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Flat Bottom Jon Boat Plans - Classic Fishing Boat!
A flat bottom fishing jon boat was the first boat many of us were allowed to take out "by ourselves". And what a great time they are. To this day, I still own a Jon boat, and use it often for getting into the narrow water.
Fisherman who like to work the shallow backwaters and weed patches on lakes and rivers will find this flat-bottom scow-type boat an ideal craft.
Although the boat is only 12 ft. long, its wide, flat bottom provides more usable space than most round or V-bottom boats of similar size. Low-cost, readily available materials are used throughout.
Frames, gunwales, deck beams, chine logs, seat stringers and seat back are made of pine lumber. The runners and chine moldings are solid oak. AB-grade exterior plywood is used for the deck, bottom and side planking and transom— 3/8-in. stock for the former and 3/4-in. stock for the latter.
Fishing from this jon boat will be more rewarding since you built it yourself!
What is a Jon Boat?
When it comes to relatively small aluminum fishing boats, none are as prolific and popular as the jon boat. But, what exactly makes a boat a jon boat?
Here are the basic traits of a jon boat:
- Jon boats have a flat or nearly flat bottom.
- They have squared-off bows rather than coming to a point at the front.
- Most jon boats are made of aluminum, though there are also a handful of fiberglass and roto-molded polyethylene models on the market.
- Jon boats are very simple and utilitarian, often with little more than bench seats built-in.
- Jon boats tend to be small and light.
- Of all the different types of boats on the market, jon boats are among the least expensive.
Explore All Aluminum Fishing Boat Types
Advantages of a Jon Boat
The number-one advantage of a jon boat, and one of the main reasons they’re extraordinarily popular, is their low cost. You can find small jon boats with a price tag in the hundreds, not thousands, of dollars.
- Many can be transported in the bed of a pick-up truck or on a roof-rack, and even the larger models are light enough to tow with the smallest of tow vehicles.
- In some cases all you’ll need to power them is a pair of oars or an inexpensive battery-powered electric trolling motor. And if a gasoline outboard is in order, thanks to their flat bottoms and light weight it doesn’t take much horsepower to get them on plane.
Put all these factors together, and it’s easy to see that Jon boats are not only inexpensive to buy, things like fuel and storage bills that can add to the cost of ownership are also very low.
Thanks to their simplicity jon boats are also essentially maintenance-free. In most cases they have few or no moving parts so there aren’t any accessories to break. And as far as clean-up goes, just blast off a jon boat with the hose, maybe take a few swipes with a scrub brush, and the boat will look as good as new.
The small, light nature of a jon boat also makes it a natural choice for those who fish in shallow water. Whether you’re a freshwater fishing fanatic or saltwater fishing is more your style, you can gain an advantage over many other boat designs because jon boats have minimal draft.
Drawbacks of a Jon Boat
As with all genres of boats, of course, there are also some downsides to jon boats. The biggest one many people would point to is a lack of creature comforts. Remember, in its most basic form a jon boat is essentially just a hull with ribs and bench seats. A long day out on the water can lead to an aching back, and the exposed ribs are tripping points that can also make it tough to neatly stow large gear like coolers and tackleboxes. Many people address this issue by customizing their jon boat to some degree, often over time to spread out the cost, adding things like swivel seats, fishing rod holders, cup holders, and carpeting or even decking.
Another disadvantage of jon boats relates to that flat hull. Sure, it gives the boat a shallow draft, maximizes stability, and doesn’t need much power to plane. However, a flat bottom often equates to a bumpy, wet ride when there are waves.
Although that flat bottom does optimize stability for a boat’s size and weight, the inherently light nature of a jon boat can also mean its stability is a shortcoming. On larger models this usually isn’t an issue, but on very small jons of 10 or 12 feet, standing up and walking from the bow to the stern can be difficult, at best.
If you’ll be leaving the boat in the water at a dock for extended periods of time, there are some additional factors to consider. Remember that the vast majority of jon boats don’t “self bail” (shed water that falls onto the deck by draining out through gravity-fed scuppers), so leaving one in the water requires installing a bilge pump and/or constant tending. And all aluminum boats can react to certain antifouling paints with galvanic corrosion (which can destroy the boat’s metal hull), so you need to be very careful about using the proper bottom paints on a Jon boat.
