Picking the best jon boat can be a very difficult task. It often comes down to individual needs – do you need a jon boat that is easily portable? Or perhaps you’re trying to find a jon boat made specifically for two passengers. That’s why we’ve painstakingly sorted through all of the options on the market and condensed them down to three options that suit a variety of different requirements.
How We Found The 3 Best Jon Boats
Finding the best jon boat among the dozens of options can be exceptionally challenging. That’s why Consumer Prodigy has done the hard work for you by painstakingly studying all of the jon boats on the market and identifying the top 3 you can buy today.
- Sun Dolphin American 12′ Jon Fishing Boat is the best value for your money.
- Best for Portability – Pelican Intruder 12′ Jon Fishing Boat
- Best for Two People – Sun Dolphin Pro Jon Fishing Boat
Our Top Overall Pick
- Sun Dolphin Pro Jon Fishing Boat is our top, all-around pick based on value, utility and durability.
|Sun Dolphin Pro Jon Fishing Boat||Check Price|
|Pelican Intruder 12' Jon Fishing Boat||Check Price|
|Sun Dolphin American 12' Jon Fishing Boat||Check Price|
Top 3 Best Jon Boats for Fishing
1. Sun Dolphin Pro Jon Fishing Boat – Best for Two People
- Size: 11.3 feet.
- Fuel tank storage compartment.
- Big livewell and drain.
- Complies with US Coast Guard standards.
- Price: Check Price
The Sun Dolphin Pro boasts a lot of features that are normally reserved for larger jon boats. Despite being a two seater it’s remarkably stable and comes with casting platforms on the front and rear which offers excellent grip. It even comes with two swivel seats that are conveniently located directly near the storage compartment and drains.
Under the deck it also comes with a fuel storage area and a recessed area to hold your tackle box. If you’re concerned that the other boats on this list might not have enough storage then definitely go with the Sun Dolphin Pro.
Perhaps the best part of this boat is the seating – you’ll have no trouble spending an entire afternoon on these swivel seats. Especially if you compare these with the traditional bench seating that is common among jon boats. And despite all of these upgrades, it’s still remarkably stable even with a 40lb+ thrust trolling motor!
- Tons of storage space.
- Comes with two swivel seats.
- Large livewell and convenient draining system.
- Scratches easily.
2. Pelican Intruder 12′ Jon Fishing Boat – Best for Portability
- Size: 12 feet.
- Four built-in rod holders.
- Bench seating.
- Several storage compartments.
- Price: Check Price
The Pelican Intruder jon boat is a very stable option for those looking for long afternoons out fishing on the water. The boat boasts a riveted deck which is great for resisting impacts and shallow draft design which significantly maximizes it’s stability while on the water. It even offers over 35 cubic feet of extra storage space for your tackle boxes and ice chest.
With built-in motor mounts and oarlocks you’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to moving it while on the water. And with easy carrying handles you can easily carry it onto the water without breaking a sweat. It’s made of a polyethylene and advanced resin which provides significant stability without sacrificing portability.
Keep in mind that unlike most jon boats, the only draining mechanism is on the side of the boat and not on the stern like others. And while it comes with oarlocks, you’ll be much better off using a trolling motor as rowing in this particular jon boat may be very taxing after some time.
- Lots of storage space.
- Built-in motor mounts & oarlocks.
- Carrying handles for extra portability.
- Drainage mechanism is only on the side, not the bow or stern.
- Needs a trolling motor as it doesn’t row very easily.
3. Sun Dolphin American 12′ Jon Fishing Boat – Best for Budget Shoppers
- Size: 12 feet.
- Built-in seats.
- Four fishing rod holders.
- Complies with US Coast Guard standards.
- Price: Check Price
This ultra light jon boat is a great option if you’re looking for a long afternoon on the water. With extra storage space located in the bow and stern and two built-in seats you should have plenty of room for one or two people. If fishing is your goal then you’ll definitely want to make use of one of the four rod holders located conveniently near the seats.
The Sun Dolphin American comes with motor mounts located at the front and back of the boat along with a couple battery storage locations. Along with a recessed tackle holder, the Sun Dolphin is extremely lightweight and easily transportable for any fishing expedition.
The porability does come at a cost though – you’ll want to stick with a 30lb thrust motor as anything higher may make it feel unstable. Also weight may be an issue as it’s maximum capacity is just north of 500 pounds, so two adults and full gear may be putting the boat close to it’s maximum.
- Lightweight and portable – easily manageable with one person.
- Built-in fishing rod holders for long afternoons.
- Two person maximum.
- Maximum of 30lb thrust trolling motor or you may experience problems.
