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Reviewed by our Boaters:

BEST JON BOATS FOR FISHING AND HUNTING 2021

Z

Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Test 21 different Jon Boats and write reviews of the best.

The result is 11 of the best Jon Boats on the market today.

joao paulo carvalho

Joao Paulo Carvalho

Journalist
A journalist with a passion for gear, photography, traveling and writing.

Bradley Axmith boating & sailing editor

Bradley Axmith

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Vikingship building gear enthusiast and waterworld fanatic.

From the dazzling Ozarks to the mystical swamps of Louisiana all the way down to the magnificent backwaters of the Everglades, Jon Boats are the preferred watercraft among fishermen and hunters across the Southern wetlands of the U.S.

Thanks to its basic layout combined with a flat-bottomed hull and a durable aluminum construction, they are the ideal vessel for navigating in shallow and muddy waters. Jon Boats are cheap and easily found used on places like Craigslist too.

In this guide, we’ve reviewed and rounded up the best Jon Boats for fishing and hunting on the market right now.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll also find information about the most important things to consider before buying your Jon boat.

With that said, let’s jump right into our top picks:

This jon boat from Sea Ark gives the other performance boats a run for their money. It’s wider and yet so maneuverable, fast and spacious too.

With 90 horses pushing the RX180, it flies over the water. It’s immediately clear that this boat is meant to run. It also has an impressive turning radius for getting in and out of tight spots.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Sea Ark RX180 CC:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 18’
  • Beam: 82”
  • Bottom Width: 60”
  • Max. Weight Capacity: 1328 lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: 90 hp
What we like:
  • Spacious
  • Diamond plate flooring from edge to edge
  • 12 gallon aerated livewell right in front of console
  • Good storage
  • Fast and maneuverable for do-everything profile
What we don’t like:
  • Nothing

With 1328 pounds of combined weight it can still fly, but because of its extra width there’s a stability that matches. So bowfishing from the front deck, which can rock any boat, aint gonna cause too many problems for standup hunters.

There are two fold down, swivel fishing seats with pedestal mounts and an extra wide bench seat aft of the console.

The package includes bilge pump, wiring for trolling motor, 12 volt and USB plug, transducer bracket and LED lights.

Because there are so many features, this one doesn’t need to be customized.

Since 1972 Lowe Jons have been providing anglers and hunters with durable and reliable waterborne vessels and the L 1648M Big Jon is a prime example of the brand’s quality and value.

The 1648M is a bare bones Jon Boat that rocks shallow waterways like rivers and coves for getting into the right fishing holes with your rod or fishing bow.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Lowe Boats 1648M:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 15’8.5”
  • Beam: 70”
  • Weight: 275lbs
  • Max. Weight Capacity: 1014lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: 35 hp
What we like:
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Roomy
What we don’t like:
  • There’s no dry storage compartment

As a pretty spartan Jon Boat model, it’s lightweight and easy to lift up onto a trailer.

Featuring only the best materials like marine-grade 5052-H34 aluminum alloy and acrylic olive drab paint, the L 1648M is ready to take on the elements.

This model boasts a flat-bottom modified V-hull for best stability, a tall transom (20”) for improved utility, as well as wide bench seats enough to fit four people comfortably.

One great thing about this boat is how much it invites adding your own hacks. In truth, you’ll need to start with some kind of mat or rubberized flooring, because it does get slippery when wet.

Feature-packed and fully customizable, the Crestliner 1860 Retriever comes through with flying colors both as a hunting and fishing Jon boat. It impresses with performance and storage space and customization options.

Boasting either a tall center console (CC) or a side console (SC), this all-welded boat comes with the new 45-degree Suremount Gunnel System, which allows you to slide accessories along it for perfect placement.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Crestliner 1860 Retriever:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 18’
  • Beam: 85”
  • Weight: 970lbs
  • Max. Weight Capacity: 1578lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: 90 hp
What we like:
  • Excellent performance (can go really fast!)
  • No-slip paint
  • Spacious
  • Big livewell
  • Can double as a ski boat
What we don’t like:
  • It’s almost too feature rich to belong to the simple jon boat segment

The upgraded models have improved ergonomics for standing and sitting at the helm. There’s plenty of space for mounting electronics, a cup-holder and mobility.

