Dealing with Kayak Sway

How to safely handle Current

It might be undiagnosed OCD, but boat sway bothers the heck out of me.  It is bad enough in a large boat.  In a kayak it enters a level bad enough to drive me out of my mind.  This is an even bigger problem when still fishing with live bait.  Luckily, there are solutions. 

1. Park it on the bank

There's nothing wrong with it.  Especially on smaller waters.  I will often back the kayak into shallower water and stick my mud anchor into the bank to hold me still.  Not only does this stop my kayak from swaying back and forth in the current, but makes the boat more stable when fighting large fish.  

Use a mud anchor to secure yourself to the bank. 

Use a mud anchor to secure yourself to the bank. 

2. Double up

Use two anchors.  You can drop one anchor, paddle away from it, drop another, and pull back on the line and tie off.  Being cinched down between two anchors reduces a lot of boat movement. 

Another method that is extremely effective and simple is dropping your claw anchor off the back and then put a mud anchor off the side.  Unfortunately this only works well in shallow water.  

Both of these methods work best and are safest in lakes, reservoirs, and ponds.  When in current, consider other options, especially No. 1 and 4. 

3. Use bobbers

A buddy of mine recommended this idea on a recent fishing trip.  If you are not able to effectively anchor with the previous ways, using bobbers allows you to present a stationary bait, even when your boat is moving all over the place.  Leave enough slack in your line to prevent a moving kayak from pulling your bait out of position.  This even works if your bait is setting on the bottom.  Your bobbers simply act as strike indicators.  Plus it is an absolute blast to watch your bobber take off when you have a bite.


When fishing in a river, I rarely bring an anchor.  Instead, I tie off to a brushpile or log using a brush clip.  This provides a solid anchor point and also increase stability. 

Try a zig-zag cleat to tie off to offshore brush.

Try a zig-zag cleat to tie off to offshore brush.

5. Drift sock

This is a technique often used in larger boats, but it has its place in kayak fishing.  Although it does not eliminate all problems associated with wind and current, it will reduce them.  Simply tie your anchor rope off the back of your kayak.  Then deploy the drift sock off the front of your kayak.  The drag of the drift sock reduces how much and how wildly your kayak sways.  

Now these aren't the only ways to stop your kayak from swaying, but are the best ones I've found.  Let the situation determine which method you opt for.  The most important part is to stay safe and have fun.  Get out there and catch some fish.

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