Shopping for a new jon boat and feel swamped with options? That’s understandable. They vary wildly in size, build quality and usability so we took the guess work out of the equation and have reviewed the positives and negatives of some of the most popular jon boats on the market today.
In addition to getting a jon boat, you’ll also need to purchase an
The 3 Best Jon Boats Reviewed
Sun Dolphin 12ft Jon Fishing Boat
- Seats 2 people.
- Built-in mounts for a motor, fishing rod, battery storage and extra storage.
- Four fishing rod holders.
- Meets all CE & US Coast Guard standards.
- 510 lb capacity
- Dimensions: Length: 12’, Width: 52”, Height: 21”
- Weight: 110 pounds.
This lightweight jon boat has everything you should need for long fishing sessions: plenty of storage room, in-built rod holders and a convenient reinforced engine mount. It’s built of a high density UV-stabilized polyethylene material that encases a closed cell polystyrene for buoyancy. This allows the boat to weigh a reasonable 110 pounds which makes it perfect for quick daily fishing excursions.
While it can fit two people, there can be some stability issues when leaning too far to the side when sitting multiple people. That being said, it’s perfect for quiet lakes or slow moving water where stability isn’t a big issue.
There are some downsides: if your motor is too strong, you may have some troubles maintaining stability. For instance, a motor with 45lb thrust will be significantly too powerful for the boat and may cause the front of the hull to bend under pressure so stick to a smaller motor if you don’t want to use oars.
- Light and small enough to fit in the back of your truck.
- Inexpensive compared to most jon boats.
- Fittings for rods, motor and drinks.
- Some stability issues with multiple larger adults.
- Water can pool without touching the drain plug.
- Perfect for lakes and calm water.
Pelican 12ft Jon Fishing Boat
- Four vertical fishing rod holders.
- Bench seating w/motor mount.
- Shallow draft design for extra stability.
- Plenty of storage space.
- Handles that make it easy to carry.
- Dimensions: 144 x 48 x 16.8 inches
- Weight: 129.7 pounds
Like the sun dolphin we reviewed above, the Pelican jon boat is a polyethylene so it has the added bonus of being lightweight with the added bonus of coming with a two year warranty for any hull damage.
The shallow draft flooring and bench seating make navigating inside the boat quite safe. We strongly recommend this boat if you plan on going out alone as it’s very stable and won’t easily tip. Be aware though that this comes at a cost: it’s nearly twenty pounds heavier than the alternative model which makes handling significantly tougher. Once you pile your motor, food, drink, rods and supplies into the boat it can easily weigh up to 200 pounds.
Generally speaking, we’d recommend the sun dolphin over this one though. The primary difference is the shallow, flat flooring which some people prefer.
- Perfect for one person fishing/crabbing expeditions.
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
- Flat flooring.
- Plenty of storage.
- Drainage plug is located on the side and not on the stern.
- A bit heavier than other polyethylene jon boats.
- Not alot of room for modifications.
Sun Dolphin Pro 120 Fishing Boat
- Built-in fishing rod holders.
- Fully compliant with CE & US Coast Guard standards.
- Large livewell w/drainage system.
- Enough storage room for a fuel tank.
- Dimensions: Length: 11.3’, Width: 60”, Height: 24”,
- Weight: 298lbs
- HP Rating: 15 HP
- Capacity: 532lbs (157kg)
This option is significantly more expensive but the increase in quality is very noticeable. It’s 60″ width makes it incredibly stable and provides a very large livewell that comes equipped with a convenient storage system. But this increase in size comes at a cost: weight. It’s much, much heavier than the other two options at 298lbs so this jon boat is recommended for multiple people.
Still, it’s easily the best option on the market for a two-person fishing vessel. When mounted with a 15 horsepower trolling motor it feels fast without feeling unstable.
Fully loaded you’re definitely going to want a jon boat trailer as it definitely requires at least two people to handle.
- Perfect for two-person fishing trips.
- Much wider than other options for added stability.
