Anchor Types by Boat Type Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Boat Anchor Types

When you're choosing an anchor for your boat, there are many things to consider. The size of your boat, as well as what type of water you will be sailing in, all make a difference. Even the type of seabed is important to anchor design! In this ultimate guide to boat anchor types, we detail what each of the different anchor styles are and what scenarios they work best in. Follow along on our deep dive into types of boat anchors!

Fluke Anchors

Two fluke anchors on dockTwo fluke anchors on dock

If you've found yourself wondering which anchor is a good choice for most recreational boats, look no further. Fluke anchors, sometimes referred to as a Danforth™ anchor, are a popular type of boat anchor. With two pointed flukes at the end of each anchor arm, you’re sure to get a proper set each time, no matter how you throw them. Out of all the different common anchor types, fluke anchors are a top performer for muddy and sandy bottoms. Compatible with a wide range of boat types and relatively inexpensive, fluke style is the best anchor for recreational boats.

Boat Type: 

Smaller boats under 28 ft.

Good For:

Sandy and muddy seabeds

Bad For:

Vastly deep waters, coral and rocky bottoms, windy conditions

Claw Anchors

Claw anchor winched to boatClaw anchor winched to boat

Next on our list of boat anchor types is the claw anchor, sometimes called a Bruce™ anchor. The name says it all with this one! Designed for use in windy conditions, claw anchors have three claws on the bottom that dig into the seabed to set the anchor quickly and firmly in many bottom conditions, including coral, rock and sand. The versatility of the claw design makes it wildly popular among recreational boaters. However, there is one drawback. Claw anchors tend to have lower holding power. This means you’ll need a larger, heavier anchor than you would with other anchor types.

Boat Type:

Boats up to 60 ft.

Good For:

Large open waters with sandy, muddy, coral and rocky bottoms, windy conditions

Bad For:

Hard clay seabeds

Delta or Plow Anchors

Delta anchors hung from boatDelta anchors hung from boat

Arguably the most common anchor on the market, delta anchors have a winged plow design that' is the standard among most boat manufacturers. Delta anchors set quickly, which is essential when the current catches you. The unique design allows it to reset easily if the wind or tide changes direction. Delta anchors are well suited for soft bottoms, weeds and grass. This type of anchor boasts a high holding power, making it ideal for windy conditions on open water. From sailboats to pontoon boats, delta anchors are the way to go.

Boat Type:

Boats up to 70 ft.

Good For:

Large open waters with sandy, muddy and grassy bottoms, windy conditions

Bad For:

Rocky seabeds

Mushroom Anchors

Mushroom Anchor TypeMushroom Anchor Type

If you plan to paddle a thin-hulled small boat like a kayak or canoe, the mushroom anchor is your best bet. This anchor design features a large circular disc at the base of its shaft, which will help prevent your boat from being damaged by the sharp edges of other anchor types. Best for soft seabeds, the design works based on suction. One of the best anchor types for small boats, the mushroom anchor falls short in the holding power category, making it a bad choice for larger boats. However, this anchor type makes a perfect lunch hook.

Boat Type:

Kayaks, canoes

Good For:

Brief breaks on water with mud and sand bottoms

Bad For:

Rocky seabeds, large boats

How to Choose the Right Anchor Size

Now that you’ve determined the type of boat anchor that’s right for you, you’re probably wondering how to determine what size to buy. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer. Factors such as boat size, holding power, bottom conditions and weather conditions all play a part when determining which size anchor to use. A good rule of thumb for recreational boaters is to have one pound of anchor for every one foot of boat. Thankfully, most manufacturers have sizing charts to help you make the right choice.

Anchor Accessories

A blog post about boat anchor types wouldn’t be complete without the mention of anchor accessories. Just as important as the anchor itself are the anchor rodes, winches, windlasses and bow rollers. Anchor rodes, aka your anchor line or cable, connect the anchor to the boat itself, absorbing any movement from wave or wind action. Bow rollers protect your boat’s hull during deployment, while both winches and windlasses are used to make anchoring safer and easier. The windlass is used to create tension, and the winch is used to loosen the tension. The best way to determine what anchor accessories you need for your specific anchor type, is to consult with your anchor manufacturers recommendations.