A pontoon boat anchor winch (also known as a windlass) is an essential gadget. Not just for people who struggle to raise and adjust their anchors, but also for any pontooner who just wants to make their life easier.
The modern pontoon boat anchor winch is now electric, meaning you can safely operate it from the comfort of your helm station, with no more heavy lifting required or mess coming into your boat. I’ve also featured a manual winch as well which doesn’t require any electrical connections or wiring.
In this guide I am focusing on reviews of the best 3 electric pontoon anchor winches, one of these I use on my own pontoon. The other two I have seen in action on the water and have also had great feedback after canvassing the opinions of 20 pontoon boat owners I personally know and respect.
No matter what type of anchor you have, be it a mushroom, grapnel, fortress fluke, or box anchor, you will find something here for you. After the reviews you can read a buyers guide plus some tips on the other items you might also need. This can include a ledge or mount.
Pontoon Anchor Winch Reviews: Top 3 Electric
My preference is definitely for electrical winches, with my number 1 choice and exact brand and model I use listed first. If you are looking to purchase today, these are best electric pontoon winches. All are exceptional products with superb online reviews.
#1: Minn Kota Deckhand 40
This is exactly what I have installed on my Bennington and is dead simple plus comes with a remote control. It’s not the most expensive choice, but it the best-rated, and not just by me. Here’s what you get when you buy:
- Price Bracket: Medium (view Amazon prices)
- Rating: 10/10
- Winch Type: Electric, 12-volt battery
- Anchor Weight Capacity: 20 to 40 pounds
- Line Capacity: 100 feet
- Davit: Yes
- Warranty: 2 years
It can handle anchors up to 40 pounds in weigh and copes with my mushroom anchor with ease. It also has some clever functionality which detects when your anchor drags, and will adjust your drift accordingly.
With a two-year warranty and an easy to use winch system, it shouldn’t let you down (and never has me). It’s Minn Kota too, and this brand has an excellent reputation amongst the pontooning community. For example, you might already own one of their trolling motors.
Minn Kota understand pontoon boats, and this anchor winch is a great testament to that.
In terms of the davit mounts, those can be set horizontal style which gives you the peace of mind in knowing your anchor isn’t going to swing wildly and damage your boat.
If there is one slight drawback, it’s the remote control… or lack of!
When I bought this winch, I didn’t realize that I had to buy the remote separately, so if you do decide to buy don’t get caught out like I was.
I am glad I bought the remote though, as it lets me lower and raise my anchor whilst sat in the relative comfort of my helm. Here’s the remote control on Amazon which I also recommend you purchase.
It’s not a wireless control though, so you will need to run cable from your helm to the winch. It comes with 25 foot of cord which should be ample enough for most boats.
#2: Trac Outdoor Deckboat 35 AutoDeploy
Unlike the Minn Kota, this does come with the remote control included and also features an auto-deploy function. It’s a little bit more expensive, not much, but for that extra money you will get some great additional features. Here’s what you get:
- Price Bracket: Higher (view Amazon prices)
- Rating: 8/10
- Winch Type: Electric with wireless remote control included
- Anchor Weight Capacity: 30 to 35 pounds
- Line Capacity: 100 feet
- Davit: Yes
- Warranty: 2 years
One of my best pontooning buddies has this electric winch and he swears by it. Having seen it in action only last week, I’ve only great things to say about it, including that remote control… which has made me slightly jealous.
Why? It’s wireless for a start so there’s no need for any more fiddling around with wires, plus it has up, down, and auto-deploy which lets out the right amount of line required to get anchored down securely.
For fishermen (and women) this is a great feature for an anchor winch because you can hold your pontoon in position in a controlled drift. It works by releasing more slack if the tension becomes tighter. That should let you get right on top of those fish.
If you look at the online reviews, there’s one person who makes the point that it didn’t come with long enough cabling. One of the pontoon boat owners I spoke to said that he didn’t’ get enough wire in the package to let him connect the winch from the front of his boat, to the battery which he had placed at the rear.
The cabling wire is only 16 foot, so if you’re running a pontoon boat longer than that (many of the Pontoonopedia readers on average tend to have a 22-foot pontoon boat) then you have two options.
You should either choose the Minn Kota winch, or you will have to connect up and fit more cabling yourself, which is a bit of an unnecessary pain you shouldn’t really have to encounter when buying a high-quality winch like this.
#3: Trac Outdoor Fisherman 25
And finally, the cheapest of the lot, which is still pretty darn good. However, you might find yourself having to buy replacement parts, so the lower price point does come with a few caveats. Here’s what you get:
- Price Bracket: Low (view Amazon prices)
- Rating: 6/10
- Winch Type: Electric
- Anchor Weight Capacity: 20 to 25 pounds
- Line Capacity: 100 feet
- Davit: Yes
- Warranty: Yes, but length unknown
The price. If you don’t want to spend a lot, this is the one for you. It does the basics that you would expect from an anchor winch, plus has an anti-reverse clutch to help prevent free-spooling – a common potential problem with winches.
