How to Backup & Launch

How to Launch Your Boat

Once you have your straps undone, transom savor off, plug in and all of your gear loaded… it’s time to back the boat down the ramp.

Let’s talk about backing up and launching your boat. The best tip I can give you is go to an access at an off time (or an unpopular lake) and simply practice backing up. Don’t launch your boat. Just practice backing it up – with a little practice you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be confident in your skillset.

Another quick tip is to always use your mirrors (don’t look back) and always have a reference point when you practice backing up. For me, that’s usually the dock or edge of the ramp if there is no dock. Practice with this as your guide.

Backing Up a Boat

Once you are ready to launch, you should have a long rope ready to go. I usually use a rope when I’m fishing with beginners (who will hold the boat while I launch) or use it to attach to the dock when I launch alone. Have it tied to your boat on the dockside to make things easier.

  1. Drive forward and start with your boat as straight as possible.
  2. Line up your mirror with a dock. Choose the mirror on the dock side of the boat. I can’t emphasize relying on your mirrors enough! Sure you can try to look over the back of the boat, but often times with steep ramps, etc.. you won’t be able to see. Instead practice, practice, practice with your mirror. One big tip is to pick a reference point to stay straight with – most of the time it’s the dock. If there isn’t a dock utilize the edge of your ramp. When you find a reference point you like, try your best to back up straight along it.
  3. Don’t over correct your turn! Make small adjustments. The most common mistake I see people make is that they start panicking and over adjusting. Don’t do this. Very small movements go a long ways.
  4. Turning is usually opposite of what you think. With your hands on top of the steering wheel, turning left will make your trailer go right and turning right will make your trailer go left.
  5. Finally, make sure you back up your boat just enough that you can still unhitch it from the trailer without getting wet. Keeping it hitched to the trailer (safety chain and strap) is especially important on a roller trailer, but can be important with a bunker trailer too. Once you are far enough back, you can release both the safety chain and cranking strap.
  6. Then, I either grab a rope and attach it to the dock when fishing alone, OR If I’m with a new set of anglers, I’ll simply have them loosely hold the rope while I kick the boat off of the trailer.