To use an anchor trolley, or not use an anchor trolley " that is the question. There are reasons for and against the use of a kayak anchor trolley. (By the way, an anchor trolley works great on canoes and other floating vessels, too.) It's probably best to start with why NOT to use an anchor trolley, because you will end up noticing a lot of benefits " and not really many reasons to avoid one. First and foremost is safety. Never use or deploy an anchor on a trolley in swift-moving water. It inhibits your ability to make quick decisions or to make a quick release if something goes wrong. Even if you have a quick release on your trolley, many times inexperience in a situation causes panic. The need to remember to release your anchor before you are pulled over is a great reason not to use it. Many people try to use a trolley in deep waters of more than 50 feet but, if you realize you will need (at a minimum) 150 to 200+ feet of rope to accomplish that, there is probably not enough storage area available. On top of that, comfortably deploying and retrieving that rope could prove difficult. In terms of rope length, it has always been recommended to me to use three to five times the depth you are in, depending on the winds, tides or currents, to successfully anchor. These days, with the popularity of pedal drives, you can hold your position pretty well using that pedal drive to help you constantly adjust back to your desired fishing location. I am about to unleash all the reasons WHY to use an anchor trolley. (Talking about leashes, that's a whole other article we will be doing as well.)
An anchor trolley gives you the ability to adjust the position of your kayak, canoe or small boat to be in the direction or angle you want to be in to fish your location. A trolley is very similar to the old-fashioned clothesline systems you see between buildings in old movies. People clipped a shirt on with clothespins and moved it, added another shirt, moved it, added another and so forth. (The accompanying clothesline image comes from a blog by The Museum of the City of New York.) Without a trolley you would have to position your YakGear Zig Zag or Anchor Cleat within arm's reach to tie off the rope of your anchor, and that probably will not give you the best positioning for your targeted fishing area. The trolley only has one tether to add your anchor, but you adjust it so that tether is along the side of your kayak, to pull the bow in different directions. If you send your tether to the stern (back) of your kayak, the bow or nose will be at its farthest left position. You do need to remember, however, that a wind coming from left to right will affect this as well. When you push your tether to the front of your kayak, it basically does the opposite and pulls the bow to the right. Sometimes you may want to anchor closer to the bow, and sometimes closer to the stern. Your trolley allows you to do this. I am not a big fan of casting into the wind, so most of the time I have my trolley toward the stern of my kayak with the wind at my back. But there are times when it is unavoidable, so the ability to adjust your trolley for the best position really comes in handy. There are also times when I want to fish a cover area, and I enjoy putting my feet in the water. I will move my tether to the middle of my trolley and throw my feet over the opposite side so I can fish to the left and right easily. Small adjustments because of the wind or current still allow me a full open view to an area to watch fish movement. When I use a drift sock, my trolley is a great tool as well. It allows me to set my drift in the exact direction I want to go.
Lastly, what side do you put your trolley on? I use my right hand to cast, so I have found I typically will cast mostly forward or over to my left. For that reason, I install my YakGear Deluxe Anchor Trolley on the right side of my kayak. If I were left-handed, I would install it on the left side " but that is my personal preference. And yes, sometimes I do backhand cast over to the right, but not as often as I overhand cast. I have also found that I retrieve most of my fish on the port side (left) of my kayak and having it on the starboard (right) keeps me from worrying about the fish tangling in my anchor rope. A trolley can be an important tool in your arsenal for catching fish. One of the best tips I can give is, before you purchase or install a trolley, go out one or two times and fish from your kayak. Learn your own tendencies and see what will work best for you. After a few trips, you may decide to install a trolley on both sides of your kayak. But as always, it's a personal choice. The best part about any kayaking trip is just the ability to be out on the water, experiencing nature in a new and different way each time. Whether you decide on a trolley or not, get out on the water as much as you can.
About the Author: Bill Bragman is the president of YakGear in Houston, Texas. He started fishing at the age of 5 and, some 55 years later, is still out on the water when time allows. Depending on the location, you will find him in a kayak or on a boat " but the most important thing is being out on the water.