Plus, a 16-gallon aerated livewell, multiple storage compartments, and comfortable seating for up to seven people.

Its port side and console racks offer you plenty of room to store your rods while the camo paint lets you stay out of sight from your prey. On the inside, the no-slip paint is also relatively easy to keep clean.

Made of rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene, the Sun Dolphin Pro 120 is sturdy, lightweight, and comes stocked with plenty of features for that perfect weekend fishing trip.

Its tri-hull design delivers superior stability and control while the carpeted casting decks offer better grip and less slip, not to mention sparing your butt a scolding on hot days.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Sun Dolphin Pro 120 Fishing Boat:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 11’3”
  • Width: 62”
  • Weight: 238lbs
  • Max. Capacity: 532lbs
  • hp rating: 10 hp
What we like:
  • Smart design of compartments
  • Aerated livewell
  • Stable
  • Solidly built
  • Carpeted decks
What we don’t like:
  • Though we’ve seen it with 15 hp it’s rated for only 10 hp!

It features two padded swivel seats so your friend can tag along, dual storage compartments to keep things organized and at hand, as well as a built-in cooler.

Besides coming with an auxiliary battery compartment, the Pro 120 is also pre-wired for a bow-mounted electric trolling motor. And because this jon boat was made for fishing, it offers conveniently located fishing rod holders, an aerated livewell to keep your catch fresh, and navigation lights so you can extend your fishing trip until late hours.

Featuring an elevated shooting deck with railing, the Grizzly 2072 CC Sportsman is the ideal package for bowfishing. You get a 115 or 150 horsepower Mercury motor and trailer for a ready to rock Jon boat.

But because the platform is removable, you can easily turn it into a roomy front deck for other kinds of fishing and hunting or logistics vessel.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Grizzly 2072 CC Sportsman :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 21’5”
  • Beam: 8’6”
  • Bottom Width: 6’
  • Max. Capacity: 1800lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: 150hp
What we like:
  • Spacious
  • The elevated fishingbow deck that can removed
  • Great performance (Can rock 150 hp!)
  • LED lights all over for better visibility
  • It’s a package
What we don’t like:
  • Almost too feature-rich for the humble jon boat category

In addition, three pedestal seat base locations as well as two movable bike seats, a utility tray with drink and rod holders, a 15-gallon aerated livewell, loads of storage compartments along with eight bright LED lights around the front deck that help you navigate and illuminate your prey at night.

Its welded-in, foam-filled interior side walls together with the thick aluminum floor ensure structural strength and a quieter ride. The hull, stringer, transom, and decks are also all-welded for long-lasting durability.

This’ll cost a little more because of all the features, belonging to the premium range of Jon boats out there.

Suitable for both fresh and saltwater, the Stalker MV 120 is a very compact, stable, and convenient Jon Boat—perfect for that father and son fishing trip. This little utility boat won’t excite, as it’s a leisure craft designed for cruising slowly and a bit of DIY, but it serves its purpose solidly.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Stalker MV 120:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 12’2”
  • Width: 46”
  • Bottom Width: 35”
  • Weight: 140lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: 5hp
What we like:
  • Suitable for saltwater conditions
  • Stable in choppy waters
  • Great value for money
What we don’t like:
  • Low weight capacity
  • Not many features

This boat is pre-wired for a transom mounted electric trolling motor–maxing out at 5hp–though it could likely take a little more.

It features two non-removable swivel seats, ample storage under the deck, and a slightly modified V-bow design for added stability when navigating through choppy waters.

An American 12 Jon Fishing Boat is a simple chassis that you can build the angling vessel you’ve always wanted. This affordable boat is for the fisherman with some DIY chops or willing to add features over a few years’ time.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Sun Dolphin American 12 Jon Fishing:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 12’
  • Width: 52”
  • Weight: 110lbs
  • Max. Capacity: 532lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: 6 hp
What we like:
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to row
  • Easy to customize
  • Easy to transport
  • Good max capacity
What we don’t like:
  • There’s no dry storage compartment

Boasting a heavy-duty deck and hull construction, two large bench-style seats, built-in motor mounts, battery storage, and four rod holder locations, the American 12 is a simple but suitable Jon boat for those into fishing and duck hunting.

