Fishing Kayak vs. Jon Boat: Which Is Better?

Kayak Fishing Guide - Informative tips, articles and product reviews for the kayak angler.

If you’re just getting into fishing and are looking to get more serious about it, you will find yourself stumbling across two choices. Should you invest in a kayak, or should you get a Jon boat? While the former is more expensive between the two, which of the two serves you better for fishing?

Both kayaks and Jon boats are great fishing boats. Kayaks are more versatile. You can use them to fish in calm waters, rough waters, or the ocean. Jon boats should be used in calm waters. But between the two, Jon boats fare much better in shallow waters and have much more space for equipment.

In this article, we will explore this topic in depth. We will look at all of the things you need to consider before choosing one over the other. Let us start by looking at a table that clearly shows what a kayak and a Jon boat is capable of and isn’t.

Kayak vs. Jon Boat: Quick Comparison

Before we dive deeper into the comparison, let us look at a quick summary of the comparison between a kayak and a jon boat for fishing purposes:

(The better choices have been ticked)

FeaturesKayaksJon Boats
Fishing in Calm Water
Fishing in Ocean
Fishing in Rough Water
Fishing in Shallow Water
Hunting Use
Leisurely Use
Space for equipment
Storage space
Passenger Space

Kayak vs. Jon Boat: Which Is Better for Picking?

Now let’s explore the question in detail. If you’re getting serious about fishing and are looking to get a kayak or a Jon boat, there are a few factors you have to consider to determine which one is better for you.

Fishing Location

The first and the most important factor that you need to consider is where you will be using the boat. 

If you’re looking to fish in deep waters such as in the ocean or strong currents, you will have to pick a kayak as a Jon boat has only limited usage in these scenarios. Even among kayaks, some are designed specifically for the ocean. Choose one depending on your need.

If instead, you are looking to fish in shallow bodies of water like ponds or creeks, a Jon boat can be the better choice

Jon boats are specifically designed for these conditions so that you will enjoy greater success with one. But like we’ve said, they aren’t designed for deep waters or strong currents. So if those are your preferred fishing locations, get a kayak instead of a Jon boat.


While this may not be the biggest concern for someone looking to get into a fishing watercraft, it is better to address this factor right away before we move on to other factors.

In general, you should expect to spend more money on a kayak than on a Jon boat. Like we’ve already discussed, kayaks are much more versatile than Jon boats. And even among kayaks, there are different types designed for various purposes. So make sure you’re spending your money on something you expect to make the most out of.

Even though we have clarified that Jon boats are less expensive than kayaks, there are plenty of other factors you need to consider before deciding to invest in one just because it is less costly.

Storage and Portability

Storage and portability are two very important factors to consider when investing in any boat. It is also true with Jon boats and kayaks.

Both kayaks and Jon boats are vulnerable to the UV rays of the sun. So you should always consider storing them away from the sun if you want them to last a long time. 

Neither a regular kayak nor a Jon boat will suit you if you live in an apartment with limited space. If this is your situation, you might want to consider buying an inflatable kayak. Inflatable kayaks can be very effective fishing boats too.

But if you have enough space in your home, you might want to get a regular kayak or a Jon boat depending on your needs. Kayaks are, in general, easier to transport than Jon boats. Longer ones may be a bit more difficult to move, but in general, you can just fasten kayaks to the top of your car and drive to your fishing location.

If you decide to go with a Jon boat, you should invest in a pair of removable wheels that you can attach to the bottom of your boat. You can then simply tie the boat to the back of your car and then tow it to your fishing location.

Just make sure you have sufficient storage space for the boat you decide to buy, and you have the means to transport it to your fishing location.

Carrying Capacity

If you have a fishing buddy or are looking to go fishing with someone else, you will have to consider the boat’s carrying capacity. 

In general, Jon boats can carry two people, whereas most fishing kayaks are meant for solo fishing. You will find kayaks that will fit two people as well. Just make sure you know what you’re looking for.

You will also have to consider how much equipment you plan on carrying with you when you go fishing. Most boats have a weight capacity, and that is the first thing you have to consider. 

A Jon boat also has a more overall surface than a kayak for your equipment. But they lack designated storage spaces. On the other hand, kayaks, while having less surface where you can just keep your gear, have plenty of storage space for all sorts of equipment.

You might also want to consider what kind of seat you want on your boat. Unless you are very lucky, chances are you will be spending quite a bit of time on the water before you catch any fish. So a comfortable seating arrangement is also vital. 

With a Jon boat, you can simply get a seat that sits well on the surface. With kayaks, things can get a bit tricky. If you get a kayak where you’ll be “sitting on top,” there is very little you can do to improve the default seating arrangement. A more typical “sit-in” kayak, where you’ll be sitting in the “cockpit-like” hole, can greatly improve the seating arrangement to fit your needs.

You will find the higher end, more expensive, Sit-on-Top kayaks have super nice adjustable seats. My Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 has a seat that raises, lowers, and reclines! Check out the seat on the Wilderness Systems site!


Both Jon boats and kayaks require their fair share of maintenance. When it comes to this factor, the material of the build is the most important factor to consider. In general, boats made of aluminum or fiberglass are much easier to maintain than boats made of wood or plastic.

Of course, wood and plastic boats offer their own set of advantages, so it really comes down to you and how much time you are willing to spend maintaining your boat.


Both kayaks and Jon boats offer their own set of advantages. They are both suited for different scenarios. Overall, a kayak is much more versatile than a Jon boat when it comes to the possible fishing locations. However, a Jon boat is a much more comfortable and efficient choice for fishing in shallow waters.

Are you deciding which kayak would be best? Check out: Sit-On-Top Vs Sit-In Kayak For Fishing: Which Is Best?

Besides the fishing locations, we looked at some other important factors one must consider before picking either one of these two boats for fishing. These include the price, portability, storage needs, carrying capacity, and maintenance.

Want to know more about how stable fishing kayaks are? This article is a great resource! How Stable Is a Fishing Kayak?

Are you still wondering if kayaks are really good for fishing? This article has 11 of the best reasons you may want to check out! Are Kayaks Good for Fishing?

And as always, thanks for stopping by and stay safe out there!

Mike Rodman

Mike enjoys fishing all year round, from fly fishing small streams in Wyoming's higher mountains to kayak fishing the lower altitude lakes and reservoirs. Mike also has a passion for ice fishing. When he has spare time, he'll be found at his rod bench building custom fishing rods.

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