8 Best Anchors Reviewed For Recreational Boats In 2020

Anchor at the bow of a white motor yacht

Of course you want your boat to start up and run properly, but you also want it to stay in place when not in use. Whether anchored off a beach for an afternoon of swimming, or in a quiet cove for lunch or a night aboard, a proper anchor is called for.

But what’s proper for one watercraft or situation may not do the job for a different style or size of boat. Here are some considerations and recommendations for recreational boaters to keep in mind when selecting an anchor for their watercraft.

 

The 8 Best Anchors for Recreational Boats of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews

  1. Best Small Boat #1: Greenfield Products Cast Iron Mushroom Anchor
  2. Best Small Boat #2: Seachoice River Anchor
  3. Best for Larger Boats #1: Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor
  4. Best for Larger Boats #2: Delta Fast Set Anchor
  5. Best for Lakes #1: Seachoice River Anchor
  6. Best for Lakes #2: Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor
  7. Best for Pontoon Boats: Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor
  8. Best for Sand: Delta Fast Set Anchor

 

CategoryBest Small BoatBest LakeBest Sand
ProductSeachoice River Anchor
Seachoice River Anchor

Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor
Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor

Delta Fast Set Anchor
Delta Fast Set Anchor

Available Weights12 - 30 lbs5 - 25 lbs5 - 25 lbs
Length8.5 in35 in23 3/8 in
Width13 in26.75 in10 3/8 in
Height10 in28-1/4 in10 1/4 in
MaterialCast ironHot-Dipped Galvanized SteelGalvanized Manganese
Best Use- Currents
- Rock
- Sand
- Mud
- Grass
- Rock
- Sand
- Weeds
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

 

1. Best Small Boat Anchor #1: Greenfield Products Cast Iron Mushroom Anchor

Greenfield Products cast iron mushroom anchors

Mushroom anchors are the most popular style for small boats for inland waters. The upside-down-mushroom-shaped anchors are typically made of cast iron and rely primary on their sheer weight to hold a boat in place, but their cap or flange can dig into soft sand or mud for a more secure grip.

You can purchase mushroom anchors that are 5 to 15 pounds. They are designed for use aboard boats that are 10 to 16 feet in length, and they come in plain, painted, or vinyl-coated versions.

Pros

  • Compact size for their weight, making them easy to stow
  • Easy to weigh without snagging on bottom debris
  • Easy to clean of mud and debris when weighed and brought aboard
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Heavy for their size
  • Susceptible to dragging on hard bottoms in the face of wind or current

Mushroom anchors are intended to be used by smaller boats on protected waters where no danger is imminent should wind or current cause the anchor to drag and the boat to drift.

If your local lake has a mud or sand bottom, and is devoid of high winds and current, the mushroom anchor is a good choice for its combination of price, convenience, and effectiveness in those conditions.

Greenfield Product’s cast iron mushroom anchors are coated with black PVC to protect the boat’s deck or topsides and their 14-pound model is a good size and weight for anchoring small craft under 16 feet in length in protected waters. For more information, visit greenfieldproducts.com.

 

 

2. Best Small Boat Anchor #2: Seachoice River Anchor

Seachoice River Anchor

River-style anchors are effective in most recreational boating conditions in inland waters — even if you are not boating in current — for boats up to 18 feet long.

River anchors use a combination of weight, like a mushroom anchor, and flukes, like a traditional Danforth style, to keep contact with the bottom, and they hold in most lake and riverbed conditions.

As with a mushroom anchor, river models are compact for their weight, making them easy to stow. They are also often vinyl coated to protect boat interiors and ward off rust.

Pros

  • Better holding capabilities on hard bottoms than mushroom anchors
  • Compact size for weight, making them easy to stow
  • Inexpensive
  • Like mushroom anchors, they are shaped for use with popular small craft auto-anchor windlasses

Cons

  • Not as secure in a range of bottom types as Danforth-style anchors of the same weight
  • More prone to hanging up on underwater snags than a mushroom-style anchor
  • No release mechanism to use to attempt to free the anchor

River anchors are a good choice for inland boaters in protected waters who need a little more holding power than a mushroom anchor but have limited storage capacity aboard.

