Why not a Jon Boat?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by jessejames, May 16, 2011.

  1. jessejames Flyslinger

    Posts: 1,863
    Show Low, Arizona
    Ratings: +352 / 3
    I am on a quest for a better inland waters fly fishing boat. I have a Fat Cat float tube an 8' pontoon and an 8' HDPE pram.
    I will always have the tube and the pontoon. The pram is not working for me. It is too small and not stable enough. I am a big guy and not as agile and flexible as I once was. The seat in the pram is too low it doesnt have the freeboard that feels comfortable for me. Perhaps a different pram design in a larger model would work? This pram is probably going on the auction block.
    But I was on a local lake last week and there was a guy there with a 12' Jon boat. He had a small electric motor a cooler a dog a few extra fly rods and he was standing up in it casting the shorelines in comfort.
    I did a little research and found many aluminum Jons from 10' on up. Bottom widths of 32"-42". Weight still a tolerable 120# max. My plan would be to trailer it most of the time locally but use it as a cartopper when traveling as I pull a travel trailer.
    There are a few cartop boat loaders out there so I would be able to load it alone.
    What would be the negatives of an alum pram? I know they are noisy but carpet can deal with that.
    Positves; stable, straight sides lenghtwise would make stowing extra rods a breeze. Cheap, no maintenance.
    There are a few places that I fish that I could not get to with a bigger heavier boat like this, but that is where I would use the pontoon or tube.
    How about you still water fishers, boat builders, boat nuts, let me know what you think.
  2. SpokaneFisherman Member

    Posts: 339
    Ratings: +12 / 0
    Did you get my message about the pram? If you're gonna sell it I'd like to work something out with you.
  3. Vladimir Steblina Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working

    Posts: 732
    Wenatchee, WA
    Ratings: +239 / 0
    I fish out of a jon boat one week a year. They are noisy, move in the wind, seat is uncomfortable.

    On the plus side, easy for two to fish, Chromonids are great with two anchors. Lots of room for equipment and storage. My "small" dog will even fit in it.

    I would look at it as a large pram with all the advantages and disadvantages. It does take more of an electric motor to move it than the pram.

    I would be sure to get an easy loading system for it.

    Spokane Fisherman see classifieds I also have a pram for sale.
  4. Kcahill Active Member

    Posts: 894
    Renton, WA
    Ratings: +262 / 2
    I have an old jon boat i use for fishing around the lake, its probably 30 years old(or older) and like you said it is no problem standing or casting in it. I have been fishing out of it for like 6 years and the only issue is when I get 2 guys in it and a bunch of beers, later on in the day when the beer is gone you both don't want to be standing at the same time.

    Mine is a hell of a lot heavier than 120 lbs though(I think), I am not sure I would want to try and get it off the car by myself. Mine only comes off the lake for the winter and I have to drag it up a 45 degree slope so maybe thats why I think it is so heavy.
  5. Slipstream Member

    Posts: 371
    Goldendale, WA
    Ratings: +21 / 0
    Jesse, I got a jon boat for flyfishing Drano Lake three years ago. My first one was a 10 foot Crestliner and it is a standard 10-32 john boat. It is a little on the small side for me. Two years ago I bought a Klamath 10 footer. It is 10'6' long and is 38 inches wide and is welded. The Klamath is twice the boat, as a matter of fact the Crestliner will actually fit inside the Klamath. We have fly fished two from the Klamath and it works OK. A 12 footer would be much better for two fly fishers. Check out their website. SS
  6. Plecoptera Active Member

    Posts: 622
    Ratings: +28 / 0
    Lots of the lake fishermen in BC have Jon's, and those guys are hardcore about lake fishing. They are cheap, tough, stable, and easy to customize. A 12' or 14' would be just about right and usually have options for a wider beam. You could outfit one with an electric motor, fish finder seats, rod holders, anchors, etc. for less than one of the bare bones prams marketed for fly fishermen. I was very close to doing this myself until I decided to outfit my pontoon as a standup lake boat. If I had more storage space and took others along I would have definitely opted for the jon.
  7. Guy Gregory Active Member

    Posts: 452
    Spokane, WA.
    Ratings: +44 / 0
    I've got a 12' tin boat, not a jon, but yeah, a cartopper/back o' the pickup boat. Why not this boat? Basically, it's the weight.

