Jon Boat Lights – Regulations & Recommendations in 2019

jon boat lights

Jon Boat lights are a necessity if you plan on boating at night or during low light conditions. Boats should be properly equipped with lights so that other boaters can easily spot your craft at night and maneuver away to avoid collisions.

Boat Light Regulations

According to the United States Coast Guard, Jon Boats must follow lighting regulations that have been made to ensure the safety of all boaters.

At a minimum, Jon Boaters need to carry a good flashlight to shine at other approaching boats. However, Jon Boats that are powered by an engine are mandated to have similar lighting to other power boats.

What Color Lights?

In general, Jon Boats fall into the small boat classification and need to have an all-round white light at the stern and green/red bow lights.
The red light is supposed to be displayed portside while the green light is on the starboard side of the boat. Another acceptable way to display lights is to have the all-round white stern light and lights mounted to the sides of the boat.

What is the Cost of Lights?

There are numerous manufacturers of lights that are suitable for Jon Boats. Most of the time you can find each light for under $50.00.

Types of Lights

You can choose from lights that require electrical hook-up to your boat battery or LED models that require AAA batteries. The types of lights that can be installed on Jon Boats include bow lights, stern lights, transom lights, and side lights.

Recommended Jon Boat Lights

Although usually not required by law, side lights and additional stern lights also help other boaters to take notice of you when you are out in your Jon Boat.

Bass Pro Shops sells a good quality all-round white stern light for approximately $30.00. The light has 6 LED white lights which require 12 volts to operate. It folds down when not in use. To mount this light, you will need to drill four holes and attach it with nuts and bolts.

You can also purchase a nice bow light from Bass Pro. You can choose from Bass Pro’s clamp-on model that simply clamps onto the front of your boat or you can affix an Attwood Quasar Bi-Color Bow Light.

The Attwood Bi-Color requires that holes be drilled to mount the light with screws and a center hole so that the light when mounted sits flush. If you decide to go with a clamp-on model, you will need to carry AAA batteries with you in your boat in case your batteries go dead while you are boating at night.

Sea Sense makes a telescopic 12 volt stern light for boaters that want this option. This light is easier to store than the longer standard stern lights. Sea Sense also offers a variety of other stern lights that are of fixed length or can fold down. Their bow light extends 14 inches above the bow and is visible in a 225 degree radius from the front. It also features wire plugs that can quickly be connected or disconnected making this light easy to put up and take down each trip.

Jon Boat Navigation Lights

Shoreline Marine, as well as Attwood Lights, manufactures good navigation lights in different styles. They can be  be mounted along each side of your boat.

Jon Boat Seats – Types & Recommendations for 2019

jon boat seats

When it comes to jon boat seats, there really are a lot of options.

Most boats when purchased have the standard bench seating. This seating can be uncomfortable; however, there are a lot of choices in seats that can make your boating experience much more comfortable.

The challenge comes in balancing comfort with carrying too much load – an easy thing to do!

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you modify your seating and keep your load down.

Jon Boat Seats

When it comes to seats for Jon Boats, there are plenty of choices you can make. We’ll now look at a couple of recommended seat manufacturers, Shoreline Marine and Wise.

Shoreline Marine Seats

Shoreline Marine makes a sturdy green plastic seat that mounts to standard swivels.

This design can support up to a 250-pound fisherman or hunter and is made with heavy-duty plastic.

Shoreline Marine also makes a couple of padded seats that fit nicely into jon boats, too.

High Back / Low-Back Boat Seats

Lumbar / back support is an important consideration when choosing a comfortable seat. You can choose a low-back boat seat that supports the lower back or you can opt for a high-back seat supports the entire back.

The low-back seats, as well as, the high-back seats fold down for storage and transport. The differences between the two types of seats are price and color choice.

Shoreline Marine’s low-back seat is offered in a “sand” color which is a fine choice for boats venturing out on fishing trips. It is also offered in a camouflage pattern for hunters.

Both types can support a 275-pound outdoorsman. The high-back seat is offered in white and sand.

And, like the low-back seat is also made with UV protected materials so they will last a long time without fading and cracking in the sun.

