VIDEO]

Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts!

Related videos:

Two Popular Types Of Anchors

danforth anchor

Two of the most popular types of anchors are the danforth anchors and the snowplow, or claw anchors.

The danforth anchor is best for hard bottom, but not as good for grassy bottom because it can often get clogged with grass and not catch.

On the other hand, the snowplow anchor works well for both bottoms.

However, one thing to remember is that with the snowplow, it’s important to use a reef trip (see the video at 6:20 for more information on reef trips).

Getting The Anchor To Stick

Image Source:

When it comes to getting the anchor to stick, there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Always use a chain
  2. Have enough scope

Many inexperienced boaters don’t have a chain on their anchor and wonder why their anchor often doesn’t catch.

The weight of the chain decreases the angle of the anchor relative to the boat.

It lets the anchor lie closer to the bottom, which is what allows it to catch.

If it’s sticking straight up, it will have a much tougher time catching.

Another thing that decreases the angle of the anchor relative to the boat is the scope, or the amount of rope let out.

A good rule of thumb is that for calm conditions, you need to have three feet of rope for every one foot of depth.

So if you’re in 10 feet of water, you’ll need 30 feet of rope.

If you’re in windy conditions, or an area where there is a lot of current, you’ll need five feet of rope for every one foot of depth.

So if you’re in 10 feet of water, you’ll need 50 feet of rope.

This will help ensure the anchor sticks to the bottom.

Dropping The Anchor

Capt. Mark sees two big mistakes when it comes to droppping an anchor:

  1. The rope is being pulled from the bottom of the coil, or from a rets nest
  2. Throwing the anchor overboard

If your anchor line is not in a nice coil with the rope closest to the anchor on top of the coil, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

This is how knots happen, which can lead to bad news if you’re trying to undo a knot while the anchor is trying to stick to the bottom.

The other mistake is that people try to throw their anchors overboard.

If you drop it, or don’t throw the anchor far enough and it lands on your boat, you could be in for some expensive repairs to your boat.

Instead, when you’re dropping the anchor, you want to lower the anchor overboard and then let the line out, being careful to keep it away from your feet.

Finally, when you have enough scope, be sure to tie your boat off to the cleat and remember to always finish it off with a lock.

Pulling Up The Anchor

dropping a boat anchor

The final step in properly anchoring your boat is pulling the anchor up.

When you’re pulling up the anchor, make sure to have a partner drive the boat to above where the anchor is while you pull in the rope and coil it on the deck.

Once you get to the anchor, start pulling the anchor up by using your arms and legs (and not just your back).

If it pops off the bottom easily, great!

But if not, tie the anchor to the cleat, put the boat in gear, and use the boat’s motor to pop it off (your back will thank you).

Pull the anchor up, and once it comes to the surface, swing it out and over the side of the boat.


how to anchor a bay boat

So there you go!

That’s how you safely and properly drop down an anchor.

Have any questions about anchoring your boat?

Let us know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who needs help anchoring their boat, be sure to TAG or SHARE this with them!

P.S. Want more tips like this from Capt. Mark and the Salt Strong coaches to help you catch more fish and find the best fishing spots (and get discounts on fishing gear!)? Join our Insider Club here.

Do You Want To Quickly Find New Fishing Spots In Your Area?

Then you’ve got to see this private fishing club!

Here’s what you’ll receive today:

  • Weekly fishing reports and TRENDS revealing where the inshore fish are feeding all year long
  • Weekly “spot dissection” videos that walk you through all the best spots in certain areas
  • Exclusive fishing tips from the PROS you can’t find anywhere else
  • Everything you need to start catching fish more consistently (regardless if you fish out of a boat, kayak, or land).

Click here to join today.

Related articles:

Related categories:
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Roger Bonifield
11 months ago

Hey thanks guys. Great video. I was a little surprised that you didn’t mention what the big orange buoy was for. Maybe everyone down here knows already, but I’ll bet many don’t. Watched a video of a guy fishing from an anchored boat, when he hooked into a big Tarpon. So he then took the anchor rope off the kleet , let the buoy go over, marking the spot, put the boat in gear and followed the Tarpon. Then returned later to retrieve his anchor.
Another idea that I tried when my anchor got hung up, was to let out about another 10 or 15 feet of rope, then drive a circle around the anchor, when it almost always comes free at some point.

