For years I’ve been landing 36- to 48-inch striped bass during the Chesapeake Bay spring trophy season. It’s a spring ritual and yet, I never cease to be amazed at how easy it is to wind in 200 feet of 100-pound monofilament with 20-45 pounds of fighting fish on the end, even without gloves.

How do I do it?

yoyo anchor rode management

I use a Cuban yo-yo, also known as a hand reel. I wrote all about this in Good Old Boat magazine (“Clutter-Free Fishing,” July/August 2017). Using it again recently, I thought, “I could easily pull twice as hard with this thing.”

That’s when the lightbulb lit.

We used 3/8-inch braided rope for our dinghy anchor rode only because it was easy on our hands and easy to coil. But considering strength alone, 3/8-inch rope is overkill, by a lot. And if we manage the rode using a hand reel…

Pulling up an anchor with a hand line reel

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Looking at the ground tackle in our 9-foot inflatable dinghy, we realized we could ditch the heavy rope rode and replaced it with 75 feet of 1500-pound webbing on a 9-inch Challenge Hand Reel, paired with a 2-pound Mantus dinghy anchor. Because I don’t always use full scope, I tied loops at 25 feet and 50 feet, to which I clip the painter.

Chain is a nuisance on a small boat, so I skipped it and coated the first 5 feet with Yale Maxijacket, a polyurethane anti-chafe coating that reduces wear 10-20 times in independent testing in dock and anchoring applications. A Dyneema chafe leader is another option. Alternatively, tubular webbing can be threaded over the first 10 feet or so (I used a 15-foot Dyneema leader with webbing chafe guard on my 34-foot catamaran secondary anchor for many years).

For kayak fishing, I took the same path. I paired a 6-inch yo-yo with a 2-pound Lewmar Claw anchor. The yo-yo holds 50 feet of 3/16-inch nylon cord (800-pound breaking strength).

I seem to keep running out of yo-yos.