Camouflage Plastic Seats

Shoreline Marine also manufactures camouflage plastic seats that are strong and able to support 275 lbs.

These seats come in either brown or green plastic trim and feature the classic Mossy Oak Duck Blind pattern camouflage which is ideal for duck hunters. They are easy to mount and they fold down for convenient storage and transport.

Wise Boat Seats

Another manufacturer of high-quality Jon Boat seats is Wise.

Wise specializes in Jon Boat seats that are very comfortable and well-priced. Their seats come highly recommended from outdoor enthusiasts and their product line is extensive. They sell nine different types of seats that are a great addition to any Jon Boat.

Like Shoreline Marine, they offer the high and low back seats. But, they have many more types to choose from. Their ergonomic seats are very comfortable and are made to withstand years of outdoor use.

Ergonomic Seats

Wise currently has two models of ergonomic seats; the Torsa Trailhawk  (pictured above) and the Torsa Scout (below)).

The difference between the two is the seat padding cover material. The Trailhawk features high-quality Cordura fabric while the Scout utilizes vinyl.

Camouflage Seat Patterns

Both the Trailhawk and the Scout come in three different camouflage patterns to choose from. These colors are: Duck Blind, Shadow Grass, and Break-Up. You can also choose a Hardwoods pattern for the Scout seat or a Max 5 pattern for the Trailhawk.

Wise’s high and low-back seats feature a no-pinch hinge so you will not harm yourself when folding or unfolding them. They both come in the Natural Gear or Max 5 camouflage pattern.

Their folding plastic seats come in a camouflage pattern for any outdoor situation. You can pick from a variety of patterns and color combinations. They come in a tan, green, or brown plastic shell.

Camouflage patterns include: Shadow Grass, Duck Blind, Break-Up, All-Purpose Green, and Advantage Max 4.

Clam Shell Seat

Wise also offers a clam shell Jon Boat seat. A lot of times, it’s actually cheaper to buy a new seat that have the old ones repaired by a pro.

These seats feature snap-on seat cushions which can be bought from Wise in different camouflage patterns.

If you need seats for different hunting situations, this seat is an excellent choice as you can change the pattern to fit your outdoor surroundings.

Mid Back Seats for Lumbar Support

Wise developed a seat with contoured foam that supports the middle back. This is great if you have back problems or just need the extra support.

These mid-back seats also come in several different camouflage patterns. What’s nice about them is the cushion is particularly high quality. You can go on all day fishing trips and they won’t go flat like other cheaper models.

They are also o.k for the larger outdoorsman. If you’re 6″3 and close to 30o lb’s they’ll still give you a comfortable float – but you might want to look into the “Big Man” design below.

Big Man Seat

There are some big men that enjoy the outdoors and Wise did not forget about them. Wise’s Big Man seat is extra-wide and also has a no pinch hinge.

If you’re sore and tired from using bench seats – these are the ones for you. They’re extra-wide and have more padding than regular boat seats. This makes them great if you’re getting on a bit in years or have back issues.

Basically, they’re good for anybody who wants to stay out fishing for longer in more comfort!

Boat Bench Seat

Another popular seat from Wise is their Camouflage Bench Seat.


These bench seats come with your choice of vinyl or Cordura fabric and are offered in Shadow Grass or Max 5 camouflage.

Pro Seat

Wise also makes a Pro Seat for boaters that don’t like a high-seat but like cushioning on the standard bench seat. These seats also come in several camouflage patterns.


Seating Cushions

If you do not want to spend much money to make your ride more comfortable, you can simply purchase a seating cushion.

Stearns makes a seating cushion in either camouflage or fluorescent orange which are great quality. These seating pads are also U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation devices in case of an accident where someone falls out of the boat.

Swivel Seats & Clamps

When hunting or fishing, it is important to be able to rotate to different positions. A swivel seat can accomplish this.

In order to mount swivel seats in your Jon Boat you first need a seat clamp. A good seat clamp is made of steel. Springfield manufactures a well-constructed swivel seat clamp for approximately pretty cheaply.

This seat clamp is a good choice because it adjusts from 8 inches up to 20 and a half inches and can be used on bench seats on newer boats or it can be used on the smaller seats found on older Jon Boats. It’s also about the same price as the one from Wise – but that one doesn’t come with a swivel.

