If you’re a boating enthusiast, you might have come across a few small Jon boats with poling platforms. However, it’s hard to see many people poling from them, and for a good reason. Standing on a Jon boat poling platform and poling from it is impractical and unsafe for many people. Instead, many boaters prefer installing a casting platform on the front, making it more practical than using a poling platform.
Either way, you’ll need a good metal worker to install a Jon boat poling platform on your skiff. Many Jon boat models, including the 16′ G3 Jon boat, can be equipped with a customized poling platform, provided it doesn’t get in the way when duck hunting in it.
Is a Jon Boat Poling Platform Safe?
Although having an improvised poling platform on a Jon boat seems impractical and unsafe, there are no stability issues when standing up on it in the open water. Just ensure someone else in the boat doesn’t shift position rapidly.
With a 14-inch Seastrike aluminum Jon boat, even someone weighing 280lbs may have no problem standing and fishing with two extra people in the boat. But it isn’t advisable to do that in a much smaller boat. A larger Jon boat model is more stable in calm water conditions than a comparative size V-hull. But in rougher waters, the V-hull is safer.
Overall, small light Jon boats do well poling from a platform, but you need someone in the front to counterbalance your weight hanging off the back. Alternatively, you can place more weight upfront. Considering the weight of the motor, gas, battery, and your own weight are all on the back, the bow can easily stick up in the air.
Where to Find a Job Boat Poling Platform
Not so many places offer smaller, lighter, poling platforms for 1444 wildcraft johnboats or similar models for fishing. Depending on your locality, most Jon boat poling platforms are custom made out of 3/4 electrical conduits. If you can get a good metal fabricator experienced with boats, they can easily do it for you.
If you go the aluminum route, you’ll probably spend around $500. Alternatively, you can search the internet for prefab platforms that cost about $580.
Making Your Own Job Boat Poling Platform
Making your own Jon Boat poling platform seems to be the cheapest way. In fact, you could fabricate something decent using 1.5″ square aluminum tubing and the deck portion out of marine ply or starboard. Although it may look semi-primitive, it’s quite functional. Just ensure you buy the tubing, plywood (starboard), and stainless bolts to secure the platform and pay a welder to glue it together properly. Overall, you’ll have to invest a few hundred dollars to make a great poling platform.
Crafting one from electrical conduits would be a little cheaper, but it might come out heavy and subject to rust. It’s best to have one custom-made out of aluminum tubing and welded up appropriately. Expect to pay about $400-$600, but you’ll have a great-looking, functional poling platform for your Jon boat.
Turning Your Cooler into a Poling Platform
Years ago, Jon boats didn’t feature “super coolers” such as Yeti, Engel, etc. Most boaters would therefore add a thin piece of plywood to the surface of the cooling unit with indoor/outdoor carpet or similar materials. But with today’s high-end coolers to stand on, all you need is a proper anchoring system, and you’re good to go. Overall, there’s a noticeable advantage for smaller skiffs when the poling platform is a little lower than the usual models mounted on the transom with the platform above the motor.
And if you have a Jon boat with two coolers, you can use one cooler for dry storage and casting platform and the other for a poling platform. Most models have the same hold-down system, but they work great since Jon boats pole better from the bow with the pole backward. Poling is much smoother and quieter, and the motor doesn’t come in the way of the pole.
Moreover, you can mount whatever you pick for your poling platform in the bow. You can either use a cooler or just get a simple casting platform to use on the bow or stern. Fortunately, any good metal fabricator can build a casting platform.
Using a Gheenoe Poling Platform
Some boaters have had success using a poling platform designed for Gheenoe on a Jon boat. It fits a Tracker Grizzly perfectly. Consider one designed to bolt to the rear deck, which goes for about $350 complete at any local Gheenoe dealer (at the time of writing).
Fitting a Skimmer Skiff Poling Platform
If you’re really on a low budget, the wide beam of Skimmer Skiff poling platform makes tons of difference for standing or decking your Jon boat. If you’re standing and fishing from a narrower, lighter boat, you’d better not set the hook hard, or you’re going in. Fortunately, a lot of the older Jon boat models have wider beams. For instance, the 14-16 ft. Jon boat is great if you’re going to stand and fish at all.
Using a Smaller Casting Platform
Another alternative to a Jon boat poling platform is to get a small casting platform and install it to the front with a turnbuckle. Since you’re going to pole backward anyway, using a casting platform can reduce hull slaps. With a 14-16 inch Jon boat model, having a casting platform bolted to the front deck makes it fairly easy to pole backward.
Overall, you need to trade with care when installing a Jon boat poling platform. Be mindful of your weight, the weight of your partner, and of course, the weight of the fishing gear, motor, and other equipment in the boat. Poling from a Jon boat platform is potentially dangerous, particularly for lighter models. You can easily topple over and injure yourself or lose your gear in deep waters.