To choose the right anchor for your pontoon boat, it’s important to know what lies at the bottom of your lake. The reason there are so many different anchor types is that each is designed to work best in certain situations. It would be easy if you could just choose one anchor and be done with it, but the best anchor for a rocky bottom may not be the best anchor for sand. Anchoring your pontoon properly means having the right anchor for the job.
Your local Harris Boat dealer can help select the right anchor for your lake and boat model and can show you how to attach it to the line and to your boat. Many lakes have several different bottom compositions; it might be rocky in one area, sandy in another, and muddy elsewhere. If this is the case, you may need more than one anchor to handle the variables.
To know which type of bottom is below your boat, buy a fishfinder, which—even if you don’t fish—is a good investment. Compact color models equipped with down and side imaging along with CHIRP sonar technology can be purchased for less than $200.
With side and down imaging, a rocky bottom will show up in lighter shades while a muddy bottom will appear darker. Weeds will show up in near-photographic detail, and submerged trees can be easily seen and avoided.
CHIRP sonar paints a vivid view of the bottom. The thickness of the top color band of the lake floor is important. A thin, well-defined line likely represents a sandy bottom, while rocky areas will appear much thicker. Variations in the bottom contours also indicate rocks. If the line appears fuzzy, it’s likely a muddy bottom.
Once you’ve identified your lake bottom, you can choose the best anchor or anchors for your pontoon. Here are three good choices:
1. Danforth Anchors
The most popular choice for pontoons anchoring on lakes is the Danforth-type anchor. It has two large triangular flukes, or blades, that pivot on the shank that holds well in muddy or sandy lake bottoms, which are the most common. They store flat and are relatively lightweight, especially the Fortress anchor, which is made of aluminum rather than steel. Danforth anchors do not work as well in areas with a lot of weeds or on hard bottoms
2. Bruce Anchors
The Bruce, or claw, anchor is a good choice for a wide variety of lake bottoms and does a better job than the Danforth in weeds and rocky bottoms. They don’t work well on hard, non-rocky bottoms like clay, though. The main downside is that to be effective, they have to have some heft. For a 25-foot pontoon, a 16-pounder is needed, which is about twice the weight of a steel Danforth. The other issue is that because of its bulky one-piece design, storing the anchor requires some more space.
3. Grapnel Anchors
Another way to anchor on a rocky bottom is with a grapnel-style anchor, which often features multiple prongs that can fold up parallel to the shank for easy storage.
To increase the holding power of each type of anchor, a length of chain at least 6 feet long will help the anchor line, or rode, lay flatter to the lake bottom. Depending on conditions, a minimum of 5 feet of anchor line should be used for each foot of depth, which is called scope. Using a triple-braided nylon line that’s 3/8-inch thick will provide the ideal strength and is easy to grip when hauling the anchor off the bottom. If the anchor is muddy, rinse it off with a hose or bucket of water before stowing it.
When beaching a pontoon or anchoring in shallow water at the sandbar, there are other solutions for holding your Harris boat in place without using a traditional anchor. For beaches, an auger-style pole that screws into the sand attached to a short length of line is sufficient. In shallow water, many use a push-pole style anchor that consists of a thin pole with a handle on the end that’s pushed through a short tube on the bow or stern and into the lake bottom.
One of the best things about pontoon boating is that it’s just as fun with engine key turned off. Knowing how to anchor it properly makes the experience more relaxing.