Everything You Need To Know About Kick-Up Jack Plates

Boating enthusiasts, hunters and anglers can all benefit from kick-up jack plates. Kick-up jack plates help mitigate damage to your boat and allow you to go places that you may not be able to with a standard outboard motor. Read on to find out more about kick-up jack plates.

What Is a Kick-Up Plate?

Kick-up plates help protect your outboard motor and your boat from damage when maneuvering in shallow waters or water with debris present. They are ideal when you may run into timber that is in the water, a stump that is not seen or even a sandbar. Your outboard engine attaches to a bar on your boat that is hinged. Both clamp-on and bolted-on engines can work with the kick-up plate. When moving, if your engine hits an object, it will simply displace the engine, moving it up on the hinge to a maximum of 45 degrees, rather than damaging the engine or boat or causing personal injury.

What Are the Benefits of Kick-Up Plates?

There are many benefits to utilizing a kick-up plate:

1. Personal Safety

When maneuvering in shallow water or water with debris, hitting a stationary object can jostle you or your passengers, even throwing an unsuspecting person overboard. A jack plate will reduce the forcefulness of the impact and move the engine out of the way. The forcefulness of the impact may not be completely mitigated, but the force felt by the passengers may be considerably less than if there was not a kick-up plate installed.

2. Reduced Engine and Boat Damage

The jack plate may move the engine out of the way enough that there is no damage to your engine and may prevent damage to your boat from a collision.

3. You Can Still Reverse

Despite what some people may say, you are still able to reverse the engine with a kick-up plate installed.

4. Safety Chains Prevent Outboard Motor Kick-Up

If an object is struck, there is a safety mechanism in place to prevent the motor from kicking up and potentially harming a boater. On Vance Manufacturing kick-up plates, these are stainless steel chains that prevent the overextension of the engine.

Does It Work With My Outboard Motor?

The kick-up jack plate attaches directly to the boat on one side and is hinged to the outside post that the outboard motor attaches to. Kick-up or breakaway plates work with both manual or hydraulic jack plates. This allows the boater to have complete control of the height of the motor in more shallow waters but also be prepared in case there is contact with the motor and an underwater object. Best of all, kick-up plates can work with both clamp-on or bolt-on motors up to 150 HP.

Can You Still Go in Reverse With a Kick-Up Plate?

Yes, you can. There are side swivels that are changed to match the rig size. The larger the engine, the tighter the swivels need to be to prevent flip-up when reversing. The engine will always be limited to the length of the stainless steel safety chain that comes with the plate.


While Vance kick-up plates are rated for 0-150 HP engines, these are not made to hit an obstruction in the water while moving quickly. These are intended for when you're slowly moving in shallow water in the forward direction at about 5 MPH.

Having a kick-up plate does not guarantee that an engine or boat will be damage-free after an impact. This is intended to be a convenient safety device and not meant to dilute your awareness of what is in the water.

Are There Any Other Advantages To Getting a Kick-Up Plate?

If installing a hydraulic kick-up plate, you can utilize the hydraulic system to adjust the trim on a manual engine. The easy-to-install push-button switch is quickly run to the hydraulics on the kick plate, making trim adjustments on the fly by the operator very easy. This also allows the operator to better maintain control of the boat, as he or she can keep attention on where the boat is going instead of handling the motor.

If you're a hunter or an angler, installing a kick-up plate helps you better focus on your hunting or fishing activities without the constant worry of what's below the surface. Keeping an eye on where your pole or your prey is is easier, as these kick-up plates give you one less thing to worry about.

Final Thoughts

Kick-up plates are mechanical tools that help you enjoy your boating experience. With a kick-up plate installed, you no longer need to focus as much on what lies below the water that you can't see, and they can help avoid an accidental run-in with a sandbar or underwater stump. This is a mechanism that does not weigh a lot, is easy to install and works with different types of motors. If you've ever found yourself working your way through shallow water, concerned about what you may not see and hit, a kick-up plate is just what you need for ease of mind and mitigating expensive accidents with unseen objects.

Vance Manufacturing offers manual and hydraulic kick-up plates that are proudly made in the U.S.A. They weigh between 21 and 24 pounds for a manual kick-up plate and between 49.5 and 55 pounds for a hydraulic kick-up plate. We have the right kick plate for your freshwater, brackish water or saltwater boat. Call or click to place your order today!

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