They are a good choice for use in currents or over rocky bottoms, such as those often found in rivers, because their flukes are able to catch and hold.

Seachoice offers a popular line of river anchors and can be found at most marine stores and big box retailers. The model 41500 is vinyl-coated over cast iron and weighs 12 pounds, making it a good choice for small craft.

 

Seachoice River Anchor is also available at:

Walmart

 

3. Best Anchor for Larger Boats #1: Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor

Overtons Danforth standard anchor

Bigger boats require bigger anchors to pin them in place in the face of current, wind, and waves. “Bigger” is a relative term in the case of anchors, in that the style of anchor recommended for use on larger craft may not weigh as much as the mushroom or river-style anchors that small boats rely on.

Those smaller-craft anchors offer sheer weight as their primary attribute; the types of anchors preferred by boaters on larger vessels, which include fluke and plow models, use shape and design features as well as weight to keep a boat in place.

No matter what type you choose, if you are boating in open water where there is a threat of drifting into danger, such as a rocky or wave-swept shoreline or even the open sea, you should carry a spare as a backup or to add to the rig’s ground-holding capabilities.

Many boaters carry two types of anchors, one fluke and one plow, to allow them to anchor over a variety of bottom types and have a backup.

Fluke anchors — also known as Danforth, lightweight, or utility anchors — are the most popular among boaters with craft over 16 feet in size. They are lightweight for their size, easy to weigh (especially the aluminum models), stow flat and hold well in mud, sand, and thick weeds.

A fluke anchor’s holding-power-to-weight ratio allows the boater to use a lighter anchor compared to other types, but they must be set in the bottom by the boat under power or using drift and lots of rode to provide the proper scope to be effective.

Some models are designed with quick-release features in case the anchor becomes snagged on the bottom, an issue fluke-style anchors have in rocky areas.

Pros

  • Lightweight for size
  • Stow flat
  • Hold well in mud and sand bottoms
  • Base galvanized models are relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • Do not hold well on grass or rocky bottoms, and when they do in the latter, can become irretrievably snagged
  • Require considerable anchor line, or rode — roughly seven times the depth of the water — to achieve the angle required to set and hold the bottom
  • May require a heavy chain lead between the anchor and the rode to hold the stock at the proper angle when setting

Fluke anchors are the go-to choice for most boaters with 16-foot (and larger) ocean-going vessels. In calm, protected waters, they can hold their own. When waves, wind, and current are present over a mud or sand bottom, a properly sized and set fluke anchor will hold better than any other style.

Overtons’ offers Danforth standard anchors in weights from 5-25 pounds, the lightest being a 4S model rated for boats up to 17 feet and the largest 22S model for watercraft up to 40 feet. Check them out at overtons.com.

 

 

4. Best Anchor for Larger Boats #2: Delta Fast Set Anchor

Delta Fast Set Anchor

Plow anchors, also known as scoop or single point anchors, offer the best all-around holding ability in varying bottom conditions. While best used on mud, sand, or grass bottoms, single points are effective in rocks and gravel and not as prone to fouling in the former.

Plow models can reset themselves if they pull free or if the wind or current changes direction. This is especially true for newer designs that feature round roll bars that self-right the anchor to allow the scoop face down to dig in.

The downside is their weight, which can be more than that of a like-sized fluke anchor, and their shape, which makes the difficult to stow. In fact, most larger craft that use plow anchors stow them in a roller on the bow or by attaching them to an anchor windless.

Pros

  • Good holding on a variety of bottom types
  • Less prone to fouling or snagging
  • Can reset themselves

Cons

  • Difficult to stow
  • The most expensive category of anchor
  • Weigh more than comparable fluke-style anchors
  • May require a chain lead to keep the anchor shank at the proper angle for setting

Plow anchors are a good choice for watercraft over 25 feet long when using a bow roller and windlass is an option.

They hold well in a variety of bottom conditions, remain out of the way and ready to use when stowed in a bow roller, and are not prone to fouling or snagging on the bottom, often resetting themselves if they do work free.

Delta’s Fast Set Anchors feature a plow design, are galvanized and available in weights from 9 to 140 pounds at West Marine (westmarine.com) and other retailers.