Boat Seat Slider Bracket

Some people prefer to be able to slide back and forth on their bench seat. A slider mounting bracket is needed to accomplish this.

SliderG5 makes a sturdy well-constructed sliding bracket for around $90.00. This bracket allows you to slide from side to side on your Jon Boat bench seat and it also has pins that will prevent your seat from sliding if you desire to stay put.

And, with the SliderG5, you can slide your seats right off of the bracket and keep them clean and indoors until your next boating adventure.


There is a Jon Boat seat for all situations and preferences.

The main point when venturing out on your boat is to stay comfortable throughout hours of sitting time by choosing an appropriate seat.

The Best Camouflage Mats For Your Jon Boat

camaouflage boat mats

Instead of painting, many jon boaters use camouflage boat mats to camouflage the inside of their boat.

Why Use Boat Mats?

Camouflage mats make a great choice if you’re duck hunting. Birds flying overhead can’t detect your boat in the surrounding habitat and will often fly right over.

They also help dampen noise and make the flooring more comfortable in both winter and summer.

The Advantage of Mats

When examined further, the addition of mats to a jon boat has quite a few advantages:

1. They reduce noise in the boat so you can move around more quietly without alarming nearby game or fish.
2. They protect the boat’s original or painted finish. The padding prevents scratches from coolers and other equipment inside the boat.
3. They provide a comfortable rest for your feet and insulate to keep your feet warmer during cold weather outings.
4. They need no glue or other adhesives.
5. They are quick and easy to install in your boat and also can be removed and interchanged with other colors very easily.

Recommended Camo Mats

Bass Pro Shops sells the new “Styx River Camo Neo-Mats” for the Tracker Grizzly line of Jon Boats.

The mats are individually sold in sections that include the floor mat, front deck mat, and rear deck mat. You can also purchase a mat kit that includes all three sections at a reduced price. If you are covering your boat with mats, you can expect to pay $600.00 to $800.00.

These mats come in four different camouflage patterns to help you blend into any surrounding. The patterns are: Muddy Water, RealTree Max 4, Mossy Oak Shadow Grass, and Mossy Oak Break-Up.

Hydroturf Mats

Hydroturf mats are also a popular option for camouflage boat mats. They are basically “closed cell” foam mats, that repel water and are stain-resistant.

They also do a much better job than say a spray-in-liner for the floor and front-deck of a duck boat. In the winter your poor pooch will be freezing lying on the floor, and it the summer the heat will be akin to a BBQ. With Hydroturf you can walk barefoot without cooking your feet!

You can buy hydroturf direct from hydroturf.com or there’s a similar variety at from Gator Trax Boats.  A 40″ by 62″ sheet is around $60, and it’ll usually take 4 to cover an 18′ boat with some scraps left over.

Jon Boat Flooring

If you would like matting to prevent you from slipping and to camouflage the inside of your boat, you can make it out of rubber or vinyl flooring. You will be hard pressed to find the flooring in camouflage but you can use solid black and then paint it yourself with Hunter’s Specialties Camo paint.

Anti-fatigue mats are pretty inexpensive and make a great option for aluminum jon boats. They’re especially good to give a dog something to lie on other than cold metal.

Lie hydroturf, a lot of anti-fatigue mats are made from closed-cell foam. This means they won’t absorb water. They’re also able to fit together like a jig-saw and won’t move about when fitted together. They’re available in many hardware stores and online.

 

Jon Boat Paint – Tips & Suggestions

jon boat paint

Many people who purchase Jon Boats hunt with them. Therefore, it is important that the boats are painted so that they do not spook the wildlife or waterfowl. Thankfully, there are a few different options for jon boat paint and we’ll discuss them in this article.

Hide Your Boat!

Most of the Jon Boats today come from the manufacturers in a drab green or brown solid pattern. And, although, these boats do not shine like aluminum boats that aren’t painted, they still stand out when attempting to hide amongst vegetation.

For this reason, you can choose a paint pattern, or mats to place inside your boat, to camouflage your boat for any hunting or fishing environment.

