May 172013
kayak drag chain

Did someone say Drag?

One of my pet peeves about using a small boat (kayak, canoe, etc) is the fact that wind can turn a productive day of fishing into a day of paddling and sloppy presentation.  It’s enough to make a guy go drag…

Drag chain anchor that is.  A drag chain is a type of anchor that causes friction on the bottom rather than trying to bite in and hold like a conventional anchor.  Generally a drag chain won’t hold you completely still in the wind but a little drag goes a long way.

So what materials do you need to make a drag chain anchor?

Surprisingly, the list of materials is pretty short:

  • Chain – I found mine at Walmart. It is made to connect an anchor to a rope (Irony ensues).  It weighs approximately 3 lbs.

    Anchor chain for a drag chain kayak anchor


  • Rope – I used a 25′ length of  3/8″ polypropylene utility cord.  Perhaps a bit thick but it does the job well.
drag chain rope

Rainbow rope works great when going drag

  • Zip ties – I use these to keep the tag ends of the rope cleaned up
zip ties for securing kayak rope lines

Just a bunch of run of the mill zip ties… Yup…

  • Carabiner – This is used to connect the end of the anchor rope to the boat

So how does one build a drag chain?

  1. First lay out your chain to determine the lengths of chain you would like to use for your anchor.
    Here is the chain I used for my drag chain anchor

    Ooh… Chain.

    I realized my chain was far too long to be an effective drag chain anchor.  Lucky for me, this chain came with screw on clevises on either end.

  2. Fold you chain and secure.  I folded my chain into 3 strands and secured it with a clevis.

    i secured my drag chain with a clevis

    Secure your chain

  3. Tie your anchor chain to your anchor line
    a simple knot connects the anchor line to the drag chain anchor

    Just a simple knot


  4. Secure the tag end of your anchor line knot with a zip tie.
  5. Next tie the other end of your drag anchor line to your carabiner.
    Tie the end of your anchor line to a carabiner to clip to your kayak

    Add a handy clip


  6. Secure the tag end of the carabiner knot with a zip tie
  7. And you’re done!

There you go.  Another easy kayak mod that can most likely be built for under $30.  My first test of this drag chain was in steady 15 mph winds with gusts of 30 mph.  While I did move around a little bit I could comfortably fish without having to wonder if I would be blown in to shore (I was more worried about my paddle being blown from my hands).

From a safety standpoint I like the drag chain anchor.  It is far less likely than a traditional anchor to hang up and tip your boat.  Hauling  up the anchor is also very easy.  At 3 lbs you’ll wonder if your anchor is still attached when bringing it in.

Ideas for improvement:

  • Try heavier chain –  More weight = more drag
  • Use shrink tubing – Keep the metal chain from spooking fish (it also makes for a cleaner looking anchor)
  • Use another carabiner to lock off/manage the depth of your anchor line
  • Build an anchor trolley to help control the direction your boat points in the wind (more on this soon!)

**  As a side note for safety **  Always carry a knife on your vest.  Things can happen very quickly on the water.  Ropes can easily wrap around your legs in the event of a flip.  Being able to cut yourself free could save your life.  Also, it goes without saying but if you are on a kayak you should be wearing a PFD. 

Any ideas for improving the drag chain anchor?  Let us know in the comments below!



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  • Ricky Anderson

    Wow! That is a great suggestion. I am going to have to put one of those together for my kayak.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      I really like the drag chain. Anchors scare me a bit but the drag chain is ready to use.

  • Jim J


    Nice article. Is it possible for me to use in the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance Magazine with permission?


  • Len

    I use a drag chain anchor all the time when canoeing and Kayaking. I purchased a 26″ bicycle inner tube and bought a chain size that fits snugly inside the tube. Much cheaper than shrink wrap and very durable with no noise.

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