Electric trolling motors are great and we discussed them here, but for a primary motor on a Jon Boat, many go with an outboard motor.
Why Get an Outboard Motor?
If you’re fishing bigger bodies of water, flooded rivers or have additional gear, you’re going to need the extra power outboard motors provide.
What Size Outboard?
There should be an aluminum plate in the transom area that gives the maximum weight and HP rating for your Jon Boat. Now, quite a few people go overweight (seemingly without incident but it’s there for a reason!). One thing you definitely don’t want to do is buy a motor larger than is specified.
Price of Jon Boat Outboards
Jon Boat outboards typically retail from $925.00 to just under $3,500.00. The price varies according to the specific model and features, with the most important factor being horsepower.
Something that is essential is that your outboard has enough rpms to get to “planing” speeds. This is where the boat is lifted “on a plane” in the water. It’s desirable because it’s more stable and handles better.
Of course, the heavier the boat, gear and people, the more HP you’re going to need. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overload a Jon Boat so this is one area you really do need need to take care with.
Advantages of an Outboard Motor
Most folk know that an outboard may be louder than an electric motor but it doesn’t rely on batteries. Here are some advantages of an outboard motor you may not have considered:
Outboards are Lighter
Outboards are much lighter than electric motors. This is mainly due to the hefty battery which can weigh up to 40lbs.
Even if you get a lighter trolling motor of say 25 lbs, you’re still looking at 65lbs of motor. Some of the lighter outboards are just 20lbs. So you can really save a lot of weight for something else with an outboard.
Range & Distance
If you’re going to go ten miles there and back – get an outboard motor. You can go all day on a gallon of gas. Although battery powered motors are improving, they usually have a much shorter range and distance.
Easier to Plane
As discussed above, once you get to planing speed, the speed and handling of a Jon Boat is easier to maintain. Electric motors rarely pack enough punch to plane.
Better In Flooded Rivers & Creeks
If you plan in taking your Jon Boat out in a flooded-river or anywhere with a strong current, you’ll really appreciate the extra HP an outboard motor provides.
You’ll need a lot of motor to navigate the junk that washes up like trees, refrigerators and even catttle. That’s why many people like to go with the maximum specified HP. It’s better to pay a bit extra rather than risk you and your passengers safety.
Great in Big Lakes / Rivers
Your intended use will also affect the optimal size of motor your jon boat needs. If you’re out on rivers or lakes 1,000 acres across it’s good to go big.
However, if you’re on smaller bodies of water with a lot of “prop busters” like tree stumps, it’s probably a better idea to get a 9.9 hp and use the savings for more gear.
Recommended Jon Boat Outboards – Honda
Honda makes Jon Boat outboards in the 2 to 20 horsepower range. These outboards are light and portable.
The vast majority of small Jon Boat motors are four-stroke and Honda’s are no exception. Honda’s applicable motors are their 2.3 hp, 5 hp, and 8 hp. The 2.3 hp is cooled by “forced air cooling” while the larger sizes are water cooled.
The 2.3 hp motor has many features that make it ideal for Jon Boats. First of all, no oil mixing is required. It weighs less than 30 lbs so it is easy to move around. It also has a “Precise Throttle Control” to aid in varying speed. The forced air cooling is a good feature as you don’t have to worry about clogging your water pump.
The 2.3 hp motor is recommended for 8 to 10 foot boats that can get by with 40 lbs of thrust or less. This motor can propel a small Jon Boat 5 to 10 mph unless the boat’s cargo is very heavy.
If you desire more power, choose a 5 to 20 hp motor. The recommended size for most Jon Boats is a 4 to 6 hp motor. This amount of horsepower will typically provide 40 to 60 lbs of thrust.
Other Recommended Outboards
There are several more outboard motor manufacturers that you can choose from.
Evinrude has portable engines in the 3.5 hp to 15 hp range, Mercury has engines in the 2.5 to 20 hp range, and Tohatsu also has motors in the 2.5 hp to 20 hp range.
Suzuki also offers Jon Boat outboards and their model DF-6 is a good choice if you are looking for a 6 hp engine.