If you want to present baits for many species then your kayak has to be static. This means anchoring up and to do so you need to be able to pay out an appropriate length of anchor line. If not enough anchor line is payed out then you run the risk of having the bow or stern of the kayak being dragged under the water by the force of the swell you are fishing in.
Diver’s reels are great for using as an anchor reel for kayak fishing but when you start to fish deeper water most of the diver’s reels just won’t cut it when it comes to capacity. Unless you start looking at really big diver’s reels and these start running into serious prices. When the general rule of thumb for anchoring is to pay out at least three times the depth in anchor line it soon becomes apparent that the standard diver’s reels fall way too short. So what’s the alternative?
For me, another drawback to anchor reels is the line that they hold. It is strong and will hold a kayak with no problems but it is also very slim. This slim profile will help to cut through the tide but a common complaint with it is that it can be hard on the hands, particularly heavy pressure is exerted such as when the anchor fouls, which it will at some stage. My preferred anchor line is 550lb paracord which is a little thicker in diameter which makes for easier retrieval but is also still slim enough to cut through the tide effectively.
Electric fence cable reels are cheap as chips and available in any agricultural supply shop. You have two options – a cheap plastic reel that is far larger than a diver’s reel or a slightly more expensive geared version. I went with the cheaper version for the main reason of it being entirely plastic construction meaning no corrosion when fishing in saltwater.
Once the reel is sourced all that is needed is sufficient line to fill it. A quick search uncovered 2000 metres of 4mm paracord on Ebay and before long it arrived at the house. I hung the reel from a rafter in the shed with a wire coat hanger to ensure that the cord did not twist when loading the reel. Once filled it is difficult to know exactly how much of it ended up on the spool but I did use at least half of it meaning that I have at least 1000 metres on the reel. Ample for any deep water fishing I should be doing from a kayak!
All that was left for me to do was attach the anchor chain and anchor leaving me with the ideal deep water anchor setup. With the minimum rule of thumb saying three times the depth should be paid out I have enough line to anchor up in 330 metres (1,100 feet approx.) of water. A safer bet is to pay out five times the depth which still enables me to fish 200 metres (650 feet approx.). It is highly unlikely that I will be fishing into such depths with any regularity, or indeed at all, but I am a firm believer that it is better to have too much anchor line than too little. Suffice to say that the new setup will cater for any depth of water I am likely to encounter on the kayak any time soon!
The electric fence cable reel is robust and will not corrode due to it being an all plastic construction. I found it in a local shop for less than €10 which is a fraction of the price of a similar sized diver’s reel. The larger drum makes line retrieval a lot easier and quicker than it was when using the small diver’s reel pictured above.
Update – after not holding bottom in some big wind and swell recently I have decided to replace the grapnel anchor with a Bruce style anchor. The general consensus is that this style of anchor has a lot more holding power and should be more suited to areas with a strong tide pulling through them.
Thanks to Mark Burton for the electric fence reel idea.