Steve Strong, a veteran catfish angler, has lost count of the anchors he has sacrificed to the Mississippi River. With its myriad of rocks, logs and debris, the river bottom is tough on anchors. At over $100 a pop for commercially made anchors, he, like many catmen, makes his own anchors using steel tubing and half-inch rebar.

Even at the lower level of expense, he still hates parting with those. That’s when Strong, who works for ABMB Engineers, decided to do a little engineering of his own.

“I shackle a chain to the center of the flukes on the bottom of the anchor,” he said. “Then I run that chain up the shank of the anchor and use a plastic zip tie to attach the chain to the eyelet on top of the shank.”

If all goes well with the anchoring, Strong’s anchor performs like any other anchor. It is retrieved by putting the boat in reverse, and pulling out the anchor. However, if by some twist of fate or current, the anchor remains hung, all Strong has to do is apply enough force to break the plastic zip tie.

“It’s easier to picture if you think of an umbrella,” Strong said. “You hold an umbrella by the handle but if it sticks, then I can pull hard enough to break the plastic tie and then I’m pulling the umbrella up by the top, there’s no resistance from the flukes and it’ll pull loose from whatever it’s hung in.”