Best Jon Boats to Buy in 2021

When comparing Jon Boats to other types of boats, Jon boats are very affordable. Their simple, yet practical construction, is virtually indestructible, easy to maintain, and can even be transported in the bed of your truck or on a roof rack.

But don't let this utility boat fool you. Jon boats are packed with features and are highly customizable for all of your water adventures.

What to look for when buying a Jon boat

Before you put all your money down on number one, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right Jon boat for your purpose. The three main deciding factors are:

  1. Hull length
  2. Max weight capacity
  3. Hull material

Hull Length

The length you need will largely depend on how many people will on the vessel at once.

For solo fishing, a Jon boat as small as 8 to 10 feet is more than enough. An aluminum fishing boat this size is not ideal for choppy water, but with an outboard motor or trolling motor attached, you can quickly get into even the most remote spots for bass fishing and more.

If you plan on using your Jon boat for things like camping expeditions, where you will likely have more people and gear on the boat, a 12 to 14-foot model is ideal. At this size, you can pack a little more weight and will be able to accommodate a larger motor to get you further. As a rule of thumb, a 12-foot boat is about the minimum size for 3 anglers.

Lastly, if you plan on using your Jon boat for your next great hunting trip, look for a 16 foot, 18 foot, or 21 foot Jon boat. Larger Jon boats boast features like bench seats and a lot more storage so you have a place to stow all that gear for duck hunting and more. Keep in mind that the larger you go, the bigger of a motor you will need, and thus it will be more expensive.

Max Weight Capacity

Although these boats can be made light, you will want to make sure the boat can support the weight and gear of everyone on board.

Do a quick weight addition of the number of people, clothes (hunting and cold weather garments can add up), gear (fishing gear, hunting rifles, coolers, etc.), and anything else you plan to bring on your Jon boat. This total will give you a good ballpark when you start looking around.

Hull Material

Hull material is another consideration when looking for a Jon boat. Jon boats are most commonly made for aluminum. So much so, that it can actually be difficult to find ones that are not aluminum. However, Jon boats can also be made from fiberglass, polyethylene, or wood.

For freshwater, an aluminum Jon boat is ideal. Aluminum is light, durable, and inexpensive. It also requires very little maintenance when used in freshwater.

If you plan on using your Job boat on saltwater, fiberglass or polyethylene is a better option. Fiberglass and polyethylene can be more costly than aluminum but will stand up to the corrosive effects of saltwater much better. Aluminum can corrode quickly and requires a lot of maintenance when used on saltwater.

Last, but not least, is the good old-fashioned wooden Jon boat. This is rarely something you would commercially purchase, but makes an excellent weekend DIY project with the kids!

Storage, Seating, and Other Considerations

Once you decide on these items, you will also want to consider other factors like the seating and storage options onboard, what type of motor you will need, and if you will want to trailer the boat.

Most Jon boats are set up for standard shaft length, but if you are using a long-shaft motor, you will have to find a Jon boat with a larger transom.

All of these factors affect the budget and versatility of your vessel. Know what matters to you before making a purchase.

Best Jon Boats

The below list of the best Jon boats is based on overall performance. I have included the weight capacity, size, and material specs for each for quick comparison.

1. Crestliner 1860 Retriever CC/SC

  • Length: 18′
  • Weight Capacity: 1,579 lbs
  • Hull Material: Aluminum
  • Best for: Freshwater

The Crestliner 1860 Retriever CC/SC (Center Console / Side Console) offers full-featured versatility. This Jon boat is perfect for hunting, fishing and general boating.

Its generous seating and weight capacity make it flexible for everything from a solo ride to a group trip with all your gear. Due to its generous size, this is a popular model for doing a Bass Boat to Jon Boat conversion.

The Crestliner 1860 Retriever does a great job transforming for the job at hand with fold-down seats, dedicated fishing rod storage, multiple storage compartments for other gear, and a 16 gallon aerated livewell.

All of these options allow you to really configure this boat for what you need when you need it, with lots of room to move around.

