Jon boats are extremely popular for inland water use across America. They are excellent fishing, hunting and general utility vessels. But with so much choice available from many different manufacturers how can you tell which Jon boat is the best?
There is no overall best Jon boat, only the best Jon boat for you! The best Jon boat for you will depend greatly on how you intend to use the boat and where you intend to use it. To determine which is the best Jon boat for you, you only need to ask yourself a few questions and then use the answers to easily match the appropriate boat to your needs.
How to find the best Jon boat for you
There is no one best Jon boat. A Jon boat that may be the best for one person may not be the best one for another.
Because Jon boats are used for a myriad of purposes it would be a mistake to state that there is only one Jon boat that is better than all the others – no matter what anyone else tells you!
If someone tells you they know what the best Jon boat is, they are likely trying to sell you something!
Why is there no ultimate Jon boat?
Well, it’s because Jon boats are so versatile that they are easily customizable and can be modified to fit just about any inland waterway use. So, a Jon boat that is perfect for me may be a bad choice for you, and vice versa. For example, a Jon boat that is perfect for a creek angler would probably not be the best choice for a deep lake waterfowler.
Jon boats come in 2 basic types and you will find that one type is a better fit for you than the other.
The 2 basic types of Jon boat:
- Flat bottom Jon boat.
- Mod-v Jon boat.
Some people only require a standard flat bottom Jon boat while others will require a mod-v Jon boat for choppier waters. There are key differences between these two types of Jon boat that I will cover later.
However there are not only different types of Jon boat available but they also come in different sizes with different set-ups.
A large Jon boat may be advantageous to the duck hunter who navigates deep open lakes and needs extra space for gear, other hunters and maybe even dogs while a small Jon boat would be perfect for someone who fishes in narrow creeks and rivers.
So how do you know which type of Jon boat you need, what size you need and what extras you need on the boat?
Well, it all starts with a few simple questions!
A few key questions to ask yourself
There are a few key questions you should ask yourself because your answers will put you in a much better position to pick the best Jon boat for your specific needs.
The questions are:
- Where do you intend to use the Jon boat?
- What do you intend to use the Jon boat for?
Why are these questions important?
Well, by answering them you can immediately narrow down your boat search to a specific type of Jon boat with a specific type of set-up while also having a good idea about what size of Jon you need.
Where do you intend to use the Jon boat?
Knowing the type of marine environment you intend to use your Jon boat in is important for determining which type if Jon boat you need.
As mentioned previously there are flat bottom Jon boats and mod v Jon boats. Although these boats look similar and are used in similar environments they perform very differently under certain conditions.
A flat bottom Jon boat is the original type. It has a completely flat bottom and square bow. These boats are exceptionally stable on calm water and offer an incredibly smooth ride even at fast speeds because they are very easy to get on plane even with a small trolling motor.
However, these Jon boats do not handle rough water very well.
A mod-v Jon boat on the other hand has all the advantages of its flat-bottomed brother plus it has some unique hull modifications that make it better able to deal with challenging water and weather conditions. A mod-v Jon boat can handle rough water much better than a flat-bottomed Jon boat.
So, if you intend to boat only in calm inland waters then a flat bottom Jon boat is good option for you.
However, if you plan to regularly boat in more open waters where the wind can pick-up the water and create a lot of chop then you would be much better off getting a mod-v Jon boat.
Although Jon boats are not designed for ocean use many Jon owners will take to ocean waters. If you intend to do this I advise you to get a mod-v Jon boat and to follow the guidelines in this article as taking a Jon into sea water can be dangerous. The saltwater will also cause quick corrosion to an aluminum Jon boat (most Jons are made from aluminum) and so you will also need to take the appropriate steps to protect your boat (see our article can you use a Jon boat in saltwater for more information on this).
If you have identified the type of marine environment you will use your Jon boat in, you now know which type of Jon is a better fit for your needs.
Be aware that both a flat bottom Jon boat and a mod-v Jon boat have a flat bottom, the term “flat bottom Jon boat” is only used to distinguish it from the mod-v Jon boat. If you want a more in-depth analysis of the differences between these two types of Jon boat read our article flat bottom Jon boat vs mod v Jon boat.
