I have been using Digger Anchors for quite some time now (see my Digger Anchor review)and have never had an issues with them or their performance but occasionally in really high winds on one of the lakes I fish it doesn’t want to hold. This isn’t because they are not good anchors but rather because this lake is so silted in and has such a soft bottom there is literally nothing for it to hold to so it just slides.
After hearing all of the hype about the “box anchor”from friends and seeing all the box anchor chatter online I decided I would give these type of anchors a shot and see how well they worked and try them in comparison to Digger Anchors.
The box anchor is something that is sold commercially and the commercially available models like these are really slick. They break down and fold flat for easy storage but at $179 for the large version I wasn’t willing to set out and buy one. I like to tinker with things so I set out to try a few different variations of the box anchor not only to see how to build one and put some plans together for Learn To Catch Catfish but also to compare it and it’s performance to the digger anchor.
I started out with some scrap metal and didn’t have enough so I made a quick trip down to Discount Steel for some 1/4” x 3” flat bar for building the DIY box anchor. My plan was to build a 16”x16” model. My Xpress HD22CC is not a heavy boat but it catches a LOT of wind so I wanted to make sure I had a good stout size to try and also offer a fair comparison against the Diggers. I also solicited some advice from some other catfish guide buddies that were using these anchors to get some feedback on the appropriate size before I settled on the 16”x16” size. When it comes to something to hold or slow down the boat I always lean towards going big rather than going small because I want it to be more than enough than “just enough”.
Materials Needed To Build The DIY Box Anchor
For the 16”x16” I purchased the following:
- 9 Feet of 1/4” x 3” flat bar – Total Cost $23
- 3 Feet of chain – I had it already but we will say $4 for the chain (just guessing)
- Chop Saw (or something to cut the steel with)
- Tape Measure and Sharpie Marker (for measure and marking the steel for the cuts)
- Welder (or a good buddy and a few cold ones to get him to start welding)
Total cost (assuming you have or have access to basic tools) = Less than $30
Building The DIY Box Anchor
The process of building the anchor was pretty simple. I took the 9’ section of flat bar and cut four 16 inch pieces for the sides and then cut 8 pieces for the “teeth” about five inches long. I looked around at some pictures online and many of the pictures I saw showed the teeth on both sides from a single piece of flat bar but I opted to go with separate teeth (with the bar not run all the way across the sides) to reduce the weight and also eliminate the need to bend the steel.
After a quick few minutes with the chop saw and a couple of minutes with an angle grinder and grinding disk the material was ready to be welded together.
After a quick welding job the anchor was in one piece and ready for use.
After a few minutes handling the finished product my first impression was “holy s&*^ this thing is heavy I am not going to want to pull this thing up and down in the boat very many times”. But other than that I was cautiously optimistic that it would work.
I went pretty big on this anchor due to the size of my catfish boat. The smaller the boat the less anchor you need so you can adjust the side accordingly.
The Box Anchor Vs The Digger Anchor
I used the anchor several times on the lake in question where my other anchor would not hold in high winds several times. Just like the digger anchor the box anchor would not hold either. It slipped and drug just like the Digger did and while it tried to grab it would not keep the boat completely still (just like the other anchor). There was absolutely no difference in the way it held versus the digger anchor (plus it was a heck of a lot heavier than the other anchor as well, which was not fun).
After multiple trips of using the box anchor and comparing it to the Digger here is my final comparison.
- Both grab quick
- Box anchor is cheaper (if you can build it yourself)
- Digger is MUCH easier to pull up off the bottom
- Digger will come loose if it gets hung up (due to spring mechanism)
- After comparisons both held the same in every instance
- Box is MUCH more bulky and harder to store
- Box gets way more “muck” in the boat than the other one
I experimented some with the length, angle and placement of the teeth with some scrap and even borrowed some finished box anchors from other friends to experiment with to see how well they worked and assure there was not an issue with my design/build job and found no difference between the performance of my design and the others.
The Bottom Line
My experience has been if the Digger didn’t hold I probably don’t need to be on the water due to safety reasons. If you are looking for a cheap anchor that will hold you then the DIY box anchor is a good route. You do however need to be prepared for the weight of it (again not fun pulling it up and down) and the muck in the boat as well as some struggle if it grabs onto something and does not let go. The solution to it being stuck is tie it to a cleat and break it lose (see Gripper Boat Cleats Review).
I am not going to trash the anchor and will keep it around and play with it some more but due to the storage requirements, performance. weight and other negatives I will not be replacing my trusted Digger’s with it anytime soon.
I am still playing around with some variations of this anchor and will continue to update this article as new information develops.
Box Anchor (by Slide Anchor)
*In addition to the initial version built a stainless steel version (pictured below) was also built. It is really slick looking and will not rust but came at a higher price tag due to the significantly higher cost of materials.
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