There are countless reasons you may have stumbled upon this article about purchasing Jon boat trailers. Perhaps you’ve previously transported your 12 foot jon boat in the bed of your truck but recently downgraded to a smaller vehicle that doesn’t afford the same convenience. Maybe you bought a used Jon boat from jon-boats-for-sale.com and it came with an old and unusable trailer or no trailer at all. No matter the reason, you’re now looking for a Jon boat trailer that will fit your needs.
Depending on how much time you’ve spent researching, you may, or may not have discovered the complexity of purchasing a trailer for your boat. Sure you could go to some manufacturer’s website and purchase the first trailer that claims to fit your boat, but is that the trailer that fits your boating needs? Maybe you’re a bargain shopper so you head over to craigslist and purchase a used trailer from Joe Shmo, but do you know how to check if the trailer is in good working condition?
This article is designed to be your one-stop shopping experience taking you from trailer buying amateur to trailer buying expert.
What do you need to know about jon boat trailers?
First things first we’ll need to establish some basic knowledge about trailers. It’s important to remember that the trailer that fits your needs as a freshwater bass fisherman on a 12-foot flat bottom Jon boat may not fit the needs of the 16-foot semi-V saltwater Jon boat that your buddy owns.
To take it one step further each state has unique brake requirements, chain laws, towing permits, etc. We will first establish some common knowledge about Jon boat trailers to build a basic understanding moving forward.
Types of trailers for jon boats
Let’s break down trailers into the two common types; roller trailers and bunk trailers, then go over some of the pros and cons.
Roller trailers for jon boats
As you can see in the image these trailers have wheels or rollers as the base that supports your boat. These are less common in Jon boat trailers and traditionally only work with V-shaped bottoms. These are designed to make loading and unloading your boat easier as you can crank the boat up the rollers, eliminating the need to back your trailer and rear wheels into the water. This is great for saltwater environments so you don’t have to worry about the corrosive effect of the salt on your vehicle or trailer. It’s also a great alternative if you have a difficult time floating your boat off of the trailer.
- Easier to load and unload your boat.
- Keeps your vehicle out of salt water.
- More maintenance (wheels need to be maintained to prevent locking up).
Jon boat bunk trailers
This type of trailer is more commonly used for Jon boats. The bunks are traditionally carpeted to prevent scraping the bottom of your boat. They can be slightly tilted inward for V and semi-V bottom boats or be parallel to the ground for flat bottom boats. These trailers work best with the float-on and off method of loading and unloading, and therefore, are best fitted for those who use their boats in lakes with little wind and not much current
- Less maintenance.
- Sturdier than rollers.
- Can be difficult to load your boat in windy conditions or in rivers.
Now that you have a general understanding of the two types of trailers you may come across I would like to break these down into three further categories.
Before doing so I want to briefly touch on trailer axles. Jon boats being on the smaller size of the boating spectrum will normally come with one axle. As your boat gets larger and the weight capacities rise you will see more axles being added to trailers. You will most commonly find Jon boat trailers with one axle and sometimes two.
Galvanized jon boat trailers
Galvanized trailers are trailers made of rough metal dipped in a solution that gives it rust protection. These are great for just about any situation and are highly recommended for saltwater conditions. The con with these is that they tend to be a bit heavier and aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing.
Aluminum trailers for jon boats
Aluminum trailers are often used for larger boats because they’re a bit lighter than galvanized trailers. These are also safe to use in saltwater.
Painted jon boat trailers
Painted trailers are probably the most aesthetically pleasing but do have a risk of rusting if the paint gets chipped or scratched.
Modifications for jon boats trailers
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of boat trailers let’s take it one step further and dive into some modifications you can add to make your life easier. If you are purchasing a new trailer many of these modifications will be offered as customization for an additional cost. If you are buying used then keep your eye out for trailers that have these mods already added. If your trailer has none of these mods, fear, because they are all fairly easy to install with a few tools, a free afternoon, and a YouTube video.
Lights for boat trailers
Your trailer will, of course, come with lights that make towing your boat from point A to point B much safer. Break lights, blinkers, license plate lights, etc. New trailers are coming equipped with better and better bulbs and housing units. However, if buying used you may find that your trailer lights are not quite up to par. LED bulbs have quickly become the gold standard of lighting, pushing out the less durable alternative, incandescent bulbs. Furthermore, you may find that the unit that houses your incandescent bulbs is not completely water sealed. When a hot incandescent bulb comes into contact with cold water the results are explosive. Literally. The bulb will cease to work. This leads many to unplug their trailer lights before backing their boat into the water. Save yourself some time and hassle by purchasing LED bulbs in watertight housing.
