CHEAP Jon Boat Motor : Affordable & Reliable

If you found this article, you are most likely looking for an afforable, cheap jon boat motor. Whether you are looking to buy a jon boat, or you already have a jon boat, you’re probably looking to power it! You have a few options you can explore. When I was doing my research, I found trolling motors, outboards, and mud motors. Wait, mud motors? Yes, mud motors.

  • Different types of Propulsion  
  • My Solution to a Cheap Jon Boat Motor
  • Conclusion

Different types of Propulsion for your Jon Boat:

  • Paddle/Oars
  • Trolling motor
  • Outboard motor
  • Mud motor

Positives in green and Negatives in red

Cheap jon boat motor


Your jon boat may or may not come with oar sockets. I did not realize this until after I purchase my jon boat new, but my Alumacraft did not come with the oar sockets. The oar sockets are easy enough to buy and install if not. You are positioned in the middle of the boat with your back facing the direction you are going. With this method of propulsion, you are the energy moving the boat. You are the power house. You also have to have a place to put your oars when not in use. You won’t go too fast and you can go shallow enough to where you can get out and push your boat if need be. This system, in most cases, is very reliable as long as you have the energy to row.

Outboard motor

Mounts on the transom. Depending on the brand/type of the outboard you may need fuel and/or a battery. The outboard motors come in two different types: Conventional with a propeller, or a jet drive where is doesn’t use a propeller. It forces water out as the force for propulsion. These outboards can be purchase new or used but are normally the most expensive option. The jet drive has the ability of going more shallow than the convention propeller driven units because there is no gear case or propeller extending past the hull. With this, your propeller wont get caught or mangled when running shallow. The outboard motors come in many different sizes and styles ranging from two stroke to four stoke, and controlling the motor with a steering wheel or a tiller handle. Costly to maintain and fix.

Trolling motor

You have the option of mounting a trolling motor on the bow of the boat, on the transom, or both! With this propulsion system, you do need a power supply in the form of a battery. It will only work as long as the battery has a charge. For the cost you need to pay for the trolling motor, battery, and any accessories; wiring kit, brackets/mounts, other miscellaneous items. Normally the transom mount trolling motor will be cheaper than the bow mounted trolling motor. Available new or used and come in many different sizes! You can get a good speed going that is constant and controllable, and can also go shallow depending on the situation and where it is mounted. Overall, fairly reliable. Sometimes you’ll forget to charge the battery, or it goes dead; the fuses can break every now then if you don’t have everything secured correctly; and on occasions your trolling motor might break whether it is internally or breaking the propeller.

Mud motor

Normally not too common. The key principle of this motor is to power and run through anything. Unlike the outboard motor, it is not water cooled. So whether you are running through the shallows or going though straight mud, the engine can still function. Powered by fuel, you do not need a battery unless you want an electric start on it. I have a pull cable on mine. There is different brands and options. Mostly purchased new due to price, but you can look on craigslist to see if there is one on there. Cost and maintenance is low, easy to operate, and reliable.

My Solution to a Cheap Jon Boat Motor

Straight to the point I purchased a trolling motor and a mud motor.


  • Trolling Motor: Motor Guide Great White 55lb 12 volt transom mount trolling motor. I bought it used off of craigslist for $100 in working condition. I have had it for more than two years and it works great!
  • Mud Motor: Harbor Freight 6.5 hp Predator Engine with a SPS Small Swamp Runner kit. The Predator engine was $100 new in the store with a coupon, and the SPS Swamp Runner kit was $400 new in store pickup. With the extra pieces, parts, and tax; the total amount was still under $600.


Trolling Motor

  • Light Weight – Easy to move around and take on or off the boat, or transfer to another boat.
  • Transom Mount – With the transom mount, I can put it on the bow or the transom. You can’t do that with a bow mount trolling motor
  • Price – Cheap when you buy a quality used one.
  • Ease of use – Grab a battery and the trolling motor go fishing!
  • Speed – You can keep a constant, low speed very easily for fishing.
  • Reliable – I have had mine for two years without any problems.

Mud Motor

  • Price – Completely new for under $600 with tax and extra parts
  • Reliable – Not a lot of moving parts. Hard to break or mess up.
  • Easy to maintenance – Everything is made to be easily replaced with another part or maintenanced.
  • Construction – Runs through anything! Made to last.
  • HP to Speed – A very efficient motor.


To conclude, this article was to introduce the different types of motors out there and to get you thinking about all the types of motors that are available to you for your jon boat. There will be a separate article that will specifically talk about mud motors and the SPS Swamp Runner kit. There are many different types of mud motors out there, mainly short tail and long tail, along with many different brands. I prefer the SPS Swamp Runner Kits due to quality.

Ultimately, I chose a transom mount trolling motor and a long tail mud motor for a cheap jon boat motor. I have had problems with tradition outboard motors and keeping them running. In the event that I had to replace a part or get it maintenanced, it was normally pretty pricey. In spite of all this, do your research, find those deals on craigslist, and get out there on your jon boat!