Do You Need A Shallow Water Anchoring System?

boat fishing a cut
Reading Marsh Cuts
January 18, 2023

Which makes more sense: pole anchors, an electric trolling motor, or both?

Shallow water anchoring systems (pole anchors) remain incredibly popular, and these days, just about every manufacturer of bay boat, flats boats, and other shallow-water fishing machines offers them. Have you been wondering if it’s time to add a pole anchor to your boat?

boat with pole anchor

Which makes more sense: pole anchors, an electric trolling motor, or both?

First things first: these things undeniably come in handy, allowing you to effortlessly and quietly “stake out” your boat in relatively shallow water, generally 10 feet or less. But they do have downsides. They create an obstacle sticking up that you have to cast and fight fish around when they aren’t deployed, and add a potential line-tangler into the water when they are deployed. They add another system to your boat requiring maintenance and power, and with yet another system comes the potential for problems. And they certainly don’t come cheap. Still, just about everyone agrees that when it comes to shallow water casting, they’re a big net positive.

These days, however, most boats used for fishing the shallows also have a bow-mounted electric trolling motor with GPS positioning. Press a button, and your boat hovers in place. Doesn’t that negate the need for a pole?

Maybe. First off, ask yourself how much juice your boat carries, how much wind and current you fish in, and if you ever run that trolling motor until the batteries are dead. If so, clearly having a pole will still be advantageous. The new LiFePo4 batteries seem pretty impossible to kill in a day of fishing if you keep them charged up, so if you’re equipped with them, this may not be an issue.

The next question to ask is just how much stealth you need. While electric trolling motors are certainly quiet, they aren’t 100-percent silent because a spinning prop will always make some level of noise. Whether or not it’s significant enough to give pole anchoring an edge is debatable.

Also remember that while GPS virtual anchoring is amazingly accurate, it’s still not as accurate as a physical tether. In high winds and current you will still get shoved five yards this way or that way.

So: should you get the poles? I’ve known guides who will say absolutely yes, they can’t be beat. And I’ve known others who have pulled them off of their boat after a couple of seasons, and never put them back on. I opted against getting them when I got a new Caymas 26 HB this past season because I do enough open-water casting that they’re often a hassle to fish around, and I had the LiFePO4 batteries installed, so my Minn Kota has plenty of juice. In truth it’s a judgement call – and that’s your judgement to make.

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