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How to Anchor a Pontoon Boat Quickly and Effectively

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how to anchor a pontoon boat

Thanks to the design, pontoons offer a lot of room for family and friends. They stay stable on rough water, allowing you to stand and walk easily without losing balance. However, the flotation and squared-off design make pontoons fairly difficult to anchor. Sometimes, no matter how you set the anchor, the boat continues to drift and move.

To properly anchor a pontoon boat, you’ll need more than just a random anchor. The steps include preparing to anchor by choosing the right spot, and figuring out the water depth and bottom type to select the proper anchor and rode length. Then, releasing the anchor slowly, set it, and finally, securing the rode. If the anchor isn’t settled, you might want to find another location and repeat the steps.

Besides a step-by-step guide on how to anchor a pontoon boat, we will provide information for retrieving it quickly and effectively. Dive in!

Table of Contents

What You Will Need

Owning a pontoon is exciting, but boating in a responsible manner is even more crucial. Don’t go offshore unless you’ve learned all the necessary skills, including the skill of anchoring a pontoon boat. You need to prepare the tools and learn the steps carefully. No pressure! Once you get used to the process, you will be able to anchor a pontoon regardless of the weather conditions.

1. Anchors

Not every anchor will work for all boats and bottom conditions. For pontoons, there are five basic types of anchors:

  • Claw or Bruce anchor: This type is recommended for small and compact pontoons that need to be anchored to sand or rock bottoms. The shape of claw anchors allows them to turn 360 degrees without lifting off from the bottom. This, in turn, aligns them with the running current or wind. They work well with a low scope of anchor rodes. If you own a pontoon that is 10 to 20 feet in length, go for a bruce anchor.
  • Fluke or Danforth anchor: This is one of the most popular and versatile anchor types. Its mechanism is to burrow the long and pointed flukes into the bottom for strong holding power instead of relying on the anchor weight. Hence, Danforth anchors are lighter and easier to retrieve and store. They can be used for most bottom types: sand, clay, or mud.
  • Plow anchor: This type counts on its weight to firmly hold the boat in place. They are relatively heavy and bulky. You need to install a remote windlass system to store plow anchors. But once set, they can resist big wind and current movement in a variety of bottom types. Plow anchors are recommended for large pontoons that are over 22-foot long.
  • Richter anchor: Historically, Richter anchors were made and touted by fishermen. The type has multiple flukes and a weighted center that offers strong holding power in different bottom conditions and can be retrieved easily a hundred percent of the time. Richter anchors should be used for hard-to-hold pontoons and bottom types.
  • River anchor: As implied in the name, this one is perfect for rivers with fast currents and windy weather. River anchors can hold pontoons firmly in many bottom types: muddy, rocky, weedy, grassy. They are great for boating on rivers. But this type is not as popular because most of the time, you won’t need such holding power.

Once you’ve finished picking the anchor type, you will want to consider its size and construction. Check the size guide chart on the brand website for specific information. In terms of construction, your best bet is stainless steel.

2. A depth finder

A depth finder will provide information about the water depth for you to calculate the needed rode length. Besides, it will take your fishing game to the next level. The device is not necessarily a big investment. You can buy a handheld depth finder for under $100 on Amazon.

3. Anchor rode

Select the rodes that will work best with your anchor type. Nowadays, anchor rodes consist of chain and nylon rope for maximal securing power, stability, and durability. Heavy metal chain can add weight to the anchor and help it dig into the seafloor. With a chain, the anchor is less likely to rise and loosen up.

Meanwhile, nylon rope is easy to manipulate, elastic, and light. It will absorb the shock from sea waves or river currents, keeping your vessel from moving around. It’s best to have an anchor rode that is a combination of nylon rope and chain at the end. The length of the metal chain should be equal to your boat length.

However, for a small pontoon brief stop, an all rope anchor rode or one with a shorter chain will be sufficient. It is easier to store, release, and retrieve.

Steps to Anchor a Pontoon Boat Quickly and Effectively


Step 1: Prepare to anchor

First, head the pontoon to the place you need to anchor. It might be your favorite fishing spot, a quiet place for leisure time, or simply a beautiful scene you like to enjoy. Direct your boat depending on the weather conditions.

If the water is calm, you don’t have to worry much about which direction your pontoon is facing. But if you have to settle the boat amidst fast currents and wind, face the bow in the direction where the wind or current seems to be the strongest. Remember to anchor away from banks or rocks to avoid damaging the vessel.

Once you have a proper location, use the depth finder to determine the water depth and the bottom natural conditions. Make sure you have an anchor that can adhere to that bottom. If you own a large pontoon boat, it’s best to have at least two anchors ready to be used at all times.

After that, calculate the rode length you might need. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends a ratio of 7:1, which means the rode length should be seven times the water depth plus the distance from the water surface to the anchor location. If the river’s depth is 10 feet and it is around one feet from the anchor station to the water surface, then you will need 71 feet of rode.

Finally, check if the anchor is tightened properly. You don’t want to lose or have trouble retrieving it. Put the engine in idle and let the boat settle down completely.

Step 2: Drop the anchor

Now, you’re all set; release the boat anchor slowly into the water. Be careful not to tangle the line or hit the hull with the device. Because you are facing the bow to the direction of the wind, the boat will start to drift backward. The motions tension the chain and allow the anchor to sink even deeper into the sea bed. On nice breezy days, when the anchor hits the bottom, the chain piles up and holds it in place.

Step 3: Secure the rode

Once you’re in the desired spot, wrap the rode around the cleat twice to secure it.

Step 4: Repeat the steps if needed.

This is when the operator’s experience plays a huge part. There’s no certain way to tell if the anchor entirely adheres to the bottom. You will have to feel the resistance.

Let the boat drift naturally until it stops, then put the engine in reverse and gently move the boat. The resistance should tell whether the anchor is properly set. If the anchor doesn’t hold, find another location and repeat the steps. Sometimes, it takes two anchors to keep a boat in place.

While anchoring, remember to keep an eye on the rode and ensure it does not tangle up, especially when the water is rough. Another useful tip is to notice the surrounding landmarks. Doing so will help you be alert when the boat starts to drift.

Step 5: Retrieve the anchor

If you have set the anchor properly, there should be no big deal in retrieving it. Pull the rode vertically and you can easily lift the anchor off the ground. Don’t forget to clean up all mud, clay, and debris before storing it on the boat.


Pontoon boats are safe, spacious, and versatile. Though it might take more time and energy to learn the best way to anchor a pontoon boat, it’s worth it. Now, you can enjoy your next fishing spot without worrying about your recreational boat. Plus, when you get used to all the steps, it is really quick and effortless to release and retrieve an anchor.

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