6 Main Uses For A Jon Boat With Advantages & Drawbacks

2 men using a Jon boat on calm water

A Jon boat is a flat-bottomed utility boat that is light in weight and varies in size, normally from 10 to 20 feet. It is a popular vessel widely used in inland waters. But what exactly is a Jon boat used for?

A Quick Definition Of A Jon Boat

What is a Jon boat?

A Jon boat is used for transporting people and cargo, hunting water-based animals, catching fish, performing utility work.

It is also used for leisure and recreational activities such as boat camping.

Due to its shallow draft, flat bottom and incredible stability in calm water, a Jon boat is most often used for shallow inland water boating.

The 6 Main Uses For A Jon Boat

A Jon boat is primarily a calm water boat.

Due to its flat bottom and very shallow draft a Jon boat offers exceptional stability in calm waters.

This is why it is used almost exclusively on inland waterways.

Let’s explore the main uses of a Jon boat.

A Jon boat is mainly used for:

  1. Shallow water navigation.
  2. Inland waterway transportation of goods and people.
  3. Hunting on the water, such as duck hunting.
  4. Fishing.
  5. Leisure activities.
  6. Utility work.

Let’s take a closer look at these 6 activities to see why a Jon boat is such a good fit for each one.

1. Shallow water use

One of the most common uses for a Jon boat is shallow water navigation. As you will learn, a Jon boat can easily navigate bodies of water that other boats could not access.

The reason a Jon boat can be used in very shallow waters is because it has a very shallow draft and a flat bottom.

This means the bottom of the boat sits not very fart below the water surface.

Where a v-hull fishing boat has a deep draft and sits deep in the water, a Jon boat, with its shallow draft, sits high in the water and can therefore be used in much shallower water than the v-hull boat.

A Jon boat is most commonly used on inland waters where the water is calm and where shallow areas exist.

If you need a better understanding of draft and the difference between shallow draft and deep draft read this article.

For now let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of a Jon boat’s shallow draft and see how that relates to using the boat.

Shallow draft advantages

A Jon boat’s draft is very shallow and can be under 12 inches.

This is advantageous for operating the boat in very shallow water.

Compared to a V -hull boat, which requires deep water and can easily touch a waterbed or even get beached in shallow waters, a Jon boat can easily navigate waters that are only a few inches deep.

As many inland waterways have very shallow areas, and have mostly calm water, using a Jon boat in them is the safest and most beneficial form of boating.

A Jon boat is also very stable in calm water.

Due to its flat bottom and shallow draft, a Jon boat allows its users the ease of getting in and out of the boat without having balancing issues. This is obviously a very good option to have in a boat that is used for transporting people or cargo from point to point and doing fishing activities.

Its superior stability also allows users to move about freely on the boat and stand on it without encountering any stability issues.

Shallow draft disadvantages

The main strength of a Jon boat can also be its biggest weakness.

The flat bottom hull and shallow draft of a Jon boat make it exceptionally stable in calm water but the same characteristics make the boat unstable, and even dangerous to use, in very rough conditions.

A Jon boat should not be used in very rough water or very challenging weather conditions.

Although there are exceptions to this rule, a Jon boat should also not be used in the ocean either because high winds and wave can easily tip the boat.

How motor and manual propulsion affect a Jon boat’s shallow water use

As with every watercraft a Jon boat requires a source of propulsion.

Being a very versatile vessel a Jon boat can be powered by either motorized or manual propulsion.

In fact it can be powered by both and these methods of propulsion are often used interchangeably.

14 foot Jon boat with 15hp mounted outboard motor

As you will see as you read on being able to switch from using a motor to using a manual form of propulsion is essential for some water activities.

A Jon boat can be powered by:

You read more detailed information of a Jon boat’s propulsion types in this article.

How are these propulsion methods used?

Basically, a trolling motor allows a Jon boat to travel quickly and also makes it easier to haul relatively heavy loads like cargo and people due to added power the motor provides.

Manual propulsion methods, like the use of oars, paddles and push pole, are used when the water is so shallow that the prop from the trolling motor would be damaged on the waterbed.

They are also advantageous when stealth is required, for hunting or fishing.

