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Best Fiberglass Jon Boat


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#1 Piscator

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 10:26 AM

Who make the best fiberglass jon boat for fishing trout and smallmouth on rivers and tailwaters in Missouri and Arkansas?

I recently moved to St Louis and have decided to sell my 16 x 52 jon/bass boat for a shallow water river runner. I don't think a McKenzie drift boat is needed - I want to motor up and drift back without requiring a shuttle. I've decided on fiberglass over aluminum and will equip with a Merc 25 HP jet (smallest factory equipped jet).

The Ozark jon boat doesn't seem to have found many fans outside the area, although I don't see tailwaters on the White drainage as different from those in TN or KY where drift boats are more the rule. Why is that? I expect a jon would fish salmon and steelhead in Michigan rivers as well as the drift boats.

My short list is 4 makes - Supreme, Shawnee, Playcraft, and Carolina Skiff. Are there others out there?

Supreme - looks well built and available
Shawnee - good reputation, but I'm gonnna have to drive to AR for a test ride.
Playcraft - imitator or just as good?
Carolina Skiff - the only one made short enough to get in my garage and no active dealers close by. A 17' or 18' would save me a monthly storage charge and I like the ability to customize the rigging. Why don't I see any Carolina Skiffs in the Ozarks?

Would appreciate your informed comments.

#2 Flippin

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 04:24 PM

My home town is in that part of Northern AR where Supreme and Shawnee boats are made. Supreme is cadillac of fiberglass jon boats in that area. Most the guides on the White River run a Supreme boat. Supreme is basically a modern version of the Shawnee. They have the walk through live well and several dry storage boxes. It is a little wider than the Shawnee which gives you a lot more room in the boat. Supreme has a completely flat bottom vs the Shawnee that has the 2 support boards that run from the front to back on the floor of the boat.

Shanee has been using basically the same mold for there boats for years and has not ever updated there body style. Shawnee is a good boat that is a lot less expensive than the Supreme. I think a new Supreme boat and trailer runs around $5,000-7,000.

My Shawnee works fine but it would be nice to have more room and the built in dry storage boxes.

#3 Danoinark

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 04:35 PM

Who make the best fiberglass jon boat for fishing trout and smallmouth on rivers and tailwaters in Missouri and Arkansas?

I recently moved to St Louis and have decided to sell my 16 x 52 jon/bass boat for a shallow water river runner. I don't think a McKenzie drift boat is needed - I want to motor up and drift back without requiring a shuttle. I've decided on fiberglass over aluminum and will equip with a Merc 25 HP jet (smallest factory equipped jet).

The Ozark jon boat doesn't seem to have found many fans outside the area, although I don't see tailwaters on the White drainage as different from those in TN or KY where drift boats are more the rule. Why is that? I expect a jon would fish salmon and steelhead in Michigan rivers as well as the drift boats.

My short list is 4 makes - Supreme, Shawnee, Playcraft, and Carolina Skiff. Are there others out there?

Supreme - looks well built and available
Shawnee - good reputation, but I'm gonnna have to drive to AR for a test ride.
Playcraft - imitator or just as good?
Carolina Skiff - the only one made short enough to get in my garage and no active dealers close by. A 17' or 18' would save me a monthly storage charge and I like the ability to customize the rigging. Why don't I see any Carolina Skiffs in the Ozarks?

Would appreciate your informed comments.



I like the Carolina Skiffs also but I thought most of those were designed for flats. I don't know why they wouldn't work in the tailwaters, especially Taney. They draw little water and some have center consoles. I wrote them one time and was told that they would make an excellent river boat for the trout waters.
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#4 Danoinark

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 05:42 PM

Here is a nice 07 14 footer with everything. Just have to drive a bit to get it.

http://www.usedboats...d/-/1834417.htm
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#5 bigredbirdfan

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 09:20 PM

As Dano pointed out Supreme is what most guides use if they are actual guides. Guide is a kinda all inclusive in Arkansas as they have no qualification to be one. My guide trades for a new one every year and you can have them made in different floor plans. Very nice boats. Try and find one with rod and bait holder trays all the way down each rail. The playcraft is made in Richland MO and seems like a very good boat as well, just never fished in one.

#6 rps

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 09:33 PM

I owned and fished out of a Supreme 2000 for three years. Excellent boat. My only complaint, and the reason I sold it, was that it had low sides and no flotation. On the rivers, these facts mean nothing. On TR, where I was swamped twice in one year, I chose to buy a boat for the lake and go back to renting a boat when I went to the river.

#7 Piscator

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 07:00 PM

Thank you all so much for your comments.