It’s very slow. If you don’t mind waiting around for your anchor to raise, then it’s no issue, but sometimes you just want to get moving.
Other users have also reported having to replace some of the electrical parts such as the switch every year. And by all accounts, spare parts can be quite hard to come by.
It’s also worth noting that there are two versions of this electric anchor winch. One for freshwater, and one for saltwater so don’t choose the wrong one for your own needs!
So, whilst it is one of my top 3 winches, that’s purely down to the low prices. You do get what you pay for.
The Best Manual Winch Review
The best anchor winches will be electric, but they will require you to wire them up. Here’s one manual hand-operated crank model that you can also consider. It will still require mounting but will be simpler to get started with, and you won’t have the risk of electrical components failing.
If you like to keep thing simple, a manual crank-operated winch could be the best choice. But just be aware that you won’t get the benefits of remote control, and they could still be hard to operate if your own physical strength is an issue.
The Anchormate Worth Anchor Reel
Simple to use with a manually operated crank system, it’s dead simple to install and can be mounted virtually anywhere on your pontoon – but I would recommend at the fore of your boat.
Of all the hand-operated winches I have seen, this has the best online reviews, all of which you can check for yourself, click here to read Amazon reviews now.
With 100 foot of line capacity, it should serve you well on even the deepest of lakes and rivers. But it doesn’t come with rope lines or a mount so is best suited if you want something cheap and simple and you aren’t afraid to do a little hard work to get it installed.
It’s also worth noting that you won’t be able to use it as an actual boat winch. It simply won’t be strong enough.
I don’t believe it comes with a warranty either, but it’s cheap enough for those that want to buy something as their first foray into pontoon boat anchor winch experimentation.
Handy Hint: Try to avoid a winch with free spooling. With a lack of internal clutch, you could end up losing your expensive anchor in the water.
Pontoon Anchor Winch Buyer’s Guide
Now you’ve seen my recommendations I wanted to delve into a little bit more detail. This should help you if you still can’t quite make up your mind based on the reviews above.
When buying an electric anchor winch for a pontoon boat, these are a few things you need to consider.
#1: Exceed the Weight Capacity
Is your winch going to be powerful enough to lift your anchor?
Check the specifications for your chosen winch, and then aim to buy one which actually has a higher weight capacity. The reason I say that is you want to future proof yourself against any point in time you might have a heavier anchor on board.
Having a winch that can only handle your current anchor weight as a minimum could present problems in the future and lead to you having to pay for an upgrade.
The majority of pontoon winches have a payload capacity of between 12 and 35 pounds. Most pontooners will use a mushroom anchor, which sits well within that weight range.
#2: Read Online Reviews
You can read my reviews above, but don’t just take my word for it. It pays to read the customer reviews that have already been left on a website such as Amazon to check that what other pontooners have to say.
The reviews on Amazon are un-filtered so you won’t have any bias there; just real life testimonials from people who have already purchased the product and are happy to leave the pros and cons as they see it.
#3: Don’t Buy Cheap
It might be tempting to think you can save money when buying your anchor winch, but honestly do this unless you really need to keep your budget down. The mechanisms and design involved means that the cheaper options can be prone to breaking as you will see from my notes on the cheaper Trac 25 winch.
The windlasses that I have reviewed above are all chosen on quality. Yes, there is a cheaper one in there, but they are all rated highly and should last you for years to come.
#4: Reliability & Durability
All of the best pontoon anchor winches featured here have been selected due to their quality. The products are designed to lift and pull heavy anchors, and so it’s vitally important to select one that is manufactured from high quality materials by a reputable brand.
Given the type of punishment and exposure to water your winch will also face, it’s key to buy one that is made from corrosion proof materials. You want to choose a winch that has been coated in materials to protect against salt water and UV rays.
#5: Other Essentials You Will Need
As well as ledges and mounts which I feature lower down the page, there will be other accessories you are going to need in order to use your winch successfully.
For example, when you buy, your winch isn’t going to include the actual anchor and might not come with ropes and lines. You will need to purchase those separately. As obvious as this sounds, I didn’t want you to get caught out.
#6: Installation and Ease of Use
And finally, the installation methods.
Some winches are harder to install than others, with many also coming with complex features that the average pontooner won’t actually need.
If you are going to be installing one yourself, and there’s no reason why you can’t. Before you install, check to make sure the manufacturer lists full installation videos and offers a winch that is easy to fit straight out of the box.
By their nature, pontoon boat anchor winches are a very simple product, and only really need to do a few things well, such as raising and dropping. Don’t over complicate your purchase.
You can read more about installing below, plus some additional product suggestions that will help you mount your winch out of the way.
How to Install a Pontoon Anchor Winch
In most cases, you should install your pontoon anchor ledge either at the front (fore) or back (aft). The exact position will depend on how big your boat, the layout, and possibly the ease at which you will be able to wire it up to your boat’s battery.
Many pontooners will say that your electric anchor winch should be as close to your battery as you can. The reason being, it will be easier to wire the electrics up… and so it’s the quickest approach.
