12ft Jon Fishing Boat Review

We’ve been looking at 12 ft Jon fishing boats and in particular the Sun Dolphin American.  It’s a pretty decent small water boat from one of the biggest names in the North American fishing world.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Sun Dolphin has been supplying kayaks, fishing boats, pedal boats, and a range of outdoor equipment since 1982. Today, the brand is a part of the KL Industries group which is one of the biggest outdoor equipment supplier in the United States.

While they boast a range of makes and models, the American 12 Jon fishing boat stands out. It’s even been crowned one of the most popular on the market, most notably due to its low cost, easy maintenance, adaptability, and lightweight design.

Like other Jons, this model is ideal for fishing, duck hunting, or for simply putting around the lake in.

Why Buy A 12ft Jon Fishing Boat?

The unique selling point really is the size and weight of the Jon. Unlike other Jons which may be constructed from aluminum or wood – classic materials for fishing and hunting boats – this one is made from high-density polyethylene, a durable yet lightweight synthetic material that brings the total weight of the fishing boat to just 110 lbs.

The boat is easily carried by 2 people, and its low weight and small size make it easy to manoeuvre out on the water.

A highlight of the American 12 Jon by Sun Dolphin is that it’s the perfect compromise between compatibility and spaciousness. If you’re looking to keep costs down, the fishing boat easily fits into the back of an SUV or pickup so there’s no need to pay out for a trailer for transportation, and it can also easily be stored in the home with no storage fees. 

Despite the small size, it’s remarkably roomy inside, with adequate space for 2 people plus fishing gear, a cooler, and any other accessories.

You might look at the Jon and think it’s pretty basic, but that’s one of the fishing boats’ major selling points.

It’s flexible, it’s versatile, and it can easily (and cheaply) be adapted to meet your own personal needs. This is something that often can’t be done with a more feature-heavy fishing boat.

Choose to row or choose to attach an electric motor, for example. There’s a built-in mount for a motor of up to 6 hp, and there’s plenty of opportunity to customize the seating however you see fit.

Compare prices here on Amazon for Jon Fishing Boats

Is there room for improvement?

Of course, as with any fishing boat, there are a few areas that could be improved to make this Jon a little more easy and user-friendly. The good news is that these points can easily be addressed and rectified before taking it out on the water.

  • Seating

One of the most common concerns from fishermen is that while the seating is practical, it’s not especially comfortable for long-term usage.

And that’s a fair call. If we’re out for a leisurely day we want something more comfortable for extended periods, and if we’re waiting for a bite, we want the ability to adjust position more easily.

The solution is simple. The formed, bench seats on the Jon are reinforced to make it easier and safer for you to install your own swivel seats as you see fit. This can make things more flexible, and give you a little more space for your equipment and accessories. It’s a boat you can customize however you wish.

  • Stability

The boat measures just 36 inches on the bottom, which could make it a little less stable than other Jons in stronger waters. Perhaps the 510 lb weight limit is a bit generous here, and should maybe be lowered to 400 lbs for added stability.

However, in calm waters, the boat should be stable, and it can even withstand the occasional coastal ocean outing. Overall, stability isn’t an issue for short trips in calm lakes or rivers.

To summarize

Overall, the 12ft Jon is a great little fishing boat for low key fishing or a leisurely outing. When it comes to more professional usage, it has restrictions, but with many retailers selling the fishing boat for around $1000, it’s a buy.

I’d recommend this Jon for recreational fishers and first-time boat owners.

It would be a good one to help get kids interested in outdoor sports and activities with you. It’s a low-cost boat that does the job nicely.

Find prices here for Jon Boats

Scroll to Top