Mount a trolling motor in the bow or stern, add swivel chairs and livewells along with a cooler. There is plywood just underneath the surface (polyethylene) of the benches, which make it easy to fasten removable chairs or other mods.

One of the best jon boats for fishing on shallow waters, the Lowe L1852MT Aura boasts a rugged aluminum construction, a wide-open layout, and ample space for up to six people. With a total max capacity of 1443, it can be used in so many ways.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Lowe L1852MT Aura:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 17’9”
  • Beam: 75”
  • Bottom Width: 52”
  • Max. Weight Capacity: 1443lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: Tiller 45 hp/Remote 65 hp
What we like:
  • Great performance on skinny waters
  • Sturdy construction
  • Large carrying capacity
  • Smart gravity-fed waterwell placement
  • Wickedly durable
What we don’t like:
  • Long list of optionals

With the amount of weight this one can handle, there’s plenty of customizations that are possible. The bow fishing platform is big enough for two or for a swivel seat, for example.

Some of the optional features include a pedestal seat base, a gravity-fed livewell, and a trolling motor mount. Additionally, the side console helm might appeal to boaters looking for more versatile activities like cruising or water skiing.

Roomy, durable, and highly functional fishing jon boat featuring a rotomolded side console, hence the SC on its name, a 9-gallon aerated livewell, as well as seating for up to three people.

The Grizzly 1754 SC is also pre-wired to accept a trolling motor and as a Tracker jon boat, it comes with welded-in, foam-filled interior side walls along with a thick aluminum floor ensuring structural strength and a quieter ride.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Tracker Grizzly 1754 SC:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 17’1”
  • Beam: 6’6”
  • Bottom Width: 4’6”
  • Max. Weight Capacity: 1250lbs
  • Max. hp Capacity: 75 hp
What we like:
  • Spacious
  • Stable
  • Sturdy let light construction
  • Fast and stable
What we don’t like:
  • Livewell a little too small

In addition, port side rod holders, a sport steering wheel, and LED navigation lights to help you on your nocturnal adventures. And a bilge pump is also included in the package.

With a 60 hp motor, expect between 30-38 mph. To crack the 40 mph marker, max out to 75 hp. But a 60 will still plane and motor impressively with 3-4 people plus gear.

Our next jon boat from Lowe features a flat square-shaped bow along with a 15” transom, therefore offering fishermen plenty of room to get out there comfortably and get the job done.

Plus, two bench seats, two oar lock mounts for your paddling oars, and thoughtful details like transom corner caps and formed-in keels. The latter paired with the entirely flat hull bottom provide great floatation in very skinny waters.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the L1032 Jon:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 10’
  • Beam: 48”
  • Bottom Width: 32”
  • Max Weight Capacity: 275lbs
  • Max hp Capacity: 3.5 hp
What we like:
  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy construction
  • Durable paint finish
  • Affordable
What we don’t like:
  • Very basic, not many features—but it gets the job done!
  • There’s no dry storage compartment

If you’re serious about duck hunting on shallow waters, you’ll appreciate what the F-4 Pro Hull 1754 brings to the table. It’s a little different than other jon boats here, as it can go even shallower than any other when armed with it’s mud motor.

Designed to give duck hunters exactly what they want—a light, tough, and quick vessel—the original duck boat step deck transom boat comes standard with a low or high front deck, optimal 17-degree transoms for superior mud motor trim control, and a reinforced floor that allows you to navigate through skinny waters effortlessly.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the F-4 Pro Hull 1754:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Length: 17’
  • Beam: 69”
  • Bottom Width: 54”
  • Max. hp Capacity: 50 hp
What we like:
  • Excellent performance on shallow waters
  • Sturdy construction
  • Spacious open floor pla
  • Standard package includes everything you’re gonna need
  • Still room for customization
What we don’t like:
  • Couldn’t find anything

Also, a fold-down stand-up bar with three height adjustments as well as twin LED navigation lights to guide you on your night expeditions.

