16 Popular 14 Ft Jon Boat Modifications
Ian Fortey Updated on March 2, 2023. In Jon Boatsby
In many ways, a jon boat is the perfect template for a DIY boater who likes to make a lot of changes or customizations to their boat. These flat bottomed boats can often be purchased as very bare boned frames right from the get go, even brand new, with the idea that the design is more or less modular. That means there are many modifications that can be made, some easier than others, to the boat. There are also various ways to make the same basic modifications depending on your budget, skill level and preferences. If it works, it doesn’t always have to be fancy.
Some of the most popular modifications for a jon boat include:
- Increased storage
- Extra seating
- Casting decks
- Lighting and Electronics
- Covers and Tops
- Trolling motor or Improved Motor
- Propulsion Control
- Anchor system
- Grab Bars
- Paint Jobs
The Most Common Jon Boat Mods
Jon boats are so easy to modify there’s almost nothing you can’t do. That said, these modifications are the ones that tend to be most useful to the average jon boat owner.
This is what most people with a 14 foot jon boat are going to mod more than anything else, at least as far as I’ve observed. A standard 14 foot jon boat will not have enough storage for most of us because it’s a smaller boat and the manufacturers want to maximize the things they can show off with a small space. So they’re going to have some storage, but it’ll be limited. That’s where jon boat storage ideas come into play.
So how does anyone make storage on a jon boat? Elevation! Adding a casting deck and levels is a super common and generally not that complex modification that many owners choose. When you add a deck and raise it up so you have an essentially flat boat from bow to stern, or you can raise the bow and stern with a small recessed area in the middle. A raised deck gives you an almost bass boat in the end, and it’s so helpful when you have a smaller boat.
Adding a deck means all the space under the deck is now open for storage. You can use it for fishing equipment, for gear, a live well, a sound system, pretty much everything you could hope to stow on your jon boat now has a place to keep it.
Another option is storage under bench seating or seat boxes. You can get super creative with it when you’re modding a jon boat because you need to maximize every inch of that space and be super efficient. You’d be surprised what you can come up with when you step back and look at your boat and just take stock of what is basically wasted space.
Another big modification for any jon boat is seating. Some jon boats will come with spots for several pedestal seats, and maybe a bench seat or two, but not always. Also, the seating that comes with most jon boats is notoriously uncomfortable. The benches aren’t much different than sitting on a fence or a wall somewhere.
Basic modifications can be as simple as padding the existing seats, which your back and rear end will thank you for. You can also custom make your own bench seats or seating boxes that have storage under them and offer greater versatility in terms of size and location on the boat.
A swivel seat is also a popular modification, just so you don’t have to be stuck facing forward all the time since the fish aren’t going to be sitting still around your boat.
Carpeting is one of those generally underappreciated but entirely necessary additions to a jon boat. Do you have to have it? No. You could opt to paint the interior with a texture paint to give you some footing. But it’s a nice addition to have it anyway.
Carpeting is great for lining your storage compartments to stop stuff from banging around and making noise or getting damaged. As mentioned, it’s great for giving you traction as well which is important with people moving around on a boat. The floor of a jon boat will often get wet if not outright messy when you’re fishing. Slime and fish guts can be dangerous if you have people who don’t have the best sea legs on board, and especially kids. The advantage of a carpeted surface can keep them a little safer and more secure.
Carpeting also offers a degree of comfort. Marine carpeting isn’t plush or anything, but if you’re standing for hours while you fish it can really absorb a lot of the pressure your feet will feel and extend the time you stay out by making you feel less tired overall.
Good marine carpet doesn’t cost a ton of money and it can be pretty easy to install. Check out this DIY jon boat carpeting video for some ideas.
Obviously you’re going to need to have a battery on your boat, and you may need to boost that up in power or number if you have a trolling motor which needs its own battery and other electronics operating. But being efficient with your power is something you can tweak with modifications.
One mod that is becoming more and more popular is the addition of solar paneling. I’ve even seen modified tops that resemble a bimini that are just solar paneling. That offers share for you when you fish and also makes the most of power management. For less coverage there are small panels that can be clamp mounted over the gunwales to maximize power and either help charge or power smaller electronics like a fish finder, your stereo, and whatever other electronics you may have on board.
