A jon boat is a fishing boat usually made from aluminum with a fairly flat bottom and a square bow. Jon boats are more lightweight than other boats, so they don’t need a heavy motor to power them.
Many people opt to purchase a trolling motor as a backup motor for secondary propulsion when they also have a gasoline outboard motor. They use the outboard motor to travel distances fast and the trolling engine to stay in one general area to fish.
To find the best trolling motor for jon boat propulsion, you’ll need to consider several features, including:
- Bow or transom mount
- Shaft length
- Speed control
- Prop style
The level of speed control, prop style, and where it’s mounted are matters of personal preference, much like the jon boat accessories you choose for convenience. Thrust and shaft length are crucial to the trolling motor’s ability to propel a jon boat through the water.
Bow mount trolling motors offer more precise control of the boat, particularly boats 14 feet or longer. These motors have more involved installation and usually cost more overall.
If you use an outboard motor, you can have both installed simultaneously on opposite ends to ease switching from one to the other.
Transom mount trolling motors get clamped onto the transom at the back of the boat. A battery-operated transom mount motor is great for lakes and waterways that don’t allow gasoline motors.
These motors generally cost less and are more convenient than bow-mount motors. Operation and steering are via hand tiller, while bow mount motors have options like a foot pedal or remote control for speed and general operation.
The most important factor in choosing a trolling motor for jon boat operation is the amount of thrust. And the boat’s weight capacity is the determining factor of how much thrust you need.
A trolling motor will let you travel at about 3 to 4 mph and steer the boat where you need to go. If you choose a trolling motor that doesn’t have enough thrust for the boat’s weight, you won’t be able to maintain your position very well, and the boat movement will be sluggish.
As a general rule, it takes 2 lb of thrust for about every 100 lb of weight, including the weight of the boat and the equipment and people inside it. Windy conditions or higher waves will require more thrust to allow you to control the boat’s movement better.
For example, if you have a 16-foot jon boat with a weight capacity of about 2500 lb, you’ll need a trolling motor with at least 50 lb of thrust.
If you can’t purchase a trolling motor with that exact amount of thrust, choose the next one larger. It’s better to have too much thrust than not enough. If you’re unsure about the weight capacity of your boat, you can look it up through the boat manufacturer.
Jon boats have smaller transoms than many other types of boats. The transom is the vertical space on the back of the boat where the motor goes.
Shaft length directly affects the prop’s position in the water. That positioning affects how the boat moves through the water and how stable it is as it progresses.
If you get a shaft length that’s too long, it can affect the boat’s stability as you move, and it can hit bottom when you’re fishing in shallow water. And when you lift the motor, an overly long shaft can be in your way.
A shaft that’s too short can pop above the water, lose thrust, churn the water, and scare away the fish.
Your boat’s manufacturer will give you a guide on the shaft length you need for outboard and trolling motors.
As a general rule, measure the distance between the head of the transom and the waterline and increase by 20 inches to determine the shaft length. So, if the measurement from the top of your boat transom to the water line is 10 inches, you’ll need a minimum shaft length of 30 inches.
If you mount the trolling motor on the bow, you’ll need to measure from the top of the bow to the waterline. No matter where the trolling motor is mounted, the prop needs to be submerged by a minimum of 12 to 14 inches to avoid it popping above the surface.
Whether your motor works with a foot pedal, manual hand operation, or remote control, you’ll probably prefer one that has variable speed settings. Not all motors have this, so be sure to choose one with the options you want.
The ability to change the speed and switch from forward to reverse makes trolling easier. You can drop the speed to reserve battery power. Reversing a boat might not seem necessary, but it comes in handy in narrow passageways or when you get too close to the shore.
Prop style doesn’t affect the ordinary operation of the motor, and some motors only offer one option.
Many people prefer 3-blade props, citing their ability to cut through underwater plant growth and other obstacles. Props with three blades may be able to cut their way through without a change in operation, while 2-blade motors are more likely to get tangled in the weeds.
Here are some of the best jon boat trolling motors with 12v marine battery operation.
This freshwater Minn Kota Endura trolling motor has an indestructible composite shaft so strong that it offers a full guarantee against breakage.
It features a two-blade prop and a tiller that telescopes up to six inches for more comfortable operation.
The 10-position bracket lets you position the motor fast, lock it into place with the quick-release lever lock, and remove it easily whenever you want.
The variable-speed operation offers five forward and three reverse speeds for ultimate responsiveness and control. The motor is available in models that provide 30 to 55 pounds of thrust and shaft lengths from 30 to 42 inches.
You’ll probably need to drill holes in the bow of a jon boat or bass boat to use this AQUOS HASWING trolling motor, but rigid inflatable boats or pontoon boats should allow easy mounting and removal with the motor’s quick-release bracket.
This bow-mount motor is ideal for boats up to 18 feet and 2750 pounds. It has variable speed control and a wireless remote control that recharges via USB or foot control with a pedal and almost 15 feet of cable for convenient operation.
The shaft measures 54-inches long, and a 180-degree turn provides the ability to reverse. This motor can handle freshwater and saltwater use with its corrosion-resistant coating.
This Newport Vessels trolling motor has a 30-inch shaft and comes in models with 36 to 86 pounds of thrust for small to medium fishing boats. It’s suitable for freshwater or saltwater fishing.
Some of the great features of this trolling motor are a 3-blade prop, eight forward speeds, three reverse speeds, and a telescoping tiller.
One feature that sets this motor apart from the rest is a 5-point LED battery meter that tells you at a glance how much battery time is remaining.
Ideal for freshwater or saltwater, the Watersnake Venom electric trolling motor comes in a 35-lb thrust and 30-inch shaft model with a two-blade propeller or one with 54 lbs of thrust and a 42-inch shaft with a three-blade propeller.
It consists of stainless and alloy steel with a zinc anode composite shaft that resists bends, breaks, or corrosion.
The variable speed control offers five forward and three reverse speeds on the telescoping tiller with an ergonomic grip. And the digital voltage meter lets you monitor on your remaining battery power.
Easy transom mounts keep the motor in place, and a tilt-positioning bracket gives you maximum control of the angle of the prop in the water.
Features like the ability to change speed and a telescoping handle might not be necessary for a trolling motor, but convenience and ease of operation are important, too. A digital battery life display isn’t required, but it can make time spent fishing a little more worry-free.
Ultimately, a trolling motor with more features comes with a higher price tag, but the engines last for years. An investment in the best one you can afford won’t leave you wishing for convenient features it doesn’t have years down the road.