2. SeaArk RX180 River Extreme Series

  • Length: 18′
  • Weight Capacity: 1,328 lbs.
  • Hull Material: Aluminum
  • Best for: Freshwater

The RX180 from SeaArk is another Jon boat from the utility-first school. This boat is primarily designed for fishing, and keeps its feature set tight to that purpose.

The boat is very spacious with generous casting decks and two fold down fishing seats with pedestal.

This boat assumes you will be catching a lot of fish by offering a fiberglass 60″ side console with 9.5 gallon aerated livewell, and another center console with 12 gallon aerated livewell.

The RX180 also has a nice amount of modern electronics on board as well including tilt-trim switch, LED courtesy light, LED removable navigation lights, 12-volt outlet with USD port, and two batter trays. Just enough to keep you focussed on fishing, but still charge your iPhone.

3. Sun Dolphin American 12 Jon Boat

  • Length: 12′
  • Weight Capacity: 532 lbs
  • Hull Material: UV-stabilized Fortiflex® High-Density Polyethylene
  • Best for: Saltwater or Freshwater

The Sun Dolphin American 12 Jon Boat is the American sweetheart of Jon boats. Its simple design offers ample room for a 2-person Jon boat. The molded construction of this boat packs a surprising amount of storage into a small space, leaving the frills behind.

There are storage areas in both the bow and the stern, as well as built-in rod-holders to keep you organized on the water. The boat has 2 bench seats, with enough space in between for coolers and bait.

The only downfall with this boat is that there are no dry storage compartments in this model, so make sure to bring water-tight containers of dry bags.

4. Lund 1040 Jon Boat

  • Length: 10′
  • Weight Capacity: 325 lbs
  • Hull Material: Aluminum
  • Best for: Freshwater

The Lund 1040 Jon Boat brings the utility to utility fishing boats. This small, low-cost boat delivers on durability and ease of transport, weighing in at only 87 lbs. It's a perfect entry-level option for fishing and duck hunting, or for the solo angler looking for a vessel built to last.

This boat is available in a tiller (rear steering) and has 2 no-frills bench seats. This is a very flat bottom boat and is best used in calm water only.

This 10-foot waterfowl-hunting/fishing boat has an aluminum flat-bottom design so you can easily access shallow water when fishing or hunting ducks or geese from a boat. Dress this boat up with some camo and it becomes the perfect duck hunting boat.

5. Sun Dolphin Pro 120 Fishing Boat

  • Length: 11.3′
  • Weight Capacity: 532 lbs
  • Hull Material: UV-stabilized Fortiflex® High-Density Polyethylene
  • Best for: Saltwater or Freshwater

The Sun Dolphin Pro 120 Fishing Boat punches above its weight in features.

It offers the simplicity of a molded tri-hull design, with all the creature comforts of larger and more expensive Jon fishing boats.

In under 12′, the Pro 120 manages to fit in dry storage compartments in the front and rear for tucking your gear away, a carpeted slip-free casting deck, built-in rod holders, and an aerated livewell with a drain to keep your catch fresh!

It also has a slew of other great little features like recessed drink and tackle holders, under-deck fuel tank storage, and navigation lights.

Overall, for its size, price, and versatility, the Sun Dolphin Pro 120 is an excellent overall catch. However, this little powerhouse does have a lower weight capacity than larger models, which would preclude it from being a great hunting vessel or option for larger families.

6. Lowe L1648M Jon Boat

  • Length: 15′ 8.5″
  • Weight Capacity: 1,014 lbs
  • Hull Material: Aluminum
  • Best for: Freshwater

The Lowe L1648 is the reliable neighbor of Jon boats. It's known for being a durable and dependable workhorse for anglers and hunters.

Lowe Boats has been making aluminum, riveted Jons for a long time, so you can rest assured they've ironed out the kinks. If you're looking for something with guaranteed good quality a value, this is a great option for you.

Some of its features include convenient grab handles (not sexy, but handy), 2 bench seats, and a center seat with a gravity-fed livewell and storage compartment.

