It sounds obvious, but fishing boat trailers must be matched to the boat they're carrying - and many aren't.
The trailer should be big enough for your boat, but no bigger.
First, check the manufacturer's plate, which will be fitted somewhere on the trailer. This will tell you the maximum boat weight the trailer is designed for.
Exceed it at your peril - at best your insurance won't pay out in the event of damage, and much worse, the police will have something to say to you in the event of an accident.
A well-matched rig
Boat weight means the all-up weight, including fuel, water, fishing tackle and any other stuff you may be transporting along with it.
Choosing a trailer too light for the job in hand can be really dangerous.
The basic rule is that the all-up weight plus the weight of the trailer should be less than the maximum laden weight of the trailer.Other important rules include:~
This will go a long way to avoiding the risk of fish-tailing. If this happens, it's something that's likely to stay in your memory for a long time.
It was on the slipway in front of the Royal Albert Bridge Inn on the River Tamar near Plymouth. A rather nice 25ft fishing boat was being reversed by a seriously inadequate Ford Escort. The boat slipped on the trailer, changing the weight distribution and lifting the rear wheels of the car.
In some regards it was a successful launch - but it did include the car.
With dunkings in saltwater a regular event for fishing boat trailers, corrosion is a constant threat. Painted or powder coated fishing boat trailers may look fine for a while, but unseen they'll be rotting from the inside out.
A trailer manufactured from galvanized steel sections will avoid this - it's the only way to go really.
Some trailers have the running gear structure welded to the trailer frame, others have it bolted on. The bolted rout offers an advantage in that the running gear can be repositioned, allowing the optimum all-up weight distribution to be achieved.
Multi-leaf springs are fine for many trailer types but not for those that get regular saltwater dunkings. The springs will soon corrode together and any suspension ability become little more than a memory.
Either a single-leaf, or better still a torsion bar suspension system is the way to go.
For boats up to around 20 feet overall, a single-axle trailer will be fine. Longer than that and you'll need a twin-axle type.
The single-axle type is simpler to maintain, cheaper, and much easier to manoeuvre by hand.
Only one way to go here - over-run brakes. These are independent of the towing vehicle brakes and are operated when the towing vehicle slows putting a compressive load on the over-run mechanism.
The harder the towing vehicle applies its brakes, the greater the force exerted on the trailer's over-run brakes.
A bunk trailer
Bunks are flat wooden planks, traditionally protected by strips of old carpet, positioned to match the hull shape.
It's essential that these provide support right to the boat's transom, or you risk deforming the boat's hull.
A roller trailer
The alternative approach involves rollers located on articulated arms.
These are self-adjusting and enable self-centering - a very useful attribute when recovering your boat in strong winds or cross currents.
Another benefit of roller trailers is that you need less water to launch your boat than you would with a bunk trailer.
Saltwater is the scourge of fishing boat trailers and this factor is a large part of preventative maintenance. Here are the key points:~
One other piece of advice is not to be in too much of a rush to launch the boat if you've towed it for any distance. Give the brakes and wheel bearings time to cool down before you immerse them. 15 to 20 minutes should do it.
All ready? Go catch!