Jon Boat to Bass Boat Conversion – 6 Steps

If you are wanting to convert a jon boat to a bass boat, you have come to the right place as I will walk you through the main steps. A new bass boat can be fairly expensive, tens of thousands of dollars, so it’s worth it to convert a jon boat instead.

For a jon boat to bass boat conversion, follow these 6 main steps:

  1. Get an Affordable Jon Boat
  2. Overhaul the Boat
  3. Sand the Boat
  4. Paint the Boat
  5. Install the Equipment
  6. Install the Deck and Seating

Also, keep in mind these 10 tips to make your jon boat conversion quick, easy, and cost-effective:

  1. Buy a Used Jon Boat with a Wide Hull
  2. Don’t Buy a Damaged Hull
  3. Aluminum Is Better for Framing
  4. Don’t Buy Pressure-treated Wood
  5. Use the Right Metal Hardware
  6. Deck Should Be Mounted at the Right Level
  7. Marine Carpets Only
  8. Don’t Spend Too Much on Electronics
  9. Don’t Economize on Electrical Work
  10. Keep It Simple

Read on to know how you can convert a jon boat to a bass boat including important tips to follow throughout the process.

Jon Boat to Bass Boat Conversion – 6 Steps

These steps are designed to convert a jon boat to a bass boat without spending so much money. There is no limit to the money you can spend, but if you spend too much, you might as well buy a new bass boat. So I have kept the cost in mind so as to not be too expensive to convert the jon boat to a bass boat.

1. Get an Affordable Jon Boat

If you already have a jon boat, great! You can skip to the next step. If not, then you can purchase an affordable, used jon boat. Search for used aluminum, fiberglass, and wooden jon boats sold in the market.

The best option is an aluminum boat since it is a light material and is easy to work with. Your choice is between a flat bottom and a V-hull boat. A flatboat is less stable than a V-hulled boat.

2. Overhaul the Boat

Start to overhaul the boat by unscrewing the old screws and unlocking the nuts on the bolts. If there’s excessive rust on the screws and bolts, you need to be careful in loosening them, or they might snap.

If they snap, you have to use a special tool to pry them out of their holes. Keep all the screws and bolts that you have taken off. You need them to determine the sizes of the new screws and bolts that you need to buy for replacement.

3. Sand the Boat

The next step in our jon boat to bass boat conversion is to sand the boat. The worn and soiled surface of the boat must be sanded both inside and outside. Use no. 180 sandpaper for sanding. Sand all surfaces including the nooks and the crannies.

If there is old paint, remove all the loose paint. Remove all dirt and dust on all the surfaces of the boat as well. Also, vacuum all the open surfaces, if you need to.

4. Paint the Boat

Before painting the boat, ensure that there is no more dirt, dust, old stripped paint, oil, and other stuff that will cause the new paint coat not to stick on the surface. Seal the surface and all possible leaks by coating the surface with black epoxy.

Tape the parts that you don’t want to be painted. Apply the first coat and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Then apply the second coat. Wait for another 15 to 20 minutes for the paint to dry, and then apply a third coat.

Or instead of a third coat, you can apply a clear coat. Using a clear coat will give a glossy appearance to the painted surface and protect the paint’s two original coats. To protect the inside of the boat, you can also paint it with a grey epoxy finish to seal the boat and prevent water penetration.

5. Install the Equipment

Now, that the boat is painted, you can put in whatever instruments and equipment you want inside. You can stock your boat with an outboard motor, a trust trolling motor, and devices, such as a GPS/fishfinder, among others.

6. Install the Deck and Seating

Your boat surely needs some better seating accommodations to complete the conversion from jon boat to bass boat. You may want to install swivel seats (two would be good), or one or two benches, depending on your budget.

In this final stage, you can also install a deck. To install a deck, some basic carpentry skill are needed. A video is best to follow for this process. See the below video for a great demonstration on installing a deck on a job boat:

10 Tips for Jon Boat to Bass Boat Conversion

The following 10 tips below are helpful to keep in mind when doing a jon boat bass boat conversion. These tips can help you save money, time, and energy.

Tip #1: Buy a Used Jon Boat with a Wide Hull

jon boat to bass boat conversion

If you are buying a jon boat for your jon boat bass boat conversion, it is important to choose one with the right size. Get an old wide-hulled jon boat with a size that fits your plan.

Be sure that this jon boat fulfills all your desires for a bass boat because this will be the base of your boat. Everything from here on will depend on the conditions of the base of your boat.

You should choose a wider hull because you will have more freedom to do things that you want. If you get a narrow hulled boat, you will be limited in your options. A width of at least 48″ will allow you more freedom in your choices.

A boat less than 48″ wide is not very stable, and therefore, very unsafe on the water. Also, narrower boats won’t give you enough room for the conversion that you need to do. It will also be very unstable on the water when you install a deck on a narrow boat. The point is: the wider the hull of the boat, the better.

Tip #2: Don’t Buy a Damaged Hull

Yes, you want to economize. But don’t economize to the point that you will buy something that will not be safe in the long run. Safety, when converting a jon boat, should be your number one concern. You will be using the boat out in the open water so you will want to ensure the safety of you and your friends and family.

If you want a used boat, give it a full and thorough inspection. You need to strip it down to its bare bones to check if it is worth your money. Check for weak spots, holes, rotted woods, rust, and so forth. If you want a new hull, look for the strongest and toughest one that you can afford. A heavier hull is better than a lightweight hull.

Jon boat to bass boat conversion is not a light thing. The full conversion process takes a fair amount of time, effort, and money. So, be careful in choosing your base boat.