    If you're goin' by yourself, it gets heavy to schlep the boat and everything in and out of the boat a places like Amber, where there's really no launch. I'd rather just slap on my waders and get the ol'Southfork in the water and fish. At other places like Medical or something, it's not too bad.

    On big water like the upper Columbia, it's a little, bitty boat. With not much freeboard. It's not much to worry about until the wind starts to blow or until some goathead goes by at 12 mph kicking up a 3' wave. Then it gets exciting.

    Regs are becoming nonsense. Operators license, pfd's, whistle, extinguisher, etc.... and again, it's just some more stuff to buy and try to organize and remember. It's almost as bad as golf.

    But, like you say, for me and another guy, or me and my dog, it's the deal. I'm hoping to find a trailer 'cause I just can't haul it far myself anymore. The other thing about 'em is they last forever and there's tons of 'em around for not very much.
  8. wolverine Member

    Posts: 576
    Everett, WA
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    The BC boys have bought a lot of Lowe jons from Cabelas Lacey. Models 1236, 1440, & 1448 seem to be their boat of choice for lake fishing.
  9. jessejames Flyslinger

    Posts: 1,863
    Show Low, Arizona
    Ratings: +352 / 3
    Vlad why does the wind effect a jon any more than a equal length pram?
    Guy I have had small vee hulled tin boats too tippy. To get one that is stable enough it needs to be a deep wide 14' and then they get spendy.
    SS that klamath boats looks like a good one I like the 12 footer.
    Plec that is exactly what I was thinking about a few accessories comfy seats, rod storage, depth finder, anchor etc etc would make an excellent ff platform.
  10. Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Posts: 1,792
    Bellingham Wa.
    Ratings: +316 / 1
    Check the classifieds, there was a spratley 10' er for sale, they are a wide john and very stable.
  11. dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

    Posts: 4,102
    Near the Fjord
    Ratings: +567 / 0
    It's been years since I had a 10' but, I remember enjoying fishing out of it with no problems that I can recall. Noise isn't any issue other than personal preference and you can muffle that sound as you stated with some carpet. I have been using a pontoon boat and a float tube. I would certainly enjoy going back or at least have an option to have another jon boat. I don't remember it being tippy standing in it.
  12. Jim Byler Pram Guy

    Posts: 19
    Dalton Gardens, ID
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Two advantages of a good pram over a jon boat: First, many prams are designed for rowing and jon boats usually aren't. Even if you don't row, prams move very nicely with a small electric motor. Second, they are likely to be more seaworthy, as most job boats are flat bottomed and low sided with little flare. These may or may not be problems, depending on where and when one fishes.
  13. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,755
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,777 / 0
    Personally I think a guy needs no less than 4 boats. 1st is a pontoon for rivers and lakes. I own a Bucks 8 footer. 2nd would be a small jon or semi v aluminum boat that can be trailered or car topped for lakes when you want to take a grandchild or someone else fishing. They can also be used in the sound for cutthroat fishing with the help of a small gas motor. I have a 12 foot semi v with a 9.9 horse gas engine and a 40 pound thrust electric. 3rd would be a river sled. To many models to say which one fits best. I have a 17 foot modified v hull with a 60 horse jet that works great for getting around the rivers. This boat also works well for larger lakes. 4th would be an 18 to 28 foot salt water boat for fishing the sound, crabbing, shrimping, ect. I don't have this one yet as it is the most expensive of the 4. Soon. Very soon.

