How to Customize My Aluminum Jon Boats for Fishing

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Few boats are less expensive than a basic jon boat. On the other hand, a fully tricked-out fishing boat can cost more than a luxury car. You can turn a basic jon boat into a well-functioning fishing vessel by adding a few accouterments and do it for much less expense. The exact custom add-ons needed will depend on where you plan to use the boat and what sort of fish you hope to catch. The one item common to most small fishing boats is a front casting deck. Install a pedestal seat on the front deck, a bow-mounted motor and be ready to fish.

Items you will need

  • Sheet of 3/4-inch plywood

  • 2-by-2 lumber

  • C-clamp

  • 2-by-4 lumber

  • Table saw

  • Saber saw

  • 5/16-inch stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers

  • 3-inch stainless steel deck screws

  • Pencil

  • Drill

  • Tape measure

  • Bow-mounted electric motor

  • Pedestal seat

Deck Supports

Step 1

Measure and saw the 2-by-2 lumber to lengths needed to form a bracket on the inside of the bow and gunwales that to support the front and sides edges of the casting deck.

Step 2

Measure and saw the 2-by-2 lumber to lengths needed to form a bracket on the inside of the bow and gunwales that to support the front and sides edges of the casting deck.

Step 3

Use a C-clamp to hold each bracket board in its position on the bow or gunwale. Clamp the bracket boards at least 1 inch below the upper edge of the bow or gunwale. This will ensure a slight lip will remain around the edge of the casting platform once the 3/4-inch plywood and optional marine carpet is installed on top of the brackets.

Step 4

Drill 5/16-inch holes through the aluminum and through the bracket-boards every 12 inches.

Step 5

Fasten the 2-by-2 bracket to the bow and gunwale using 5/16-inch stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers.

Step 6

Measure and saw 2-by-4 lumber to make floor joists to support the middle of the deck. Space the joists no farther than 16-inches apart.

Step 7

Notch the ends of the 2-by-4 boards so they fit against the bracket-boards and the tops of the joists are flush with the tops of the brackets.

Step 8

Fasten the joists to the brackets using 3-inch stainless steel deck screws.


Step 1

Lay a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood on the front of the boat and slide it back until the rear edge is flush with the rear deck joist.

Step 2

Use a pencil to scribe a line on the underside of the plywood around the exterior of the boat.

Step 3

Measure the distance from the outer edge of the bracket boards to the outer edge of the gunwale.

Step 4

Use that measurement to draw the actual cut line inside the scribed line so once the deck board is cut, it will nestle inside the boat, laying flat on the brackets and joists.

Step 5

Saw the deck with a saber saw.

Step 6

Position the plywood temporarily in the bow of the boat and mark the location for the bow-mounted electric motor bracket and the pedestal seat base.

Step 7

Remove the deck board and use stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers to fasten the motor bracket and pedestal seat to the deck board.

Step 8

Reinstall the deck board and fasten it to the support brackets and joists with stainless steel deck screws spaced 10-inches apart.

Step 9

Set the pedestal seat on the seat base and connect the electric motor to the motor bracket and you are ready to go fishing.


  • If the boat is to be stored outdoors for long periods of time, use pressure treated lumber and plywood to add longevity to this project.


  • The casting deck can be left unfinished and allowed to weather naturally, painted or covered with marine carpeting. Other options often found on fishing boats include electronics such as sonars, GPS and marine radios as well as live wells for fish and bait, rod holders and anchor winches and brackets. Let your needs and budget guide you when customizing your own jon boat.


About the Author

Mike Schoonveld has been writing since 1989 with magazine credits including "Outdoor Life," "Fur-Fish-Game," "The Rotarian" and numerous regional publications. Schoonveld earned a Master Captain License from the Coast Guard. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife science from Purdue University.

Photo Credits

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