There are also a few characteristics to jon boats that anglers, in particular, will want to keep in mind.
- The light weight and flat bottom means they get blown across the surface of the water very easily, which can be problematic when you’re trying to control your drift or keep the boat on a hotspot.
- Also remember that a bare aluminum hull projects sounds through the water very effectively and dropping something in the bottom of the boat or dragging a tacklebox over a rib can spook near-by fish; many anglers mitigate this issue by decking or carpeting the bottom of the boat.
Is a Jon Boat Right for You?
For many people looking to find a simple rig for fishing, row their way to the other side of the lake, or get an inexpensive starter boat, a jon boat will be the perfect choice. That said, different boats are best for different needs and desires, so be sure to read Small Boats: What Are My Options? to learn about some other types of boats you may want to consider.
Read Next: How to Buy a Fishing Boat
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Category: Freshwater Fishing
There is no doubt that the jon boat is one of the most versatile watercrafts available and outdoorsmen have benefited from the stable, shallow water design for everything from duck hunting to teaching the kids to crab. But there is always something else you want to be able to do and one more thing you wish your jon boat was equipped with. Let use help you figure out what your next upgrade should be by sharing 54 of our favorites.
Protect yourself and your passengers from the hot summer sun by adding a simple yet rewarding bimini top (link to read reviews of our favorite on one Amazon). Providing shade will allow you to get more from your boat and spend more time on the water without fear of sunburn, heat exhaustion or just plain discomfort. They are simply to install and can be put up / taken down in seconds.
Sometimes you need more than simple sunshade, you need full on protection from whatever Mother Nature throws your way. You need a fully enclosed cabin. Much like the bimini top collapsible full cabins can be installed easily and when deployed provide 360-degree protection while maintaining visibility.
Adding a cover to your jon boat is about protecting your investment and extending its life. No matter how you use you jon boat, or where you store it, there are times when it will be outside and exposed to damaging sun, rain or even snow. A cover (link for our favorite affordable one on Amazon) will help you jon boat resist corrosion, mildew and other weather related damage and make sure it is ready to go when you want to get on the water.
A center console will make operation easier, safer and more fun. Sitting in the center of your jon boat will increase visibility, improve weight distribution and provides for a more comfortable ride. Some manufacturers offer after market consoles for the more popular brands of jon boat, or you can recycle one from a wreck. Some advanced DIYers have even built their own.
Front Trolling Motor
Anglers will benefit greatly from the addition of a front trolling motor. You will be able to fish and maneuver at the same time with the finesse needed to access those secret trophy holding spots you could never reach before.
Aren’t sure what size or brand would be right for you and your boat? We put together a post covering the best trolling motors for jon boats by boat size. We cover each boat length and about how much thrust you’ll need, as well as some great trolling motors that fit the bill.
Rear Poling Deck
Thanks to its flat bottom the jon boat is perfect for accessing shallow areas but what do you do when it is too shallow for your motor? The answer- poling. But to get the most out of your poling efforts you need to be elevated on a rear deck like this.
One of the downfalls of many jon boat designs is the lack of front fishing area. Even is there is a small flat deck it is often too small for stable use. Luckily, adding such a feature is little more than an afternoon project.
Elevated Bow Fishing Platform
Bow anglers have discovered the advantages of being higher- they can see more and improve their shot angle. DIYers have discovered it is not as hard as it seems, or as costly as manufacturers would like you to believe.
Many jon boats are an open design, which makes them perfect for modification but not so good when it comes to storing your gear. Good news is there is a modification for that! You can be as creative as you wish, adding as much or as little storage as needed-even customizing it for specific gear.
Speaking of specific storage needs every angler needs a safe place – for their rods that is. When out on the water you want your rods close at hand, but when running to and from your honey hole or towing your jon boat it is important to keep them safe from damage or theft.
Be sure to check out our post covering 6 great rod storage options for jon boats. Some of them range from pre-fabricated to DIY options.
Adding a raised deck can offer many advantages – more stable platform when moving about, ability to avoid water that collects in void and even under deck storage areas. This is a DIY project that can help make your jon boat your own.
