Setting Up An Anchor With A Breakaway Trip

As a charter and private boat captain, I’ve done lots of bottom fishing as part of our programs. Its most certainly one of my personal favorites as well. I always prefer to anchor if the conditions allow because I believe its better for fishing and allows more varied approaches to presenting baits.  Here is how I set up the anchor for a trip to offer you the chance to get it back if it hangs in the bottom.

Very often, we are bottom fishing rock ledges and small outcroppings of hard bottom.  Often we have to be daring an lay our anchor alongside the ridge if the conditions have you laying parallel to the structure.  This is risky because your anchor can end up hanging in a rock or piece of the ledge you don’t know about.  If you do not have a breakaway trip rigged on your anchor, your odds of getting your anchor back in the same shape you dropped it is slim.

Rigging a trip gives you the chance to carefully pull on the anchor in the opposite direction as you were laying and break a sacrificial link at the top of the shank, thus pulling the anchor from the permanent connection at the bottom of the shank.

There are a couple of parameters that are a must when you purchase the chain and anchor to set this up.  Most important is that the flukes of the anchor are designed to pitch outward enough to create enough space along the shank that the chosen chain and anchor shank will fit and the anchor will be able to flip from one side to the other.  I also had a friend who used a plastic-coated stainless cable between the head of the anchor and the end of the shank. This made it much narrower than the chain, making the flipping of the anchor easier.

Most anchors do not come with a hole in which you will attach your shackle to the head of the anchor.  The steel can be drilled with regular bits if you start small, step it up slowly, and use a lubricant spray as you drill.

Drill a hole through which you will place an anchor shackle and use it to attach the end of the chain.  This will be the permanent connection by which you will pull from after the trip breaks when the anchor is hung in the bottom.

Now you need to pass the chain alongside of the shank to the hole in the other end.  Flip the flukes back and forth and adjust the slack in the chain to allow the flukes to change sides, yet keeping the slack to the minimum to prevent the chain from getting around the tip of the fluke and fouling it up.  It’s a fine line, but once you find the right link, mark it with something.  This is the spot on the chain where you will bind the chain to the normal end of the anchor shank.

Don’t forget to refresh the mono because the sun makes it weak and will break when you get set up just right on the spot.

I like to use a length of 100# mono to create the sacrificial link.  Now you don’t want the link to break premature or when the seas get a little rough.  You also don’t want so many wraps that you still bend the anchor trying to break the mono.  I like to use 5 to 7 wraps of the 100#.  When you need to break it because the anchor is hung, use gentle pressure from the boat in the opposite direction you were laying on the hook.

Don’t get crazy on the throttle, if not done carefully, being hung in the bottom can be dangerous.

Sometimes you still have to just pull up all of the slack and cut it.  This is the worse case, but it’s cheaper than damaging the boar or hurting someone.

The trip just gives you a second chance to get your anchor loose.  If the chain is what works its way into the rocks, then it may not help you.  Just make sure the anchor flukes can flip, otherwise you only have a 50/50 chance of the anchor digging into the sand.

Another quick tip is to take a small piece of monel wire and run it through the little hole in the shackle pin and through the shackle.  This is a safety link to prevent the shackle pin from unscrewing with vibrations.

Getting good at anchoring can make all the difference in your catch.  Yes, it takes some more work, but it pays off if bottom fishing is your thing.


You can just go buy a trolling motor!

Check out many more boating and fishing tips from Capt. Scott Goodwin’s Offshore Academy.

Capt. Scott Goodwin started fishing in the lakes of Kentucky where he grew up. A move to Florida, however, brought him into a whole new realm of fishing. After receiving a bachelor's degree in biology from Eckerd College, he decided that he liked catching fish more than studying them and thus began ...