 

 

5. Best Anchor for Lakes #1: Seachoice River Anchor

Seachoice River Anchor
Model 41500

Depending on the size of the boat and the lake it will be used on, inland boaters have a variety of anchor options. Watercraft less than 16 feet in length that are used on small lakes or protected waters can use a simple mushroom- or river-style anchor.

In those conditions, a fluke anchor is a better choice. The exaggerated flukes will dig onto mud or sand when properly set, and hold the boat in position. Fluke anchors can be effective at holding over rock bottoms as well, with a risk of snagging or fouling.

Mushroom- and river-style anchors rely on a combination of weight and shape to hold their place on the bottom and keep the boat above from drifting in light wind conditions.

The pronounced flukes on a river anchor will offer more grabbing cababilities than the round flange of a mushroom anchor and may hold better on a rocky lake bottom, but neither is designed to pin even a small craft in place in the face of a stiff breeze.

Pros

  • Compact for their weight
  • Easy to stow
  • Inexpensive
  • Don’t require a chain lead to be effective
  • Can be used with small craft auto anchor systems

Cons

  • Don’t hold well in wind, waves or current
  • Heavy for their size

Mushroom anchors are intended to be used by smaller boats on protected waters where no danger is imminent.

If your local lake has a mud or sand bottom, and is devoid of high winds and current, the mushroom anchor is a good choice for its combination of price, convenience, and effectiveness in those conditions.

Seachoice offers a popular line of river anchors and can be found at most marine stores and big box retailers. The model 41500 is vinyl-coated over cast iron and weighs 12 pounds, making it a good choice for small craft.

 

Seachoice River Anchor is also available at:

Walmart

 

6. Best Anchor for Lakes #2: Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor

Overtons Danforth standard anchor

Fluke anchors — also known as Danforth, lightweight, or utility anchors — are the most popular among boaters with craft over 16 feet in size. They are lightweight for their size, easy to weigh (especially the aluminum models), stow flat and hold well in mud, sand, and thick weeds.

A fluke anchor’s holding-power-to-weight ratio allows the boater to use a lighter anchor compared to other types, but they must be set in the bottom by the boat under power or using drift and lots of rode to provide the proper scope to be effective.

Some models are designed with quick-release features in case the anchor becomes snagged on the bottom, an issue fluke-style anchors have in rocky areas.

Pros

  • Lightweight for their size
  • Stow flat
  • Hold well in mud and sand bottoms
  • Base galvanized models are relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • Do not hold well on grass or rocky bottoms, and when they do in the latter, can become irretrievably snagged
  • Require considerable anchor line, or rode — roughly seven times the depth of the water — to achieve the angle required to set and hold the bottom
  • May require a heavy chain lead between the anchor and the rode to hold the stock at the proper angle when setting

Fluke, or Danforth-style, anchors are the choice of most inland recreational boaters for their combination of holding cababilities in a variety of conditions, light weight, and low cost.

When waves, wind, and current are present over a mud, or sand bottom, a properly sized and set fluke anchor will hold better than any other style.

Overtons’ offers Danforth standard anchors in weighs from 5-25 pounds, the lightest being a 4S model rated for boats up to 17 feet and the largest 22S model for watercraft up to 40 feet. Check them out at overtons.com.

 

 

7. Best Pontoon Boat Anchor: Overtons Danforth Standard Anchor

Overtons Danforth standard anchor

Due to their high stance, broad beam, vertical profile, and relatively light weight compared to monohulled boats of similar size, pontoon boats can be difficult to anchor in windy conditions.

While auto windlasses using mushroom and river-style anchors are popular aboard pontoon boats, those types of anchors are only effective at holding the broad in place under optimum conditions: little to no wind while over sand or mud bottoms.

A fluke- or Navy-style anchor is a much better choice as a primary tool to pin a pontoon in position.

Fluke anchors — also known as Danforth, lightweight, or utility anchors — are the most popular among boaters with craft over 16 feet in size. They are lightweight for their size, easy to weigh (especially the aluminum models), stow flat and hold well in mud, sand, and thick weeds.

A fluke anchor’s holding-power-to-weight ratio allows the boater to use a lighter anchor compared to other types, but they must be set in the bottom by the boat under power or using drift and lots of rode to provide the proper scope to be effective.