Seating on most jon boats is one of the most disappointing feature for many users. Adding after market swivel seats (link to read reviews on Amazon of our most recommended, affordable option) will improve comfort and make it easier to operate your outboard at the same time.
There is a reason almost every bass boat includes at least one pedestal seat – they work! Being higher is not only more comfortable it also increases visibility and casting ability.
Have you ever been fishing from the front deck and had that feeling you were going to end up in the drink? Maybe you hooked a trophy and were caught off guard by a sudden surge or you tired while fighting that giant. Either way a grab bar / leaning post would have come in handy. IT can also be used to allow easier stand up operation of the outboard.
Adding carpeting to your jon boat not only makes it look better, hiding modification construction & imperfections, it is far more comfortable too. Carpet is softer to stand on and prevents uncomfortable burns from a hot metal deck. Make sure you use a quality outdoor style carpet to ensure long life.
If you are tired of pulling your anchor, or maybe physically can’t do it anymore, it is time to add an anchor wench. You can select from a manual crank design or an electric model for an even easier to use model. Either way you will be done with bending and pulling everything the anchor needs to come up.
We’ll be honest – it was originally kind of difficult to find good anchor winch options for jon boats online. So we spent a few hours researching and sifting through the options that could work for these little tin boats (and not just larger vessels) and narrowed it down to write a post on our 4 favorite anchor winches.
Electric Trailer Wench
While we are on the topic of making life easier with a wench lets look at adding an electric wench to your trailer. It may not technically be a boat modification, but you use it every time you use your boat so close enough. This will eliminate the need to man handle you boat onto the trailer and allow you to avoid nasty knuckle busting accidents when the handle lets go.
One of the most popular modifications, and one almost every jon boat owner adds almost as soon as possible, are rod holders. No matter what jon boat you buy it will never have enough rod holders. Need some ideas or inspiration for how to start? Check out our post on jon boat fishing rod holders (plus how and where to install).
If you are going to be fishing, you need somewhere to keep your bait or maybe those keepers you want to take home for the grill. You need a live well. If you jon boat did not come equipped with one it is an easy modification that shouldn’t take more than a few hours.
Your fish are not the only ones who need to eat, so do the anglers. Adding a cooler to your jon boat will allow you to take snacks or drinks with you or maybe fish back. Unused live wells can be turned into cooler, although you may need to add insulation.
A cleaning station is one of those simple, yet under appreciated additions that few miss until they have had one. Eliminate the need to cut bait on your new seats. No more blood or guts on you and the carpet. Many can be easily removed and stowed when not needed. Click here for one of Amazon’s best sellers.
Adding a grill to your boat is not something many people consider but trust me it is more popular than you realize and not very hard either. Do not worry, this is not one of those modifications where you take your Weber and strap it down & hope it works. These grills (link to read reviews on Amazon) are made for boat installation.
We do not encourage drinking alcohol while underway, but you do need to drink something if you want to stay hydrated. If you want to add a little variety to your beverage options and keep them close at hand add a beverage station.
If you do any night fishing, especially if you are bow fishing, you know that auxiliary lights are a must. They also come in handy when docking, searching for a lost crab pot or simply trying to get onto the trailer after dark. The options for lighting are wide spread and limited only by you imagination – and power source.
LED Navigation Lights
If you have made any modifications to your jon boat, especially the hull or forward deck, there is a good chance you have had to relocate the navigation lights. Why not upgrade to longer lasting, more visible LED? (link to a great waterproof LED on Amazon).
One of the commonly overlooked factors about boat lighting is the actual regulations. While some states will vary slightly in the specific regulations, we put a guide covering jon boat lighting requirements that will give you a good rundown and make sure that you are compliant.
Seeing where you are going includes when moving about the deck as well. Adding deck lighting will allow you to safely move about and tie on gear without balancing a flashlight or holding it with your teeth.
Being on the water does not mean you need to spend the hours listening to your buddy recount the same fishing story hour after hour while you wait for the next bite – you can listen to your favorite tunes. Thanks to smartphones most people are never without a way to play music you just need a reliable, quality means of listening.
