This information was originally posted at the Learn To Catch Catfish website and has since been updated and moved here to Catfish Edge.
A couple of years ago I hacked together a shallow water anchor design from some materials I hunted down on the internet and named it the “DIY Shallow Water Anchor”.
Whether you call these shallow water anchors, anchor pins, anchor poles, portable trees or stick it pins the function is all the same, anchoring a boat in shallow water quickly and easily.
The original DIY Shallow Water Anchor design was something I didn’t put much thought into.
I’d fished with these devices for years and used everything from fence posts and pipe to PVC. The problem I always had was everything was heavy, difficult to handle and it all had a hole running down the middle of it that filled with mud which then ended up on the floor of the boat (and all over my clients and me).
I wanted some “real” shallow water anchors but when I began researching them online the prices seemed outrageous. I had a real hard time justifying spending a few hundred dollars for some sticks that I was going to push in the ground so I set out in a quest to find something that would work better than the fence posts and PVC and was cheaper than being a manufactured shallow water anchor.
That’s not a jab at any of the companies that build these products and sell them completely. I’m sure they’re great people and build great products. I’m like any other fisherman though and have many wants and needs and have to stretch every dollar as much as I can. This becomes more critical when you’re a guide and you have to make every penny count!
Why Use a Shallow Water Anchor?
There’s a variety of benefits to using a shallow water anchor over a traditional anchor.
First and foremost a shallow water anchor allows you to quickly and easily anchor your boat in shallow water. You can hold a boat perfectly still and have it set in seconds.
When you’re moving you can pull the shallow water anchors, move and reset them and can do so very quickly.
Just wanting to hold your boat still for a minute to cover a spot thoroughly? It’s easy to do by sticking a single pole in the ground.
There’s no anchor rope, no backbreaking work pulling anchors, and if you are skinny water fishing and concerned about spooking fish, setting the boat is much more stealthy with these things than lobbing a heavy anchor in the water.
Pushing into skinny water and shutting the motors down? No problem! You can use the pole as a makeshift push pole if needed.
There are so many advantages it’s hard to list them all. Let’s just say there’s a reason every bass boat you see has a motorized power pole on it. It’s the same concept (but much more expensive). If you’re a catfish angler and you’re not spending time fishing skinny water then you’re missing out on some of the best fishing available, there’s no better tip I can offer than to get a set of skinny water anchors and start spending some time fishing for shallow catfish.
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The Original DIY Shallow Water Anchor
I went through several design attempts with a variety of products when attempting the original design and they all failed or did not meet my expectations.
Most promising was the fiberglass sucker rod sold at Grainger and other retailers. It seemed promising at first but after the first use and having my hands full of fiberglass, I ditched the fiberglass sucker rod and moved on in my search.
This led me to online research where I found a promising product, a fiberglass rod that had a smooth exterior (the problem with the sucker rod), and a quick phone call to the company confirmed the outside was smooth.
I bit the bullet, tested them for a few weeks, and was more than happy with my invention so I made a quick video and posted the original design on Learn To Catch Catfish.
Little did I know that the fishing world would latch on to the concept and the DIY Shallow Water Anchor would become the hit that it did.
The original design was rough a simple fiberglass rod, a heat shrink sleeve (which I later decided was not needed) and a PVC T added to the end with epoxy and a rope inserted through it. The design worked but the PVC T was not a good fit and would come loose with long-term use.
The other issue was the maximum length of the DIY Shallow Water Anchor was eight feet in length so if you were fishing with soft mud (like I deal with here in Texas) or were in water that was deeper than a few feet, the anchor wasn’t long enough.
I wanted the shallow water anchor specifically for catching shallow water blue catfish in the spring so they worked perfectly for me during that time. When I had to venture beyond fishing in inches of water, I was forced to use my digger anchors again.
Since I published the first article and video, the company I bought the fiberglass rod from has kept in contact with me, we’ve bounced ideas off each other and they’ve taken the concept of that original anchor and run with it!
I’d love to claim that I was the mastermind behind all of this. I can see I’ve thrown many ideas at them and every single one of them has been developed. Most often my ideas are already in development when pitching them. The guys are good!
This is one of the great examples of a small business in America bending over backward to fulfill a niche, save anglers money and build a great product.
The New And Improved Model
The availability of products and the end product of the anchor pins today is night and day different from the original design.
You can go all in and build an anchor that is as “fancy” as you want it to be, is the ideal length for you and your fishing application, and is just as good as anything else you can buy (maybe even better).
The only thing you’ll be missing with the DIY model is a fancy sticker with a snazzy name on it.
I’ve joked recently about making some Catfish Edge DIY Shallow Water Anchor Stickers send out just to make sure everyone has the “complete package”.
