Normally, when you get four or more anglers on board a 22-foot boat, it becomes more like a game of human bumper cars than a relaxing fishing trip; claustrophobics need not apply. But not only is the Sundancer CX22FT pontoon ready, willing, and able to accommodate the whole fishing club, but it also has some features that even the high-priced tournament war wagons don’t.
It was hard not to notice the “coffin” sitting on the foredeck when we boarded for the first time. No, it’s not the horizontal passenger compartment of a waterborne hearse. This optional feature is called a storage cabinet by the designers at Sundancer. While it is a roomy repository for stashing all manner of fishing and boating paraphernalia as well as housing a livewell and a cooler, the first thing that occurred to me was that its primary value has little to do with storage. To me, it’s a raised, sight-casting deck, even if that wasn’t necessarily Sundancer’s intention.
When on the prowl for bedding bass or fishing in clear water, just a little extra height, like tournament pros have when standing on the foredeck of a bass boat, makes an incredible difference when trying to see your prey or spot barely submerged habitat/ hazards. Now raise that angler another couple of feet, and it’s almost not fair. Saltwater anglers have been using raised casting decks for many years to great effect. Some even have tuna tower helm stations that allow you to control the boat while you look, but thanks to modern technology, you can do the same while standing atop your soapbox aboard the Sundancer. Our model was equipped with an optional MotorGuide Wireless model with its key fob-like controller, allowing anglers to stand above it all while directing their boat to the next likely spot.
Performance and Handling
Despite being powered by only a Mercury 90 EFI FourStroke outboard, the twin-tube CX22FT was extremely fast, attaining its top speed of 27.9 mph. Normally, we don’t even time boats for acceleration that doesn’t reach 30 mph, but when we got on the plane in 3.1 seconds and kept on accelerating, I didn’t click off the stopwatch in my hand and was surprised to find that we reached 25 mph in less than six seconds. A lot of that has to do with balance, proper rigging, and the U-shaped logs that are bolted directly to the deck instead of being secured with heavy Mbrackets. But give the Mercury a tip of the hat for its smooth, linear power that’s very quiet at 86 dBa during wide-open throttle. It would be interesting to see what the CX22FT would do with the maximum Mercury 115 EFI FourStroke, which weighs the same as the 90.
Steering is a little stiff with the standard rack and pinion cable, and there’s a bit of prop torque, but you can improve that with an upgrade to the Teleflex No-Feedback system.
For those who prefer their scenery blurred, you can go for it by ordering the CX22FT with the optional triple tube setup that comes with the Performance Shield under the skin that allows it to slip through the water with less drag. With three logs, you can power up to 150 horsepower, which would make this a fine ski boat as well. Sundancer will add a custom ski tow bar, but it must be factory installed. Another useful option that will also improve safety is the stern boarding ladder instead of the stowaway model, especially if only one person is on board.
The CX22FT comes ready to fish with four fishing seats in the corners. In the bow, there are built-in lure trays with cupholders and vertical rod holders scattered about. Make good use of space and keep your weapons of bass destruction handy. For locating your quarry, Sundancer rigs it with a Humminbird Matrix 727 at the helm. It’s a monochrome display, so serious anglers might want to upgrade this with their own favorite color-screen model. If you like to cover a lot of lakes when fishing, upgrade to the larger 32-gallon fuel tank that replaces the smallish 18-gallon standard model.
To pump up the entertainment side, upgrading to the four-speaker Clarion CD stereo is the way to go. Other must-have upgrades are the changing room and the larger 10-foot Bimini top.
For those serious about fishing, this is an ideal pontoon. Live bait aficionados will find that this Sundancer has more capacity than almost anything else out there, with a 25-gallon livewell up front and a 30-gallon unit under the giant cleaning table that can be used as a snack table when the fish juice is cleaned off. Some pontoons with four pedestal fishing seats instead of couches face a loss of storage space, but Sundancer provides two large areas at the back of both pontoons in addition to storage under the port-side console, couch, and optional forward box.
While this pontoon seems geared toward those fishing for walleye, crappie, and bass, the sight-casting-friendly aspect of it makes it appropriate for predatory species that like to lie motionless in shallow water waiting to ambush prey, like pike and musky. The fact that you don’t have to forsake comfort and entertainment while being able to increase power to 150 hp makes the CX22FT an excellent fishing pontoon that can do a whole lot more.