- The highest quality boat we’ve seen.
- Seat isn’t height-adjustable.
- Quite expensive compared to other options.
- Nearly three times heavier than other jon boats.
Jon Boat Trolling Motors
Depending on where you plan on taking your jon boat, you may need a motor. For quiet, smaller lakes you can make do with oars but if you plan on taking it out on choppier water you’ll definitely need a trolling motor to help get around.
If you don’t plan on using a motor and instead plan on using oars, we recommend you get the Sun Dolphin Canoe Paddles and the Sea Dog 1/2″ Clamp-On Oarlock that you can easily install on any of the above boats to conveniently hold your oars. But if you plan on travelling any significant distance we strongly recommend you buy the:
Minn Kota Endura Transom Mount Trolling Motor
- 6-inch telescoping handle and tilt twist tiller for ergonomic speed control and steering.
- Very quiet and battery efficient.
- 5 forward speeds and 3 reverse speeds.
- Power Prop For 3-1/4″ motor diameters delivers extra power to push throw heavy vegetation.
If you’re looking for a jon boat motor then this is definitely your best bet. It’s light (17 pounds), very easy to install and the best part is how energy efficient it is. Even against heavy wind this motor will get you where you want to go with minimal battery usage.
We looked at many options but nothing compared to this – not on price, effectiveness or popularity. It’s the #1 selling jon boat trolling motor on Amazon for a reason and you really can’t go wrong with this purchase, especially at this price point.
For all of the boats we listed above this motor would work perfectly.
- Very energy efficient.
- Lightweight and easy to install.
- Can struggle through thick weeds.
- Despite having three reverse speeds, they aren’t very effective.
Jon Boat Trolling Motor Batteries
The Minn Kota Endura motor doesn’t come with a battery, so we went ahead and shopped for one so you don’t have to:
12V 35AH Replacement Battery for Light Trolling Motor
- Maintenance free.
- Rechargeable sealed lead acid battery.
- Can be mounted in any position.
- 30 day full refund, 1 year warranty.
- No wire harness or mounting accessories included.
- Dimensions: 7.68 inches x 5.16 inches x 7.13 inches.
- Weight: 20 pounds.
This battery is perfect for the Minn Kota Endura motor that can easily run for 2-3 hours without needing to be recharged. If you need a longer run time, you can always buy two and use a MinnKota Trolling Motor Power Center to connect them to your motor for a whole afternoon of fishing.
- Made specifically for the Minn Kota Endura motor.
- Very inexpensive.
- Comes with a year warranty.
- No risk of electrocution if your boat sinks.
- Depending on how far you need to travel, you may need two.
- Doesn’t float.
Jon Boat Covers
To prevent any damage to your jon boat it’s recommended that you buy a cover that will keep your boat safe while it’s waiting for your next fishing trip. There are quite a few options, but we recommend the:
iCOVER Jon Boat Cover: Water Proof Heavy Duty Trailerable Jon Boat Cover
- Made of 300 Denier PU coated Marine Grade waterproof, tear resistant, U.V resistant Polyester.
- Four different sizes.
- Buckle & strap for easy tightening and installation.
- All weather protection.
This cover has pretty much everything you need to ensure your boat stays safe in storage until you’re ready to use it again. It’s designed to resist all types of weather while still being easy enough to install that you won’t feel dissuaded from using it.
Make sure you pick up the right size for your jon boat – to that end, it has four different sizes:
- Length: 12′, Width: 56″
- Length: 14′, Width: 70″
- Length: 16′, Width: 75″
- Length: 18′, Width: 75″
- Designed to withstand all types of weather.
- Comes in many different sizes.
- Water can pool on the top causing damage.
If you’ve ever spent an afternoon fishing on a wooden or plastic seat without padding then you know how valuable this little thing is. There are alot of options, but you’re definitely going to want to get a cushion that doubles as a flotation device. To that end, we recommend the:
STEARNS Utility Cushion
- Very comfortable.
- Doubles as a type IV flotation device.
