Chain Anchor System for the Yakima Canyon

June 16, 2014

With the flows on the Yakima settling in at summertime levels, and the fish starting to push towards the banks, the phone is starting to ring with questions about anchoring.

We have 2 Options for Chain Anchors

  1. 45+ Pound Anchor - $129.95 - We recommend this for high sided boats and high flows. If the chain hangs into the water on your particular boat (depends a bit on the geometry of the hull and anchor mount), you can shorten the loops which will allow it to be out of the water.
  2. 35+ pound Anchor - $119.95 - Use this model on lighter boats like Skiffs, Low Profiles, or Smaller Rafts. Same deal, if it hangs in the water undo the bolts and shorten it your desired length.

Both sizes are built with 1/2" Stainless Chain.  We use 5" super heavy duty muffler clamps and cut this chain into 16' chunks, or 12' chunks. 

There is definitely some science that has gone into anchoring effectively on the Yakima, and here are some helpful guidelines: Most of our guides run 45 pounds of chain for anchors. We advise customers that if you drop that anchor and it's not heavy enough to stop you, then you need to pick it up and find some softer water. It's not good for the river bottom to drag chain, and it's also dangerous. If you're dragging any anchor and it gets hung up, it can pull the back of the boat under water in the blink of an eye. We know of numerous folks that have swamped their boats and ultimately wrecked them because they were dragging anchor and it seized up in a boulder!

This is also why we don't don't advocate tying knots on the end of anchor ropes. Once a boat is taking on water, even if you have a knife on board, you'll never get it out to cut the rope and release the anchor before the boat is swamped and sunk. The best thing to do is immediately step on the foot release and let the rope go through. You lose the anchor and rope, but hopefully save your gear, boat, and even lives. I had only used lead pyramids and "land mines aka Hyde spikes" before moving to WA, but the Yakima River (especially in summertime flows) is a different animal. The chunky basalt claimed many pyramids before we went with the heavier chain anchor. The ball of chain is not only heavier for stopping, but also has a bigger footprint and is much less likely to get wedged in the rock. The loss % went way down. I still like using a pyramid in low flows and on other rivers, as the chain is a man killer to pull up.

You can use a "doubler pulley" which is simply attaching a pulley to the anchor, and tieing a terminal end of the rope to your anchor boom. The pulley set up does make it easier, but then you need to pull twice as much rope (which keep in mind you're drifting down river, usually in water you want to fish, as soon as you start to pull in rope). I've gone to and away from pulleys over the years and am currently not using one. I may as well mention anchor rope lengths, too. For a non pulley system, we set up with 40 feet of anchor rope on deck. For the pulley system, 60 feet is necessary. Again, it's a safety feature to refrain from tying a knot on the end of that rope. If you get too much rope out on anchor, the boat will swing terribly in the current.

Oar Rights can help with ruddering it on anchor, but don't help much if you extend too much rope out. It's going to swing, and it could get dangerous! The last thing I'll mention with anchoring drift boats is to keep a lookout for rafters coming behind you. True, it should be their responsibility to go around your boat, but often times they aren't paying attention or can't control their "pod". If a group of rafters is going to run into the back of your boat, please pick up anchor and move out of their way! It is dangerous fro everyone to have their ropes engulf your boat, and your fishing spot is blown at that point anyways. Here's to an enjoyable Summer on the Yakima River!

  1. Steve, Excellent blog post. "Chaining up" is the best way to fish the Yakima year round. I use two different chain weighted anchors switching from the lighter one to the heavier one as flows dictate and vice versa. To spread out the weight, I use a double pulley system that makes it much easier to lift. Save your back, right!
  2. What I'll say about the "rubber hatch" in high summer, is that the vast majority of them are too drunk to be aware there's something else on the water, much less avoid it!
  3. Great article and really good advice about dragging your anchor. Dragging is bad for the river bottom (our bug friends live there!) and a potential disaster for your boat, gear, and you. I have had far fewer hang-ups on the Yak using the 45 lb. chain anchor versus pyramid anchors. I am 50 ++ so I prefer the double pulley but it does require a few more yards of rope. Younger rowers might prefer the single pulley as they retrieve is faster. Thanks for the great info guys!