Best Universal Jon Boat Setup

This article is for the bass fishing, duck hunting, pond hopping teenager, or full-grown adult (congrats if you still go pond hopping, keep it up champ) that is interested in getting a jon boat.

You’ve come to the right place.

So if you’ve read, skimmed, or completely ignored the articles above, let’s continue on!

The Purpose of the Jon Boat

I’ll keep it short and simple and plant a lot of ideas in your head without explaining them all (because that would be boring to most, right?)

I’m more of a practical/minimalist guy where I’d be worried about scratching or breaking things that are either expensive and/or new… So keep that in mind when choosing your jon boat.

So this is my take on the best universal jon boat setup that will work for almost anyone. I use this jon boat setup to bass fish out of, hunt alligators and go duck hunting, you can race around the lake, pond, marsh, and the shallows and just use this boat to play in.

My jon boat setup is meant to be practical and somewhat minimalist. No carpet to get dirty (easy clean up); removable floor, deck, and motor (for you pond hoppers); and a mud motor that will run faster in mud than you can on dry land.

The blueprint of the boat is optimized for space, but you can add carpet to the floor and deck if you wanted it to be classier, you could add more rod holders if you need them, and add whatever extras you desire.

The Jon Boat

So to set up a jon boat, you first need a jon boat.
Two options: new or used.

I went with a new jon boat, on sale, for $840 after taxes and all that stuff. It is a 2016 Alumacraft 1436 LT. After running it through 2016, 2017, and now 2018, I would not go with an Alumacraft if you’re going to run a mud motor. The transom is no bueno. I had it fail and I had to fix it myself because Alumacraft wouldn’t warranty it. So I’d go with a Tracker next time I get a boat and that is what I recommend to others when they ask.

The Motor

For this jon boat setup, the motor I have on it is an SPS Swamp Runner longtail mud motor.

The engine is a 420cc 13hp Predator engine from Harbor Freight paired with the SPS Swamp Runner medium mud motor kit.

This motor will push this boat through anything as long as the prop has something to grip. If I am on dry land where the prop doesn’t work, the boat is light enough to where I can push/pull/move the boat to where the motor will work. In short, this motor is cheap & reliable and will get you where you need to go…

Speed: A consistent speed of 18 mph with the boat loaded down with two people and gear, and then I have gotten it up to 23 mph riding solo. The speed can vary with the way your jon boat layout is. Distribution of weight really matters when you try to optimize for speed.

The Extras

  • Trolling Motor – I have a Saltwater Series Great White 55lb thrust 12-volt Motor Guide. Wonderful. Nothing but good experiences with this old trolling motor. Pushing this boat pretty quick and functions great. It is a transom mount version which I recommend for many reasons, but in short, get a transom mount trolling motor even if you don’t plan to mount it on the transom…. you’re welcome.
  • Wetlander Slick Bottom Coating – I put Wetlander on the bottom of this jon boat. It made a huge difference. I have a whole series on that if you’re interested. If you’re gonna have a riveted jon boat and play in the grass a lot, I know this Wetlander Coating will help.
  • Deck and Floor – YouTube video of the floor & the deck. Made simple, light, and cost-effective. No carpet so its easy to clean and mud/blood/fish guts won’t stain or ruin it. Just a simple outdoor paint and fastened down with some bolts and rivnuts.

Bundling Everything Up

After running this jon boat setup for a while, I truly think it is the best universal jon boat setup. The 1436 jon boat is great for two people, maybe three if you really want to have fun, and it’s not too small (like a 1236) and it’s not too expensive like a 1542. It sits right there in the middle. The Swamp Runner motor is inexpensive and reliable along with being able to run through almost anything, and the deck is great for fishing and hunting, getting you above the water line to see better.

Visit the JTgatoring Youtube Channel to watch the videos and see the boat up close. If you have any questions, just comment below on whichever video you’re watching and I’ll reply! I hope I was able to give you some ideas and get you thinking about your next jon boat modification. Enjoy the other articles and videos, and I hope to see you around!