Remove Old Paint

Before painting your boat, you need to make sure that it is clean and free of peeling paint from former paint jobs. You will need a scraper to scrape off any peeling paint before attempting to repaint.

Another method to take off old and peeling paint is to use a wire brush. A pressure washer can really help you to get your boat super clean for a new paint job. Use a product like Rustoleum’s Multi-Purpose Krud Kutter which will take care of mud, dirt, and grease.

The key to a successful paint job is to remember to get your boat as clean as possible before attempting to paint. Some people recommend cleaning your boat, sanding it, and then painting with primer.

Once your boat is clean and dry, you are ready for paint primer or a paint that does not require primer.

Jon Boat Primer

If you desire to paint your boat with oil-based paint, you should first primer it. A jon boat primer is sold by Cabela’s and is called, “Parker Duck Boat Primer.”

This primer is an excellent choice for aluminum boats as it protects the aluminum from corrosion and it prepares the boat to maximize the adhesion of oil-based paints.

Jon Boat Camo Paint

There are many camouflage paints for jon boats to choose from. Parker makes excellent paints for boats, or you can choose other paints like Hunter’s Specialties Camo, Aluma Hawk Green, or Duralux Camouflage.

Duralux boat paint is vinyl-based, and although it is fairly expensive, there is no need for a primer and it is also easy to clean.

Camouflage Kits for Jon Boats

Hunter’s Specialties makes a “Camouflage Kit”, that is ideal for painting Jon Boats if you desire to just use spray paint. The kit comes with four cans of spray paint each containing a different color.

The colors are: Flat Black, Mud Brown, Olive Drab, and Marsh Grass. The Hunter’s kit also includes stencils that look like ferns to further enhance the camouflage. Spray paints for Jon Boats are not expensive and you can purchase this kit for approximately $30.00.

Camouflage Mats

Many people refrain from painting their boat camouflage but instead use mats to cover the inside of the boat.

Camouflage mats are an excellent choice when waterfowling. The birds overhead cannot distinguish between the boat and the natural surroundings and, therefore, will oftentimes fly right over. It’s wise to color co-ordinate your boat mats with the exterior paint you have chosen.

You can find our page “Jon Boat Camouflage Mat” for more on this topic.


Here’s a video from youtube on painting your jon boat using some of the methods detailed in this article.

Converting Your Jon Boat Into A Bass Boat

Jon Boat Into A Bass Boat

Jon Boat Into A Bass Boat

If you would like to have the luxuries of a bass boat without the high expense, you can modify your Jon Boat into one.

Admittedly, converting a jon boat into a bass boat is not easy. You have to be skilled with the operation of several power tools. However, if you believe you can do it, here are the steps you can take.

Tools Needed

The first step is to gather the tools that you will need and have them ready for the job at hand.

You are going to need a power drill to remove the bench seating, unless your seats are riveted. If your boat has riveted seats then a power grinder is a must to remove rivets.

You will also need a circular saw for cutting the lumber frame. A staple gun is needed to drive staples into the carpeting. Another tool that comes in handy is a hand jigsaw to cut the plywood flooring.

Purchase Materials

Once you gather up the tools, it is time to purchase your materials. For this modification, you will need 2 x 4’s, plywood, long screws, carpeting, and marine adhesive.

Remove Seats

Begin by removing the front and then the middle seat. After the seats are out of the boat, it is time to build and insert the 2 x 4 frame.

It is very important that your frame securely braces both sides of your boat like the bench seats did. So take your time with measuring and cutting so that all pieces are exact.

Livewell / Storage Space

For your middle seat area, you want two 2 x 4’s where the seat used to be. Space the boards about the same width as your former seat. This area makes for a good livewell or cooler space.

Fasten Boards

After your boards are snugly fit, you have to fasten them securely to the boat sides. Use a power drill to drill holes in the sides of your boat where you will run the screws into the boards.

Use a good marine adhesive to waterproof any drilled holes and apply it liberally to any hole that has the potential to leak.

Flooring / Pedestal Seat

Now, it is time to build the flooring that you can stand on and mount a pedestal seat if you so desire.