John Purdue
11 months ago

Thanks for the great info

Gary Friedman
11 months ago

Great video, I love the anchor breakaway system. I left a few anchors in my day. What about the anchor ball release system. Saw it done once, shows how the ball and boat do all the work.
Anyway thanks for the info.

Tim Parr
11 months ago

I always leave anchor rope tied to boat when I start pulling rope in to pick up anchor
Any number of things can cause you to drop line while pulling and you will lose entire set up, rope chain and anchor
I know this cus it’s happened to me

Warner Foster
11 months ago

Very good video. It very easy to put a “REEF TRIP” on fluke type anchors. Simply drill a hole and put a shackle in the crown/ base of anchor. Attach the chain to the shackle and use wire tie the chain to the anchor shank. Have done this for years and never had a problem.
The red ball on his boat is most likely an anchor buoy which is used to pull anchors in deeper water.
Best Of Fishing To You,

Steven Free
11 months ago

Yea I guess I’m lucky because even though I still carry my old anchor for emergencies I haven’t used it in over 4 years now because I rarely fish in water deeper then about 12 ft because I’m an icw angler no off shore spent enough time at sea in the navy but back to the comment so when I do anchor I use my stick it pin system I have the one where the bracket mounts to your motor mount best 210 dollars I ever spent even though it’s not automatic like a powerpole it doesn’t cost a small fortune like they do and to me is just as effective but great video thanks😊

Frank Santana
11 months ago

Awesome information. I’ve been trying to tell my son that he needs a chain on his anchor. Is there a formula for how much chain you need for the size of a boat or anchor?

11 months ago

Great video. What is that big round bouy used for?

11 months ago
Reply to  Jim

It’s most likely his quick-release system; there are different setups and options. If he hooks into a big fish, he can take the line off the cleat and toss it over with the float attached. Then, he can come back and find his anchor line after the fight.

Curtis Thompson
11 months ago

Started not to bother viewing this one. I knew how to anchor a boat. I know more now. Thank you!

11 months ago

Good points but can you cover near beach shore two anchor techniques?

11 months ago
Reply to  Jay

Yes! I would like to see a two anchor technique as well!!

Chris Wynimko
11 months ago

Helpful tips every 10 foot of my anchor line I put a mark on it so I can let out enough scope and I have seen people anchor off the back of the boat out in the bay which I think is dangerous because the boat can get swamped pretty easily

Richard Partynski
11 months ago

Great anchoring tips! What if you are out by yourself without anyone to put boat in gear. Do you pull the boat
Hand over hand up to the anchor? Thanks

11 months ago

I think you should add information on how to attach the anchor rope to the chain and how to attach the chain to the anchor. Then explain how to secure the attachments so they will not come loose and how to prevent rust from corroding the attachments that they cannot be removed. Also the chain should be coated to prevent rusting or be galvanized.

Raleigh Thomas
11 months ago
Reply to  Leroy

Great points. Use stainless chain connectors and shackles to help keep corrosion at bay, and use Vaseline or Teflon Pipe joint tape on the threaded clevis pin of the anchor shackle, that way it won’t seize up. And speaking of seizing, a seizing wire is a piece of rigging wire that you use to prevent shackle pins from coming loose. Tighten the pin on your anchor shackle, then notice a small hole drilled thru the flattened end of the pin. Insert a piece of wire thru the hole, wrap it around the side of the shackle, and twist it until it is completely tight, like a bread bag tie. This prevents the pin from rotating and coming loose.
Another good tip is using much more chain than what is ‘standard’ in a store-bought anchor, chain and rode package, which is usually 5’ to 6’ long. ( About rope, all rope on a boat is called ‘line’, and the rope part of an anchor setup is called ‘rode’). I and many others will use 10’ to 15’ or 20’ of chain, as this drastically decreases the amount of scope needed to anchor solidly, especially in deeper water where hundreds of feet of anchor rode might create a storage issue on a smaller boat. Hope this helps! 😊😎👍

Greg Batchelor
11 months ago

Great Stuff, guys. I had taken my chain off, thinking the clicking noise would spook the fish. It is going back on, as I have had issues with it sticking. Thanks!

Stephen Jordan
11 months ago
Reply to  Greg Batchelor

I like to cover the chain with a tubular nylon strap. It reduces noises both while anchored and while pulling it up across the side of the boat, as well as setting the anchor down on the deck and stowing. The strap can be tied on at each end of the chain with small cable ties and if you shop around pretty cool patterns can be found.