Best Motor for 18' Jon Boat?


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By Knollie81 - 4/25/2013 1:17:10 PM
Hello-

I'm thinking of purchasing a Jon Boat that I can use for both Duck Hunting and Fishing. At this point, I'm interested in an 18-foot Modified V-Hull to mainly hunt big water -- though I'd still like it to have some utility in other settings as well.

What's everyone's opinions on outboard versus inboard motors? Right now, I'm leaning towards the outboard motor route to save some space inside the boat for gear, dog, etc.  Also, what HP motor do you recommend for an 18-footer in big water that isn't overkill?  Would prefer to keep the cost within reason...  Last but not least, any feedback on brand preferences...Yahama, Suzuki, Mercury, etc?

Open to any of your thoughts and recommendations.  Thanks for any feedback.
By rtcbob - 5/9/2013 8:02:22 PM
The only inboard motors I've ever seen on aluminum jon boats were inboard jets.  Are you considering a jet drive?

Either way IMO I would only consider outboards for a jon boat application.  As far as size, it depends greatly on whether you are thinking a tiller steer motor or a console.  Console steer will allow you to run considerably larger motors.  From my experience, the rule of thumb I use is if a normal prop outboard, generally one or two motor sizes down from the max Hp rating of the boats capacity plate is enough.  If a jet drive (what I run), nothing but the max Hp the boat is rated for will do.  For a typical 18' - 60" bottom width mod-V, a 90 Hp prop motor would be ideal for big water, a 70 Hp would suffice.  Just keep in mind that you are typically loaded pretty heavy when duck hunting between guys, gear, dekes & dogs.

An 1860 jon makes a great all around hunting and fishing boat.  Since you said "big" water I would also look closely at gunwale height when picking a boat.  The higher the better.  My current boat is a 19'- 66" bottom G3.  Some times and some places, a little much to handle for duck hunting, but when I hunt & fish on the Chesapeake Bay I appreciate that extra size.

As far as motor brands.... it's a Chevy vs Ford debate.  They're all good motors.  My personal preference is Yamaha 4 stroke.
By Knollie81 - 6/18/2013 12:34:55 PM
Thanks for the reply.  I hadn't heard of G3 before but they look pretty nice as well.

What are some other brands out there to consider besides War Eagle, G3, Tracker Grizzly?
By Chris A. - 6/24/2013 9:15:13 PM
I would have to agree with rtcbob. For my jon boats I've always used a Mercury 70. Like a Chevy, I'm a little biased on the brand, but if you're looking at big water I would go with a little more horse like a 90.
By Knollie81 - 6/26/2013 12:04:51 PM
Thanks for the responses thus far.  Sorry, what I really meant to ask is what are your views on tiller vs. console for a boat as I described in the first post.

What are the advantages and disadvantages to each?  I understand that the console steering would accomodate more HP as pointed out by rtcbob but are there any others?  I'm also assuming a tiller steer motor might make for more uncomfortable runs to the hunting and fishing locations.

Please let me know your thoughts.  Thanks.
By mjwendorf - 7/11/2013 6:01:05 PM
If it were me I would get the biggest motor my wallet would allow.  But thats me, I like to go fast.  But just think have you ever thought to yourself man I wish I could go slower?  Also you can run up to a 250 with a tiller.  Mercury makes a big tiller kit for the big motors, it has hydraulic power steering.   
By rtcbob - 7/15/2013 11:44:56 AM
IMO advantage of a tiller boat is a much more open floor plan.  Matters even more if you are going to put a blind on the boat and hunt out of it as opposed to just using it for transportation.  For the same size hull you will easily fit another person in the blind over a console boat.

That being said, my last 2 boats have been center consoles and I doubt I'll ever run anything but.  On my home river I have to maneuver around and thru tons of rocks and boulders.  The ability to stand at the wheel in roughly the center of the boat helps a ton with visibility to do that.  In my current G3 I even moved my center console more to the front - back center of the boat from the factory location for this reason and to better balance the hull for a flat float & running position. In my mind it also makes it a lot easier to maneuver to pick up decoys, especially when you are doing it alone.  Fighting rapid river current and high winds while picking up decoys by yourself can be a challenge.  Trying to do it while handling a tiller boat is a bitch.  I also find the center console a more comfortable set-up for fishing, but that may just be me.

As for your question on brands...... I'd add Seaark & Lowe to your list.  Seaark was really my first choice when I was shopping for my current boat but decided they were just too pricey for me.  I had a Lowe before, they make a good boat, just too much high deck space for my taste in console boats.  Just my personal opinion from looking at them and things I read, I never considered a Tracker.