All Jacked Up!

Whether you’re a novice boater, weekend warrior or full-time guide, there are a variety of aftermarket additions that can greatly elevate your boat’s performance. As a professional inshore guide I’m always looking for the latest innovations and must-haves that will increase my efficiency and enhance my time on the water. Offering my clientele the best chance of success is the name of the game. However, one thing I lacked was the ability to get my customers into really shallow water. I knew a hydraulic jack plate was the answer. While increasing my skinny water performance and reducing my impact on the environment, a hydraulic jack plate also offers a noticeable increase in fuel economy.


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Once you’ve verified that everything will fit, remove the motor’s cowling and the plastic casing over the flywheel (Image 1). Photo: Captain John Rivers

I recently contacted CMC to see about getting a jack plate installed on my 24-foot bay boat. They inquired about my boat’s specifications/power and determined that the 5 ½-inch Power-Lift High Speed Jack Plate would be the best fit. This unique hydraulic lifting device works independently from your outboard’s power trim and tilt to enable your boat-motor-prop combination to work at maximum efficiency. The Power-Lift is rated up to a 300HP, features a lifting capacity of 4,417-pounds of thrust, and can reach full stroke in a remarkable 8-seconds.

While the latest gadgets and accessories are of a huge benefit to both full-time guides and die-hard recreational anglers, another must-have no matter how you spend your time on the water is a knowledgeable mechanic. As soon as I got off the phone with CMC I contacted Kenny Mann at Emerald Coast Marine ( Kenny has been my mechanic for years and I knew he was the right person to help me out with the installation. The Power-Lift kit comes with a detailed instruction manual that consists of a few simple steps. While I chose to seek the help of a professional, two do-it-yourselfers can easily complete this project in an afternoon.

Before you get started it’s important to check that your steering and shift cables are long enough to set the motor back on the jack plate upon installation. Once you’ve verified that everything will fit, remove the motor’s cowling and the plastic casing over the flywheel (Image 1). Attach a motor hoist or lifting device, making sure the motor is supported sufficiently (Image 2). You want to apply just enough tension so that once unbolted, the motor won’t swing out of control. Once the motor is removed and hanging from the hoist (Image 3), check the transom for any imperfections before you mount the jack plate. It’s important to remove any old silicone from where the motor was previously mounted (Image 4). Once smooth, wipe down the transom to remove all dirt, oil or any other contaminates.

With the transom free of debris we applied new silicone around the previously existing holes (Image 5). For proper performance you want the top of the jack plate to align with the highest point of the transom (Image 6). Once the jack plate is mounted, your next step is to align the motor. Depending on your motor’s specifications and desired application, there are mounting holes on each side of the motor mounting bracket that will enable various performance attributes (Image 7). Which holes you use will determine how high or low your motor will trim. If you desire more torque and greater performance in choppy waters, set the motor at one of the higher holes, which lowers the motor and allows the prop to achieve maximum bite. If you want more top end speed and plan on running mostly in super shallow water, then use one of the bottom holes to raise the motor the highest. I chose to use the lowest holes so the cavitation plate of my outboard would sit about even with the bottom of the hull when the lift is all the way down. Once the motor is mounted to the jack plate, remove the hoisting chains from the top of the motor, replace the plastic cover over the flywheel and snap the cowling into place.

All that’s left to do is rig the wiring, which is practically plug & play. As a matter of fact, it is so easy even a caveman could do it. Start by cutting a hole in your console’s dash where you intend on mounting the rocker switch (Image 8). As always be sure to measure twice and cut once. Simply plug the wires into the back of the rocker switch, connect the wires to the battery (Image 9) and test the switch (Image 10). If the jack plate goes down when you push up, you’ve reversed the wires. Simply switch them and you’ll be good to go. It’s really that simple.

By mounting my motor on a high performance jack plate, my boat runs faster at lower rpm speeds, which no doubt helps lower my fuel costs. The boat also jumps up on plane faster and in shallower depths. Skinny water fishing is now within my reach, and I know that with the addition of a hydraulic jack plate it can be within your reach, too.

Jack Plate Manufacturers

Bob’s Machine Shop

Cook Marine

Detwiler Industries

Panther Marine Products

Porta Products

R&R Design

T-H Marine Supplies Inc.

T&R Marine Corporation