Anglers spend tens of thousands of dollars on boats, outboard motors and fishing gear, but anchors are pretty cheap. Chances are, the anchor is the least-expensive piece of fishing gear on any boat, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important.

Dave Tilley of SaltwaterCentral.com said anchors should be cheap. He also said that when it comes to bottom-fishing, they are the most-important piece of gear on the boat, by far.

“Buy the cheapest anchor you can find that is big enough for your boat. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on anchors, because you will lose them from time to time. It’s simply unavoidable,” said Tilley, who admitted talking to a lot of anglers who don’t understand the importance of anchoring correctly — or how to do it properly.

“Many people think ‘It’s just an anchor. Throw it overboard and start fishing,’” he said. 

Tilley said that’s a common attitude about anchors, and thinking that way is a big mistake.

“The anchor keeps you on top of the fish. Without that anchor, you’re not staying over top of the best fishing area,” he said. “Without taking the time to properly anchor, you might as well not even have an anchor on the boat. If you’re anchored properly, you will catch fish. It’s that simple.”

What should anglers do to make sure they are anchoring properly? Tilley has a few tips.

Anchors should always have a section of chain that is half the length of the boat. 

“Don’t tie a rope directly to the anchor. You need a swivel and piece of chain between rope and anchor,” he said. “The chain helps the anchor lay down properly, and the chain will help keep the anchor on the bottom. The section of chain should also weigh less than the anchor, otherwise, it will become entangled in the anchor on the way down.

“If you want to just toss the anchor out and have it going almost straight up and down, that’s not going to work for very long. The anchor will easily break lose in the wind and waves. You’ve got to have the proper length of rope out to keep you anchored.”

The proper length depends on the size of your boat and the depth of water you’re fishing. Tilley advises anglers to purchase a large spool of rope and cut it to the desired length. You’ll save money this way, and you’ll have spare anchor line, which he said anglers should always carry.

Tilley also said anglers should color small areas of their anchor rope to signify certain depths. He uses Plasticoat paint, which dries on as a thick plastic that doesn’t wash away, but he said permanent markers will also work.

“At the 25-foot mark, I put some blue paint. At the 50-foot mark, I use black. At 100, red, and on and on. That way, you’ll always know how much line you have out, and how close you are to the anchor when you’re pulling it back in,” he said.

Having the proper anchor and rope is just part of the equation. You still have to anchor properly to get on the fish.

“I find the waypoint I’m looking for with my depth finder. I take my time studying the length of the structure. I’m checking to see which side of the structure is highest, which is lowest, then I just put the boat in neutral. This helps me find which way the current is running and how strong. You always want to fish on the downcurrent side of structure,” he said.

Once Tilley (910-264-3973) has these factors figured out, he motors to the upcurrent side of the structure, watches his depth finder closely, and drops anchor. Then he lets out anchor line, again watching his depth finder until he is exactly over the spot he wants to fish.

“Before you put any lines out, watch your depth finder once the boat is securely anchored. If the boat isn’t exactly over the spot you want to be, pull up the anchor and try it again. This can be frustrating for anglers on your boat, so don’t hesitate to tell them to sit down, shut up, and wait. The time you take now to get properly anchored is worth every second, minute, or half-hour,” he said.