JR launching a boat alone.

For most of us, the thought of launching a boat without a buddy system sounds daunting. But for pro anglers like JR Carter, launching a boat by yourself feels like second nature.

Want to know how to launch a boat alone like a pro? JR shares a few of his own tricks to help you feel prepared and more at ease.

Tips for How to Launch a Boat Alone

Create a Checklist: I do a lot of boat launching alone, and I always have a checklist prepared. Things you’ll want to ask yourself include:

  • Do I have the right equipment onboard (i.e., flares, signal devices, gas, etc.)?
  • How long will I be on the water?
  • How much food/supplies do I need?
  • What type of fishing am I doing?
  • Do I have the right equipment for this type of fishing?

Once you have a basic idea of the type of gear, safety equipment, and basic necessities you’ll need, you can create a checklist and start the process of stocking up and crossing off these items on your list.

Set Up at a Staging Site: Before you start backing up your pickup truck onto the ramp area, be sure to utilize the staging site to avoid delays. Think of this as less than a tip and more of proper angler etiquette. No one wants to be the person holding up the line because he didn’t put in his drain plug, remove tie downs, or stock the boat with equipment.

Don’t Sweat It: The next part is all about staying calm, using your rearview mirrors, and allowing yourself time to position your truck and trailer. As I start to back down, I let the boat float and then grab the rope and get into my boat. When I get in, I put the boat in reverse and slide off the trailer. Next, I tie it up to the dock and then go park my pickup.

It sounds complicated, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. Too often fishermen let this task stress them out. They worry they’re going too slow and start to rush, which opens up more room for error. Relax, take a breath, and take your time.

Other Pro Tips for Launching a Boat Alone

  • Practice on Dry Land: I always tell people to practice using their rearview mirrors in a big empty parking lot. Try backing your trailer into a spot multiple times until you get a natural feel for the movements.
  • Carry Two Sets of Keys: This has always been my rule of thumb when launching a boat, whether I’m alone or with a buddy. Carry a separate set of keys in case the first set lands in the water while you’re trying to tie up your boat to the dock.
  • Accept Help When It’s Offered: I’ve found that in most cases, people are always willing to help. You may be next in line to launch your boat and someone behind you offers to help. Accept this favor and don’t be afraid to do the same for someone else.

Common Mistakes Anglers Make When Launching a Boat Alone

The number one thing I see is anglers putting their boats too far in the water. And when their boat starts to float away, they have to jump in the water or boat to grab it.

Another common mistake is people choose to launch a boat on a ramp they aren’t familiar with. It’s better to be selective if you’re planning to launch a boat by yourself. Find one you’re comfortable using and be sure to practice launching from that area. Over time, you’ll get in a solid routine and be able to line your truck and trailer up with the ramp like a pro.

Any More Advice?

To be a successful fisherman, you’re going to face new challenges as you graduate from each level. That means you might find launching a boat alone to be difficult at first, but once you master it—and you will—you’re on to the next big challenge.

And always remember this: the fish are the ones in charge, so don’t get caught up in the stressors. Just enjoy your time on the water.

So, JR how do you enjoy your time on the water?

I really enjoy fishing with Smooth Moves Seats. The company treats you like family, and it’s safe to say that they have the best air seats on the market. The adjustability is awesome and gives me a comfortable experience, no matter the conditions. And if you’re having a comfortable day on the water, you’ll stay out there longer, which means you can expect to catch more fish.

Thanks JR! If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Smooth Moves boat seat suspension kits, browse our Air and Ultra model for more details or find a dealer near you!