Some models are designed with quick-release features in case the anchor becomes snagged on the bottom, an issue fluke-style anchors have in rocky areas.

Pros

  • Lightweight for their size
  • Stow flat
  • Hold well in mud and sand bottoms
  • Base galvanized models are relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • Do not hold well on grass or rocky bottoms, and when they do in the latter, can become irretrievably snagged
  • Require considerable anchor line, or rode — roughly seven times the depth of the water — to achieve the angle required to set and hold the bottom
  • May require a heavy chain lead between the anchor and the rode to hold the stock at the proper angle when setting

Fluke, or Danforth-style, anchors are the choice of most pontoon boat owners for their combination of holding cababilities in a variety of conditions, light weight, and low cost.

When waves, rough currents, and wind are prevalent while over a sand or mud bottom, a properly sized and set fluke anchor will hold a pontoon boat better than any other style.

Overtons’ offers Danforth standard anchors in weights from 5-25 pounds, the lightest being a 4S model rated for boats up to 17 feet and the largest 22S model for watercraft up to 40 feet. Check them out at overtons.com.

 

 

8. Best Sand Anchor: Delta Fast Set Anchor

Delta Fast Set Anchor

If you are going to be anchoring over a sand bottom, you have two choices for anchors: fluke and plow. Both styles dig into sand or mud when pulled across the bottom by the anchor line, or rode, at a low enough angle, also known as scope, to set the anchor firmly in place.

As long as that angle of pull remains low and the pressure constant, a properly sized anchor for the boat and the weather conditions will keep the boat in place.

To lift, or weigh, the anchor, the boater moves the craft toward the anchor, increasing the degree of angle in the rode until the anchor’s flukes or plow can be lifted and popped free of the sand and brought into the boat, bow roller, or anchor chock.

Because plow anchors’ weight and shape make them difficult to stow, they are usually used in conjunction with a roller or anchor chock and windlass on the bow for storage between uses.

Plow anchors are also better suited for craft of 25 feet in length and longer. Smaller craft typically are equipped with the more popular fluke, or Danforth-style, anchor, which is also a good option for anchoring in sandy conditions.

To achieve the scope required to set in sand or mud, a rule of thumb for using fluke or plow anchors is to let out a length of line measuring anywhere from four to seven times the water’s depth.

Both types of anchors need to be set into the bottom by powering slowly in reverse or drifting with the wind or tide until the flukes or plow dig in and are able to hold the boat in place.

Pros

  • Relatively light for their size
  • Good at digging into and holding in sand bottoms

Cons

  • Awkward to stow aboard
  • Plow anchors especially can be expensive to purchase and may require a bow roller, or chock, and a windlass to use
  • Difficult to clean off sand, mud, and weeds from anchor

Overtons’ offers Danforth standard anchors in weights from 5-25 pounds, the lightest being a 4S model rated for boats up to 17 feet and the largest 22S model for watercraft up to 40 feet.

Check them out at overtons.com. Delta’s Fast Set Anchors feature a plow design, are galvanized and available in weights from 9 to 140 pounds at West Marine (westmarine.com) and other retailers.

 

 

Matching Anchor Size and Type to Your Boat

man hands tying anchor on boat ledge

Just like how you want your boat’s motor to properly match the watercraft it’s expected to move, a proper anchor is called for to stop it from moving under the forces of wind, waves, and tide.

If you choose too small a motor, you won’t get top performance out of your boat; likewise, deploying too small an anchor will not allow it to perform its job, and your boat will continue to drift.

That may not be too much of an issue if you are anchoring to simply fish or relax and can power-up and move as needed. However, if your motor dies and you need to pin your boat in place to keep from being washed ashore or blown out to sea, the importance of a proper anchor becomes apparent.

Many boaters carry two or more types of anchors aboard so they can anchor over various bottom types, have a backup, or use both in case two anchors are called for under the current conditions

As when choosing the engine for a boat, it’s a good idea to err on the side getting more than you think you need. Just don’t overdo it. While you don’t have to use all the horsepower your engine is capable of producing, but you will have to weigh every pound of your boat’s anchor with each use!