Having the ability to see where you are, where the fish are and how to get home are important issues that far too many anglers and boaters take for granted. Adding an easy to use electronics package can solve all these problems and it will only take one emergency to make it all worth the investment, although modern devices are much cheaper than ever before.
Running all the extra lights, radio and accessories will require power and probably a backup system as well. Adding a generator to your jon boat will ensure that power is always available, plus it can double as a source in camp when spending the night along the banks.
Adding extra batteries has always been a means of overcoming extra heavy loads on your boat’s power system and there is no reason you can do the same in your jon boat. If you include a simple selector switch it is possible to transfer from either battery or both together as needed.
IF you go through the trouble to add lights, electronics and increased battery power wouldn’t it make sense to upgrade the entire electrical system? By adding an electrical panel you can place all the controls at your finger tips and eliminate the messy, unsightly wires that run everywhere too.
Murphy’s law says that if something can go wrong it will so it never hurts to have a backup, or even a backup for the backup. Even if you have a generator it never hurts to have a battery charger too. Keep you lights, trolling motor and even radio going no matter what Murphy has in store.
Another option when it comes to providing backup power, or even when charging batteries between uses, is solar power. While this has not really caught on for main stream power supplies it has been a viable option in the maritime world for decades – how do you think most of the buoys you follow home are powered? A few small panels and a converter are all you need, although if you are not knowledgeable regarding their set you may want to enlist the help of a friend as well.
Boat decks are notorious for being slippery and have been the downfall, no pun intended, of more than one mariner. The tried and trusted answer is non-skid. You choose from spray on, roll on or even stick on version and be on the water and on your feet in no time.
If you spend any amount of time aboard your boat and on your feet, it has not taken long to realize aluminum decks were not made with comfort in mind. An easy to install, cheap means of combating fatigue is to add rubber mats similar to those used in industrial kitchens or factories.
For other recommendations on mats as well as other flooring ideas for your jon boat, be sure to check out our article on jon boat flooring mats and other flooring options.
Nothing makes a boat stand out like a new coat of paint. Adding a fresh paint job will not only make your boat look and feel like new it will also make it stand out, a true one of a kind.
If you’re looking for a starting place on painting your jon boat, begin with our post on how to paint a jon boat (including what kind of primer, paint, etc.).
Hunters who want a new paint job will appreciate that a jon boat is basically a clank canvas, waiting for you to add your own personal touch. Add grass, cattails or whatever other patterns are most productive where you hunt or just apply a favorite pattern that will make your boat hid and stand out at the same time. Durable wraps as also an option and allow you to change the pattern later with less hassle.
Adding a duck blind to your jon boat allows you to have both transportation and concealment. There are multiple options available and most can be installed for the season and removed for fishing later.
Waterfowl hunters know that having enough decoys close at hand is often the difference between success and failure. But how do you store & transport those decoys in a manner that allows for easy deployment and keeps them out of the way? The answer is an easy to use, easy to build cubby shelf unit along the bulkhead.
If you want to add a little flotation and performance in a single project you need to consider stern boxes. They compensate for the added weight of the outboard and also improve how the boat handles out of the hole. They can also be on of the ways to make a jon boat more stable.
Hydraulic Jack Plate
Entering shallow areas is why you got a jon boat but it can cause some problems when it comes to how to mount the outboard. Too deep and those shallow spots are out of reach. Too high and performance on open water suffers. Add hydraulic jack plates and you can easily adjust the outboard as needed.
Adding trim tabs is another modification that is all about performance. They are available in manual, fixed or hydraulic versions and each will make you wonder why they are not standard on every boat that leaves the factory.
Built in Fuel Tanks
Most jon boats are equipped with portable jerry cans, those 5 or 10 gallon cans that you take to the gas station, fill and carry back to the boat. This is fine if you trailer you boat for each use and can pull right up to the pump, or is your marina offers fuel service. But if you are tired of lugging gas by the gallon then you should consider adding built in tanks that will allow for greater capacity between fills, possibly enough to drive to the next marina, fill and still go fishing.
Keeping water out of your boat is always the first priority but jon boats are known for allowing water in. It splashes over the side like the flume ride at Disney and settles on the deck. Getting the water out is important for stability and to prevent damage, especially if you have added an elevated deck or storage. Add a bilge pump and watch the water go back where it belongs.
