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If there were a Swiss army knife of the fishing world, it would have to be the humble jon boat. Typically no larger than 15 feet long, these flat-bottomed vessels give anglers a step up in confidence from tippy canoes and kayaks, but aren’t so large that they demand large motors or large bank accounts to own one.

Not only are jon boats great fishing boats, but their rugged, do-all nature also has made its mark in the duck hunting and deer hunting worlds as well. Many smart hunters have learned the value of traveling to their hunting location by water to avoid crowds and add a stealthy approach through shallow swamps and rivers.

Jon boats are welcome in places and situations owners of more expensive boats would hesitate to pursue. And their rugged construction makes storage a snap. Fancier fishing boats may need one of these boat covers when you come home from a day on the water, but your tough little jon was built for a life in the elements. Below are the best jon boats you can buy right now.

How We Picked the Best Jon Boats

After decades of fishing and duck hunting using a variety of riveted and welded aluminum boats, rotomolded bass skiffs and even one or two home-cooked wooden flat-bottoms, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of a well-made jon. If you’re willing to tote one on a trailer, then heavier gauge aluminum hulls and larger sizes are definitely welcome, but there’s a reason why the most popular jon boats (and good duck boats, for that matter) are only 14 feet long and around 3 feet wide at the base. The design offers two anglers ample room to fish and move around on the water, but remains small enough that those two anglers can drag it over the occasional pond levee and get where few other anglers can.

Unfortunately, recent supply chain issues combined with inflation have driven many boat manufacturers away from these base-model jon boats. With limited raw materials and manpower, boat builders are focused on larger vessels that bring in a few more dollars. We’ve scoured the boat showrooms and catalogs to find a great lineup of old school jons that still offer that go-anywhere attitude at prices low enough that you won’t mind putting them through their paces.

Best Overall: War Eagle 436FLD

Best Overall


  • Length: 14 feet, 2 inches
  • Width (Base): 36 inches
  • Width (Beam): 56 inches
  • Side Height: 19 inches
  • Max Recommended HP: 20


  • Low front deck delivers a platform to stand or place a swivel-mounted seat with a low center of gravity for stability
  • All-welded construction for a lifetime of leak-free use
  • Built-in track rail around top of boat makes adding accessories easy
  • Winged transom design aids in maneuverability


  • Too heavy for car-topping or solo dragging
  • More expensive than lighter riveted jon boats
  • Exposed ribs in base model can be tricky to step over

War Eagle Boats has been making duck boats in the heart of Arkansas for the last three decades. During that time, they’ve learned what makes the best all-welded boat and applied that to their Sportsman series. Even though this boat rides on top of the water like a standard jon, it is designed to rise and ride smoothly when being propelled by a 20 hp outboard. The transom has cut out corners in the rear, which causes the boat to grab and turn quickly instead of sliding across the water like flat-transomed boats tend to do. At 0.80 inches, the thickness of the aluminum hull is not the thickest in the industry, but it resists tears and gouges from the occasional stump you’re bound to find when cruising in flooded backwaters.

Welded hulls have become the standard in the jon boat world thanks to their durability. A well-crafted welded jon boat will outlast most anglers and hunters who use them, and the War Eagle 436 is definitely one that will be passed down to children.

Fishing from the 436 is as comfortable as a jon boat can be. The low-deck design that lets you place a pedestal seat up front without feeling the slight bit tippy when you rare back to set the hook on a fish. The 19-inch sidewalls are a few inches taller than a typical jon boat, which comes in handy when you’re leaned over the edge setting trotlines or netting large fish. This boat feels and acts like a much larger boat than it is. All that big boat feel and heavy-duty attitude do come with one price to pay, and that’s weight. At 240 pounds, you’re not likely to toss this rig on top of a car at the end of the day or hand-launch it from the back of a truck bed to get to a hidden honey hole. You’re going to need a trailer, and that means a few extra dollars in equipment and the hassle of registering another title with your state’s DMV. But the sacrifice is well worth the comfort and extra peace of mind knowing you’re going to have a dry, safe ride that will be with you for decades.

Best Jon Boats: More Recommendations

Best Lightweight: Lowe L1032 Jon

Best Lightweight

A rugged aluminum fishing platform that’s even lighter than some modern fishing kayaks.

Best for the Money: Bass Pro Shops Pond Prowler 10

Best for the Money

Skip the expense of a trailer and access some off-the-beaten-path honey holes with some fantastic plastic.

Best for Bass Fishing: Tracker Grizzly 1648

Best for Bass Fishing

This aluminum bass boat manufacturer’s smallest offering still packs plenty of fishability in a basic package, complete with a storage and an aluminum casting deck—making it worthy of our list of the best bass boats.

Best All-Welded: Havoc 1550 VJ

Best All-Welded

The closest thing to a tank on the water; built for speed and performance in flooded timber and stump-filled backwaters.


What is a jon boat good for?

Jon boats are built for shallow ponds, small lakes and rivers with little current. Panfish, such as bream and crappie are highly sought by jon boat owners. The boats’ bare interiors also make them perfect for catfishing, bowfishing and other activities that can make a mess. Don’t forget these boats’ ability to chase bullfrogs and run crawdad traps in shallow bayous as well as their reputation as good duck hunting boats. The jon boat is the ultimate multi-species watercraft.

Why is there foam in a jon boat?

When properly loaded and balanced, jon boats have no problem navigating small waters. But accidents can happen, and users have been known to occasionally push the limits of their boat’s abilities. Should the boat become swamped, floatation foam held under the seats and bow will help keep the boat at the surface of the water instead of sinking to the bottom. This lets the boater recover the boat, drag it to shore and bail out the water. The foam doesn’t substitute the safety of a properly fitting life vest, so always make sure to wear one when on board these small craft.

Can I stand up in a jon boat?

Most jon boats make great fishing platforms for anglers wanting to stand up to make the occasional cast. But you’ll still need to be mindful of your balance. Many an angler has found themselves soaked and surprised after they leaned too far to the side and pitched the boat over. Unlike canoes, jon boats have excellent primary stability, but once you tip the side too close to the water’s surface, you will take on water quickly. Staying seated will promise a longer and more comfortable day fishing.

What are the disadvantages of a jon boat?

For all the good things they do, jon boats have a few major shortcomings. The first issue is their lack of amenities. Storage space is nonexistent in most jon boats unless you add a boat cooler or watertight compartment. In fact, many owners only see a jon boat as a starting point to building their perfect small-water craft. Jon boats also are limited in their abilities to handle rough water. Their flat-bottom design does not ride in heavy waves well. If you’re caught out in high winds and waves, you run a real risk of swamping your boat. Even if you make it back quickly, the rough ride will be a stern reminder that these boats are made for calmer waters.

Final Thoughts on the Best Jon Boats

Jon boats may look simple on the surface, but there’s a lot of knowledge hammered and welded into these plowhorses of the pond. Whether you’re looking for a tough fishing and hunting platform to handle some serious abuse or a platform to customize to your heart’s content, you’re sure to find one to your liking in our lineup of battle-hardened best jon boats.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.