Retractable tie downs
When securing your Jon boat to the trailer it is pivotal that you securely tie down your transom to the trailer. This not only helps with movement while going over bumps and potholes but also helps keep your boat from introducing itself to the back of your vehicle. These transom tie-downs are extremely important in the case of emergency braking. Retractable tie downs, are again, one of those convenient things that aren’t necessary but make your life just a bit easier. These attach to your trailer and act like a seat belt that clips your boat into place. The same can be accomplished with a set of ratchet straps but that will be one more piece of gear you will have to remember to bring.
Load guides are best used with bunk trailers. They are mostly unnecessary on roller trailers because you will have a cable wench guiding your boat into place. Load guides are essentially poles installed on your trailer so that you can see where the ends of your trailer are as you attempt to back it in line with your boat.
Swing away tongue
This mod is only necessary if your trailer is just slightly too long for its storage location. This mod is just as the name implies. You are able to replace your trailer tongue with one that is connected by a hinge that allows you to remove a pin and swing your tongue back saving yourself up to 2 feet of space.
This one is pretty straightforward. You should have a spare tire for your trailer in case one blows out on your journey. You can carry it around in your vehicle or you can mount it directly to your trailer.
How to choose the right trailer?
Now that we’ve gone over just about everything you need to know concerning trailers it’s time to find out how to choose the right trailer for you. First things first you’ll need to consider the information above and decide what type of trailer best fits your needs, what you’d like your trailer to be made of, and finally any modifications you’d like added. This should be considered a best-case scenario because ultimately, your vehicle towing capacity will determine what trailer best fits your needs. Your vehicle’s tow capacity will come up a bit later.
Let’s take a look at how to determine what size trailer you will need. First, determine the length of the trailer. Generally, a trailer will be about 2 feet longer than the length of your boat. Next, you’ll want to check the weight capacity. You can find this by searching for a sticker that will be on the trailer somewhere. Its placement will vary and it can sometimes be in multiple spots. What we’ll be looking at is as follows:
- Capacity – this will tell you the maximum weight the trailer can hold. Keep in mind this is everything combined. Boat, motor, batteries, fuel (in the tank and extra), modifications, coolers, etc.
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – this is the total weight of the trailer and boat assuming that your boat reaches the maximum weight allowed. (Ex. If the capacity is 4000lbs and the GVWR is 5100lbs then the trailer weighs 1100lbs).
These two items will tell you what the trailer can hold for a total maximum weight of everything combined and the weight of the trailer. You’ll need to compare that to your vehicle’s tow capacity to determine if you will be able to tow the trailer and boat combo. It is important not to exceed weight capacities as this can result in serious issues with your ability to transport your boat.
Buying a used jon boat trailer
If you are planning to purchase a used trailer then it will be necessary to ensure it is in good working condition. We will offer a checklist of items you may want to inspect when deciding whether or not to make a purchase:
- Tires (tread, dry rot, age, make sure they are the proper tire for the trailer).
- Brakes and brake lines.
- Bunks and rollers (rot and loose metal that will scrape your boat).
- Lights and wiring.
- Leaf springs (rust).
- Axles, wheels, and bearings.
- Title (make sure everything matches).
As previously mentioned in this article each state has unique rules when it comes to towing trailers. Some states require registration of the trailer, some require chains to be attached to the hitch as a failsafe. Look up your local laws on trailers and towing.
Best jon boat trailers
LoadRite jon boats trailers
LoadRite is a company that’s dedicated to its customers, driven by quality, and continuously improves the performance of its equipment. They offer hot dipped galvanized and aluminum frame trailers. The website even offers an interactive guide to choosing the right trailer for your boat.
Venture jon boats trailers
The Venture is another well-known trailer brand whose website offers extensive knowledge on finding the best trailer to fit your needs. They also offer galvanized and aluminum options in a variety of sizes.
Com-Fab trailers for jon boats
Galvanized steel trailers for jon boats are a good choice. Com-Fab manufactures trailers of all sizes for jon boats. There are options with plastic covering and spare tire carrier.
Trailers by Haul Rite for jon boats
Jon boat trailers by Haul Rite are built for quality, reliability, and easy trailering. The manufacturer offers different options in a variety of sizes. The customer also may choose options with the boat trailer such as tongue jack, aluminum wheels, etc.
McClain jon boats trailers
The McClain provides the complete line of aluminum or galvanized trailers for jon boats. The website provides a range of boat trailers and truck and hunting accessories.
As with many things your location will play a large role in not only your rules and restrictions but what companies you have access to. The two trailer brands that we have suggested today are very common and reputable brands with a wealth of knowledge. As always do your research and find out what companies and specifications meet your specific needs.
Purchasing a trailer for your boat can be complicated but it doesn’t have to be. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with enough evidence to begin your purchasing journey.