Anchor or Power Pole
One of the most innovative inventions to hit the small boat market in years is the anchor, or power, pole. Mounted to either the bow or stern these poles are pushed into the bottom to allow hassle free anchoring in shallow areas. Its as if the inventors had the jon boat in mind when they thought this one up.
Our favorite 3 jon boat anchors for any situation post covers our most highly recommended options for your boat that are all affordable and versatile. We cover power poles in there as well which if you can get them are simply awesome.
If extra stability is what you are looking for there are few options that are easier or more effective than adding outriggers. Although you could buy some this is one of those modification projects than can also be a fun backyard DIY project with the kids.
Down riggers are essential for those anglers who need to get deep and control the presentation of their lures. They are especially useful when targeting walleye and similar species. There are plenty of options available and most are easy to install without professional assistance.
Rock Proof Bottom
If you use your jon boat as intended, it is not a matter of IF you will hit rocks but a matter of when it will happen. Every jon boat owner knows this, accepts it and hopes it will not involve too much damage. Adding rock proof paint, such as that used to line truck beds, can protect the hull and prevent costly repairs later.
Remove Center Seat
Not all jon boat modifications involve adding something, sometimes you need to take something away. Removing the center seat allows for more room and increased ability to customize. Just remember, most jon boats count on the center seat for structural support so you will need to include some additional supports between the deck and bulkhead.
How many times have you laid a lure or hook down on the seat next to you only to have the next wave knock it away, clattering across the deck and eventually into a spot your hand will not reach? Add simple magnetic strips to the area near where you work, and this will become a thing of the past. Stick your lure or hook to the strip and no more lost items rolling around the deck.
Not always found on jon boats are ladders used for swimming, boarding, and even dogs. Check out our post covering our favorite ladders that are affordable and simple to install. This just might come in handy at some point!
Your fishing rods likely have holders installed for them, so why not have the same from an umbrella? It’s a less expensive and less involved version of a bimini top that you can set up in a fraction of the time.
Yes, you can paddle a jon boat. There are a few things you want to consider when determining the appropriate length of oars to buy, as well as consider some mounting and anchoring equipment for more efficient rowing. But we cover all of this in more on our post about jon boat oars (recommended length, holders, and mounts).
We’d be wrong to not mention adding a fish finder to your boat. There are several different options when it comes to buying and installing fish finders, and not all of them are great for jon boats. We did a few hours of research (coupled with our own experience) to document our favorite jon boat fish finders (plus how and where to install) that can fit into any budget and skill level.
Projects jon boat
I'm looking for all sorts of advice because I know next-to-nothing about boats.
Not sure about the year, I'm estimating that it's around '95-'99
-I'd like to get carpeting put in, possibly some sort of flooring. (It doesn't feel very sturdy to walk on)
-It also has a small leak I'm planning to get welded.
-Wooden supports on the inside rear and outside rear of the boat. (I have no idea what sort of wood to use, pressure treated?)
-What I'm assuming are supports on the floor (3rd Image from the top, metal bar and what looks like a 2x4) are both broken in the middle. Not sure how to fix those.
Thanks for any suggestions!
A jon boat (or johnboat) is a flat-bottomed boat constructed of aluminum, fiberglass, wood, or polyethelene with one, two, or three seats, usually bench type. They are suitable for fishing, hunting and cruising. The nearly flat hull of a jon boat tends to ride over the waves rather than cut through them as a V-hull might; this shallow draft – only a few inches – enables the jon boat to operate in very shallow water, but limits its use to calm waters. Jon boats typically have a transom onto which an outboard motor can be mounted. They are simple and easy to maintain, and inexpensive, though with many options to upgrade. Typical options may include live wells/bait wells, side or center consoles, factory installed decks and floors, electrical wiring, accessory pads/mountings, and casting and poling platforms.
Jon boats are available commercially between 8 and 24 feet (2.4 and 7.3 m) long and 32 to 60 inches (81 to 152 cm) wide, though custom sizes may be found. The simple design includes an open hull, without a bilge, leaving the ribs exposed. Many users choose to cover the ribs, producing a flat, level surface.
