What’s the Best Motor for Your Jon Boat? (Buying Guides)

So, you have no idea what constitutes the suitable motor for your Jon boat- no worries, I am here to help. An essential element to finding the right engine is to pair it with your boat’s capabilities and intended purpose.

But maybe you are reading this article and don’t even know what a Jon boat is, so let’s start there.

What Is A Jon Boat?

What Is A Jon Boat

The Jon boat is a low-profile flat-bottom boat. When you look at a Jon boat, you will notice that it has an entirely squared-off front. However, manufacturers now design performance Jon boats with modified deep-V hulls to handle rough water better.

In either case, the overall design of a Jon boat does not cater to the expeditious ocean or off-shore activity. Instead, the popularity of the Jon boat is due to its outstanding performance on lakes and rivers.

You should also note that Jon boats are usually not equipped with gravity-release valves for water taken on by rain or splashing waves. So, if you plan to push your Jon boat’s capabilities for some reason, I recommend you invest in a bilge pump to remove water that finds its way aboard.

How to Choose A Motor for Jon Boat?

Choosing a suitable motor for your Jon boat is of the utmost importance. Purchasing an under or an oversized engine can be potentially damaging to your motor and risky to the well-being of you and your passengers.

If you think that a Jon boat is right for you, I encourage you to consider the following before moving forward with your decision:

  • Intended use (watersports, fishing, leisure)
  • Ease of Maintenance
  • Steering Response and Maneuverability
  • Boat Size and Weight
  • Seasonal Use or Year-Round Pleasure
  • Up-front Cost

Moving forward, remember the goal is to pair your boat with an appropriate power source to ensure competency, durability, and dependability.

Outboard Motor

If you have decided to purchase a Jon boat, you have helped narrow your engine options to an outboard motor. Due to the Jon boat’s hull design, inboard or sterndrive engines are not options.

One significant advantage of utilizing an outboard motor is its response and maneuverability. Unlike inboards, you can control power and direction by moving the entire engine.

How does that work? You can operate an outboard engine using a tiller or a handle that attaches to the rudder.

Alternatively, you can have a Jon boat outfitted with a side or center console for those who prefer a driving experience similar to automobiles.

A steering system will have to retrofit your outboard engine with all proper linkages for this second option. Again, I recommend hiring a marine mechanic to ensure a professional installation.

Pros And Cons Of Outboard Motor

  • PortabilityOutboard motors can be easily removed from the back of the boat and transported to your location of choice.
  • Maximizes Interior Space– An outboard motor maximizes your interior space because Jon boats do not typically have loads of space.
  • Winterization & Storage– Winterizing an outboard motor is a relatively straightforward process, not to mention you have much easier access to the various parts of the engine (good to know for maintenance as well).
  • Lower Cost– Boat owners typically pay less for an outboard engine than an inboard or sterndrive configuration.
  • Response & Maneuverability– Boat owners flock to the quick-response handling of outboard motors, especially those that utilize a tiller.
  • Features– If you boat near shallow or rocky waters, then you will be happy to have a tilt function to keep your motor out of the muck.

Cons of Outboard Motors

  • Less TorqueInboard motors have been the traditional preference of enthusiasts looking for high torque output; however, torque output is becoming less of an issue for boat owners because they can mount a second outboard motor on their transom.
  • Fuel Efficiency– BoaterPal conducted a study in which they found that inboard motors are slightly more fuel-efficient than outboard motors. Overall fuel efficiency is negligible with modern fuel delivery systems, and not enough reason to select anything other than an outboard.
  • Service Life– Outboard motors may require more frequent maintenance, but if done regularly, you can be guaranteed to enjoy your outboard motor for at least ten years, depending on use.
  • Versatility– You should check your state’s local regulations if you are interested in utilizing a boat powered by an outboard motor for watersports. There may be specific limitations to adhere to due to safety measures implemented in your area.

Cost Of An Outboard Motor

Depending on its size and weight, you could pay as low as $1000 for an outboard motor. However, if you are after the most powerful outboard motor on the market, you could pay as much as $100,000 per engine.

But again, it all comes down to compatibility. It is useless to fall in love with a motor that your boat cannot handle. So, one tip as you begin your motor search is to identify the capacity plate on your boat’s transom.

Generally, Jon boats range from eight to twenty-six feet in length. From carrying yourself and one other person to a total weight capacity of 3500 pounds, there exists a trend- the longer the boat, the more weight (and more engine) it can carry.