While you really can’t go wrong with any of the 3 jon boats on this list, we recommend the Sun Dolphin Pro Jon Fishing Boat as the best overall based on it’s value and utility.
If, however, you’re looking specifically for a jon boat made specifically for portability then you should probably go with the Pelican Intruder 12′ Jon Fishing Boat. And for two people then we’d recommend the Sun Dolphin Pro Jon Fishing Boat as it’s hands down the best option.
There is a great deal of variety among jon boats and it’s worth comparing the requisite features before making a purchase. That’s why we wrote this buyer’s guide so you can determine which elements are most important before you buy a jon boat.
Most jon boats on this list are between 11 feet and 12 feet long, but keep in mind they can come in much larger sizes. If you do opt for a larger jon boat, you may need a more powerful trolling motor to achieve enough thrust to get you where you want to go on the water. Also, if you’re anticipating your boat may need to carry a heavier load you may want to opt for a larger option. If you plan on going solo, however, a 12 foot jon boat should be perfect for your needs.
Be sure to carefully consider exactly how much gear and people you plan on loading into one of these jon boats before you set off for the day. An ice and tackle box, trolling motor and batteries plus 1-2 people and you’ll likely be hitting near the maximum capacity for most 12 foot jon boats. If you plan on going out on the water alone this probably won’t be an issue, but if you do plan on fishing with two full grown adults then you’ll definitely want to opt for a boat with a higher carrying capacity.
If you’ve ever spent an entire afternoon sitting on an uncomfortable bench seat while fishing then you know how important this can be. In addition to being uncomfortable, padless bench seats also make navigating to your storage significantly more difficult. Upgrading to superior seats is almost mandatory if you plan on using it frequently. We here at Consumer Prodigy recommend you opt for the swivel seating as it makes for a much more comfortable experience.
To avoid having to do after market improvements to your jon boat, we recommend picking up a jon boat that comes pre-equipped with a couple fishing rod holders. While most jon boats are built specifically for fishing they may not come with established fishing rod mounts so you may have to add them yourself.
Trolling Motor Mount
Unless you plan on rowing around in your jon boat (which isn’t recommend for larger bodies of water) then you’re going to need a built-in trolling motor mount. Be sure to check that the boat you’re looking to buy will fit the trolling motor you have so you won’t have to make any alterations to ensure it fits.
Be sure to check whether or not the manufacturer offers a warranty on the item you intend to purchase. While Amazon should cover broken or defective items upon delivery, it’s up to the manufacturer as to whether they will provide a replacement after it’s been used. Compare different jon boat sellers to see if any of them will offer replacements in the event it breaks from normal use.
Even if everything works properly, you may discover you’ve ordered the wrong jon boat for your needs which may require a return. Be sure to check with the vendor before purchasing to see if they will allow a return and if so, under what circumstances.
Shipping is easily one of the most annoying costs associated with making online purchases. Be sure to compare the shipping costs to your location prior to making a purchase so you don’t end up spending more than you bargained for.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which jon boat is the cheapest?
If you’re shopping for the lowest priced jon boat you can find then we recommend the Sun Dolphin American 12′ Jon Fishing Boat. Of all the jon boats we’ve reviewed, none of the others can beat it’s price.
Why is it called a jon boat?
Back in the day jon boats used to be made of jack pine and since Jon is a form of Jack it slowly became known as a jon boat. At least that’s the rumor, it’s hard to say exactly how these colloquial names began.
What is a jon boat used for?
Jon boats are utility boats that can be used for hunting, fishing and even transporting goods. The flat shape of the hull allow the boats to sit on top of the water without losing much stability which make them a great utility boat for general purposes.
Who makes the best jon boat?
Sun Dolphin and Pelican are two of the best polyethaline constructed jon boats. Of course, there are a variety of other manufacturers that build in aluminum and even wood, but the resin ones are extremely light for easy transport.
Can you use a jon boat in the ocean?
They can but keep in mind that in heavy chop you wouldn’t want to use a 12 foot jon boat in the open water. The minimum length for ocean-bound jon boats is around 16 feet.
Are Jon boats good for fishing?
Jon boats are an excellent option for fresh water fishing in calm areas without too many wakes. They’re also very practical as you can move them by hand without much difficulty and easily load them up when you’re done.
What Do You Think?
What do you think about our choice for the best jon boat? If there are any jon boats you’d like us to review please leave a comment below and let us know and we may add it to our list!
Stephen Hart has been an avid outdoorsman and fishing enthusiast for most of his life. From the Situk River to the Lewis Smith Lake, Stephen has seen it all and has offered his vast expertise to Consumer Prodigy so we too can benefit from his wisdom. For a full list of Stephen’s guides you can read more on his author bio page.