Carefully measure and cut your plywood to fit snugly into the front of your boat. Your plywood should be thick enough to support quite a bit of weight so ¾ inch plywood is recommended.

Supporting the Flooring

You can cut out a live well and another hole for storage if you desire. Make sure that your flooring is supported on both sides and the front of the boat.

A good idea is to have at least four cross pieces supporting the sides of the boat.

Covers & Carpeting

Make covers for your live well and storage compartment also. Attach your covers with good door hinges so that they can be easily opened and closed.

Before you put the new flooring into your boat, attach your carpeting. You will need a good adhesive to glue the carpeting to the flooring and staples to hold the flooring in place.

Once this is done, you can mount a pedestal seat to the front standing board section or you can leave the seat out and have a nice standing area to move around on while you are fishing.

Further Modifications

You can continue with your modification, or you can stop here. Depending on your skill and knowledge, you can install a steering wheel, support the transom for a larger bass boat outboard, and you can install a fish finder if desired.

Here’s a great video of converting a Jon Boat into a Bass Boat. You’ll find a lot more on youtube, too.

How to Make a Casting Deck

jon boat casting deck

Many fishermen like to make a casting deck so that they can move around unrestricted and fish more water in a shorter amount of time. Removing the front two seats in a Jon Boat is a necessity if you would like to make a casting deck.

Tools For The Job

To make a casting deck in the front of your boat, the very first thing you should do is gather the tools that you will need for the job. Depending on the make of your boat, some bench seats are riveted while others are screwed in.

If your seats are just screwed in, you will need a power drill with the appropriate phillips or flat screw bit. However, if your seats are riveted in, you should also have a hole punch. If you lack the hole punch, you can use a phillips head drill bit that will fit just inside the rivet.

Punch A Hole

The first step is to punch out the center hole of the rivet. Use your hole punch to accomplish this, or hit a Philips head screwdriver through it by hitting it with a hammer.

After you have a hole in the center of the rivet, all you need to do is dip your drill bit in some oil and drill out the rivet. The rivet will pop out onto your drill bit and you should now have a clean hole for when you drill into the frame of your new standing platform.

Removing the Seats

After repeating this process and extracting all of the rivets that are holding your bench seats in, you can now remove the front seats of your boat.

Underneath the bench seats on most boats you will notice insulation that helps the boat to float in the event of an accident. It is suggested that when you install the frame for your casting deck that you also pack some form of lightweight insulation to replace the insulation that you have taken out.

Casting Deck Frame- Wood or Metal?

Once the bench seats are out of your boat, it is time to decide which material you are going to install for your casting deck. Most people make the frame out of 2 x 4’s, however; some people that know how to weld or are willing to pay a welding company, choose steel or aluminum framing.

The important thing is to make sure the front of the boat is as stable as it was with the bench seats. The frame should be drilled to the sides of your boat so that the boat sides do not flex with the added weight of the fisherman. Depending on the size of your Jon Boat, you might need a center brace in the frame to support the middle of your casting deck.

Making The Platform

After completing the frame, the next step is to make the platform. The platform should be made with ¾ inch plywood precisely cut to fit over the frame. Some people with larger boats cut a hole in the deck to serve as space for boat safety essentials or a live well.

Keep in mind, that a hole in the casting deck can weaken it so if you decide to go this route it is a good idea to modify and strengthen the frame around the hole.

Sealing The Plywood

Next, it is time to water seal the plywood so that it does not take on water and prematurely rot. A good choice is Thompson’s MultiSurface Waterproofer.

Thompson’s water seal usually does not have to be applied more than once but do allow it to dry thoroughly before “splash testing” it. After the water seal has dried, splash a little water on it and it should bead and roll right off. If the water sticks to the wood, you will need to apply a second coat.

Choosing a Good Cover

Perhaps the most important part of installing a standing platform is to choose the right type of material to cover and protect the wood.

A good marine carpet is recommended, although, some people do use rubber sheeting which also serves the purpose and is waterproof.

Corinthian makes a high quality marine carpet that is excellent to use on your standing platform. Their carpets come in twenty one different colors ranging from $1.25 per square foot all the way up to $3.33 per square foot.