This kind of solar paneling that is elevated and out of the way is ideal for a smaller 14 foot jon boat. It’s not taking any of your usable deck space, it’s not taking up storage like extra batteries, and it’s offering shade. The major downside is that solar setups like this are definitely adding a steep price to the total cost of the boat. But if you spend a lot of time on the water in very sunny climates, it could be worth it.
If you fish at night then lighting is an essential element. Many jon boats won’t come with lights from the factory but if you plan to boat at night then you literally need them to legally be out there.
LED lighting packages are often really affordable and pretty easy to install with some limited knowledge of wiring. You don’t need a full underwater spread or anything fancy like that, just a couple of lights that help you see but more importantly ensure others can see you.
If you’re not sure on the best way to go about installing some deck lights, here’s a YouTube video that has some great ideas. If nothing else, maybe it can inspire you to work on something that fits your specific needs.
If you’re serious about fishing then of course you’re going to want to have a fish finder on your jon boat. The good thing about using one of these is that fish finders are so commonplace and so customizable you can go all in on a system that costs thousands, or just spend a few hundred dollars at most to rig something that is space saving and totally efficient even on the smallest of boats.
Depending on how complex you want to get, you can have fish finders that are integrated with GPS and a pedal or remote control system with your trolling motor. On the other hand, you can just have a portable little fish finder mounted to the hull that’s easy to install and remove as needed.
Okay, so this might not be the most important modification anyone makes, but a sound system is a fun addition for a lot of boaters. You’ll find most serious anglers are not down for this kind of modification because most fish don’t really enjoy your taste in music. If you’re blasting tunes in a flat bottomed boat, that’s just vibing right through the hull and scaring fish away.
That said, not all of us are out there fishing 24/7. If you have a jon as a multipurpose boat or if you like to hang out with friends and family, especially kids, this is a great addition. If the fish aren’t biting, or you’re just having fun, then a sound system gives a nice background for you to hang out and enjoy everyone’s company.
Sound systems can be installed under decks and you can use a simple box speaker system like you might use in the trunk of your car when you give your stereo a boost. I’ve also seen smaller systems that rely on just a cell phone or mp3 player (remember those?) mounted in a box with some small speakers right on the back of a pedestal seat.
This level of electrical work can seem daunting to some boaters, especially those who have no experience doing anything electrical at all. Fortunately, YouTube is always reliable.. Check out this example of how to set up a speaker system on a small boat.
Any boat is going to need a cover to keep it safe from the elements when you have it on a trailer or wherever you keep it stored. There’s a mixed bag for how a jon boat cover will work and, oddly, it’s often because of what we’re talking about in this article with modifications.
A basic jon boat can have all the extra elements taken off when you’re ready to store it for the off season and a simple cover can be placed on relatively fast. But if you’ve made a lot of mods you may have altered the shape and design of the boat enough that you need a new custom cover to lock it all down.
Making your own boat cover isn’t all that difficult and can save you a lot of money versus having one custom made. Check out our guide to making a boat cover here and see if it works for your particular vessel.
You can buy covers with the boat in some cases and so that doesn’t technically qualify as a mod. However, if you mod your boat, change the overall shape and structure, then you may need to do a custom DIY for your vessel and that technically does qualify as a modification and something you’ll need to prepare for.
Bimini Top/Cover Cabins
The flat nature of a jon boat means you have a nice flat, wide deck to work with and that can lend itself to a cabin if you’re so inclined. This is a rare mod but if you plan long fishing trips in a place where bad weather is par for the course, then this can be a valuable addition. You’re turning your jon boat into a very simple cabin cruiser, after a fashion.
This kind of mod is very complex so it requires next level skills if you’re doing this yourself. It’s also generally a permanent mod so you’re keeping that cabin up at all times no matter what. But the trade off is that if you fish in rainy or cold climates all the time, you’re be staying dry and cozy while other anglers are less likely to enjoy that level of comfort.
On a small boat like a 14 foot jon, a cabin cover is taking up the bulk of your floor space. This would definitely be best suited for an angler who doesn’t really want any more frills, bells and whistles, you’re just looking to be comfortable when doing some leisure fishing.
Less intrusive but offering less coverage is the bimini top. You expect to see these on a lot of larger jon boats which often have room for front and back bimini covers but they work just as well on small vessels.
