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Trolling with 1978 Penn Yan Sport Fish with Tunnel Drive

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Does anyone have any experience trolling with a pen yan boat that has the tunnel drive system? Any issues getting it to slow down or issues steering if I have to go with a kicker motor? I Have a line on a 1978 penn Yan Flybrifldge sport in real nice condition but am worried about trolling speed and control. Dual inboard Chevy 350’s and low , low hours. I’ve heard steering and boat control can be an issue with this tunnel drive system but allows for super shallow water. Note this would be my first Great Lakes boat and boat over 20’ so already a little nervous about docking, boat control, etc?

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Ran an '82 with a custom lower station(which I loved) for 22 years.  I would not put a kicker on it if you will be Salmon fishing. The clean transom is a beautiful thing for a guy coming from a 20 footer. Tunnels are notorious for handling challenges but twins are much better than a single tunnel for handling. 

Pros of the model you are considering-- super stable at slow trolling speeds, one of the best "ditch"(trough) trolling hulls I've ever experienced. Speed control was a STRENGTH with properly tuned 350's and a quality matched set of trolling bags--one for each side. Amazing amount of room in salon to get out of weather. Very large cockpit. That model was proven by several full time Captains on Lake Ontario to be a great fish catcher. 

Cons of that model were running hard into a head sea the relatively flat deadrise pounds a bit but the boat weighs 12k dry so its not terrible. Handling in tight quarters can be challenging but because you don't have to unlearn behaviors from traditional twin inboards you can definitely master it. Twin tunnels can be backed in no different than other twin inboards, you just need more thrust and to learn the unique nuances.

Any used fiberglass boat should be surveyed. You may have found a '78 with very low hours but it should still have a complete survey of hull and engines.

As for auto pilot, as long as it has hydraulic steering it should be very easy to install and should perform very well.

One last pointer since you are new to larger vessels--the boat will track extremely well at trolling speeds with one trolling bag deployed on the side of the engine you are trolling on. Trolling is done on one engine in almost all conditions. When trolling into a head sea the bag gets pulled.

Good luck if you decide this is the vessel for you.


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