7. Excel Boats F4 Pro Hull 1754

  • Length: 17′
  • Weight Capacity: 1,200 lbs (approx.)
  • Hull Material: Aluminum
  • Best for: Freshwater

The Excel Boats claim to boating fame is that they are “the original duck boat step deck transom boat.” Today, most duck boat lines feature this step deck design.

Excel has an entire F-series of Jon boats, but our favorite is the F4 Pro Hull. I like this model because it falls in the middle of their F-series offering the perfect balance of strength, lightweight, and speed. It also provides tons of room for passengers and gear.

And unlike other no-frills Jon boats, the F4 Pro Hull brings all the bells and whistles to the table with navigation lights, control panel interior light, a 12-volt plug, fold-down stand-up bar, a battery box, and quite a bit more.

This boat is for the hunter or angler that wants the utility function but also likes nice things.

8. Stalker MV 120

  • Length: 12′ 2″
  • Weight Capacity: 425 lbs. (approx.)
  • Hull Material: Fiberglass
  • Best for: Saltwater or Freshwater

The Stalker MV 120 the perfect little fishing boat for solo anglers or a day on the lake teaching your little one.

The Stalker has a modified v-hull for a smooth ride that can handle some chop. It features two comfortable swivel seats that are perfect for fishing from all angles.

The interior is coated with non-skid splatter paint as an added safety feature to avoid slips.

It comes pre-wired for a transom mount electric trolling motor. Other than an optional non-aerated livewell, there is nothing too fancy about this boat. It gets to the point of spending time on the water quickly, cost-effectively, and does it well.

With a silent running motor and excellent stability, this is a great choice for bow fishing.

9. Lowe L1852MT Aura Boat

  • Length: 17′ 9″
  • Weight Capacity: 1443 lbs.
  • Hull Material: Aluminum
  • Best for: Freshwater

The Lowe L1852MT Aura Boat is another rugged and versatile option from the Lowe lineup of Jon boats.

This is a great boat for anyone that wants a little more breathing room on their Jon, while still maintaining great storage capacity.

The L1852MT Aura offers a unique wide-open layout with lots of space for moving around and casting.

The bow has an optional pedestal base and storage locker for a generous amount of dry storage. There is also an optional gravity-fed livewell.

Other features include driver and passenger seats, fishing seats, grab handles, and more storage compartments.

10. Tracker Boats Grizzly 2072 CC Sportsman

  • Length: 21'5″
  • Weight Capacity: 1,000 lbs.
  • Hull Material: Aluminum
  • Best for: Freshwater

The Tracker Grizzly 2071 CC Sportsman is a fully-loaded watercraft. It comes in at a higher price point than the other boats on this list, but what you get is a more full-featured boating experience.

Unique to the Grizzly is the elevated deck positions that allow for more accurate bow targeting and less deflection from your arrow.

This boat can also really light up your surrounding with eight super-bright LED lights.

In the bow, you will find a 15 gallon rotomolded and aerated livewell with bait bucket holder. Other features include lockable storage compartments, non-skid interior, and rail-mounted utility tray with arrow, tool, and drink holders.

Tracker has gone with an all-welded design, giving it the same warranty as other Tracker boats.

Decked out with camo, this boat is for serious hunters that want a quality-made boat, tailored to bow hunting and bow fishing.

Different Boats for Different Folks

Although I have this in a numbered list, the right boat for you really comes down to what you will be using it for and with how many people. Jon boats have a wide variance from tiny fishing vessels with just a seat and a heartbeat, right up to advanced hunting machines packed with features.

Keep your functional requirements in mind as you compare the options and you are sure to find the best fishing boat for you.

Chris Blackwell Avatar
About Chris Blackwell

Chris is an avid angler and boating enthusiast. Raised on a small lake he spent most of his youth fishing in Jon Boats and water skiing behind Fiberglass boats. Chris enjoys taking his family out on the water so they can relive the fun he has always had.

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