What Is My Boats Capacity?

What Is My Boats Capacity

Ask the previous owner for the original manuals and complete maintenance records if purchasing your boat. You should be able to find the pertinent information here.

When buying a brand new boat, your dealer will supply you with an owner’s manual along with a maintenance schedule, quick troubleshooting guide, and warranty information. If you do not see any of these items, then ask. Again, you should find the capacity annotated somewhere in these documents.

Whatever the case, all monohull boats under twenty feet in length from 1973 to present must have a Capacity Plate specifying the MAX Persons, MAX. Horsepower, and MAX weight that your boat can safely and legally carry, including gear and personal belongings.

Larger boats also require having a capacity plate; however, the wording may change slightly. Again, as a boat owner, it is up to you to ensure that you stay well within the limits when configuring your boat.

Finding The Right Motor

Finding The Right Motor

This list of considerations regarding a suitable motor for your Jon boat may look similar to the questions I had you ask yourself earlier in an attempt to find out if a Jon boat is the right kind of boat for you.

If you already have your boat or have planned to purchase one soon, this set of questions will assist you in finding the most compatible motor:

  • Where do you plan on using your boat- open lakes or narrow and winding passages?
  • What for?
  • How many passengers will you carry at most?
  • How much equipment and weight will you be towing along?
  • Do you prefer a particular hull configuration over another (flat bottom or deep-V)?
  • What are the associated storage, towing, and operation costs of a bigger vs. smaller boat (and engine)?

When it comes to engines, all boat owners want to rely on consistent performance in various water conditions. Although speed and horsepower are often everyone’s top priorities, it is more important that you know the big picture.

Power Hour

Power Hour

Suppose you are the owner of an 8-foot long Jon boat and only plan to do light boating around a large pond or lake. In that case, you could potentially save thousands of dollars by sticking to a trolling motor- often used as an auxiliary motor for larger boats needing a slow and steady propulsion system for combatting heavy winds or other turbulent conditions.

If you own anything bigger than that, you will need a minimum 3-5 horsepower motor. The most sold Jon boats measure between 10 feet and 18 feet in length.

An 18-foot Jon boat allows you to carry up to 1,500 pounds in weight and requires a 50-60 horsepower motor. You can safely handle this size boat up to 35 miles per hour; however, if necessary, you could max the motor out at a high speed of 45 miles per hour.

And trust me, 45 miles per hour on a boat is nothing compared to riding in a car at the same speed- you will feel like you are flying. Anything larger than a 20-foot Jon boat is pure overkill and will require a costly 70-120 horsepower power to be its driver.

Best Jon Boat Motor Manufacturers

I thought you would appreciate having a list of reputable outboard motor manufacturers at your fingertips. The first two are my personal favorite- built with superior quality in mind.

#1) Captain Sustainability

I am a firm advocate for wildlife preservation and sustainability efforts to keep our Earth a safe and healthy place for generations upon generations to live.

Providing power options ranging from 1 HP to 80 HP, the Torqeedo company delivers state-of-the-art electromobility options for your Jon boat.

Purchasing one of their outboard motor lines provides immediate gratification knowing that you can now enjoy the water without creating any emissions- that means NO exhaust, NO contamination, and NO leaks.

The starting price is $2,000 for only the motor. After that, you will have to budget more for batteries, chargers, solar panels, and other accessories you may think are necessary to your setup.

#2) The Family Man

Mercury Marine is no stranger to manufacturing outboard motors for all boat types. Their power line-up begins at 2.5 HP; however, they now boast the 600 HP Verado V12- the biggest outboard on the market.

Although not 100% sustainable, the Green Masters Program recognizes the Mercury Marine company that additionally maintains a three-star Ultra Low Emissions rating.

Though accessories are extra, you can purchase a brand new Mercury motor for as low as $1,000.

Other Outstanding Boat Motor Manufacturers

In addition to my favorites, some other popular outboard engine manufacturers include Evinrude, Honda, Mercury, Minn Kota, Seven Marine, Suzuki, Tohatsu, Torqeedo, and Yamaha.

For your interest, an article in Pontoon Deck Boat Magazine takes a closer look at the average costs of outboard motors based upon brand and horsepower.


Before exploring suitable engine options, you need to know your Jon boat’s capacity rating. I recommend that you speak with your preferred manufacturer or authorized dealer for advice on the best match-up of the boat and motor based on your unique needs and intentions.

Please leave any additional questions or concerns in the comment section below.

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