By Don Casey
Revised by BoatUS editors in April 2012
The type of anchor you need depends on the bottom, not the boat. If, for example, you nearly always anchor in sand, a Danforth-style anchor will give the best hold for the weight, but that anchor won't hold at all in thick weeds--it just sits on top--and it may tend to foul on a rocky bottom. Both the plow and the claw style anchors are more versatile for different types of bottoms, but these can be difficult to stow on boats without a bow roller. Any anchor carried on a bow roller should be lashed or pinned in place; having it release while you are up on plane can ruin your whole day.
Once you decide on the type of anchor, each manufacturer provides recommendations for the proper size based on boat length. In fact, it is the above-water profile more than the length that determines the load on the anchor, so if you have a boat that is higher than others of the same length, you should choose an anchor one size larger than the manufacturer recommends.