A Brief Overview of the Types of Anchors Available

Many have likened one’s choice of anchor to a religious denomination: there’s little rational behind their choice of anchor but they’ll support their decision with everything they have. Making things more complicated, a number of new religions, ahem, anchors, have hit the market in recent years. Each, of course, claims to be the best.

In reality, its difficult to pinpoint one single best anchor. Most styles of anchors have their own strengths and weaknesses according to your boat size, anchoring conditions, budget, and so on. We’ll try to give a brief low-down on the most popular anchors here. ccdiscovery.com

Bruce/Claw Style

The Bruce/Claw style anchor was developed in the 70’s by the Bruce Anchor Group as an alternative to what was, at the time, the only general puporse anchor available, the CQR/Plow style anchor. Since then, the Bruce Anchor Group has stopped offering anchors to the general public.

The main selling point of the Claw is that it is an excellent all round anchor. It will hold well in most bottoms, although it performs less well in sand and mud. It is also easy to set and to retrieve and has a reputation for not breaking out during wind/tide changes. On the downside, its awkward one piece design can make it difficult to stow. It also has a low holding power to weight ratio, meaning you’ll likely require a heavier Claw anchor than you would require for other styles of anchor.


Of the most popular styles of anchors offered today, the CQR/Plow is easily the oldest, dating back to 1933. It competes with the Claw and Fluke styles of anchor as being the most popular anchor amongst recreational boaters.

Like the Claw, Plow anchors are known for performing well in most bottoms, although it does not excel in any one bottom. The hinged shank means the anchor turns with wind/tide changes rather than breaking out.

The most significant drawback is the old mantra of boaters “Any Plow under 25 lbs is useless”. Because of this, for smaller boats under 30′ or so, you’ll need a much larger plow than you will for other styles of anchors.

The Delta/Wing anchor is essentially a one-piece plow anchor. It has the advantage of having slightly higher holding strength because of the one piece design but at the same time, it also loses some of its ability to resist breaking out during wind/tide changes.


Every boat I have ever purchased pre-owned has come with a Danforth/Fluke anchor. My only conclusion for why this is, is because they are the most affordable anchor around today, although this affordability is coming into question as more anchor patents expire.

The Fluke anchor performs quite well in mud and sand. When set correctly, the flukes can penetrate the bottom with a lot of force, resulting in excellent holding power. The downside is that outside of mud and sand, the Fluke has very limited holding ability in bottoms such as kelp, rock, coral, etc.. When being set in mud or sand, these anchors do have a reputation for occasionally dragging along the bottom.

For day boaters or to use as a secondary anchor, the Fluke anchor is a suitable choice. For anyone boating overnight where an unset anchor has more dire consequences, another choice of anchor style should be considered.

Mushroom/Grapnel and Other Small Craft Anchors

There are a number of anchors on the market today designed for small craft such as dinghies, canoes, kayaks, and so forth. These anchors are normally small and compact to allow for easy stowage and have no sharp points to avoid puncturing an inflatable. The two most popular styles of these anchors are the Mushroom and Folding grapnel type anchors.

Most of these types of anchors perform well for what they are designed to do. The folding grapnel anchor has the advantage of being extremely compact when folded and it can also have immense holding power when it hooks into something. That’s also one of its biggest flaws: once it is hooked it can be a challenge to retrieve the anchor.

The New Generation

There’s been a relative surge of new anchors hitting the market in recent years. Some of the most common of these anchors are the French Spade, the New Zealand Rocna, and the Bulwagga. These anchors are designed to set quickly and create high holding power. Some of them, such as the Rocna, have a roll bar at the back which is supposed to ensure the anchor does not land on its back when trying to set it.

Many of these anchors have performed extremely well in third party tests. The biggest downside to these anchors is they can be very expensive (up to 10x the cost of other anchors: you’re paying for their R&D costs) and they have little reputation, good

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