The high transom and long sponson pods makes it plane above the water quickly. With a mud motor that draws no more than the flat hull, the F-4 can drive through any swamp or marsh without damaging the prop.

JON BOATS BUYER’S GUIDE

 

Some say the jon boat used to be called a jack boat, known for it’s flat bottom and shallow draft. Jack became John and the John boat was suddenly called an Ozark John Boat. Then it got shortened to just jon boat. Like this story of simplification, the jon boat is a simple vessel.

Although one of the most low-cost alternatives when compared to other types of boats on the market, acquiring a jon boat is still a great investment. And as such, you don’t want to regret your purchase. Remember to protect it with the right kind of boat paints too.

So whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned sailor, here are a few things you should consider before buying your jon boat.

Size

Jon boats typically range from 8 to 20 feet in length, sometimes larger.

To determine which jon boat size will accommodate your needs best, a few factors should be taken into consideration. They are: the body of water in which you will be navigating most of the time, how you will be trailing your boat, the intended purpose of your vessel, as well as how many people you plan on bringing along with you.

If you enjoy solo fishing or hunting expeditions on small waterways, then an 8-10 feet jon boat like the L1032 Jon should fit your needs quite well. It’s also easy to power and transport.

However, if you like having some company while you wait for the fish to bite, then the Grizzly 2072 CC Sportsman is a great option. This is a good option if you’re gonna take up bowfishing too. And how could you not want to.

Large jon boats not only hold more gear and offer more seating space, but they also perform better in choppy waters. Also, the longer and wider the boat, the more stable they usually are.

Weight

If there’s one thing jon boats are known for, is for being incredibly lightweight.

The majority of them will weigh between 400-500 pounds. But, as this is an average weight, you will also find lighter as well as heavier jon boats.

The Stalker MV 120 (12’2”), for example, weighs only 140lbs. And as size and features increase, so does the weight. The Crestliner 1860 Retriever (18’), a much more feature-rich example, weighs 970lbs.

It’s important to remember that every jon boat has a maximum weight capacity. A 10-foot jon boat, for instance, has an average weight capacity of around 325 pounds, while an 18-foot one can carry around 1425 pounds.

When it says capacity 6 persons, it really means it can fit 5 semi-comfortably and probably will be awesome with 4.

As a responsible sailor, you should know and always respect the boat’s weight limit. Exceeding the weight capacity of a jon boat may incur several problems such as poor handling, lowering the freeboard—distance from the waterline to the upper deck level—resulting in water entering the vessel, reduced stability, and finally capsizing.

Propulsion

Due to their lightweight construction with a flat hull, jon boats do not require much power to plane.

A pair of oars or a battery-powered electric trolling motor should be enough to meet your basic boating needs.

However, depending on your priorities and the size of your boat, you can always add a gasoline-powered outboard motor to your vessel. Be sure to check their maximum horsepower capacity.

Now that you’ve got a good selection of the best jon boats for your fishing and hunting trips, share with us in the comment section below your thoughts on them.

We’re always happy to hear your stories and help you with whatever question you might have.

If you already have a jon boat or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about jon boats

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What is a jon boat?

    A jon boat (also known as a johnboat) is a flat-bottomed vessel made of aluminum, fiberglass, or wood. They are typically between 8 and 20 feet long and 32 to 60 inches wide. Jon boats usually have a transom onto which a trolling motor or an outboard motor can be mounted. Depending on the boat size, there can be between one to three benches.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What is a jon boat good for?

    Jon boats are good for a variety of activities from fishing to hunting to carrying timber. Due to the flat shape of the hull, jon boats are ideal for shallow and calm waters.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    Can you waterski behind a jon boat?

    Some of the more performance jon boats can pull a water skier or wakeboarder or tube if it has enough power. The Sea Ark RX180 has enough power when equipped with it’s 90 horsepower motor.

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