Small Boats Need Trim Tabs Too

Trim Tabs are the flaps installed on the transom of all the larger power boats to improve acceleration and planing. With trim tabs, boats get onto plane faster, use less fuel and don‘t hide the horizon behind the bow during acceleration. Boats with trim tabs can plane at a lower rpm and lower speed, because the tabs hold the bow down, and at the same time, the back end up; otherwise, the boat would fall off of plane at that rpm and speed.

To maintain a level smooth ride, you can adjust the tabs while underway to accommodate the changes in conditions like the wind, waves, change of weight distribution on board, etc.   

How Do They Work?

You are able to make adjustments from the helm using rocker switches attached to expensive electrics and hydraulics connecting the switches to the tabs. On the outside of the transom, there are two metal plates called trim tabs (like flaps on an airplane wing) that are pushed down or raised up with hydraulic rams. On the inside of the transom are hydraulic pumps and on the dash are rocker switches that electrically control the hydraulic pumps. This system costs over $1,000 for a 20’ boat and more for larger boats.

Why Don’t Small Boats Have Trim Tabs?

Primarily because of the expense, manufacturers of small power boats under 22’ haven’t been installing trim tabs. The boats still need them, but they don’t have them.

The performance of most smaller power boats with both sterndrives (I/O’s) and outboards (O/B’s ) would be greatly improved, if they had trim tabs.

Do YOU Need Them?

  • If your inflatable has to be run wide open to stay on plane, it would benefit from trim tabs.
  • If your bowrider sticks its nose in the air when you accelerate from idle, it would benefit from trim tabs.
  • If your cuddy cabin burns a lot of extra fuel, because you have to run faster than you’d like to stay on plane, it would benefit from trim tabs.
  • If you’ve experienced a scary bow-high take off when crossing a wake and a scarier stern-first landing, you need trim tabs.

Improve Your Performance!!

You can’t go back to the assembly line and have trim tabs installed, but now you can get “Smart Tabs” for around $150 US (~$177 Canadian) and install them yourself.

Smart Tabs are a one of a kind trim and stabilizer system that automatically adjusts to the sea conditions, without the need for expensive electric or hydraulic hardware and switches. The system constantly reacts to the water conditions, boat speed, and balance providing remarkable improvements on any boat.

Some boat manufacturers are now installing Smart Tabs on their smaller boats on the production line because it makes sense to do so. The cost of Smart Tabs is so much less that installing the hydraulics and switches of the systems used in the past.

Improve your performance this boating season by installing Smart Tabs on your boat. You’ll enjoy the benefits of a smoother ride, faster acceleration, less bow rise, lower bow on plane speed, more top speed, better handling and improved fuel economy.

For More Information, go to our Smart Tabs page

2 thoughts on “Small Boats Need Trim Tabs Too”

  1. What is your take on my situation? I have a new 2019 130 SS Boston Whaler. I would like a little better hole shot and not so much of prolong bow rise period when accelerating. This boat has a Merc 40 HP (new). Just looking for a little bit better performance. My wife and myself equal about 420 lbs with two six gallon gas tanks under the mid ship sitting bench.

    Thank you Brian.

    1. Brian,
      Since the boat is new, before investing in any brand of trim tabs, go back to your dealer and get him to figure out the solution for you. It could be a different prop. You may need a boat with a higher weight capacity. See what your dealer and/or Boston Whaler can suggest for you.
      Doug Dawson

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