Why not a Jon Boat?

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.

Vladimir Steblina

Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working
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.


Active Member
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.


Active Member
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


Active Member
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.
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.
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.
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.


"Chasing Riseforms"
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.
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.


Ignored Member
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.
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.