Choosing the Right Anchor for Your Boat While Reef Fishing: Why a Grapnel is Best and How to Use It.

A balanced environment.

Kelp dwelling Snapper are at home in an offshore reef community.
Kelp dwelling Snapper are at home in an offshore reef community.

Safety under the overhangs.

Red Moki indicate a healthy reef environment.
Red Moki indicate a healthy reef environment.

Just passing through.

A School of Jack Mackeral feed in the upwelling currents over the reef.
A School of Jack Mackeral feed in the upwelling currents over the reef.

Choose the best size Grapnel.

A Grapnel anchor will reduce the potential damage that you can do to a reef eco-system.
A Grapnel anchor will reduce the potential damage that you can do to a reef eco-system.

Know the terrain you fish in.

Choosing the Right Anchor For Reef Fishing: What is Best and How to Use It; by Pearldiver; explains the importance of the humble anchor and how that importance is often overlooked by so many recreational anglers. Most boaties have had days when hauling the ’pick’ back in again, has not been as easy as it should have been; because they have somehow snagged the anchor.

Occasionally, the anchor works too well. At those times when your anchor becomes snagged; it is generally because you have used the wrong style of anchor for the terrain that you are fishing in. If you are fishing over offshore reefs or similar types of terrain; then make sure that the anchor that you use, will not get stuck or destroy the fragile balance that exists in such spots.

It also really does pay to familiarize yourself with the various designs of anchors and recommended weights for the size of your boat; measured off against the most common fishing terrains that you frequent. Often just reading the relevant marine charts will provide you with the ability to safely match up the right anchor for your chosen fishing spots.

If you are considering the benefits of reef fishing, you will need to anchor while fishing. If you need to anchor then it would pay to look at the primary reason why you are going to need to have an anchor on board your boat in the first place.

That reason is likely to be that you want to allow the boat to be held fast in a stationary position against running seas, or a current which could potentially place your boat in a dangerous situation; for example onto the rocks, or into the path of another vessel.

Many recreational boats carry either the Danforth, plough or the Hall design anchors; which tend to serve them well in a multitude of terrains, especially on mud or sand bottoms. All three work on a similar principle, in that they have moving ‘teeth’ panels which will ‘bite’ into the bottom, when the anchor is pulling under tension against the boat weight.

These designs are perfect for open water or channel fishing as they handle the majority of bottom composites that you are likely to encounter if you are not reef fishing. However, if you are planning on reef fishing and your boat is rigged with either of these types of anchor; then it would be a smart move to ensure that you also carry a spare anchor; of the Grapnel design.

One of the many reef benefits.

Many large residents frequent offshore reefs.  If you are lucky enough to hook one of these guys; he'll weigh in at around 30lbs.
Many large residents frequent offshore reefs. If you are lucky enough to hook one of these guys; he'll weigh in at around 30lbs.

The very handy Grapnel anchor.

This model is collapsible and is perfect for modifying it into a 'breakaway' anchor, specifically for reef fishing.
This model is collapsible and is perfect for modifying it into a 'breakaway' anchor, specifically for reef fishing.

Reef Fishing at its Best.

Some of the most enjoyable fishing along with some of the better fish that you are likely to catch; can come about as a result of the skillful use of your boat and anchor working in tandem; to put you above or in front of reef-hugging trophy fish. Top fishing results will generally always be achieved from burleying into an offshore reef or extensive areas of foul ground; you are going to improve your fishing this way.

But if you fish areas like this with an anchor best suited to mud or sand; then you can expect to loose a certain amount of gear, as a toll for the opportunity. However, you will also generally be damaging the reef structure unnecessarily.

With the single-most important factor with reef fishing being the holding ability of your anchor; clearly you need an anchor to work well; but not get lost or destroy the reef. The grapnel anchor will hold your boat in surges or a backwash current; but to ensure ease of recovery and minimum reef damage; a minor adjustment needs to be made to the grapnel to make it the ultimate tool. When it is rigged 'back to front' it becomes and can be used as a ‘breakaway’ anchor.


All reefs are communities.

A school of young Trevally find safety in the surroundings.
A school of young Trevally find safety in the surroundings.

The 'breakaway' grapnel anchor.

This method is also perfect for Kayak fishing over reef structures.
This method is also perfect for Kayak fishing over reef structures.

Many species of younger fish mingle and feed together before reaching maturity.

These reef areas team with many species like Blue MaoMao mixed with Trevally.
These reef areas team with many species like Blue MaoMao mixed with Trevally.

Respect the reef by not using anchors that are likely to destroy the structure.

For fishing over reef or foul ground terrain; the best type of anchor is the Grapnel design. Instead of having moving parts, it is really just a pronged anchor. The perfect grapnel anchor for reef or foul ground fishing; is a unit that has two attachment points built into the design. This grapnel will have a conventional ‘eye’ built into the end of the shaft, but also have a secondary ‘eye’ built into the centre of the prongs. If you can not purchase a unit like this then it is relatively easy to weld the second ‘eye’ onto an existing unit.

