All About Center Console Jon Boats

What is a Center Console?

Before I get into what a Center Console is, it’s worth mentioning that there are roughly 20 different types of boats that exist! Each of these boat types typically fall into one of three different categories: cruising boats, fishing boats and water sports boats. One of those in particular is a Center Console boat and are typically found on the following types of boats:

  • Hybrid
  • Flats
  • Bay
  • Catamaran
  • Offshore

As you can see, there are several different types of center console boats. However, I want to focus specifically on one of the most popular flats boats for both the fishing and cruising categories – the Jon boat. Some Jon boats come pre-made with the center console design already built-in and others can be added using an aftermarket center console kit. A lot of fishermen specifically prefer the center console style. The main reason for this is because it allows for a 360 degree fishing experience, meaning they can cast from all directions thus  increasing their likelihood of catching, well – dinner. What exactly IS a center console though? When it comes down to it, a center console is simply a boat that has the steering set-up at the center of the boat. Its location at the center of the boat provides benefits beyond the 360 degree fishing experience, including greater visibility allowing you to see all around free from obstruction for an optimal boating adventure.

Two fishermen enjoying their Center Console Jon boat – Image Source: NauticExpo

What is a Jon Boat?

Earlier I mentioned that Jon boats fall into the flats boat category but what does that mean? Flats boats are typically designed for fishing or cruising in protected, shallow water flats. Although boats in the flats category don’t always necessarily have flat bottoms, the Jon boat does. A Jon boat is a flat bottomed boat that is typically constructed of either Aluminum or Fiberglass. They are pretty simple boats that come with a couple of benches for seating and typically can be purchased starting at around $700 for a fairly plain model without a center console or other major attachments or accessories. They are fairly small and rather lightweight (especially for a boat) and most simple, base model Jon boats will be around 10 feet long and weigh around 100 pounds. Because of their small and lightweight design, many boaters choose to transport their Jon Boats in the back of their trucks or even on the rooftop of their vehicle which eliminates the need for a trailer. In fact, most, if not all Jon boats smaller than 12 feet almost never require a trailer. Some larger, more complex (and certainly more expensive) Jon boats, however, would require a trailer so be sure to keep this in mind, especially if you’re in the market and shopping. No good in buying a boat without a trailer if you need one to transport it. 

Basic Jon boat with bench seating – Image Source: McDuffie Marine & Sporting Goods

Pre-Made Center Console Jon Boats

Pre-made or stock center console Jon boats typically average roughly around a $15,000 base price and can go as high as $40,000+ depending on a variety of different things including manufacturer, boat material and even length of the boat. In fact, the difference of a few feet could mean a significant increase in price of the boat.

Aerial view of a Stock/Pre-Made center console Jon boat – Image Source: Lowe Boats

Jon Boat Center Console Kits

Now, if you’ve ever heard of or seen Tiny Boat Nation, you’re probably familiar with some of these Center Console Kits for Jon boats (and other “tiny” boats of course). Regardless, let’s get into a little more on what these kits are and how much they cost. Let’s first start with what these kits are – they are essentially a DIY version of the center console we talked about earlier in this article. Center console kits are constructed as a fully welded center console, typically made of aluminum (or sometimes even plywood) and can basically drop into any aluminum boat or fiberglass skiff. This allows the boater to enjoy the same optimal experience as their counterparts with stock center console Jon boats but at a fraction of the price. Of course, it may not look as pretty but hey, it serves its purpose! So what do these center console kits cost? Earlier, I mentioned Tiny Boat Nation because they are essentially the O.G.s of boating DIY. In fact, they sell an aluminum center console kit on their website for $549 (kit only). It’s a pretty simple design so depending on how complex you wanted to go with your center console design, the material you use, etc. could change the price.

Tiny Boat Nation’s Aluminum Center Console Kit – Image Source: Tiny Boat Nation

For more information on Jon boats and Jon boat modification ideas, check out the Small Boats section of this website. Until next time, enjoy your adventures!

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