what is a jack plate on a boat

What is a Jack Plate on a Boat? Explained

Learn how a jack plate on your fishing boat can improve performance, speed, and efficiency.

The boating industry uses many terms, some of which may not be widely known. If you have heard the term “jack plate” you might be wondering what exactly is a jack plate.

Outboard jack plates are a device that sits between a boat’s outboard motor and the transom of the boat’s hull. The ability to adjust the engine’s height on the transom is provided to the user or installer by these devices.

Here is everything you need to know about them and how they work!

What Exactly is An Outboard Engine Jack Plate?

A jack plate is a plate that you mount on the transom of the boat’s hull. Then, using this plate, you can attach your boat’s outboard motor.

as opposed to directly onto the hull. You can raise or lower the plate using this device. which then enables you to adjust the height of your engine in the water.

But there are a few significant variations with jack plates. Changes to the propeller shaft’s angle are not necessary when changing the engine’s height. Including completely raising the engine out of the water!

Types of Jack Plates

The jack plates are divided into the following types depending on your fishing requirements:

  • Fixed – A fixed hydraulic plate, as its name implies, guarantees a certain fixed height on which the engine can be mounted. Installing an outboard motor with a long shaft and short transom is the best option.
  • Manually Adjustable – If you fish with the same set-up every time, you should choose a manually adjustable jack plate. It offers a constant height range, enabling you to raise and lower the mounted engine.
  • Electric/Hydraulic Adjustable – Selecting a hydraulic adjustable jack plate is preferable if you fish with various equipment. Before fishing, you can quickly make changes thanks to it.

Use of Jack Plate on a Boat

We now understand that a jack plate makes room between the engine and transom so the motor can be used in shallow waters. You must be wondering how the jack plate’s presence affects the way the boat performs.

It significantly improves the boat’s overall handling. The propeller gains more traction in the water when you lower the engine all the way to the jack plate.

The propeller will help to lessen the turbulence created by the boat as it travels through the water if you lift the engine to reduce drag. As a result, with the drag gone, the boat uses less fuel.

Therefore, you stand to benefit from it. It not only reduces fuel consumption but also stabilizes your boat in the water. While moving through the water, the engine’s length and depth can be adjusted smoothly.

In addition, by slightly raising the jack plate, you will see an increase in RPM and overall speed. How you can increase speed without opening the throttle more is brilliant.

what is a jack plate on a boat

Why Do You Need a Jack Plate for Your Fishing Boat?

The TH Marine Atlas jack plate that Mason uses moves the prop away from the hull turbulence, increasing the prop’s bite and maximizing efficiency.

Jack plates also allow for vertical adjustments, of which Mason points out three key benefits:

  1. Better Hole Shot: As you take off, raise the jack plate to its highest position to help the boat take off more quickly.
  2. Avoid Speed Bumps: Raising your lower unit usually provides enough clearance to keep you out of trouble. Hidden obstacles like rocks and logs can ruin your day. (Don’t think you’re invincible, please. Till you are certain that it is safe to run, avoid newly flooded areas and any unmarked shallows.)
  3. Speed Tweaks: Once you’re on the pad, turn the engine down as necessary to compensate for the load (the weight of the fishing equipment, fuel, and anglers).

How Does a Jack Plate Improve the Speed?

The size of the boat has a direct relationship to its speed. By altering the height of the propeller, a jack plate, however, allows the boat to travel at its fastest speed.

To increase speed, for instance, you can simply pull the propeller out of the water if the water is calm. How?

The propeller is raised near the water’s surface by a jack plate, which also lifts the engine in the water. By the way, the engine’s performance and toughness are enhanced by raising the propeller in cleaner water.

Because the engine is forced to sit farther from the water, it causes a setback. In contrast to the water directly behind the boat, the water here is less choppy.

The boat is more efficient because the propeller doesn’t struggle against turbulence. By the way, efficiency here can mean either faster driving or better gas mileage. For the same amount of work put forth by the engine, the boat travels a greater distance.


Practically any kind of outboard engine can use jack plates. Whether it’s a 300 HP engine or a 5 HP tiller motor.

If you want to increase the performance and fuel efficiency of your engine, you can easily add a jack plate to your old or new boats. Furthermore, you can improve your boat’s performance in both shallow and turbulent water.

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