Bimini tops don’t take up a lot of space on the deck because, obviously, they’re meant to be above the deck giving you some shade. They’re a really good addition if you do a lot of fishing out on the open water under the sun. You need to remember to keep yourself safe from the sun when you’re out there. Safety first, right?
It’s hard to think of a jon boat without a trolling motor, at least in my experience. I have seen jons that only have outboards, in particular older boats with smaller outboards that are less powerful. And if that’s how you like to boat then that is great. There are some who opt for no motors at all, either because they prefer to row or because they’re fishing in places where motorized boats aren’t allowed. But most anglers probably can’t imagine using a jon boat without a trolling motor. To the point that it’s almost hard to look at as a modification rather than just a standard that you need.
Having a trolling motor is an absolute game changer if you don’t fish with one already, you’ll love the difference in control and maneuverability. Just the whole ease of use and getting where you need to go without causing the same kind of ruckus you will with an outboard, scaring all the fish off.
A bow mounted trolling motor will give you the best control you can have because you are pulling the boat instead of pushing it. This means you get the best maneuvering you can get which is a real bonus for many anglers. A bow mount with a remote control is even better because you have that hands free control to allow yourself to keep fishing.
Stern mounted trolling motors are a little harder to manage. Not that they are hard to manage at all, just harder when it comes to control because of how they move the boat, so you may find that you need to keep control at the motor itself rather than using a remote or foot pedal control.
The big downside to a bow mounted trolling motor is that it’s a lot more expensive than a stern mounted one. If you can make it work in your budget though, it’s a great addition.
Of all the modifications you can make to a jon boat I would argue that a good trolling motor is the number one thing you want to take care of. Everything else is secondary to the experience, at least if you’re serious about fishing and want to make the most of it.
This is a modification that you won’t think of at first if you’re new to boating or jon boats in general, but if you’ve been tooling around in one for a while you can see where this comes into play.
Typically if you’re fishing in a jon boat you’re sitting at the bow or stern with your trolling motor control and making your way through the water from there. But that does require you to actually move over to the motor and take control. That’s an inconvenience sometimes, especially if you’re using a fish finder, you know you want to make just a tiny tweak to your position, but you have to go to the complete other side of the boat to do so.
The best modification you can make in this case, and even on a smaller boat some anglers find this to be super helpful, is a foot pedal. A foot pedal lets you turn that trolling motor on off without ever having to drop your rod. It’s a real convenience and time saver when you’re making those small adjustments to your position.
Most people might think it’s not a big inconvenience to get up and do it by hand but if you’re set up where and how you want to be already, then it’s just so much easier to use the foot pedal.
Any boat is going to need an anchor, especially if you go fishing. Technically, a pair of anchors will work best for you so you can secure yourself for a good period of time with limited drifting. But we’re talking about mods here and there are a few really great anchor mods that work especially well on a jon boat.
Because you’re probably using your jon boat in shallow water, a shallow water anchor is a great idea for a jon boat. They can be mounted in a fairly out of the way fashion as well, so even on a smaller boat you can typically find room. They set in seconds and can be released in seconds as well, so they have an edge over a traditional anchor. Plus they hold a boat incredibly still.
You can buy electronic pole anchors that are transom mounted and work great. Something like a Power Pole is a solid option that deploys with very little noise and will dig in and hold your boat in place with a lot of strength. But that’s also a pricey option and you can be looking at anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 or more depending on the brand and set up you choose.
If you’re more of a DIY angler, you have options for making your own shallow water anchor. Many anglers have found success with something like an 8-foot fiberglass pole (smooth fiberglass, so your hands don’t get full of slivers) with a handle on top and a stainless steel tip on the bottom so you can pound it into rocky or gravelly surfaces below the water.
Here’s a video that shows you how you can rig up a DIY shallow anchor on your own.
Grab bars and other small but useful safety features are popular on larger jon boats but even a smaller 14-foot vessel can benefit from one. These are actually highly recommended for and by people who have issues with balance or other conditions that make them feel a little weak and unsteady, especially on the water. And, of course, they’re always a good idea if you have kids on the boat as well.
On smaller 14 foot jon boats it can be hard sometimes to find the space to add a grab bar depending on your set up as things can get a little crowded. On the other hand, various styles of grab bars exist and they can be attached to pretty much every surface on your body. The side of the hull is obvious but the back of a seat is also a popular option, or rooted into spaces that were meant for pedestal seating that you’ve opted not to use.
