Front close up view of the bow of a boat with a mounted stainless steel anchor

How Many Types of Boat Anchors Are There? Which One You Need & Why

Boat anchors come in many different types, shapes, and sizes. Knowing which anchor types are best for your boating needs ensures you get the required holding power. This article discusses the different types of anchors, showing you what to use with particular bodies of water and bottom surfaces.

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List of Boat Main Anchor Types and names

Here are some of the most popular different types of anchors.

Delta Anchor (Wing Anchor)

Claw Anchor (Bruce Anchor)

Fluke Anchor (Danforth Anchor)

Plow Anchor (CQR Anchor)

Shrapnel Anchor (Collapsible Anchor)

example of a delta/wing style boat anchor

Open design with ballasted tip and unique shank profile.


Fluke Anchor (Danforth Anchor)

example of a fluke/danforth style boat anchor

Compact anchor that folds flat for easy storage.


Plow Anchor (CQR Anchor)

example of a plow/CQR style boat anchor

Contains a low center of gravity, plus self-righting geometry.


Claw Anchor (Bruce Anchor)

example of a claw/bruce style boat anchor

Created to look like oil-rig anchors.


Grapnel Anchor (PWC Anchor)

example of a grapnel/pwc style boat anchor

Contains a non-burying design with multiple anchor-tines.


Mushroom Anchor

example of a mushroom style boat anchor

Uses suction to sit on the bottom of the water.


Rocna Anchor (Spade Anchor)

example of a rocna/spade style boat anchor

Concave shape helps it dig into the surface bottom.



What is a Delta Style Anchor Used for?

The delta anchor is one of the most popular boat anchor types. It contains superior holding power per pound, on average about 50% more than a Bruce anchor. The delta anchor works well on most bottoms but will struggle a little in rock.


What is a Fluke Style Anchor Used for?

The fluke anchor is suitable for smaller and larger boats, measuring around 30' or multiple other lengths. Because it buries itself when the pointed ends dig into the bottom, it is best used in mud and hard sand. Fluke anchors do not penetrate rocky bottoms and wouldn't be appropriate for slick bottoms. Plus, loose mud can prevent penetration.


What is a Grapnel (PWC) Anchor Used for?

Grapnel is another popular choice among anchor styles because of the non-burying, lightweight design. They are often referred to as pwc anchors and are used for smaller boats on rocky slabs but isn't effective on weedy bottoms.


What Type of Anchor Should I Use in the Ocean?

Small powered boat anchored in the ocean near the sandy shore

The best anchor for sand is the fluke anchor. Not only does it perform well in the sand and mud, but it is also easy to stow and lightweight. This anchor stock buries into the bottom after the pointed flukes dig in for a secure hold. Delta anchors are another great anchor to use in the ocean and sandy bottoms.


What Type of Anchor Should I Use in a Lake?

The best boat anchor for lakes depends on the water bottom and what type of boat you use. The fluke anchor is popular with smaller boats and works well in mud. However, a mushroom anchor is great when there is a lot of sediment on the lake's bottom. If you require more holding power, you want to use a scoop or plow anchor instead, especially if you need to break through grassy surfaces or vegetation.


What Type of Anchor Should I Use in a River?

The best anchor for a pontoon boat or fishing boat depends on its size and the water bottom. If you know what type of riverbed you're boating in, you will be able to make the best anchor selection. With sand or mud, you want a claw (Bruce) or fluke (Danforth) anchor; with rocky bottoms, it would be best to use a collapsible grapnel anchor.


Sand vs. Mud vs. Rock Bottoms: Which Type of Boat Anchor Should I Use for Each?

There are specific anchor types that are designed to perform best in certain water bottom conditions. Use the following as a rule of thumb:

  • Delta-style anchors provide the most excellent holding power in most water bottoms but struggle in rocky bottoms.
  • Fluke-style anchors excel in muddy/sandy bottoms, stow easily, but struggle in other water bottoms.
  • Grapnel (PWC) anchors tend to be the best river anchor but are inappropriate for long-term anchoring.

In general, these are the best anchors for the different types of water bottoms you may be boating and anchoring in:

  • Sand Bottoms: Delta/Wing or Fluke/Danforth anchors.
  • Mud Bottoms: Fluke/Danforth or Delta/Wing anchors.
  • Rock Bottoms: Bruce/Claw, CQR/Plow, or Grapnel anchors.
  • Grass/Vegetation or Clay Bottoms: Rocna/Spade or CQR/Plow anchors.


List of Boat Anchor Material Types

Boat anchors come in a variety of materials. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Stainless Steel Boat Anchors: Corrosion-resistant, very strong, and looks the most attractive. While stainless steel anchors have a very attractive appearance and are the most durable option, they are more expensive than galvanized steel anchors.
  • Galvanized Steel Boat Anchors: These boat anchors are inexpensive and strong, but they aren't as attractive as stainless steel anchors, and the galvanization can wear down, leading to corrosion.
  • Aluminum Boat Anchors: These provide a great lightweight anchor option, but aluminum anchors are not as strong as steel and are often the most expensive.


Why You Should Use a Stainless Steel Anchor Over the Rest

When choosing a boat anchor, it's wise to choose one made from 316 marine-grade stainless steel. These stainless steel anchors have the best corrosion protection, allowing for longer life. Plus, these anchors are strong, durable, and look great on your boat. Check out our stainless steel anchors for sale, or contact us today to discuss our selection of stainless steel boat anchors.

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