Shallow Water Anchor Options
Again, a lot has changed.
Here’s a rundown on all the options.
You can buy the fiberglass rod in three different colors:
Does it matter? Well, it does if you’re not a slimy old cat-fisherman and you’re concerned about the way things look.
Maybe you want the rods to match your boat so black is a better option.
Then there’s camouflage.
Anchoring a boat in this manner is popular with duck hunters. Obviously if you’re super stealthy and out duck hunting Phil Robertson style you don’t want a giant white pole sticking up on the side of the boat mucking up your hunt.
Beyond that, pure cosmetics.
There’s now a “proper” handle with a good snug fit on the fiberglass pole.
The handle actually stays on the end like it’s supposed to, it feels much better in your hand and you don’t look like a slimy cat-fisherman that’s glued a PVC T on the end of a pole and called it a shallow water anchor.
But hey, if you want to do that, totally cool with the cat fishermen, we’ll let you in the club.
If you’re one of those fancy-schmancy fishermen.
One of those guys with a glittery boat.
With a pressed shirt while your fishing with logos on every inch of your shirt for companies that don’t sponsor you you just sport them because “they look cool”.
You’re probably going to want a real handle and not a PVC T for an improvised handle.
It’s ok that you’re worried about looking cool, while you’re fishing.
Just stay back from my boat because I love it when catfish slime flies in your direction!
Stainless Steel Tips
Fishing where there’s a hard or rocky bottom? Maybe you need to pound the shallow water anchor through some mussel beds?
The original anchor was left with a blunt tip. This made forcing it into firm ground tough.
I’m also told that forcing the blunt tip into a firm surface with long term repeated use would cause the end of the anchor pole to break down a bit.
I never experienced it but I’ve got Texas mud.
This is no longer an issue because you have the option of a stainless tip for the end to solve all of your woes and make you look even cooler if you’re into that sort of thing.
If you need the tip for function, we won’t make fun of you.
But It’s Not Long Enough
That’s what she said!
In all seriousness. So if the simple one-piece eight-foot fiberglass rod isn’t long enough, you have the option of a threaded joint and can make the shallow water anchor any length you want.
You can even build them in a manner that allows you to adjust in multiple lengths all the way up to sixteen feet!
If a sixteen-foot length is not long enough, you really shouldn’t be using one of these anyway and should be using a traditional anchor.
How To Build Your Own Shallow Water Anchor
For some reason, this is the part that sends everyone into a tailspin and they get confused and send me emails.
I have no idea why.
First, let me say that building these is stupid simple. If you can change a light bulb you can build these.
If you can’t change a light bulb we don’t want you building one because you’re a danger to society and shouldn’t be operating a boat.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Decide how many shallow water anchors you want.
2. Decide how long you want them to be.
3. Decide if you want them to have fancy handles on them.
4. Decide if you want them to have fancy tips on them.
5. Figure out what you need to order.
6. Get some two-part epoxy while you’re waiting for them to arrive.
7. Glue them with the epoxy and let it set.
8. Go fishing and revel in the glory while you catch fish.
9. Laugh at the guys that have a $2000 motorized stick on the back of their boats
Parts Needed To Build The DIY Shallow Water Anchor
OK, in all seriousness (or at least as serious as I get).
I’ll assume your going all in and getting everything so you have the full monty version. If not, you’ll have to figure it out yourself.
Now, before I proceed let me say this.
There are two different diameter fiberglass rods so in turn there are two different sizes of each and every accessory.
I fish from a 22’ aluminum center console bay boat and usually have 4-6 people in the boat. The smaller diameter works just fine.
If you have a big heavy fiberglass boat, you might want a larger diameter. Can’t help you with deciding which one you need I can only say this.
I’ve never stepped back and said “boy I wish mine was bigger”.
Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you……….
If you’re building two shallow water anchors:
Decide which diameter you want (3/4” or 1”)
Order your materials:
- 2 Each – 8 Foot Fiberglass Rods (pick your color, white, black, camo)
- 2 Each – Stainless Steel Tips
- 2 Each – Fancy Handles
If you simply want two 8 foot DIY Shallow Water Anchors then that’s it, you are good to go and this os a very simple and straightforward process.
Need Anchor Pins Longer Than 8 Foot?
There’s no limit to the configuration options, especially when building the modular system. Just beware that the more options you want, the more added extensions the more the cost goes up.
- 2 Each – 8 Foot Fiberglass Rods, 3/4” Diameter (pick your color, white, black, camo)
- 2 Each – Stainless Steel Tips
- 2 Each – Fancy Handles
- 2 Each – Stainless Steel Threaded Joiners
- 2 Each – Fiberglass Rods For Extension (Length Varies, See Below)
So you want two anchors that are 10 feet? You’ll need two 8 foot pieces and two 2 foot pieces.