But… if you feel that the winch would be better placed at the other end of your pontoon and further away from the battery, then do take the time to lay the extra wiring rather than taking a short-cut.
Depending on your boat’s configuration, you might have some difficulty installing and will require some additional items.
For example, boats that don’t have a wider foredeck platform will sometimes need additional ledges or an anchor accessory mount.
Below you can see two recommended products that will make using and installing your pontoon boat anchor winch so much easier.
#1: The Best Pontoon Anchor Ledge
I’ve seen this in action, and for me it’s the best pontoon anchor ledge that money can buy. In fact, you can read my full review to see the full specification and features.
If you don’t want too much detail, then instead look at the Amazon prices for the ledge, it’s surprisingly affordable considering what it does.
You fit it to the rear of your pontoon, just over one of the tubes. It then acts as a platform for you to set your pontoon boat anchor winch onto. By doing so, you can keep the winch system and anchor out of the way.
As a result, you have more room on deck, don’t need to drill into your deck, and can keep your anchor on it 24/7 with no need to store it on board once raised. It also means that passengers won’t be tripping over anchor ropes and potentially hurting themselves.
It’s a great product and takes around 30 to 45 minutes to install.
#2: Extreme Max Pontoon Anchor Winch Mount
Alternatively, you could look at the Extreme Max pontoon anchor mount. View the latest Amazon reviews where you can also check the prices.
It looks to be a little bit bigger than the ledge and can also place a grill on it too for when you are anchored up and getting a bit hungry.
As with the ledge, it’s made from marine-grade aluminum with a powder coat finish to guard against salt water and corrosion.
Handy Hint: Your pontoon anchor winch should come with instructions, and that should be your main resource for any installation process. If lost, consult the manufacturer website.
Why Buy a Pontoon Boat Anchor Winch?
There are a number of different reasons why you should buy a pontoon anchor winch, the main one being convenience. But there are also some safety considerations you can benefit from.
#1: Anchors Are Very Heavy
Not everyone is strong or mobile enough to yank anchors around. I personally suffered with a knee injury when playing football in my youth, and all that bending, pulling, and crouching plays havoc with my knees.
Similarly, you could have a back injury or other form of impediment which requires as much help and support you can get – and that’s exactly what an anchor winch offers.
If you struggle to raise and drop anchor by hand, then a winch is going to be one of the most essential accessories and gadgets you could ever think to install on your pontoon.
#2: Winches Are Safer
Even if you don’t need help lifting anchors and chains, accidents can happen. Your safety and that of your passengers should be your number one concern as boat captain.
You could be operating heavy anchors or using ones which have hinged shanks and moving parts. Put all that together and you can drop a heavy load on your foot or cut a finger when operating.
Without wishing to sound morbid, there have been deaths reported in the US where boaters got entangled in anchor ropes and chains and were dragged over board.
By having an electric anchor winch on your pontoon, you can keep your anchor at a safe distance hanging over the water.
#3: They are Perfect for Solo Pontooners
If like me you go out fishing in your pontoon alone, an anchor winch is going to be your best buddy. I don’t have someone to spot for me, so instead I can use the remote control from my helm, and let the winch do all the hard work for me.
With the electric pontoon boat anchor winch reviews detailed above, some come with remote controls. All you need to do is get into the best position, press a few buttons to drop anchor, start backing-up to get the required tension, and you’re done.
#4: You Will Have a Cleaner Boat
Before I had my winch, I hated the fact that I’d have to remove weeds, debris, and all sorts of crud off the anchor before I could store it on board… and sometimes I was just lazy and stored it away without cleaning. I made more work for myself as you can imagine.
One of the best things about pontoon anchor winches is that you won’t have to go through the cleaning process, as the anchor is kept off the boat. No more having to rinse it off in the lake and then having it drip all over your pontoon vinyl or carpet.
No longer will you have to store your anchor under your seats!
An electric anchor winch is a great product for a number of reasons.
In the main, they offer assistance to pontooners who might not be as strong or as mobile as they once were, and require some help with bringing the anchor in.
Even if you are strong enough to pull your anchor back, by using a winch you can spend your time and energy doing the more enjoyable things on board your boat. So why not let a piece of technology do the hard work for you?
In this day and age, anchor winches are almost seen as a standard pontoon boat accessory. For longer journeys, or rough water environments they are almost essential.
I would recommend that every pontooner buys and installs one (or even two) on their boat, and I hope that the guide above has given you enough information to now make an informed choice on what the best is for you, why you might need it, and how you can install and use it.
Once you have yours fitted, I can guarantee that you will wonder how you did without one before. You’re going to have much more time to relax and won’t be pre-occupied with having to pull or adjust your anchor countless times during your day on the water.
Above all, with these pontoon boat anchor winch reviews it should let you better understand which the best product for you as an individual as well as your boat.
Choose carefully, and you’re going to have a great product that will help you maintain and operate your anchor with as little effort as possible.