Slam On The Breaks

What’s all the hype with sea anchors?

FSF Staff May 4, 2011

When it comes to getting connected and staying connected, it should be fairly obvious that it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. When the bite is on you want to do everything in your power to maintain position and capitalize on the opportunity. To accomplish this, veteran offshore anglers who want to control their drift look to sea anchors. With years’ experience fishing for swordfish, sailfish and everything in between, we turned to Captain Dean Panos of Double D Charters (doubledcharters.com) for the inside scoop on sea anchors.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

FSF: What exactly is a sea anchor?
Captain Dean Panos: A sea anchor is basically an underwater parachute that helps reduce wind-driven drift. It’s designed so the canopy fills with water, which creates drag and dramatically slows your vessel’s drift. While anglers can use them to make their outings more effective, sea anchors are also used in emergency situations to help stabilize the motion of a pitching and rolling deck by keeping the bow of a vessel pointed into the wind and oncoming seas.

FSF: What are the benefits of drifting with a sea anchor?
Captain Dean Panos: I believe that at times, being totally stealthy in the water will raise more fish when compared to big sportfish boats that have to remain in gear to maintain position when kite fishing off the stern. Sea anchors enable anglers to control their position while remaining silent in the water. There are many times we’ve had sailfish swim within feet of the transom to grab a bait. If we were power drifting, we likely wouldn’t have such close encounters.

FSF: Is it one-size-fits-all or are there variations for sea anchors?
Captain Dean Panos: The length of your vessel and your desired drift speed will determine the correct sea anchor canopy diameter that’s required. I own/operate a 34-foot SeaVee and use a 15-foot Para-Tech sea anchor when kite fishing. It works well to control the drift, but still allows me to slowly slide with the wind and current. When I deploy it off the bow it allows us to effectively and efficiently fish two kites off the stern.

FSF: What about drifting for swordfish. Do you make any adjustments?
Captain Dean Panos: When swordfishing at night I use a 9-foot Para-Tech. When placed midship it controls my drift perfectly. It also swings the boat and keeps the lines from tangling. Just make sure you have a reinforced cleat as this places tremendous stress on the gunnel.

FSF: How far should you position the sea anchor from the boat?
Captain Dean Panos: The position of your sea anchor depends on the prevailing conditions. I generally use a minimum of 25 feet of scope. On very windy days with heavy seas I may use 50 feet. On rough days if you place the sea anchor too close you will risk waves actually stuffing the bow and you may also snap your main sea anchor line due to the lack of stretch, so be careful.

FSF: If you could leave us with one tip, what would it be?
Captain Dean Panos: In order to retrieve your sea anchor you will need a trip line. Make sure you use floating polypropylene rope so it doesn’t sink and tangle with the braille lines of your sea anchor. If the trip line gets tangled with the canopy it will be nearly impossible to get the sea anchor back in the boat.

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