Tip #3: Aluminum Is Better for Framing

Tip #3 when performing a jon boat conversion is to use aluminum for framing. If you are a DIY-type-person or have some experience in working with aluminum, this tip is meant for you. But even if you are not, make an effort to adapt to this metal because aluminum is a preferred material when it comes to your boat’s framework.

Aluminum is lightweight, so if you use it to make the framework of your boat, its weight will also be lighter. That would result in a lot of benefits when you are already using the boat for bass fishing.

In terms of durability, aluminum tends to last longer than wood. Wood that is not pressure treated tends to soak water and tends to become heavier than its original weight. On the other hand, pressure-treated wood is not good to use because it contains certain chemicals that harm aluminum.

So, your best option is to use aluminum for your framework. If you do it right, an aluminum frame will be a light build that offers a durable and long-lasting service life.

Tip #4: Don’t Buy Pressure-treated Wood

There are certain chemicals in pressure-treated wood that react with aluminum in a harmful way. They can cause corrosion, and in some instances, pitting (or small holes) in aluminum, weakening the hull of the boat.

You can also form a barrier between the aluminum and the wood. However, there is no guarantee that it will be effective. Water tends to find its way to wood. Some chemicals in pressure-treated wood will come in contact with the aluminum. Therefore, it would be better to avoid using this kind of wood.

Take the cue from experienced boat builders. Most of them say that it’s better not to use pressure-treated wood in your jon boat to bass boat conversion project.

Tip #5: Use the Right Metal Hardware

how to convert a jon boat to bass boat

All metal hardware that you will install in your boat should be designed for fishing boats. That goes for all the hinges, screws, bolts, and so forth. They are the ones that practically hold the boat together, so they all must be strong and durable. If possible, they should be heavy-duty hardware. Don’t go for the cheap ones.

Choose hardware that is compatible with aluminum. Wrong hardware will react negatively and cause galvanic corrosion to the aluminum because the metals are dissimilar to each other. Aluminum will corrode faster since it is a weaker metal. If you can’t avoid using different metals, protect the aluminum by covering it with a sealant on the points of contact. 

Tip #6: Deck Should Be Mounted at the Right Level

Tip #6 for anyone performing jon boat conversions is to ensure the deck is mounted at the right level. The overall stability of your boat largely depends on the correctness of the level or height of its deck. Remember, while you are fishing, you will be standing on the deck. Therefore, it should be at the correct height.

If the deck is too high, it will be less stable and shaky when you stand. The style of the hull and your preference will also determine the deck’s right level.

To help you determine the correct deck height, follow these guidelines:

  • If the width of your boat is 60″ to 70″, your deck height should be about half the gunnels and the bench seats.
  • If the width is 50″ or less, the deck level should be lower than the bench seats.
  • If your boat is more than 72″ wide, the decks should be flushed to the gunnels. In reality, stability is not a problem with boats this wide. You can comfortably stand in the boat no matter where the decks are installed.

One thing you need to remember here is that on narrower boats, it will be easier to work with high decks (if you are not overweight).

Tip #7: Marine Carpets Only

It is best to use marine carpets only on boats. Cheap carpets will not last long when used to cover boat flooring. Marine carpets are made to take the wear and tear of boating and fishing. Limit your options to a strong and high-quality carpet with a reputation for heavy-duty use.

Also, choose a carpet that does not have fluffy fibers. The fibers will just catch lures and other sharp objects. They can make your fishing trips difficult as well. Buy a reasonably priced carpet that won’t give you difficulty and will last for years, not just months.

Tip #8: Don’t Spend Too Much on Electronics

Tip #8 in our jon boat conversion project is to not spend too much on electronics. You want to undertake this project because you want to save money. Therefore, try not to give in to your whim of installing all the latest marine electronics in a small boat. Marine electronics are expensive and need more battery power, which means added weight for your boat to carry.

Moreover, there’s not much space in your boat. All these electronics and its wirings will just clutter inside that space. If there’s a console in the boat, limit yourself to the essentials, such as GPS/fishfinders and good trolling motor setup.

Tip #9: Don’t Economize on Electrical Work

You can do the electrical work of your bass boat if you know your way around electricity and electrical wires. However, if you can’t differentiate the positive from the negative poles of electrical wires, it would be better to seek the services of a professional electrician specializing in wiring boats.

One word, though: whether another person is wiring your boat, the best way to do it is to float your electrical system. It’s the best way for an aluminum boat.

Tip #10: Keep It Simple

This kind of project will be more successful if you keep it simple. Do not try to complicate things. As long as the whole boat and its system are functioning well, don’t try to nitpick every little detail. So, before you start the project, decide on which ones to keep and which ones to let go.

Conclusion – Jon Boat to Bass Boat Conversion

So, to recap, the inexpensive way of doing a jon boat to bass boat conversion is by following the steps below:

  1. Get an Affordable Jon Boat
  2. Overhaul the Boat
  3. Sand the Boat
  4. Paint the Boat
  5. Install the Equipment
  6. Install the Deck and Seating

Also, keep in mind these 10 tips to make your jon boat bass boat conversion quick, easy, and cost-effective:

  1. Buy a Used Jon Boat with a Wide Hull
  2. Don’t Buy a Damaged Hull
  3. Aluminum Is Better for Framing
  4. Don’t Buy Pressure-treated Wood
  5. Use the Right Metal Hardware
  6. Deck Should Be Mounted at the Right Level
  7. Marine Carpets Only
  8. Don’t Spend Too Much on Electronics
  9. Don’t Economize on Electrical Work
  10. Keep It Simple