What Size Motor for 8-20 Foot Jon Boat?

Whether you are interested in lake exploration, wildlife observation, need to transport light loads or are a fishing hobbyist, a Jon boat is a reasonably priced boat that is an excellent solution for your intended use.

This article will review some of the best Jon boat manufacturers, but purchasing the boat is only half the battle. You will then have to buy an appropriately sized motor to power your Jon boat.

But don’t worry, I intend to save you some time from performing endless hours of research so that you can have more time to play out on the water.

Typical Jon Boat Sizes

Typical Jon Boat Sizes

It is possible for those of you who plan to do some light duty fishing with your son or daughter to find some 8 foot Jon boats at some manufacturers.

If you are the Go Big or Go Home kind of person, then visit SeaArk Boats, known for manufacturing the largest Jon boat that measures 26 feet in length. In addition, they provide approximately 140 accessories and additional features to select from to meet all of your boating needs.

The typical size length for a Jon boat is between 10 feet and 18 feet. Different size Jon boats will require a motor that suits their intended load and capacity.

Before we can discuss motors, you should try to narrow down the size Jon boat that will be most suitable to your needs by considering the following:

  • What do you intend to use your Jon boat for?
  • Where do you plan on using your boat- open lakes or narrow and winding passages?
  • How many passengers will you need to carry, or do you boat solo?
  • What do you prize more- seating or storage?
  • How much equipment and weight will you be bringing?
  • Do you prefer a particular hull configuration over another?
  • What are the associated storage, towing, and operation costs of a bigger vs. smaller boat (and engine)?

Don’t forget to check out this Jon Boat Buyer’s Guide for more information.

How To Pick Best Size Motor For Your Jon Boat

Remember now that a Jon boat’s hull design is different from standard v-shaped hulls and that its primary use is for leisure sports activities, hobbyists, and father-and-child lake days.

That said, it would be an intelligent decision not to try and out best Ken Warby’s Guinness Record for water speed on your Jon boat. Safety should always be first, not to mention that trying to achieve speeds higher than your boat’s rating will significantly affect its stability on the water.

So please do not think that throwing the largest motor you can afford on the smallest boat you can find is a reasonable excuse for an aquatic roller coaster. More likely than not, that is how your need for speed will abruptly end with a turned-over boat and everybody aboard cold and wet (best case scenario).

I want you to understand that choosing the suitable motor for your Jon boat is of the utmost importance. An under or an oversized engine will be a recipe for undue stress and likely an expenditure of money you can not afford.

Boat Size To Motor Ratio

Now that you are better aware of the dangers of putting too much horsepower at the transom of your Jon boat, it is finally time to pick the best motor size for your Jon boat.

8-Foot Jon Boat With A 2.5 HP Motor

8-Foot Jon Boat With A 2.5 HP Motor
Image Credit: shoppok

Honestly, using a set of paddles would be more than efficient for a boat this size to move you around a small pond or lake. As an alternative, look into a trolling motor- these are typically used when needing to keep a boat in place or when faced with windy or turbulent conditions requiring slow and steady propulsion forward.

In any case, you should not plan on navigating waters in this small size Jon boat at any speed above 5 miles per hour. A 2.5 horsepower engine is more than enough for carrying light loads, shallow water fishing, and lake exploration with two people at most (including yourself).

10-Foot Jon Boat With A 3-5 HP Motor

If you plan on being on any body of water bigger than a typical family pond, then the 10-foot Jon boat is perhaps the best starter boat for you.

Depending on the manufacturer and model Jon boat that you purchase, with a max-rated five-horsepower engine, you can cruise up to 10 miles per hour while exploring, fishing, or fashioning some type of utility work.

But, it would be best to stick to a motor with an output of 3 horsepower as this is the best-recommended option for this size Jon boat.

12-Foot Jon Boat With A 5-7 HP Motor

12-Foot Jon Boat With A 5-7 HP Motor
Image Credit: shoppok

As you can see already, the ongoing trend is as the boat’s length increases, the larger the motor it needs. So for a twelve-foot Jon boat that can typically carry three adult passengers, a 5 or 7 HP motor is more than adequate for chugging through rivers, streams, and across lakes.

You can travel at top speeds of ten and fifteen miles per hour with these size motors, respectively. So again, you will have more than ample power to carry loads safely.

14-Foot Jon Boat With A 15-20 HP Motor

14-Foot Jon Boat With A 15-20 HP Motor
Image Credit: boats from usa

Traveling at twenty miles per hour on a Jon boat is quite a thrilling experience. Whether you know it or not, this speed is even adequate for most water sports available.

Again, as your boat size increases, your engine size goes up, and passenger capacity increases. So, on a fourteen-footer, you could carry up to four passengers comfortably (depending on overall weight)- this size boat is rated to carry up to 650 pounds of weight.

16-Foot Jon Boat With A 30-35 HP Motor

16-Foot Jon Boat With A 30-35 HP Motor
Image Credit: smartmarineguide

Considering how much weight you are carrying aboard, you can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour utilizing a 30-35 HP motor on a 16-foot Jon boat.

Great for fishing, exploring, water sports, and other leisure boating, a 16-footer is just about mid-line in length.

18-Foot Jon Boat With A 50-60 HP Motor

18-Foot Jon Boat With A 50-60 HP Motor
Image Credit: ridecountryroads

At this size, you open yourself up to more seating arrangements, storage capacity, and additional features for your intended use. You even double weight capacity, now allowing for up to 1500 pounds in weight.

At this point, you can use a Jon boat for entertainment and hosting lakeside birthday parties for the kids with a stable enough hull to jump out into the water.

Handling this boat above 35 miles per hour may begin to feel uncomfortable, but with the proper motor configuration, you could max it out between 40 and 45 miles per hour.

20-Foot Jon Boat With A 70-120 HP Motor

20-Foot Jon Boat With A 70-120 HP Motor
Image Credit: smartmarineguide

Anything larger than a twenty-foot Jon boat is serious overkill unless you are involved in some heavy-duty commercial activity. That said, a twenty-foot Jon boat has the capacity of carrying up to 2,000 pounds in weight- that’s impressive.

With the largest motor in this article’s list, you can expect an output of between 35 and 45 miles per hour, depending on the location of use and weight.

I recommend you listen to your Jon boat manufacturer’s advice regarding the proper pairing of size motor for the specific model and intended use. The exact specifications and capacity become much more varied for a 20-foot Jon boat due to the number of possible configurations, layouts, and functions it can support.


Getting out onto the water is easy compared to the homework and research you have to do before purchasing the boat and motor that is most suitable to your needs.

If you do not plan on venturing out into ocean waters, then a Jon boat is a fantastic way to pursue your passion for the water. For over a century, this particular craft design has been a favorite among anglers, explorers, hobbyists, sports enthusiasts, and lake wanderers.

This article has provided you with a better idea of the recommended motor size for the different lengths of Jon boats available in today’s boating market.

Remember that nothing is better than the manufacturer’s specific recommendations for their particular make and model Jon boat.

So, please do not hesitate to contact a local Jon boat dealer and authorized motor distributor or feel free to leave any lingering questions or concerns in the comment section below.

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