How Do You Anchor A Kayak Without A Trolley? (How to Stop Drifting)

Anchoring is a practical solution to keep your kayak stable if you want to go fishing or want to enjoy the views. An anchoring trolley system can help position and stabilize your boat, especially if you want to fish in the wind. 

But you don’t always need an anchor trolley system, and you can still anchor your yak efficiently without one. And this is precisely what I’ll be explaining in this article. 

So, how do you anchor a kayak without a trolley? What is the best way to stop drifting? Keep on reading to find the answers to these questions. 

What is an anchor trolley system?

An anchor trolley system is attached to the side of your kayak to help you control the anchor better. Using the trolley system, you can change the anchor’s position without taking it out of the water. 

It’s a three-part system consisting of a rope, ring, and two pulleys. It attaches to the anchor line, and by moving the rope and the ring to the front and back, you’ll be able to change the position of the anchor. 

How Do You Anchor A Kayak Without A Trolley?

A trolley might be helpful in strong currents, but it’s not necessary. In most cases, standard fishing anchors will stabilize your kayak enough to allow you to enjoy your time while you’re cruising a lake or fishing. 

You can also use a pole or a gripper to stop your yak from moving. Some of these tools won’t work on a rocky bottom, and some will be less effective when the currents and wind are too strong. 

You can use a drift chute if you don’t want to stop your yak from moving completely. It’s a device that allows you to slow down your kayak but not completely stop it, so you can use it if you’re trolling or simply want to enjoy your time without moving too fast in the water. 

There are different types of anchors that you can use to anchor your yak and some other tools that also help you stabilize it. 

Using an anchor

There are different types of anchors that you can use to stabilize your yak. Grapnel, Bruce Claw, and mud anchors are among the most popular types, and each of them works for a specific situation. 

grapnel anchor is probably one of the most common anchors because it works on most types of bottoms. You don’t need a heavyweight anchor to stabilize your kayak unless it’s pretty large and the wind is too strong. 

In most cases, a 1.5-pound anchor works if you’re trying to stabilize your yak in shallow waters up to 20 feet. 

A 3-pound grapnel works if you’re trying to stabilize a heavier yak at a depth of 100 feet. If you’re planning to explore deeper waters, you need a heavier anchor. It will also help stabilize your yak if the currents are stronger. 

A Bruce Claw anchor comes in 2.5 and 4.5-pound models that work on soft bottoms. So if you’re trying to stabilize your yak on sand, mud, or gravel, this anchor will work for you. 

Mud anchors are heavier types of anchors that hold the yak in place because of their weight. These anchors are popular among freshwater kayakers and anglers because they work well on most bottoms, including soft bottoms. 

This is why they can be safely used in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. 

Mud anchors are either mushroom or pyramid anchors, and both work similarly. However, these anchors need to be heavier because they don’t dig into the ground. If the wind and currents are too strong, this anchor will only slow down your yak, but it doesn’t completely stop it. 

Using DIY tools

Some kayakers choose not to use anchors but will make DIY tools that will work just like anchors. For example, filling a flower pot with concrete and letting it dry while securing a ring for a rope or line will allow you to use this DIY tool as an anchor and retrieve it when needed. Some anglers also use a brick and attach a cord through it. 

A stake-out pole or stick is a practical tool to stabilize your yak by sticking it into the bottom of the water body. A pole works only if the bottom is soft, so you can use it if you’re trying to stabilize your yak over gravel, sand, or mud. 

However, you can only stabilize the yak if the pole is long enough to reach the bottom. 

If the stick is 15 feet long, it won’t work if the depth is further than 15 feet away. This is why kayakers use these sticks in shallow water bodies like canals and margins. 

Do You Always Need An Anchor Trolley?

An anchor trolley eliminates the need for many cleats and helps you control your yak on any bottom. It can also help you change the position of the anchor quickly in case of an emergency. But it’s not necessary if you want to anchor your boat or kayak. 

If you’re fishing or cruising on your kayak in the lake in small current situations, an anchor with a rope will work fine. An anchor will also be your best bet in windy situations. 

However, the anchor trolley will come in handy if you’re fishing in a river in strong currents. Nevertheless, fishing in these situations isn’t recommended in the first place because even with a trolley, your yak might not be stable. 

What Is The Best Way To Keep My Kayak From Drifting?

Without an anchor, you can still stop your kayak from drifting and spinning while you’re moving in the water. In most cases, this is related to your paddling technique. So here are some tips to ensure you’re paddling well enough to stabilize your yak. 

  • Before going on a trip, examine your kayak. Your yak might be drifting or spinning because it’s damaged on one side. Shipping problems can damage the bottom of a new kayak, so you need to pay attention to every part before taking it into the water. 
  • Keep your hands shoulder-width apart while holding the paddle. Placing your hands too low or too high on the paddles will affect how you’re paddling and eventually cause the kayak to drift and spin. 
  • Look out for the wind’s direction. Paddling into the wind will cause your yak to drift. 
  • Keep both paddles at an equal distance from the kayak. When the paddle is too close to the yak, it will create more spin and drift. 
  • Work on your posture. The way you sit in your kayak can cause it to spin. 
  • Learn to twist your hips and shift your body to the side to stop your kayak from drifting. 
  • Pay attention to how your paddle touches the water. When the paddle dips deeper into the water, this stroke will generate more power, and it will cause your kayak to tilt to one side. 
  • Make sure that you’re doing exercises to train your non-dominant hand. It’s natural to paddle harder with your dominant hand, which causes your kayak to drift. 


An anchor will stabilize your kayak in case of an emergency or if you want to go fishing. But in most cases, an anchor trolley system won’t be necessary. 

Without a trolley, you can still stabilize your kayak with or without an anchor. There are different types of anchors that you can use on your kayak, and you can also use a stake-out pole or a weight to stop your yak from moving. 

If your yak is drifting and spinning, you can always work on your posture and your paddling technique. 

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