    I guess I could throw in a tube for places that require a hike. That makes 5.
  14. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,784
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +335 / 0

    Kerry, you are on point in this matter.
  15. jessejames Flyslinger

    Posts: 1,863
    Show Low, Arizona
    Ratings: +352 / 3
    Kerry I agree with the multiple boat deal. I (the shop) have a tube an 8' pontoon. a 16' Clack DB and a 14' Aire raft. So the lake fishing boat is what I need.
    I looked at Lowe Jon boats today the 1236 and the 1436 were the ones I was interested in. weight 135 and 145 respectively. carrying capacity from 6-800 lbs. the height of the sides is what I was interested in seeing they both were 18" high at the widest part of the boat and 15" high transom. Price 800. and 850. Cheap!
    jj you are probably right about the rowing characteristics of the pram vs the jon. I am not sure this is an issue I know that I am not buying one until I have a chance to spend a day in one to test it out in real situations.
    The 14' boat I looked at today had more "rocker" in the front if you want to call it that I think it would be a little easier to row than the 12?
    Oh well the search goes on.
  16. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,502
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,475 / 9
    Kerry makes me feel inadequate and I have a lot of boats. Two tubes, Scadden Assault, 12' Saturn raft, 14' cataraft and 14' Livingston for the salt. I think this covers most of what I need. I use the 12' Saturn raft in place of a pram/jon boat like craft. Jesse, I like your thoughts on the features that a jon boat should have though. Good luck finding one for a good day long test.
  17. fly-by Active Member

    Posts: 160
    Tangled in the Pines
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    Have you looked at a porta bote? The make a 12 and 14 footer. http://www.porta-bote.com/dimension.php
    I have had the 10 foot model for 7 years now, and am very pleased.
    Slippery/easy to drag through the woods or up a steep launch. Folds flat for easy storage or transport on a roof rack, leave truck bed free for other gear.
    Really stable. I am 6ft 195lbs with pretty poor balance and am comfortable standing and casting from the 10 footer in waves.
    Breaks down into pieces, each of which is light. Easy to throw hull alon on top of vehicle.
    Lots of mounting points for accessories.
    Plastic much more quiet than aluminum and not as cold to the touch.
    The freeboard is a little low. Just gotta be aware of conditions. Bigger lengths likely float a little higher when loaded.
    Setup takes a few minutes. Have to wrestle with stiff hull when it's cold. Have to keep a box of bolts, washers, and wingnuts to secure the transom. You can always leave it set up if you have room.
    The "keel" that covers the seam along the bottom of the boat started to wear out after a season or two. I made another one out of slotted pvc pipe and used a mallet to slide it over the original. Works fine.

    They come up on Craigslist pretty often, but mostly in 10ft lengths.
  18. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
    Ratings: +1,226 / 0
    A half dozen years ago I got a screaming deal on an elderly used 10 foot jon boat. But after a couple seasons, it's shortcomings began to outweigh it's advantages and I ended up selling it.

    Why? Although the boat was light enough for me to load and unload from my pickup alone, the rowing position was so high that the oars rubbed across the top of my thighs on the backstrokes. The freeboard was a scant 7-8 inches with just me aboard, less than 6 inches with an adult passenger. On choppy water, the occasional whitecap would break across the gunwales, pooling in the bottom of the boat. Even with Astroturf carpet, dropping a reel or a fly box would produce a resounding 'BONG!' that could be heard across the lake (and probably beneath it as well).

    Like others here, I've got my share of float tubes (4), pontoons (2 frames and 3 tube sets), plus a WaterMaster. But there are certain lakes and conditions where a hard-hulled boat makes sense. For me it probably won't be another jon boat though. If cost were no object and I really needed a boat, I'd take a hard look at the Koffler Rocky Mountain Trout boat or the Endure 12' Hybrid.

  19. fly-by Active Member

    Posts: 160
    Tangled in the Pines
    Ratings: +33 / 0
  20. veilside180sx Member

    Posts: 295
    Hillsboro, OR
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    It's a lot easier to just plan on running an electric or little 2-6 hp gas motor on a jon.

    I had a 1436 with an 18 hp 'Rude and it would do 32 mph with just me in it. (12-13 mph (iirc) with the 8 hp Merc) If you can find one that is 48 across the bottom...the extra width makes all the difference in the world.