 

Choosing a Boat Anchor

Boat anchor size chart
Credit

There are a dozen major styles, weights, and sizes of anchors for recreational boaters to choose from. So where to start?

If you bought your boat from a dealer, ask them for advice about what type and size anchor they would recommend for that particular boat. They will consider the same factors any boater should weigh when deciding on the best anchor for their needs.

The boat’s size is the primary consideration. The bigger the boat, the more anchor it takes to properly pin it into position. Wind, current, waves and tidal flow can make it difficult to remain anchored in place even in optimal conditions.

When those forces are severe, it’s a must to have the proper anchor for the job and to set it securely. That’s especially true in emergency situations when attempting to anchor to avoid being washed ashore or blown out to open water.

mushroom anchor tied
Mushroom anchor

All anchors do their job using a combination of weight and shape. Anchors for small craft in protected inland waters rely primarily on weight, as in the case of mushroom anchors. Some small-boaters still rely on a simple coffee can filled with cement and a eye-ring bolt for attaching the line.

The weight factor takes a back seat to shape among anchors recommended for craft 16 feet and longer. The most popular of these anchors is the fluke, or Danforth-style, anchor.

These anchors rely on angled flukes that pivot on a shaft to allow them to dig in to a mud or sand bottom and hold a boat in place — that is, if the right amount of anchor line is released to pull allow the boat to pull the anchor at a narrow enough angle to do so.

Some anchors, such as Navy-style anchors, combine weight and shape with dull flukes to keep boats in position. Most ocean-going ships use Navy-style anchors for their needs.

black Navy-style anchor
Navy-style anchors

If your boat is 20 feet or longer, you might also consider a plow-style anchor. These are somewhat heavy and unwieldy to stow, so they are most often used in conjunction with a power windlass on the bow.

The windlass releases and pulls in the line that attaches to the anchor, called the rode, and hoists the anchor out of the water and secures it against a roller, chock, or collar on the bow between uses.

Another factor to consider when shopping for an anchor is whether it will be used in saltwater or freshwater. Stainless-steel or aluminum anchors stand up to the corrosion of a marine environment but are expensive and overkill aboard a boat that will only be used in freshwater.

boat with anchor on water
Aluminum anchor

Iron anchors coated in rubberized plastic or feature a galvanized finish are a popular choice among freshwater boaters and those who may occasionally use their craft in salt water.

The manufacturers of each type of anchor, as well as marine retailers such as West Marine, (westmarine.com/anchors) offer charts and guidelines to reference when determining what model is best suited for your boat and the conditions in which you will be using – and anchoring – it.

 

Top Anchor Brands

Danforth

Danforth logo

The Danforth brand of fluke anchor is by far the most popular anchor among recreational boaters worldwide. American inventor Richard Danforth created the lightweight, versatile, and high-efficiency fluke-style anchor in 1939 for use aboard World War II landing craft.

The Danforth model features two large triangular flukes attached to the stock, allowing the flukes to orient toward the seabed at a 32 degree angle for maximum holding capabilities in sand or mud.

Standard Danforth anchors are manufactured using high-strength steel and are hot-dip galvanized for long-lasting protection. They’re offered in a variety of sizes, ranging from 3.5 pounds to 100 pounds. Hi-Tensile Danforth models are made of high-tensile 4130 heat-treated steel and hot-dip galvanized.

The Hi-Tensile’s beveled flukes are designed to more quickly penetrate common sea bottoms, and they are available in weights from 5 to 190 pounds for boats up to 83 feet in length,

Danforth anchors are manufactured by Atlanta-based Tie Down Engineering, founded in 1969 and now one of the largest metal fabrication companies in the world. For more information, visit danforthanchors.com

 

Delta

Delta logo

Delta brand anchors from UK-based Lewmar are among the most popular brands of plow-style anchors found aboard recreational watercraft boats measuring 25 feet and up.

The unique shank profile and ballasted tip make the Delta anchor self-launching from a bow roller, and the low center of gravity and self-righting geometry allow for quick setting in sand or mud bottoms. Delta anchors have Lloyd’s Register General Approval of an Anchor Design as a High Holding Power anchor.

Delta anchors are the primary providers of anchors for numerous boating agencies and organizations and have a lifetime warranty against breakage.