So you want two anchors that are 12 feet? You’ll need two 8 foot pieces and two 4 foot pieces.
So you want two anchors that are 16 feet? You’ll need four 8 foot pieces.
You’re going to take the one 8 foot piece, epoxy a stainless steel stip on the end, and then use that to connect the other piece to it. That’s where you gain the ability to adjust the length and exceed 8 feet.
Not sure what you need? Want more than one option?
You sir are a high roller and we’re certain you can determine how to order enough extra pieces and parts to do what you need to do.
I’m going to throw the full meal deal at you though.
Let’s say you want a set of two shallow water anchors that you can go all transformer style with (sans Megan Fox) and want to have the ability to adjust from 8 foot to 10 foot to 12 foot in length.
This is what you need:
- 4 Each – 8 Foot Fiberglass Rods, 3/4” Diameter (pick your color)
- 2 Each – 6 Inch Extension, 3/4” Diameter*
- 2 Each – 2 Foot Fiberglass Extension, 3/4” Diameter
- 2 Each – 4 Foot Fiberglass Extension, 3/4” Diameter
- 2 Each – Stainless Steel Tips
- 6 Each – Stainless Steel Joiners
- 6 Each – Handles
With this package, you can setup a super sweet multifunctional system with two module anchor poles 8’, 10’, or 12’ long.
How About a Modular Stow Away Option?
I throw the anchor pins on the floor of my guide boat or tuck them along the side near the gunnels.
I guide from a 22-foot bay boat so I have plenty of room but they still get in the way at times. I also don’t carry them with me at all times either. This means there are times when I wish I had them and don’t but really not a big deal for me.
I’ve been considering taking two of the four-foot length fiberglass rods and using a stainless steel joiner in the middle, the stainless steel tip, and a handle for a quick stow away option to put under the back deck of my boat.
This would allow for an 8’ shallow water anchor pole that breaks down into two four foot sections and could be stored easily at all times.
Obviously, the configuration options are limitless and you could use three of the four foot long sections for a twelve-foot long anchor or a variety of other options to meet your needs.
The link to the vendor to purchase the product is in part two of this article.
Click the “Take Me To Part Two” graphic below and then scroll down.
How To Build The DIY Shallow Water Anchor Pin
Here are the details on building and using the anchor pins
You need a two-part epoxy and it needs to be in a tube (liquid style not a putty).
I like Gorilla Glue because the name is funny and I once glued my buddy’s boots to his driveway with it.
Map out what you’re gonna glue together. Not that hard, you put a tip on one end, a handle on the other and if you’re making anchors longer than 8 foot you’ll need the threaded stainless steel joiner in the middle.
Clean the areas you’re going to glue, mix your epoxy and glue them together.
When you stick the parts together use a lot of epoxies and when you get the part in place twist it around a few times to make sure it sets.
Securing Your Boat To The Shallow Water Anchor
This seems to get everyone all worked up and most people really overcomplicate the mounting solutions for the anchor pins. Don’t overthink it. You really don’t need anything fancy.
Here are a few mounting options:
Fishing Rod Holders:
I have Bee Ready Rod Holders all over my boat.
I simply turn the “loop” of one of the Bee Ready Rod Holders out towards the water (180 degrees from the way you would fish with it) and insert the anchor pin through the rod holders in the front and back of the boat.
Pro’s: Already in place, Serves two purposes, Easy to use
Con’s: Damages rod holders long term, Hard to keep the anchor from rubbing the side of the boat
Tie Shallow Water Anchors To Cleats:
You probably already have cleats in place for anchoring and mooring. The simplest way of securing your boat to the anchor pin is to tie them to the boat with a cleat and just cinch them up against the boat.
Pro’s: Already in place, Easy to use, Inexpensive, No drilling
Con’s: Hard to keep the anchor from rubbing the side of the boat.
Stainless Ring and Rope:
Another alternative is to use a stainless steel ring (available at any hardware store) and rope to strategically place them in various locations on the boat and leave them in place.
You simply insert the anchor pole through the stainless steel ring and you’re done.
Pro’s: Easy to use, Inexpensive, No drilling
Con’s: Extra parts and pieces hanging on the boat
Build An Anchor Pole Mount:
Another alternative is to build a mounting system. The advantage is you can custom design a mount for your boat and the mounting location you prefer.
Obviously, this requires some skills either welding or cutting plastic and assembly. I’ve had a variety of designs sent to me that people have pieced together.