The only real issue with grab bars is to remember to secure them well and mount them in truly solid locations. I’ve seen grab bars mounted high on the side of a hull below the gunwale that were only secured to the aluminum and when a full grown man stumbles and grabs hold in an effort to not fall, a pair of bolts through thin aluminum can’t stand up to a 200lb jolt. You can end up with some ugly dents or even breaks in the aluminum thanks to poor mounting.
Make sure a grab bar is mounted in a place where, if it needs to hold up the entire weight of a person, it can do so.
There is actually more to a jon boat paint job than you might think, thanks to the nature of the boat and how it works. While something like a camouflage paint on the hull is a popular choice, especially for those who like to go duck hunting and want to make a duck blind boat, the underside can’t be neglected.
Being flat bottomed and used in shallow water, the bottom of your jon boat is at risk for more scrapes and dents than perhaps the average v-hull bass boat. A coat of rock proof paint can add durability and longer life to your boat.
Most boaters will opt for something cheap and effective like a traditional antifouling paint or an enamel paint. These don’t offer a ton of protection from physical damage but they definitely extend the life of your hull in the water.
For deeper protection a bitumen paint or a polymer undercoating. The latter is a good idea if you fish in saltwater, because the polymer coatings are able to offer superior corrosion resistance.
You can also opt for some physical protection beyond paint if you’re looking to protect your vessel with things like strakes or keel guards.
For the ultimate in protection there are Teflon coatings and cheaper plastic coatings that can be applied to a boat but Teflon is definitely not a DIY project so if you opt for that sort of mod be aware. It offers arguably the best protection against scrapes and bumps, but it’ll cost you some money and must be done professionally.
Smaller jon boats often don’t come with a standard livewell included or, if they do, they’re about as small as you’d expect. You can rig up a new livewell however and this is one of the more popular modifications for jon boat owners with a serious eye to fishing.
You’ve probably seen a rigger up DIY livewell before and they don’t have to be super complex. A good quality cooler and a pump system for a home aquarium can actually get the job done here, along with a little simple wiring once you have it on your boat.
Some boaters will go all out and mount the livewell in a new deck to make it a hidden and permanent addition. Others get by with the cooler on the deck but secured or braced in place so it doesn’t roll around. This has a potential side benefit of being an extra seat if you so desire since most coolers are tough enough to handle that kind of use.
The biggest downside to choosing to add a livewell, especially on a smaller boat, is that these do take up a lot of your spare room. But the value of a livewell is too much to ignore for some boaters. And, like I said, you can use this as a seat as well if you’re interested.
This is a small mod but it’s just super handy. If you’re moving around your boat a lot and you want to get that fish cleaned and prepared, you don’t want fish guts and slime everywhere. Especially if you have carpeting on your boat. It’s going to smell, it’s going to put your footing at risk, and it just looks uglier than it needs to.
A quick and easy cleaning station is a great and incredibly simple addition. The best design for this will have them mounted over the gunwale or even hanging over the side of the hull so that it can easily drain into the water to reduce the mess on the boat.
These can be really simple rigs that involve either pedestal mounts or something as easy as a clamp or two to hold a flat cutting surface in place. Make sure you have some openings for easy drainage and also have a safe and secure place to keep a knife as well.
Not everyone feels the need to have a cleaning station and that’s perfectly fine. But many anglers feel like it’s a great time saver to have it right there for when you catch the fish.
What are the Easiest Modifications for Jon Boats?
There’s no job that’s too hard if you know what you’re doing. That said, painting your jon boat, building storage compartments and finding space to add things like lights and electronics tend to be some of the most simple tasks.
The Bottom Line
There are countless modifications that can be made to a jon boat and on a smaller boat, one that’s only about 14 feet, you need to make sure you’re maximizing efficiency for the limited space you have available. The best modifications are going to actually increase your space, in particular for storage, and give you more comfort and more room to work with, while making fishing easier as well.
Some mods, like a cabin cover and solar panels, can set you back a lot of money. But others, in particular storage, decks and shallow water anchors, can be easily managed on your own if you have some time and skill to get them done.
Categories: Jon Boats