The Wasserwacht branch of the German Red Cross has chosen jon boats for their civil protection units for use during floods.
In the late 19th century flat-bottom boats became popular in The Ozarks, being ideal for traversing the shallow waters in the Missouri Valley.
These vessels were found useful for float fishing, duck hunting and carrying timber. Visiting tourists and travellers enjoyed the idea of flat-bottomed boats, as they could fish standing up and did not have to fear tipping over.
Jon boats with beefed-up aluminum construction, and powered by jet-drive outboards, are becoming more popular since they are capable of operating in extremely shallow water. They are thus frequently used in rocky rivers and areas where submerged obstructions, such as oyster bars and coral, might damage a boat with a deeper draught.
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The Jon boat is a simple and versatile vessel which is known for its superb ability to navigate shallow and calm waters. It is often the boat of choice for the angler and huntsman who can use these agile flat-bottomed boats to access the best waterways for fishing and waterfowl hunting.
The basic design lends to customization
The basic design of a Jon boat means it has a flat bottom and an open hull with exposed ribs along with a transom to which a basic outboard trolling motor can be attached. These boats can also be easily propelled manually with a paddle or pushed in shallow waters with a pole. A Jon boat can also be rowed by oars (when oar locks are fitted).
The simple design of this easy to maintain vessel lends itself excellently to a wide variety of customisation and upgrade projects.
Most boats come as a stripped down aluminium or wooden shell, meaning that you can take a basic Jon boat and with a little work and patience turn it into your ideal vessel. Here we share a variety of Jon boat customizing ideas that will help ensure your Jon boat excels in performance, comfort and looks.
10 awesome customizing ideas for your Jon boat
Below are 10 great Jon boat customization ideas that you can implement at home in the garage.
A Jon boat, by design, has an open decking area that allows you to move freely about the boat. However a Jon boat can modified to have solid decking like a bass boat. In fact this is the first modification made when converting a Jon boat to a bass boat. If you want to know which type of boat is better for you read our article Jon Boat vs Bass Boat.
Decking a Jon boat provides a stable and well balanced surface for standing on your boat or for placing elevated swivel chairs. Without decking, most will find themselves standing in the hull or sitting on the simple bench seats.
Raised or extended casting or fishing decks for your Jon boat massively increase visibility, utility and the potential for your boat to accommodate more than one angler.
As the Jon boat is flat-bottomed, it has less displacement of water than a v-hull or a semi-v hull boat. So, additional decking that provides a flat surface for standing on can cause instability in this type of small boat. Therefore successful decking of your Jon boat is all about balance. Start by placing casting decks at the front and rear of your boat for a balanced arrangement.
Of course there are other steps you can stake to stabilize a Jon a boat.
A Jon boat has a flat-bottomed hull that makes it perfect for navigating extremely shallow waters. But, as I pointed out in this article, a flat bottom hull design does have some drawbacks, drawbacks which a semi-v hull boat can overcome.
In order to be able to use their Jon boats in more challenging water conditions some owners will convert their fully flat bottom Jon boat into a semi-v Jon boat.
Although this is possible to do as an at-home project it can be time-consuming and costly depending on the materials you use. You can buy semi-v Jon boats right out-of-the-box and this is often a better option than converting your existing boat.
If you do decide that a semi-v is the way to go be aware that this design also has its drawbacks and may impede your boating plans, if for instance you regularly navigate very shallow waters, duck hunt or like the smooth feel of a Jon at high speed on calm water.
Read the aforementioned article to better understand the implications of making this modification to your boat.
Carpeting is one of the most popular Jon boat customization ideas and the first choice for the flooring and surfaces of a customized Jon boat. It adds traction and comfort and can be used to line surfaces.
Choose a good marine carpet or alternatively get decent outdoor waterproof carpet. Choose a carpet fabric which can be laid down and ripped up easily.
Adding a foam underlay, or foam decking sheet, can also contribute to comfort underfoot and help with retrieval should the boat sink, as we outlined here in this particular article.
Opinions vary as to how carpet should be attached to the boat decking. Glue is commonly used but may be problematic if the carpet needs replaced. Another option is to add additional plywood decking onto which you can staple the carpet but this involves much more work.