Shawnee has a new owner, Rob Williams, who sent photos of a recently completed boat. Shawnee has no dealers, no brochure, and no web site. Shawnee is still making a single model with some options available. Williams wrote "This boat is a 48 inch wide, 20 foot long model. It has a walk-through live well, a dry storage in the front, and also a dry storage in the back. This boat also has a full length rod tray on the left side although it is hard to see in the picture. I checked will the trailer company and they can put a swivel tongue on the trailer. This boat and trailer is priced at $4500.00." Photos attached.

I think it's time for me to head for Arkansas to see first hand, but I don't yet know where to find a Carolina Skiff. They haven't got a dealer with a boat in stock that's within a hundred miles.

What I heard is Supreme is a good choice, the others may be worth considering. Thanks.

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#8 Fishing Milwright

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 08:24 PM

I'am looking at a Supreme or Playcraft River Skiff. Does any body have a playcraft and if so how does it compare with the supreme. It looks like it is the same as the 207 as it has a flat bottom. The l42 and l48 have an indention in the hull I think is for turning. Does this make much difference.

#9 Danoinark

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 09:12 PM

I like the looks of the Playcraft jon's.
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#10 Piscator

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 10:44 AM

I'am looking at a Supreme or Playcraft River Skiff. Does any body have a playcraft and if so how does it compare with the supreme. It looks like it is the same as the 207 as it has a flat bottom. The l42 and l48 have an indention in the hull I think is for turning. Does this make much difference.


I have not seen the Supreme boat yet, but I have seen aluminum boats with a similar indent - I call it a pocket - that is designed to get more clean water to a jet. Flat bottoms tend to trap streams of bubbles under the hull that mix with the water and can cause cavitation in the jet. The pocket pulls water up (and the stern down) and gets water to the jet that's more air-free. I don't know how much a pocket pulls the stern down - it may not be significant.

Let me know any dealers you've found with a Playcraft River Skiff in stock. Pope, near Lake of the Ozarks, is listed as a dealer and displayed one at the St Louis boat show last winter, but I couldn't get anyone on the phone that appeared to know about the skiff model and they certainly don't have one in the yard. The one I saw at the show had excellent fit and finish, but I do not recall if it had a pocket for the jet. I didn't know enough at the time to look for it. The trailer it was on looked sturdy, too. I'm not so crazy about the hand rail atop the gunwale. Looks like it will tangle fly lines. I can do without a live well, too. If I keep a fish, I like to put it on ice.

#11 bigredbirdfan

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 02:28 PM

I have not seen the Supreme boat yet, but I have seen aluminum boats with a similar indent - I call it a pocket - that is designed to get more clean water to a jet. Flat bottoms tend to trap streams of bubbles under the hull that mix with the water and can cause cavitation in the jet. The pocket pulls water up (and the stern down) and gets water to the jet that's more air-free. I don't know how much a pocket pulls the stern down - it may not be significant.

Let me know any dealers you've found with a Playcraft River Skiff in stock. Pope, near Lake of the Ozarks, is listed as a dealer and displayed one at the St Louis boat show last winter, but I couldn't get anyone on the phone that appeared to know about the skiff model and they certainly don't have one in the yard. The one I saw at the show had excellent fit and finish, but I do not recall if it had a pocket for the jet. I didn't know enough at the time to look for it. The trailer it was on looked sturdy, too. I'm not so crazy about the hand rail atop the gunwale. Looks like it will tangle fly lines. I can do without a live well, too. If I keep a fish, I like to put it on ice.


The Supreme boats are cadilliac. The one in the picture doesn't seem to have a final gel coat finish. Does it come with one? I would highly recommed dual rod trays and if you don't need the livewell it will just be in the way. I would just contact the Playcraft manufacturer. I talked with the guy at the boat show in STL who had one and he said they will build one custom floorplan.

#12 Piscator

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 04:41 PM

The Supreme boats are cadilliac. The one in the picture doesn't seem to have a final gel coat finish. Does it come with one? I would highly recommed dual rod trays and if you don't need the livewell it will just be in the way. I would just contact the Playcraft manufacturer. I talked with the guy at the boat show in STL who had one and he said they will build one custom floorplan.


Thanks, BRBF. The photos show a Shawnee boat, not a Supreme. It was represented to me as a finished boat and judging from the metal rails installed along the gunwales, it looks to me like the fiberglass work is as far as it's going.

#13 taxidermist

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 05:52 PM

Best is a personal opinion. There is also J and S.

I see a lot of Shawnee on the river and many guides use them, to include so called real guides as mentioned above.

Supreme is a heavier boat than the J&S or Shawnee.

Many of the resorts have the Shawnees.

In my way of thinking I would like taller sides and at lest 48 inch floors, plus the lighter weight means higher floating and more MPH with less motor.