- US Coast Guard approved.
- Straps to make it easy to hold onto.
- Dimensions: 16×14 inches
Jon Boat Fish Finders
Once you get your boat out on the water you don’t want to waste time trying to find where the fish are hiding so we strongly recommend you take a fish finder with you. To that end, we recommend the:
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS Fishfinder
- High frequency sonar provides nearly photographic images of what’s in the water around your boat.
- Keyed interface for easy use.
- Simple installation.
- CHIRP sonar.
As far as fish finders are concerned, the Garmin has everything. In addition to clear photographic representations of everything around your boat it also boasts a waypoint GPS feature to easily remember the details of specific locations. Not only that, it also includes a pseudo-speedometer so you can easily track how fast you’re moving. The Garmin has it all.
Keep in mind, though, that the fish finder requires a 12v battery and you’ll probably want the mounting unit as well. Each of these are added as extras on the order page so it does drive the cost up, but it’s still the best option available.
- Graphically shows everything around your boat (objects, fish & structures)
- Has a built-in speedometer feature.
- Waypoint system allows you to mark specific locations on your map.
- Requires a 12v battery.
- Costs extra for mounting + battery.
- Screen isn’t waterproof.
Jon Boat Navigation Lights
It’s strongly recommended that you pick up some boating lights if you plan on using your jon boat in the late afternoon or evening. That’s why we included the:
Attwood Clamp-On Portable Marine Jon Boat Navigation Lights
- Includes a red/green LED bow navigation light & white LED stern navigation light.
- Quick c-clamp release mounts for easy installation and removal.
- Electronics are in a shock-proof housing.
- Runs for over 150 hours with three AAA batteries.
Unlike the motor and fish finder, navigation lights don’t require a high powered battery. Three AAA batteries will easily last 150+ hours without needing to be changed. The real highlight of this navigation light is that you can easily install and remove it without any tools or hassle.
- Lasts 150 hours with three AAA batteries (sold separately).
- Simple installation.
- Only comes with c-clamp mounts.
- Not very bright.
Jon Boat Carriers
Hauling your jon boat to the water can be a bit difficult, especially if you’re fishing alone. That’s why we recommend you pick up a carrier that makes transporting your boat easy.
ABN Universal Jon Boat Carrier
- Universal carrier works with many different boat types.
- Very durable.
- 9.5″ knobby inflatable tires.
- Moves smoothly through gravel, sand and wooded surfaces.
- Foam bumper pad to prevent damaging your jon boat.
- Folds for easy storage.
- Weight limit: 200 pounds.
This carrier is perfect for the Sun Dolphin or Pelican jon fishing boats as they’re both under the 200 pound weight limit. They fold down to take up less space, just remember to inflate the tires before heading out and you should be good to go!
- Folds down for easy transport.
- Handles well on uneven terrain.
- Can be difficult to keep the boat centered on the carrier.
- Recommended to replace the straps.
Comparing Used Jon Boats vs New Ones
Looking to save money by buying a used jon boat? There are a few things you should be aware of before making a purchase that you should carefully consider.
Size & Quality
Jon boats vary greatly when it comes to size: from 8 to as much as 20 feet long and 36-56 inches wide. From time to time you may find even find custom boats that exceed these measurements, but the vast majority should fall within this range.
Used jon boats may have been utilized for fishing only in calm waters, like a lake so there is really no need to worry about it being overused. However, you might want to take a closer look at its body for any possible leaks especially if it is made of wood. You might want to buy a Jon boat made of aluminum or fiberglass, because the wood one may need a little restoration, hence costing you more.
Also, take a good look at the outboard motors. If possible, test-drive first the used Jon boats just to double check if the one you’re considering is still running well. On the other hand, if it is a paddled boat, make sure that the paddles are still in good condition.
Check also the construction. Welded hulls are better than the riveted one, which are more susceptible to leaks.
So there, check at least three things: construction, materials, and motor. By doing so, you can ensure a lasting used, but not totally wasted, jon boat.