2. Transportation

A Jon boat is great for inland water transportation.

Due to is shallow draft and flat-bottom hull, it can be extremely stable even when carrying a heavy load.

Just be sure you do not exceed the boat’s weight capacity.

You may want to read this article for how much weight a Jon boat can carry.

Because a Jon boat is so versatile it works very well as a transportation vessel.

It’s shallow draft also means it is easy to transport both goods and people across areas of water that are extremely shallow and unsuitable for other boat types.

3. Hunting

Jon boats can also be a great option when looking for a watercraft for water-based hunting activities like duck hunting.

Water-based hunters try to be as discreet as possible when getting closer to their prey. For this type of discipline, a boat that is proven to be stealthy, agile, and silent is imperative.

Jon boats offer such characteristics.

By being able to easily switch from a fast moving trolling motor to a paddle or pole a hunter can quietly access shallow waters areas, such as banks, to engage the prey when the right opportunity arises.

A Jon boat also offers amazing ease of manoeuvrability to a hunter.

Another advantage of using a Jon boat for hunting is that it offers the hunter the ability to stand on the boat and shoot at prey without losing balance due to the boat’s superior stability.

Along with all the above benefits a Jon boat also gives both the weight and storage capacity needed for carrying gear.

A Jon boat is capable of carrying hunting equipment, personal gear, dogs and passengers.

4. Fishing

Anglers also benefit from using a Jon boat for many of the same reasons hunters do.

As well as offering fairly large storage and weight capacity anglers can stand and cast off without the fear of destabilizing the boat.

The superior stability of a Jon boat makes it possible for more than one angler to cast off from different areas of the boat.

And, it isn’t just fly fishing that makes a Jon boat an excellent fishing vessel.

Bowfishing is another example of a fishing activity that a Jon boat can be used for.

With Jon boat being extremely stable boat in calm water, and with its ability to enter extremely shallow areas, an archer will not have too much issue aiming at fish.

5. Leisure activities

Many people also use a boat for the simple reason that they want to explore nearby waterways.

There are not many better ways for exploring and enjoying calm inland water ways than taking a trip on a Jon boat.

A Jon boat is an amazing watercraft for many water-based recreational and leisure activities.

A Jon boat offers exceptional comfort while cruising on calm water, even at high speed.

Due to its flat bottom and shallow draft a Jon boat is easy to get on plane and almost glides across the water.

Jon boat on plane

This makes leisurely cruises on inland waters a most enjoyable experience.

What’s more a Jon boat is also great for carrying your cold beer and prepared food to share with friends or family members on a day trip.

But it can handle much longer excursions too.

This boat is also great for boat camping.

Not only it can carry your camping gear, and provisions but it can also give you access to off-the-beaten-track camping areas that many other boats cannot.

See our ultimate boat camping tips and guidelines.

6. Utility work

A Jon boat is usually made of fiberglass or aluminium, though many home built boats are made from wood (like the one we showed readers how to build here).

Thus Jon boats are tough, durable and versatile making them great for a lot of utility work.

As we have mentioned above, the common size of a Jon boat will fall into the range between 10 foot to 20 foot (though you can get small 8 foot Jon boats and large 21 footers).

Picture how easily you can transport your essential equipment, big or small, from point to point using this boat.

Imagine as well how the Jon boat itself can be transported from easily from one place to another dues to its light weight.

Because it is lightweight, a Jon boat and trailer can be hauled by most road vehicles without effort.

Jon boats are known as the “worker’s boat” and for good reason.

Its ability to navigate shallow water that many other boats cannot access and its versatility makes a Jon boat perfect for utility work on the water.

Recap: What A Jon Boat Is Used For

For many people living in areas that have inland waters, a well-balanced shallow water boat is an essential piece of equipment to transport people and goods from point A to point B, to fish and to hunt.

A Jon boat is an excellent utility boat that is both versatile and tough.

Jon boats are lightweight, regardless of their construction material, and can be easily hauled on a trailer behind most road vehicles making them easy to use.

Jon boats make excellent fishing and hunting vessels.

In addition, if one is planning a leisurely boating excursion on inland waters, a Jon boat can offer space, convenience and comfort.

These versatile boats are also used for various utility work on the water.

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