Delta anchors are available in galvanized- and stainless-steel models in a variety of sizes and are designed to work with Lewmar’s extensive line of bow rollers and anchor chocks.

See lewmar.com/anchoring for more information about the Deltas and related anchoring accessories.

 

Fortress

Fortress logo

Fortress brand fluke-style anchors are a popular choice among boaters who value an anchor’s weight (or lack thereof ) and holding power.

Fortress anchors are machined from an aluminum-magnesium alloy, which, despite being light in weight for easier handling, offers fast-setting and deeper penetration in common lake and sea bottoms compared to traditional, much-heavier steel anchors of the same size.

Available since 1986, Fortress anchors were tested by the Navy and outperformed traditional steel anchors, withstanding pull loads that averaged over 200 times their own weight without serious damage to the anchors.

What’s more, and a major factor among boaters who are starved for space, Fortress anchors can be quickly disassembled for compact storage as a spare or storm anchor. Because they are made of aluminum, the anchors are rustproof and nonmagnetic.

Boaters can even choose between two shank and fluke angles to provide the best holding power in common bottoms — a 32-degree angle for sand, mud, or clay, or a 45-degree angle for soft mud.

Fortress anchors come with a lifetime parts replacement warranty, and Fortress will replace a damaged part for free. All the owner has to pay is shipping and handling. Learn more at fortessanchors.com.

 

Anchoring FAQ

Q: Where do I attach my anchor line to the boat?   

A: If you have an anchor locker for storing the anchor and line, there will be an eyebolt or similar hardware offered for tying off the bitter end of the anchor line and keeping it from accidently being pulled overboard.

In use, whether you have the bitter end secured in a locker or not, once you have released the amount of line you need to set the anchor, you tie off the line using wraps and around a sturdy cleat using a cleat hitch, or use a bowline knot to tie off to a bollard or samson post on the bow.

If you don’t have an anchor locker and no obvious attachment point for the line’s end, you can tie a loop in the end of the anchor line and wrap that over an anchor cleat.

Just be ready to hold on if there is any tension on the line when it is released, or you risk losing the entire anchor and rode rig (known as ground tackle) overboard.

Never attempt to attach an anchor line anywhere else on the boat in any type of current or when facing wind or waves. This can result in flooding and/or capsizing.

 

Q: What knot do I use to attach the boat anchor?

A: You use what is called an anchor hitch, which is secure, self-tightening and easy to untie when needed. Animatedknots.com/anchor is my favorite source for learning how to tie knots, and other good demonstrations can be found on YouTube at youtube.com/watch?v=CS3pM5HeOV4

 

Q: What size chain/rope do I need for anchoring?

A: That depends on the size of your boat and the anchor you are using. A standard for boats under 30 feet of length is 3/8- to 1/2-inch-diameter three-strand nylon for the line.

Small craft can often get by with an all-line rode, but boats of 20 feet or more often benefit from a section of chain added between the line and the anchor. The chain helps protect against chafing at anchor, and its weight helps maintain a low angle of pull when setting and using the anchor to remain in place.

The chain portion of such combination rodes for small craft is four to six feet; for larger craft, a general rule of thumb is a boat length of chain. There are three main diameter sizes in anchor chain: 1/4 inch for smaller inshore boats, 5/16 inch for mid-size boats, and 3/8 inch for larger offshore boats.

 

Q: Is a boat anchor essential?

A: In a word, YES! An anchor serves as the brakes for your boat, and when you need to keep your boat in place on the open water in the event of engine failure, there are no other options. That’s why most states require all boats over a minimum length carry an anchor aboard.

Dan Armitage
Dan Armitage has been a popular Midwest-based full-time freelance outdoor writer and radio show host (buckeyesportsman.com; @buckeyesportsmanradio) for more than a quarter century. As an avid angler, boater and USCG-licensed Master Captain, his byline appears regularly in major boating magazines. When not on the water, Armitage pursues whitetail deer, turkey, waterfowl and upland game, sharing his experiences, lessons and tips with readers and listeners.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for writing this post, I want to buy anchor for my boat but don’t know which one is best. I quite like #3, can use it on a winch?

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