You are currently viewing Best Manual Trim Tabs for Boats [Buyers Guide]

There are many things beyond your control that affect the balance of your boat during a ride. Maybe the wind is forcing one side of the boat down, or the sea itself is getting tumultuous, or an uneven weight distribution on the boat is causing it to tilt.

While you may not be able to control some of these external forces, there is one thing you can control: the way your boat reacts to these forces. That is where trim tabs come into play. These metal plates can attach to your boat and aid in stabilizing your boat. Keep reading for more details about what trim tabs are and how they can help.

What Are Trim Tabs and What Do They Do?

Trim tabs are flat metal plates that are attached to the transom of your boat. They are controlled by rams, and allow you some measure of control over the levelling of your boat. To achieve this, the tabs can tilt up or down to counteract the effect of any external forces affecting the balance of the boat. With trim tabs, you can have a much smoother boat ride.

When you are running at high speeds, you normally don’t really feel the effects of uneven levelling. But you may realize your boat is tilting to one side when you start to slow down, however, you realize that your boat may tilt to one side. When this happens, the performance, safety, and efficiency of the boat are compromised.

You can easily adjust your trim tabs. When the trim tab on one side of the boat is tilted downwards, the water underneath pushes against it, consequently pushing the boat up on that side.

This is a classic example of Newton’s Third Law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction!

Do You Need Trim Tabs on Boats?

Yes! The comfort and the safety of your boat ride is dependent on it.

Trim tabs are those good guys that allow you adjust the balance of the boat to something that suits you and save you from tipping over. They also give you more control when pulling skiers, wakeboarders, or tubers.

Read my article on the best boat for water skiing.

Best Trim Tabs for Small and Large Boats

Trim tabs are for small boats just as much as they are for big vessels. For small boats, for instance, their small sizes make them more vulnerable to the effects of the waves, wind, and weight.

Some of the most popular manufacturers of trim tabs are Bennett, Lenco, and Nauticus.

Self-Levelling Trim Tabs

Self-levelling trim tabs are fairly self explanatory. Instead of having you control them to level your boat, they do it themselves, simply by responding to water pressure underneath either side of your boat and adjusting accordingly to maintain balance.

Trim Tab Extensions

There are some cases where you may want to extend your trim tabs for better effectiveness. However, you have to make sure that you add the extension to the top of the old trim tabs.

Why? Adding the extension underneath the old trim tabs could lead to a disturbed water flow where the trim tabs are connected, thereby reducing your speed and the smoothness of your ride.

How Do You Adjust Trim Tabs?

You can adjust your trim tabs right from the cabin. There are usually two buttons or joysticks that give you control over the trim tabs, one for each side of the boat. These controllers are labelled “Bow Down” and “Bow Up.” Bow Down means you are asking the corresponding side of the boat to go down, and vice versa.

When your trim tabs are fully retracted, they do not affect your boat in any way. They only begin to cause some changes when either or both are deployed.

Assume you have more weight on your starboard (right) side of the boat. This extra weight causes your boat to tilt in that direction, and consequently makes the port (left) side raise up higher. What you want to do is lower the port side so that the boat is levelled. To achieve this, you simply use the “Bow Down” control on the port side.


Trim tabs could be the one tool you need to take your boat ride to the next level in terms of comfort, performance, and safety. I assure you that once you get a boat with trim tabs, you will never go back.

John Allen

With more than a decade of experience cruising the lakes in my Crestliner Grand Cayman pontoon boat and my Boston Whaler, I now want to share everything I've learned with my community here at Boating Hub.