How to Modify Aluminum Jon Boats

Written by richard ludwig
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How to Modify Aluminum Jon Boats
Jon boats are an affordable way to get out on the water. (fishing image by Ben Bolton from

Aluminium jon boats are basic. They are manufactured in that fashion to keep costs down, and give boating enthusiasts an affordable option for getting on the water. But sometimes what the manufacturer provides does not suit your needs. Sometimes you want to customise your jon boat to fit your personality. Whether you are just using your aluminium jon boat to cruise around the lake or intend to turn it into a fishing machine, it is one of the easiest types of boat to modify. Adding seats, storage, carpeting and a steering wheel will convert your aluminium jon boat into a more functional and passenger-friendly vessel.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Add seats to your aluminium jon boat. One of the uncomfortable drawbacks of jon boats is they are manufactured with only bench seating. These bench seats run the width of boat, and, to say the least, are bruising on the backside. You have two options: standard or swivel seating. Standard seats are a good choice for the rear bench seat, and swivel seats work well for the front and middle bench seats. Swivel seats are good choices for fishermen as they allow casting in any direction.

  2. 2

    Add storage to your jon boat. A major drawback in aluminium jon boats is the complete lack of storage. The gas tank, battery and all your equipment are exposed. Waterproof storage boxes are relatively inexpensive, giving your boat more room and appeal. Fishing rod holders are also a good modification. Fishing poles are delicate and take up a lot of space. Use vertical holders installed on the boat's stern to free up the most space, and keep the poles out of harm's way.

  3. 3

    Soften your jon boat by adding carpeting. Indoor/outdoor carpeting works especially well. Carpet will make your boat more comfortable and appealing. Cut pieces of plywood to fit specific sections of your boat. The plywood should be cut to fit snug into position without physically attaching it to the jon boat. Glue indoor/outdoor carpeting to the plywood. This method will allow you to change the carpet frequently as the carpeting will wear quickly. It is also a non-permanent modification so you can change it back.

  4. 4

    Install a steering system. Most jon boats are steered using a handle extending from the outboard motor. A steering console will turn your jon boat into a more traditionally driven boat. This can be accomplished either by converting your portable outboard motor or purchasing a standard outboard motor. Add a steering console between the middle and rear bench seats. Consoles can be purchased prefabricated or custom built to your boat's specification. For most jon boats a custom built console -- constructed of wood, aluminium or fibreglass -- will spare the most space on your boat. A steering console will contain a steering wheel, electrical start and throttle. You will need to connect the steering and electrical cables from the steering console to the engine. Finally if you are converting a portable outboard engine you will need to add rotary steering to your engine to which the steering cable will be connected. Marine parts dealers sell steering kits that include all the necessary parts to modify your jon boat.

Tips and warnings

  • Be aware of weight restrictions for your jon boat when making modifications.

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