Back in the day before anchoring, before anchors that were good for “most” bottoms, a junior sailor would be dispatched to “Arm The Lead”.
This referred to stuffing the hollow end of a sounding lead with tallow so that when dropped to the bottom overboard, the bottom would stick to it and upon being raised the captain would know what type of bottom he was dealing with!!!!
Not sure anyone Arms the Lead any more, but. you can learn a lot about the bottom you expect from the beach you can see and also from guide books and charts.
Always try to understand if you have sand, mud or rocks, if you need a trip line or simply a different technique.
We have found for instance our favoured technique for dropping the anchor does not work as well in grass as another method.