This is really not necessary but if you’re compelled to do so and have the skills and resources to build one then have at it.
The biggest advantage of this is you can design something that will help keep the pole away from the side of your boat and prevent (or limit) it from rubbing against it.
Pro’s: Can create a system that keeps them away from the boat.
Con’s: Requires tools and additional materials, DIY Skills, Expensive
Buy a Shallow Water Anchor Mount:
The final option is to buy a mounting bracket. I’ve watched the market closely over the years and for the most part, these products have been expensive.
Prices range from $175 to $250 per mount so you could easily spend $400 to $500 or more for your boat.
Obviously, the look is much cleaner and the design is refined so you’re going to save a lot of time and money and most likely end up with something that works right out of the box.
Preventing Boat Rubs
If the fiberglass rod rests against the outside of the boat when in use and the boat is moving (which is expected) it will rub against the outside of the boat. I have an aluminum boat, it’s wrapped and I’m far beyond the point of worrying about scratches and rubs. I rarely even wash or clean my boat.
Obviously, most people aren’t this way, maybe you’re concerned about looks or just want to protect your investment.
Outside of building a mounting system that keeps the anchor away from the boat so it does not rub there’s a very simple solution!
Buy a foam swimming pool noodle, cut a section to your desired length, and insert the shallow water anchor through the center of the foam swimming pool noodle.
The noodle rests against the outside of the boat, prevents the rubbing damage, and also helps serve as an “anchor saver” just in case you lose your grip and it falls into the water.
Storing The Shallow Water Anchors
I just throw them on the floor.
There’s a storage clip available through the vendor that mounts in your desired location and the anchor poles simply snap into the storage clip.
This is the best option to keep them out of the way and keep them from bouncing around while driving.
Best Practices For Skinny Water Anchoring
Once you’re beyond building your shallow water anchors and ready to use them there’s a basic concept to follow when anchoring in skinny water.
It’s really no different than any other form of anchoring but I’ve had so many questions I wanted to address this.
The bow (nose) of your boat should be faced into the wind when possible with the point of the bow facing directly into the wind.
The anchor needs to be placed as close to the nose of the boat as possible and ideally right at or near the point of the bow.
The second anchor pin needs to be placed towards the transom (back) of the boat. You can place the anchor pin on the side but placing it in the very back on the transom is the best option.
The least amount of sway (movement of the boat back and forth) will come from having the bow in the wind, the front anchor pin as close to the center of the bow as possible, and the rear anchor on the transom with it placed as close to the motor as possible.
Can you anchor with the side of the boat into the wind?
Yes, in light winds you can but in higher winds, you’ll have a hard time keeping the boat anchored and reducing the sway. You’ll also find you have much more movement (up and down) when anchoring with the port or starboard side of the boat into the wind.
What About High Winds?
The “cutoff” point is going to vary based on your boat, the bottom composition, the length of your anchors, and more. There is no simple answer for every situation.
Even the water body you’re fishing and the size of the waves will impact the holding power of these anchors.
There’s a point for every boat that a shallow water anchor will not hold, this is true of any anchor.
If fishing in high winds then the simple solution is to anchor the nose of the boat with a traditional anchor.
Once the traditional anchor is set, use the shallow water anchor to pin the boat in place at the bow and transom to prevent sway.
The traditional anchor holds the boat in place and the shallow water anchors assist and prevent sway.
Shipping Is Expensive
The length of the material makes shipping expensive because freight companies charge a lot.
This is not the vendor, it’s the shipping companies. The same issue occurs if you ship a 7’ fishing rod or any other long items.
How To Save Money On Your Anchors
The vendor offers a discount when you order 10 or more rods of the same style (like 10+ white rods in 3/4” diameter).
You can order 23 of the 3/4” diameter rods and stay under the 70-pound shipping class so combine a bulk order with reduced shipping and the 10% discount and your landed costs goes down significantly.
To get the most bang for your buck and save money:
1. Round up some buddies and do a group buy to net the shipping charges down.
2. Buy what you need and order the extras. Build a few and sell them to cover your cost.
Where Do You Buy The Parts?
Order your DIY Shallow Water Anchor Parts parts through the link below. Please don’t contact me with questions on which parts to order, shipping costs or anything else. All the information I have to offer is listed here and any other questions should be directed to Max Gain Systems.
This is where you order——>The vendor is Max Gain Systems <——-This is where you order
Check out their site or give them a call and tell them you want a “spiffy Catfish Edge anchor deal”.
They like it when people say “spiffy” and if you drop the Catfish Edge name on them they’re gonna bend over backward to hook you up because everyone loves Catfish Edge.
If you have questions comment below or contact me on Twitter.
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