Corinthian carpets are well-suited to fit Jon Boat standing platforms due to the fact that they can be pulled and stretched around the cut out piece of plywood and then stapled to the bottom. Their carpeting also has a special backing that can be glued to your plywood for long lasting life.

Here’s a great video on how to make a casting deck on a budget:

Building a Jon Boat Duck Blind

duck blind

If you’re looking to turn your Jon Boat into a duck hunting boat, camouflage paint is a good start. However, ducks flying overhead will still spot it. That’s why many duck hunters choose to modify their boat with a duck blind.

There’s really two options. You can either purchase a kit or make a DIY Duck Blind.  For the latter, it helps if you have access to a welder or know how to weld. Then you can make your own frame.

Duck Blind Kits

A company named “Bust Em” has a really nice duck blind kit. It contains a custom made welded galvanized metal tubular frame that has door hinges in some areas so that the frame can be moved to allow hunters the ability to load gear, enter and exit the boat, and allow dogs to jump in and out.

The frame is painted flat black so that it does not easily rust and does not have areas of glare that waterfowl could see.  Wooden camouflaged panels cover the frame. If you desire, you can make your own panels and mount them to your own frame or you can just purchase the “Bust Em” kit.

Realistic Camouflage

The next part of the blind is important if you decide to use real vegetation for a more realistic camouflage. Wire mesh can be mounted to the wooden panels. You can then insert vegetation all through the mesh to deceive the smartest waterfowl. The vegetation you should use is the same type of vegetation surrounding your hunting area.

Large Cargo Doors

After the blind is mounted to the boat, you can open the cargo doors and store your decoys and other gear. Because your Jon Boat is now a closed in structure, you don’t have to worry about your gear blowing out of the boat. Bust Em makes these doors large so that you and your dogs can easily climb into and exit the boat.

If your decision is to make the duck blind yourself, it is a good idea to make doors large so that you don’t have trouble getting in and out.

Hinged & Movable Flaps

The last part of this type of Jon Boat duck blind is the middle top flaps. These flaps are similar to the side panels only they are present in the middle of the boat to further enhance camouflage from overhead flying waterfowl. If you make your own duck blind make sure to include flaps that are hinged and moveable.

Scissor-Style Duck Blind

Another type of Jon Boat duck blind is a scissors style duck blind. You can make it yourself or purchase a kit.

To make this type of blind, measure your boat from the rear of the back seat up to the rear of the front seat. This will be the area for your blind frame. For the frame you will need steel piping, electrical conduit, or pvc pipe.

Duck Bling Clamps

To mount the frame to your Jon Boat, you will need duck blind clamps. Sportsman Designs makes a real nice aluminum duck blind clamp that can hold ¾ inch conduit.

You will need two clamps, one for the right front side and one for the right rear side. One of your long side pieces will slide through these clamps and then the clamps are tightened so this section of frame does not move.

Rectangular Frame

Make sure you measure your conduit properly before cutting it. You should have three solid long pieces that stretch from the back of the rear seat all the way up to the rear of the front seat on each side of the boat.

Two of these pieces form the sides of the rectangular frame on both sides of the boat. The other long piece is used for the top of the scissors duck blind frame.

Then you need two pieces of the same length that will serve as your rear cross frame and a middle piece that stands straight up behind your rear seat and connects with the top long piece. A 90 degree elbow is used to form the top and vertical parts of the blind.

Front-of-the-Frame

To make the front of the frame, you will need a piece that lies across the front of the boat and a piece that stands vertically when the frame is up and connects by a 90 degree elbow to the top frame piece.

All four of these pieces should have holes drilled in them exactly in the middle because what you want to achieve is a scissors style duck blind that will lie flat until needed. You form the scissors by attaching a bolt, washer, and nut in each of the drilled holes.

Add Material

After your frame is constructed and all hardware is tightened, you should be able to fold the frame down flat. You can now add material of your choosing to cover the frame. You can use either natural or man-made materials or you can combine the two.

Now when the blind is up, the birds will not see you hiding in the middle of your Jon Boat until it is too late!

And finally, you can find a lot of Jon Boat duck blind videos on youtube. This one in particular is very good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir0WJsbXqA8