I have never used a jack plate, and although I could be wrong I don't think they help much if at all at low speeds, which is where I'd be going up a skinny river. I wouldn't put one on this boat regardless due to transom stress, and I don't have that high a confidence level about the boat's structure. The prop cage seems to work well, but I think it creates some drag. I am going to remove it and drop on a hydrofoil instead for lakes; those always seem to help on smaller boats. I have a tiller extender, but it's more for convenience than weight distribution. The boat pops right up with me in the stern or with two people on the boat. My Yami has a shift control separate from the tiller. I really do like that feature of having the two together, but it is what it is and the motor is quiet and strong. Not sure if this is a Yamazuki or Yami pure bred but it's helluva lot quieter than the Mercs and it's built in Japan which is a luxury today.