Have you ever heard of a jon boat? Maybe you’ve seen a flat-bottomed vessel somewhere in the Ozarks, or in a movie or on TV. Believe it or not, the jon boat, also known as the johnboat, is an historic vessel that is still being used today. Even the German Red Cross uses jon boats as their chosen craft for protecting civilians during floods.

But what is a this specific type of boat, and how did it get such a peculiar name? There’s more to this craft than just its simple design with open hull and exposed ribs. Keep reading below as we explore the jon boat’s history, construction, usage, and more!

What Is a Jon Boat?

A jon boat, also known as a johnboat, is a flat-bottomed vessel that is normally made from aluminum, fiberglass, or wood. This boat is most recognizable by its nearly flat hull that aids it in riding over waves, as opposed to cutting through them as traditional boat hull designs do. The simple design of this boat features an open hull that leaves the ribs of the craft exposed in an iconic fashion. It should also be noted that this style of boat does not have a bilge or a lower compartment for storage or drainage.

 The shape and size of this boat limits it to calmer waters, making it an ideal fishing or hunting boat. It is typical for these boats to have a mounted outboard motor on their transom. Many tend to be between eight and twenty-four feet in length and approximately thirty-two to sixty inches wide.

jon boat

Customization

Although there are many normal standard sizing for the jon boat, it is not uncommon for these craft to be highly customized through inexpensive upgrades, such as adding sides or a center console, custom deck or flooring, electrical wiring additions, accessory mountings, poling platforms, and more. There is also something known as a “jet jon,” which is a jon boat with more aluminum construction throughout and which is powered by jet-drive outboard motors. These jet-drives and jet jons are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to operate in very shallow water.

The jet jon is specifically designed to work with the dynamics of the onboard jet. It works by having the same water level at the bottom of the bottom as is at the jet foot. This decreases the amount of water you need to draft, turn, and navigate your boat.

Having an outboard jet draws water through the intake through the use of an impeller that is driven directly by the engine driveshaft. The water inside is then forced out at an incredibly high pressure and volume to create force. This, in turn, allows the craft to move forward and reach its famously quick speeds.

History of the Jon Boat

The jon boat originated in the late 19th century and was particularly popular for use in the Ozarks. Due to their unique shape and flat design, they were ideal for the shallow waters of the Missouri Valley. But how did it get its uncommon name?

Originally termed a “float boat,” this boat was generally made from pine and green lumber. Believe it or not, this allowed users to dispose of the boat after just a single use due to the low cost of material and construction. A theory exists that the origin of the name arises from their use of the material jack pine. It is said that over time “jack pine” may have transformed into “john pine” as they were common diminutives of each other at the time.

Thus, the “Ozark John Boat” evolved into what we know it today as the johnboat. These iconic vessels were used for float fishing, duck hunting, and primarily for carrying timber up and down river. Today, these boats are still frequently used and prized for the way they allow riders to stand up without the fear of tipping over inside the vessel.

What Is Their Primary Use?

boat in the sea

In the late nineteenth century, Ozark natives used jon boats for duck hunting, gigging, pearling, trapping, running trotlines and fish traps, working timber, and for transporting themselves and others on various river outings. The boat was revolutionary due to his flat-bottomed nature and the freedom it gave to traveler to stand up without tipping it over.

As time went on, these flat-bottomed boats began to evolve in ways that made different iterations suitable for a multitude of needs, one of which was to satisfy tourism. Jon boats began a new tradition as wider, shorter, and capable of handling large cargo. Thus a new boat was designed and implemented to aid in the pursuit of float fishing.

Today, a jon boat is still a common favorite in the fishing world. When it comes to fishing vessels, this boat is still one of the most common crafts on the water. They are hyper customizable and can be outfitted with casting decks, livewells, and even used for platforms for alternative boating hobbies such as crabbing or waterfowl hunting.

Where to Buy Jon Boat Accessories

Are you looking to purchase accessories for your boat? Luckily, there are a plethora of both physical and online shops available where you can purchase accessories for your flat-bottomed craft. One of the nicest things about this style of vessel is that upgrades and accessories are relatively inexpensive.

A lot of the time, boating accessories can be wildly overpriced and even hard to find. Fortunately, with the jon boat one of the most popular fishing vessels of the 21st century, it is now easy and affordable to customize your craft. Explore the list of stores and websites to purchase accessories below:

Stores with Jon Boat Accessories

Below is a list of physical stores which you may be able to find near you that carry relevant accessories:

Cabela’s

Cabela’s touts itself as the “World’s Foremost Outfitter” and it’s clear why. Since 1961, Cabela’s has focused primarily on providing the best products for the hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear industries. Not to mention they have their own boat centers. Find one near you for an even more customized and personalized boating assistance.

Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops is renowned for their fishing and boating accessories. What’s great about Bass Pro Shops is they have their own boating center where you can not only purchase accessories for your boat, but you can also search their inventory to buy the perfect boat if you haven’t already!

Walmart Supercenters

Believe it or not, a Walmart Supercenter may be a great option to pick up some jon boat accessories. Not only do Walmart Supercenters have a great selection, they also offer a price match guarantee, making shopping here not only convenient but affordable!

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Online Stores with Jon Boat Accessories

Below is a list of online sites that carry or discuss relevant accessories:

Amazon 

Amazon is a wonderful place to search for accessories for your boat. Amazon’s diverse shipping options and price-conscious efforts make it an ideal shop for upgrades or additions. Their inventory updates daily, so be sure to check back to see what other accessories they may have. You can find everything from boat covers, seat swivels, and fishing rod racks, to switch panels, gear bags, and more!

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Fishusa.com

Fishusa.com is one of the leading online retailers for fishing tackle in the world. FishUSA boasts an extensive array of merchandise, fast shipping, and competitive prices. You can find anything for your vessel here from board lines to gimbalmounts, and even pulleys designed specifically for your craft.

Jonboataccessories.com

Jonboataccessories.com is a wonderful resource if you’re looking for accessories for your boat. They specialized in jon boats, as the name suggests, and have an impressive array of links and resources for all kinds of customizations and changes. Explore everything from covers, carts, paint, flooring, and more on this website!

Conclusion

The johnboat is an historic vessel that not only teaches us about our past, but also brings us into the future. From hunting and fishing craft to tourist use, this boat has had an interesting and varied past that we can still appreciate today. Being one of the most popular and recognizable boat designs, the boat has stood the test of time and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Due to its popularity and simplistic design, it is incredibly easy and inexpensive to upgrade your boat. Accessories are plentiful and you can find them at your local sporting goods store, Walmart, and more! Or if you’re like many of us who aren’t keen on shopping, you can find a ton of online stores that have an incredible selection of accessories, parts, and more.

Since this is such a popular craft, it’s also easy to find many resources for information on how to use one, in-depth how-to’s, and even sites like jonboataccessories.com that scour the web for you to search for relevant links and put them all on one, easy-to-digest page. Whatever your goal is, there are resources and accessories out there to help you achieve it. Happy and safe boating!

Last update on 2022-08-14 at 11:17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API