Are Jon Boats Good for Lakes?


Jon boat at speed on lake

Jon boats are popular utility vessels that are usually found on calm inland waters such as creeks, rivers and ponds. Their flat bottom and shallow draft make them ideal for calm water use but less suitable for rougher waters. So, many people wonder if Jon boats are any good for lake use.

A Jon boat is a perfect vessel for use on lakes. Its flat bottom, shallow draft hull means it can easily be used to navigate waters that are only a few inches deep but this does not mean it cannot handle deep water. Being able to handle chop and waves up to 5 feet in height a Jon boat will be perfectly at home on most lakes.

Are Jon boats safe for big lakes?

The reason many people are unsure if a Jon boat can handle lake use is due to its shallow draft and flat bottom.

A Jon boat excels in shallow water. Its flat bottom hull means it can easily boat in areas with just a few inches of water depth. The flat bottom also gives the boat incredible stability because it sits on the water rather than “in” the water. This stability is even more pronounced in double wide Jon boats.

A Jo boat is also extremely conformable to ride in on calm water, even when it is moving at a fast speed. The flat bottom shallow draft nature of the boat means it is easy to get a Jon boat on plane quickly, where it feels like you are gliding across across the water (which you essentially are).

However, because this shallow draft feature makes a Jon boat unstable in challenging water conditions and an unsuitable vessel for rough water use it is perfectly understandable that many people wonder if it can handle lake use.

As lakes are quite open with large expanses of water they tend to have more chop than other inland bodies of water. A lake has less protection from the wind, than say a river or a creek which will usually be protected by tress and even man-made structures like buildings.

Open waters, being less protected, will get the full brunt of the wind.

Additionally the wind can pick up speed over the water as it has no obstacles in its path to slow it down. This wind will then, in turn, start disturbing the water and creating chop. As a Jon boat has a reputation for being a calm water boat it is therefore no wonder people unfamiliar with the performance capabilities of a Jon would question its suitability for lake use.

However, the type of chop you would normally see on a lake is no obstacle for a Jon boat.

The bottom line is that a Jon boat is perfectly safe to use on a lake though some types of Jon may perform better than others.

Different types of Jon boat will perform better

Although you can safely use any Jon boat in a lake there is a specific type of Jon that is designed for those particular type of waters.

A Mod V Jon boat has a hull that is slightly different from the traditional flat bottom Jon boat as it has been designed to better handle the chop and waves that come from more expansive water bodies – such as big lakes.

The differences between a mod V and a flat bottom Jon boat are subtle but they make a huge difference when it comes to performance in areas like large lakes.

A flat bottom Jon boat has a completely flat bottom and a squared bow. This makes it extremely stable in calm water but somewhat unstable in heavy chop. To combat this problem Jon boat owners, who regularly used their boats in more choppy water, were the driving force behind the Mod V design.

A Mod V is also known as a semi-v because about 40 % of its bottom surface is curved upward out of the water and has a slight “V” shape that resembles the v-hull of ocean-going vessels.

The front of the boat has also been modified to be pointed thus allowing the bow to better deflect waves away from the boat as it moves through the water. These changes are not huge modifications to the Jon boat but they are enough to give the Mod V an advantage over its flat bottom brother in rougher waters.

Be aware that although a traditional Jon boat, with a square bow, is called a flat bottom Jon boat and the Mod V is called a semi-v Jon boat, both boats have flat bottoms and both are considered flat bottom shallow draft vessels. The mod V is just better able to cut through waves and deal with chop.

The best Jon boat for lake fishing

As you have seen from what I already said above the best Jon boat for lake use is a Mod V Jon because it is much more stable in choppy water and challenging weather conditions.

As a Mod V Jon is just as good a fishing boat as a flat bottom Jon, and it can also access the shallows, yet is better equipped to deal with more challenging water and weather conditions it is easily the best Jon boat for lake fishing.

Jon boats, both flat bottom and Mod V, lend themselves very well to customization so it is easy to kit a Jon boat out for fishing.

Mod V Jon boats are usually only sold in bigger sizes because they are designed to be used on larger water bodies, like lakes, and because smaller Mod Vs are less in demand – when you need a semi-v boat for rougher water you tend to boating on larger water bodies and therefore you want a larger boat (I know I do anyway).

Therefore a Mod V is not only better designed to deal with the type of chop you might experience on a lake but it is a bigger boat and therefore more stable with more deck space.

The best Jon boat for duck hunting on lakes

If you hunt for waterfowl on lakes then, again, the best Jon boat would be a Mod V. And, again, for all the same reasons.

The Mod V is the best Jon boat for duck hunting because it is a shallow draft boat but can handle the type of chop you would normally see on a lake. The boat’s semi-v hull allows for ease of movement from hunting spot to another hunting spot regardless of the water conditions, while its shallow draft and flat bottom allows the boat to easily reach the banks when it comes time to shoot.

Additionally, as a Mod V will usually be a bigger type of boat it will offer you more space for gear, catch and some four-legged friends if you hunt with dogs.

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