Bear skin is selling Supremes for $6000., I dont know what the others are selling for. but $2000 difference will almost buy you a new 15hp Merc at BPS

#14 Piscator

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 09:23 PM

Playcraft River Skiff Review

I met Bill Walters, who supervises production of this boat for Playcraft at Bagnell Dam below Lake of the Ozarks for a demonstration and ride. Overall, it's a quality boat and comparable to what I know of similar boats such as Supreme. There are quite a few details below for those who may be interested, but in short, if you want a fiberglass White River style jon boat, this one should be on your short list.

HULL

20'6" long - Playcraft says boats over 20' do not have to meet regulations for positive floatation and pay certification fees. That means this boat may sink if swamped. My host admitted they have never tested it. Perhaps this is not a concern for a shallow water boat, but you should know.

42" bottom width - this hull easily rocks when standing, but I never felt in danger of falling in or tipping over the boat. In other words, initial stability was good. On my knees, reaching as though to land a fish, there was no problem. I would NOT feel comfortable standing and casting from the front deck, even with the extended deck option. Two anglers standing to cast could be an issue unless both had enough sense to keep their weight centered at all times. Thigh braces as used in drift boats like Hyde or Clackacraft might be helpful.

Hull design - flat, smooth, normally angled front rake, small amount of rake in the rear with a shallow pocket offset to the port side. The pocket is intended to deliver cleaner water to the motor and the offset motor mounting position allows the driver to sit comfortably on the starboard side with his weight balanced by the motor mounted towards the port. The 15 HP 4 stroke Honda prop on the demo drove the hull onto plane easily in a couple of boat lengths or less. Top speed was surprisingly good and sufficient for my purposes. The boat turned well with very little sliding.

I had in mind to run a 25 HP Merc 4 stroke jet, but Walter said he had no experience with jets on the River Skiff. He says the guides all run props on the White River, but will furnish a raised transom to mount a jet if I want one. I don't have experience on the White or North Fork, but my tailwater experience on the Cumberland and other rivers is a lot of dinged props. I've been thinking jet is best and will work better on tailwaters, the Current, Jacks Fork, Eleven Point, and upper Gasconade.

Prop or jet? What do you think?

Like any flat-bottomed boat the hull will pound and slap in choppy water. I wouldn't expect a dry ride in rough conditions. On the rivers it's designed to run, it should be fine. Freeboard is not excessive - I think it's OK, some people might want more.

Draft with an estimated load of 800 lb (3 men, motor, fuel, and battery) was about 4" plus the lower unit.

The hull construction was in a single mold - no smooth shiny top side. According to my host, there are 2 layers of hand laid cloth, multiple layers of chopped glass, and balsa fill. The balsa adds some floatation. The transom has 2 layers of 5/8" marine plywood. The sides have several pieces of glassed-in plywood that can be used to mount rod racks or other accessories on. Other mountings would need to be through-bolted. The trolling motor mount option is a glassed-in piece of plywood.

The hull is equipped with a livewell box on the port side and a dry storage box to starboard. There is dry storage under the front casting deck. Aft, there is a bench seat with a pedestal mount to starboard and the gas tank below. Also in the aft bench is a battery box. Fuel line and battery cables for the motor exit through the top of the bench and are neatly secured through a vinyl boot similar to a car's shifter boot.

This boat had a fly rod storage tray on the starboard and to port, two "bait trays" (small open storage bins), one forward and one aft.

The live well was poorly designed. There were two holes in the bottom to let water in and out. Drawing 4" wouldn't have kept much O2 available to the fish. According to Playcraft, when the boat is under power, the movement will change the water, but I doubt it will make it a workable live well. A better design would be one hole in the bottom with a pump and a higher hole in the side as an overflow.

I would have preferred dual rod holders and no live well or storage box. Bill Walters said the live well and storage box are needed to reinforce the sides, but thought dual rod trays might accomplish the same thing. He is willing to build one to my preferences and reinforce as needed. The two boxes create a bottle neck impeding moving fore and aft. I'd prefer something more open and the option to put coolers or boxes wherever convenient to me and shift the weight for trim purposes.

There is a stainless hand rail running the length of the hull mounted on each side on the inside of the gunwale. Convenient, but could be a trap for fly lines.

Fit and finish were very good. All hardware is either stainless or aluminum. There is a solid bow eye and on the transom there are two U-bolts for tie-downs. The transom has a stainless reinforcement plate for the motor clamp. The exterior graphics are attractive.

A pipe is glassed into the floor where the bottom meets the side on the port. Wiring runs from the battery box to the front deck and this channel can be used for nav lights, trolling motor and whatever else you want to run.

The trailer available for the boat is very solid and well built - it may even be over-kill. Welded from box tubes, not channels, it's solid and heavy with 16" wheels and a single axle. It has 4 bunk boards for the bottom and has side boards to make loading on rivers easier. It has a winch with a strap and custom stop. It has a tongue jack with swivel and wheel. Black painted finish and wired with nice lights. No spare tire.

