Monday, June 18, 2012

Pond Hopping - Sun Dolphin Pro120

The size of the lake, does not always dictate the size of the fish, but often it can dictate the size of the boat!  Yes, those high powered bass boats may be key pieces of equipment when you need to run up and down lakes bigger then some small towns, but what about some lakes, or ponds. These small bodies of water hold some pretty serious lunkers, and it you want to get to them, your going to need to leave the bass boat at home.

I dont have anything against Kayaks or Canoe's but not everyone is a canoe or Kayak person. I own a canoe (Radisson/SportsPal) that I have enjoyed fishing out of for years, but a time came when I wanted the same perks that a large boat has to offer, only in a compact size.. I wanted the ability to fish standing up, the ability to fish the same way I would fish from a bass boat.. canoes dont generally offer this option, so in turn I started looking for a "pond hopper" a small boat that I can easily get into small lakes.
When I started doing some research and I came across the Sun Dolphin Pro 120. it seemed like the perfect combination of size and functionality. Coming in at just under 12ft in length this little baby has plenty of fishing room.  With front and rear casting decks. Two pedestal seats (removable), and sunken middle section perfect for the kids or your dog. Personally when fishing alone I like to keep the rear seat in, and pull the front seat. This allows me to fish freely from the front of the boat, but also  to sit while making longer trips on the trolling motor.

When fishing with a buddy (or the wife) I can give them the option of seat in or seat out. As you can see above one of my co-anglers getting lazy with the chair in 

(Sun Dolphin with my Minn Kota Traxxis)

When it comes to power choices for  a Sun Dolphin, you really have a couple options. First off you can look at smaller sized gas engines, anywhere from 6 to 9 horse power. But I did not want the added weight or the need to fill-up and winterize at the end of the season. So I opted to power it by trolling motor alone, with a MinnKota Traxxis 80lb thrust hand tiller. This little motor pushes or pulls the Sun Dolphin  at a decent clip and makes it easy to cover water on small lakes and ponds alike. Because trolling motors are fully adjustable you can also get this boat in to some pretty skinny water, as well as some serious thick weeds with no issues (I carry a push pole just in case)

I would avoid going any lower then 80lbs thrust when using a trolling motor as your main power source. The only downfall to this method is the dual battery required to run the motor. The Battery compartment does have room for two, but it is a tight fit and adds weight to the back corner of the boat. 

If you opt to go with a gas motor, the Sun Dolphin is rated for up to 9 horse, but I feel that would be way more then what is required to operate it, and you could easily get way with a 6hp. 

Paring up your gas motor with a bow mounted trolling motor is a must, if you want to use the built in wiring you will need to look at 12v motors, this usually means staying at 50lbs thrust and under. Once you make your choice the motor easily clips into the front of the boat and can be run off the internal wiring and your single battery. This one two punch is great if you fish medium to larger bodies of water with this small boat and will be traveling larger distances between spots

(Top View of Storage compartments)

For a small boat there really is an abundance of storage. The Sun Dolphin Pro 120 is equipped with 5 compartments, 3 of which have specific uses, but can also be used for traditional storage space if required.  The rear storage consists of a live-well , with pump, as well as a battery compartment. The battery area is wired internally to run the live well, the light system as well as a trolling motor (plugged into the front of the boat)

At the Front there are 3 more compartments. Two are general storage areas, and I use them to store extra tackle, maps, and misc equipement. The third is designed to be a cooler, and has a drain plug that allows water and melted ice to be easily removed after a long hot day on the water.

When it comes to transporting the Sun Dolphin, it's light weight makes it easy trailer on some cars as well as most SUV's. If you have a full size pick-up I have also seen one slide into the truck bed. It weighs just over 200lbs and can be lifted, shifted and moved easily with 2-3 people. I opted for a trailer as I drive a small SUV, this sitll allows me to get this boat into many back lakes and areas in which larger boats and vehicles have a harder time getting into.

I love fishing on empty or secluded lakes, LAKE X as they are famously known. In these lakes the fish are less pressured and the peace and quiet is second to none. Having the option to pull out the small boat and have a quiet day on the water, catching big fish.. it doesn't get any better then that.


  1. Hey Bass Junky. I'm looking at getting one of these soon. How has the boat held up since you first got it?

  2. It has held up well, this will be year 3 for me, and I have come across no issues with the durability. It gets beat up on big and small lakes, dragged down and up hills (not too fun) and still holds up. I would not hesitate to recommend one

  3. I'm giving serious considerations to one of these, or a 14 ft Grumman Jon boat that needs a new rear deck, and possibly electrical re-wiring. Can you comment on how well the boat is holding up in year 4?

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