What do you intend to use the Jon boat for?
Now that you know which type of Jon boat is better suited to your needs it’s time to determine what type of set-up the boat should have.
Although many Jon boats are sold in basic form, with just the hull and nothing else, as you progress to bigger boats and to ones which have been designed for specific uses, the set-ups will differ greatly.
For example, a group of 3 duck hunters with dogs and gear will need a larger boat with a lot more deck space than a solo angler. The boat will not just need plenty of deck space for gear but it will also need to be a mod-v so it can handle choppy lake water. The boat will likely need a fairly large outboard motor. Alternatively, the angler will require rod holders and holder for nets and will probably be better off with a small trolling motor.
Someone who enjoys bow fishing needs a completely different Jon boat entirely.
Bow fishing requires stability over everything else and usually also requires an elevated position for shooting. For this reason many bow fishers will opt for a Jon boat with a shooting deck attached and will be much more concerned about deck stability than deck space.
Knowing how you will use your Jon boat helps you better identify which boat set-up is better for you.
Knowing what you intend to use your Jon boat for can therefore help you make a better decision about the type of Jon boat set-up you need for your specific activities.
So ask yourself … do you intend to use your Jon boat for fishing? Or are you are water-based hunter? Perhaps you only want a Jon boat for recreational purposes such as boat camping or day trips on the water. Maybe you need a Jon for basic water-based utility work.
Also ask yourself additional questions that will affect the type of extras you have on the boat such as the engine. Do you want your Jon boat to be a speed freak on the water propelled by a large outboard motor or would you be happy with a slower boat propelled by paddle or oars? Maybe you want something in-between that uses both; a Jon boat with a trolling motor and paddle works well for many people.
Using your answers to find the best Jon boat for your needs
Now that you know where and how you will use your Jon boat, it becomes easier to pick the perfect boat for you.
Use your answers to identity whether you need a:
- Flat bottom Jon boat.
- Mod-v Jon boat.
Then ask yourself how you will use your Jon boat.
Use your answer to identity whether you need a:
- A Jon boat set-up for fishing.
- A Jon boat set-up for hunting.
- A Jon boat with a shooting deck.
Your answers will also help you to determine what size of Jon boat you need.
Do you need a Jon for:
- Solo purposes?
- 2 – 3 people?
- Larger groups and maybe dogs as well?
Knowing how and where you will use your Jon boat will have a big impact on the size of boat you need.
When you know how much stuff and how many people you will be placing in your boat you can tell what size of Jon boat you need.
Bigger Jon boats tend to have greater weight capacity so remember it isn’t just about the amount of people on the boat. It’s more about the amount of weight the boat is carry. For teh average weight capacities of Jon boats see our Jon boat weight capacity guide.
When it comes to the size of the Jon boat you need, you have already seen that this is usually determined by how you intend to use the boat. But there is one other consideration you should be aware of before choosing a boat size.
Before you size the appropriate Jon boat you must also take into consideration the marine environment in which you intend to use it.
If you want to boat in creeks that have tight turns you will probably need a fairly small Jon boat as the larger vessels, up to 21′, may be difficult to maneuver in such tight waters.
If you require more stability than a normal Jon boat can provide, which is rare as these are incredibly stable vessels, then a double wide Jon boat may be your preference. Be aware though that you can take steps to make any Jon boat more stable yourself.
There are also tunnel hull Jon boats available that make planning easier if speed and comfort are a major concern for you.
Perhaps you have budget restrictions. Jon boats can be extremely cheap or fairly expensive depending the boat model and its set-up. For a rundown of average Jon boat costs read this article. If you are very budget conscious then you can read our article on the cheapest Jon boats as well. You may be surprised at the type of high quality you can get for very little money.
If you are still unsure which Jon boat is the best fit for you, or you now intend to go out and buy one, be sure to read our Jon boat buyer’s guide for expert advice on choosing the right boat and getting the best deal.