Adding storage to your Jon boat greatly extends the utility of your vessel. It is probably one of the first Jon boat customizing ideas you will take on. Gear, bait, tackle and even your coolbox can be conveniently stowed. When adding storage units the key is to use your shallow hull as efficiently as possible.
The bench seating of the boat lends itself to the conversion of a wide variety of storage compartments.
Seat boxes are particularly useful as they not only provide storage but also act as a mounting base for swivel seating. Boat hatches can be used to stow rods, bows or guns. Using aluminium framing and plywood you can build your own custom storage or purchase parts used by commercial boat builders and install.
We demonstrated how easy it is to build your own storage compartment here in the article how to build a flat bottom boat.
For many people the basic seating of a Jon boat is uncomfortable. The hard wood or aluminum benches can become extremely uncomfortable when you are seated in the same position for long periods. Luckily there are great padded seating options available.
Adding foam covers will offer superior comfort while on the water for long stretches of time. There are some great options available like these waterproof seat covers on Amazon.
Swivel seating for Jon boats are also popular, and worth the investment. Seating pedestals and mounts, like these ones, can be readily ordered online or bought locally and integrated with existing benches.
Clamping systems can also be obtained from the same places to integrate seating with less construction work necessary.
Custom wiring and electronics are a major upgrade for any boat and can bring your Jon boat into the big leagues performance-wise.
Technically minded boat owners may want to undertake Jon boat customizing ideas such as:
- LED lighting
- Fish finders
You will find these and 44 other must have upgrade accessories for your Jon boat here in this article.
For the waterfowl huntsman camouflage and concealment of a Jon boat is critical to success on the water. We covered how to camouflage your Jon boat previously and it is worth reading that article if you plan to take to the paint.
A variety of camo decals and spray paints are available to customize your Jon boat yourself with simple stencil based techniques.
Although it is very easy to complete this job yourself in a few hours we do advise you to choose high quality marine paints and sealants for a professional finish which will withstand use and the weather.
Most Jon boats don’t come with an engine as standard. The addition of an appropriate outboard engine, like a trolling motor, will aid your Jon boat in navigating waters with stronger currents and allow you to move in calm waters at speed.
Given the shallow draft of Jon boats the size of the motor must be taken into account to prevent excess weight making the boat unstable. Most Jon boats can handle a motor up to 25HP efficiently. There is a range of lightweight yet effective outboards on the market so finding one to suit your needs should be a fairly simple task.
Also consider adding oar locks to your jon boat so you can row it. Poles and paddles are good alternatives to oars and are popular with duck hunters and fishermen as they provide a way of moving the boat stealthily.
However, even if you don’t hunt or fish you definitely need some form of manual propulsion on the boat so you can still navigate the waters should your outboard motor fail or you find yourself in such shallow waters that using a rudder is impossible.
A foot pedal offers great convenience for anglers or hunters who want precision control over their boat’s movement. A recessed foot pedal tray is ideal for trolling motors.
Foot pedal controlled trolling motors can also be integrated with GPS, sonar and fish finders for maximum angling advantage. We showed how to fit a fish finder to a trolling motor here.
Be sure to shop around for the a foot pedal that will work best for you but here are a few examples of waterproof foot pedals to show you what is available.
10. Anchors away
Adding an electrical pole anchor is a great way to modernize your Jon boat.
Although you should have at least 2 anchors onboard, to help secure your Jon in one spot in windy conditions, an electrical pole anchor offers convenience and a modern touch to the boat.
Read this article for a better understanding of what type of anchors are ideal for your specific Jon boat.
Where to now?
These Jon boat customizing ideas show just how great an investment a little time spent customizing your boat can be.
The versatility of a Jon means and the ease with which it can be customized means that with even a few of these upgrades you can have a vessel that will compete with bigger boats and even higher-priced bass boats but which offers lighter weight and easier handling.
Home-based projects abound that clearly demonstrate how you can customize your Jon boat to create a truly personal and super functional boat. It is simply a matter of how much you work you want to put into it.
These customised utility boats offer not only practicality but longevity with the parts described above easily sourced, maintained and replaced as needed.