Classic John boats are beautifully simplistic boats with a rich heritage in fishing. Having been around for over fifty years, the John boat has undergone little change from its very first design. While manufacturing technology has improved since then–leading to better quality, durability, and price–the John boat still remains as an angler’s favorite due to its versatility and low maintenance. Compared to larger vessels, the 12ft to 16ft John boat is on the smaller side, but it is precisely this feature that makes this boat able to access those hard to reach fishing spots where ordinary boats cannot go. Thanks to the flat bottom, weeds and shallow waters are no match and while the standard size length of 14ft may seem small, it easily holds all your fishing or camping gear, plus it can fit several adults comfortably with the proper rigging. You can choose from wood, fiberglass, or even aluminum John boats.
The options available to rig on a John boat is another reason why they are so popular. Having had such a long history, several rigging options have been developed for the John boat over the course of the years. One such option that no fisher should do without is an electric motor. These can be bolted to the stern for convenient access and is useful if the water and wind currents are not strong. Heavier John boats may require a larger motor to be bolted at the bow. Push poles are wonderful complements to the motor when you can’t risk damaging the propeller due to water conditions. Use the push pole to guide your boat past oyster beds, rocks, and sand.
A bare John boat without any seats may be perfectly acceptable for a young fisherman, but for those with minor back issues will definitely want to rig some seating onto the boat. There are several options available here. You can use flat wooden planks or even splurge on comfortable boat seats with back rests. Many John boats have this seating pre-installed due to its popularity. For extra guests, simply bring some folding chairs or a flotation cushion.
If you live in a very sunny climate or like to fish in the rain, then consider a simply vinyl or acrylic Bimini top to give yourself some basic protection from the elements. The tops must sometimes be purchased separately from the frame, which needs to be measured on your boat. Measure the length of the area you wish to shade and the width of the pivot mounting spots on the side of the boat. Note that this is not necessarily the beam of the boat. If you want to be able to stand fully upright, make note of the height required from the mounting points up to the top of your head. Remember, a Bimini top can affect the John boat’s stability, especially if it is windy. A taller height also means the frame may hang over the bow or stern of the boat when folded.
These are just a few of the essential items you can rig to your John boat to increase its versatility. You can also get rod holders, lights for night missions, anchors, bilge pumps, and depth finders just to name a few more options. John boats are truly excellent fishing boats and are loved and enjoyed by anyone who ends up owning one. It’s inexpensive and basic, and it makes no promises that it is anything more than that. If you appreciate the simple joy of fishing, you’ll appreciate what the John boat has to offer. With all the additional rigging options you can make, it is even more versatile today than ever.
Last Revision: Apr 1, 2015