Overall highly functional shallow river fishing boat with a solid trailer.

#15 Ham

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 08:57 AM

I moved up to Mountain Home a little over a year ago. I got some things in order and then set about getting a trout boat. I had the mindset that a Supreme was the way to go. I invested a lot of time and effort trying to make that happen. I tried to get a custom boat built by Supreme so that I would know that it had been kept out of the weather from the get go. I was told it would take 2-3 weeks depending on how long it took to get a custom trailer made. After almost 3 months of stalling by Supreme , I got my money back from the boat dealership. I don't know the full story, but things are not as they should be with Supreme.
I found a used 02 Supreme "2000" with a Merc Jet.
It really is a pretty simple boat desigh. Pick your comfort level on price and the level of fit and finish you need.
There are also tons of used boats available AGAIN pick your level of cosmetics that you need to be happy.
Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future. On twitter @Ham66

#16 cmo

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 09:06 PM

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I have a Supreme 2060 with a Mercury 4Stroke 25hp Jet EFI and have really enjoyed it. I purchased it from Bearskin Marine just down the road from the Supreme Shop. It took about 2.5mths to receive it; which seemed like forever, but worth the wait :D I would recommend the folding trailer hitch as well. The boat is 20'6'' plus the trailer, need lots of room to store it.

I like having the jet, but the best install has been oars. Phil Landy was nice enough to explain his set up, and I ordered the Oars, Locks, etc. from http://www.nrsweb.com/.

My main problem with the jet is debris on the water's surface. For example, when the leaves start falling you'll learn this quick enough. But for me, the Pros outway the cons of a jet on the Little Red. The 4Stroke is significantly quieter and doesn't suck the gas like the 2strokes; but they're heavier.

Feel free to stop me, if you see me on the Little Red.

THanks,

Chris
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#17 Danoinark

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 11:21 AM

but the best install has been oars. Phil Landy was nice enough to explain his set up, and I ordered the Oars, Locks, etc. from http://www.nrsweb.com/.


THanks,

Chris
www.arkansasflyfishers.com



Now that is a heck of an idea. Never thought about putting oars on a jon. Is it hard to row with the added weight of the jet, etc?

Dano
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#18 cmo

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 01:40 PM

Now that is a heck of an idea. Never thought about putting oars on a jon. Is it hard to row with the added weight of the jet, etc?

Dano


Itís actually easier than you would think, but not as nimble as a drift boat. Plus, something to be said for just drifting down the river without any engine noise; and wade fisherman definitely appreciate it. Extremely easy to install as well, if you have handrails.

Only problem is, I find myself rowing a lot while my friends fish; joys of being a boat owner I guess. I think the best bet is to be a friend of a boat owner :D Being a friend of a boat owner, you donít have to deal with maintenance, fiberglass repair, insurance costs, owning a truck instead of a civic, asking for gas money, and the benefits are endless :D

Below is a shot of the oar locks:
Posted Image
Posted Image


Another cool gadget I found: McGuard makes locking knuts for your motor mounts(http://www.mcgard.co...ne/outboard.asp)

Thanks,

Chris

#19 Fishhand

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 10:48 PM

Sweet mount CMO. I purchased a set of wooden oars at the River Rescue garage sale for $2 on the express purpose of trying them out on my Sup. 2000. However, my buddy "borrowed" them for his Water Skeeter about 3 years ago and I've yet to see them. I'm glad to see they work!

Do you utilize the rod trays on your boat? Or, do you find they get in the way more than they're utilized? Also, is that a wireless trolling motor? Cause if it is, I've got the exact same one and they are a B..otch at night due to the delay. Plus, Plus, Minus, Minus, Left, Left, Left, Right, etc.

#20 cmo

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 11:17 PM

Sweet mount CMO. I purchased a set of wooden oars at the River Rescue garage sale for $2 on the express purpose of trying them out on my Sup. 2000. However, my buddy "borrowed" them for his Water Skeeter about 3 years ago and I've yet to see them. I'm glad to see they work!

Do you utilize the rod trays on your boat? Or, do you find they get in the way more than they're utilized? Also, is that a wireless trolling motor? Cause if it is, I've got the exact same one and they are a B..otch at night due to the delay. Plus, Plus, Minus, Minus, Left, Left, Left, Right, etc.


I had them only put two rod trays on one side of the boat to hold my fly rods. They definitely saved me from breaking rod tips. But I think 4trays(2 on each side of the boat) would be overkill and take up too much space (IMPO).

It's a wireless trolling motor and YES; you're statement "Plus, Plus, Minus, Minus, Left, Left, Left, Right, etc." cracked me up! :lol: Plus, the beeping drives me absolutely insane. I'm tempted to remove the speaker.




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