A ‘breakaway’ anchor is made by using the grapnel this way: Attach the anchor chain to the front ‘eye’ not the ‘eye’ at the end of the shaft as you would generally expect to do. “Hang On, That can't be right?” you may be saying to yourself, because I have just suggested that you attach your anchor back the front. Good that is exactly what you need to do.

Once you have secured the shackle to the front eye; bring a length of chain back along the length of the shaft. Count off two chain links above the shaft end eye and mark that link. Now using a 25 to 35lb breaking strain mono, tie one end of that mono to the chain link that you have marked. Take the other end and pass this end through the eye on the shaft end of your grapnel. Tie this off so that there is approximately two - three inches of gap between the two tied ends.

Now have a look at your anchor. What you are seeing are the prongs in the right place, but this anchor is really only held together by that mono. That is the Breakaway. This anchor will hold your boat efficiently in most seas and when retrieving the anchor; you only have to break the mono tie with a sharp tug on the warp line. This in turn now reverses the pulling point to the front of the prongs and ensures absolutely no snagging on the reef.

This is a safe, fast retrieval method of anchoring, which is very important and recommended if or when you are fishing within a ground swell or in rougher conditions, near any rocky outcrops. But more importantly, by rigging your gear this way, you are going to protect the reef structure and the balance of life surrounding a special fishing spot. Spread the word to others and maybe, that place will remain in pristine condition and always help in supporting the thousands of creatures that call the offshore reef: Home.

An Opportunity to Learn and Earn:

If you have any fishing stories you would like written and published professionally then contact the author above and we can discuss what is involved. Or even better why don't you learn the skills of Online Writing by joining this site via the Link Here and you will also have the benefit of earning extra income if you write well. If you've never written before it doesn't matter; if you bait your articles properly you will catch people wanting to read your work. Learn to Write Today.


© Copyright 2009 - 2012 Pearldiver nzpol with all rights reserved.

Thanks for Reading This.

Thank you for reading this work. I hope that this article has given you helpful advice and information. Feel free to read other articles by Pearldiver.
Thank you for reading this work. I hope that this article has given you helpful advice and information. Feel free to read other articles by Pearldiver.

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Comments 15 comments

gypsy willow 7 years ago

Glad the reefs arent damaged


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. Author

Well maybe over time people will find that more of a priority GW.


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 7 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

Where have you been? I was afraid that the muzzlers had beaten you up, thrown you in remand and slaughtered your computer for speaking out against the duly elected carrot.

PS Cindy's back in Yarpieland, has she worked out where you are yet?


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Guess then, that you wouldn't recomment a lovely pair of cement boots for your enemy as an anchor?


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. Author

Yep That's right TOF.. but it wasn't so much the speaking out for the carrot! They were trying to frame me for torturing them with fish hooks!! And No Cindy will have to read the new signs on the outskirts of town. Thanks for dropping in TOF.

Candie.. Cement Boots lol.. Yep the ones with Tassles are quite sought after here... Thanks for calling Don Candeloni.


SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

Came by to support but landlocked at present and it touched too many missed moments of diving... Glad you're speaking out PD!


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

I can't believe my typos.. too much birthday cheer I suppose! Tassels!! Ha! Well dressed fish food!!


wordscribe41 7 years ago

Haven't seen you around for a while until recently. Good to see you. Great hub, as usual, Beautiful pictures, makes me want to go scuba diving. How often do you go fishing?


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. Author

Hi Sylvia.. glad you called by. We have a fantastic coastline for fishing and diving.. along with widespread marine reserves and wrecks. Thanks for your support and comments Sylvia.

Good on you Candie... Don't be concerned about typos.. we all change with age..... lol..

Wordscribe... Thank you. I don't go fishing as much as I should I guess; probably becoz it's just down the road.. I'm sure there is some spare gear here.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

I am not much of a fisher, but I do enjoy looking at the ocean. Very informative hub on the subject.


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. Author

Hi Sweetie Pie thanks for reading this and your kind comments. We are lucky here as we are surrounded by the sea.


FloridaKeysSusea profile image

FloridaKeysSusea 7 years ago

Hey, Great info in this hub. We're surrounded by water here in the Florida Keys and sometimes the anchor does get fouled. I'll use your info next time.


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. Author

Hi... thanks for that, I'm glad you can use it... This is something that most Kiwis use, becoz we're surrounded by water too. From what I hear I believe that you have some good reef structures in the Keys area.


Peace2009 profile image

Peace2009 6 years ago from New Zealand

hey mate the anchor looks like my fishy hooks but I need one.


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 6 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. Author

Hi Peace, thanks for reading this and leaving a comment. If you are using your kayak on the East Coast then you do need to have a breakaway setup and with a foldaway grapnel... then you have both control and an anchor that takes up very little space. Good Luck.. I'd quite like to join you, but for me it's still a bit too cold to be sitting out there with a wet bum. Take care.

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