Buying Guide: Best Tandem Fishing Kayak Models and Features

One of the more fun and interesting aspects of kayaking is that you can partner up with a friend or friends, and divide up the “yaking” duties. This makes kayaking a lot more fun, because it expands from being just something that you do in order to get away, to a potential bonding experience and a shared moment in time. This is a huge reason why I love being a “yakangler”, if only everything were so convenient. Now there are a couple of ways that you can go about doing this, either everybody can purchase their own kayak, which can be expensive and can cause quite a few headaches. Or you can save a lot of dough and opt for something just as fun, and grab a tandem fishing kayak! These are by no means uncommon, in fact there are probably more kayaks in this mold than there are solo’s, however trying to figure out which is the best tandem fishing kayak can be a bit of a challenge. To help make this easier, I’ve made a list of the best ones, and I chart out attributes that you should consider when making your purchase.

Attributes to Consider When Making Your Purchase

How Much Weight Does it Support?: This is a biggie when considering your purchase, as you can easily overlook weight capacity when you are tied up looking at all of the other neat features. If you and your partner can’t sit inside of a kayak without sinking, than there isn’t much point to it all is there? Also, how much does the kayak weigh in general? Can you and your partner lift roughly 100 pounds? If not, consider purchasing a lighter model.

Control and Maneuverability: This is what separates freshwater kayaks from ocean kayaks and canoes, and one of the best features to owning one, and that is the maneuverability. How well does it handle? Does it track well? Without testing the model itself, in general the more narrow the base of the kayak, the longer it is, and the more V-shaped, the better the handling. Sometimes there are other factors such as weight distribution that you won’t know for sure without reading reviews and testing yourself however, which effect control.

Who are you partnering with?: In most cases, it will be another full grown adult, but a major benefit to tandem kayaks is that they are great for introducing the sport to kids. If your purchasing one for kids, consider buying a more stable model with shallow cockpits so that it is easier for them to paddle. If your partner is just your dog or you are transporting items, consider purchasing a kayak that has removable seats.

Positives to Using Tandem Models

Pets or transport: One of the major benefits to using a tandem kayak, is that you have more storage space, so you can bring your dog, or simply carry more supplies with you.

Great for Beginners and Kids: Tandem’s allow you to directly engage beginners and help them learn the process, without them stumbling on their own. Plus, a particularly small child isn’t going to have the strength to paddle on their own, so being able to do this for them allows them to enjoy the experience earlier.

Cheaper and more Practical: It isn’t always practical for you and all of your buddies to own their own kayaks. For instance, your friends may live in an apartment or have little space, so owning one removes the burden off of their shoulders. Plus, purchasing tandem fishing kayaks will cost you a lot less than two separate kayaks by comparison.

Negatives to Using Tandem Models

More difficult to control: A HUGE negative, especially when it comes to fishing kayaks, is that tandems are much harder to control. Due to the fact that you have a partner, you’ll have to coordinate the directional movements of the kayak, plus the are heavier and a bit more unstable, which causes them to flip easier while simultaneously being harder to paddle. Definitely not for you if nobody in the kayak has experience.

Lack of storage: A strength if you are going at it alone due to the additional cockpit room, if you have a partner, space suddenly becomes an issue. A solo kayak has a storage area in the back, which you won’t have for most tandem kayaks.

Difficult to Transport and Heavy: These are going to be heavier than solo models, which makes them difficult to carry, even with a second helping hand. Its additional length makes it cumbersome as well, and the combination make them incredibly difficult to place on top of a car, so you may need a trailer.

Top 5 Models

Malibu Two XL Angler Tandem Fishing Kayak

One of the more expensive models, Malibu is a household name when it comes to angler kayaks. Their Two XL Angler comes with all of the bells and whistles, from 4 scotty rod mounts and two additional holders, to paddle holders, these come rigged nicely. The Two XL Angler is also very comfortable, as extra care was placed into seating and cockpit space, plus it has carry handles and is lighter than similar trandem models.

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Twin Heron Angler Recreational Fishing Kayak

Cheaper than Malibu’s Two XL, the Twin Heron Angler by Old Town is a winner. It has a removable front seat, which allows you to easily transition from tandem kayaking to solo, which is very innovative. It comes with only 2 rod holders, but has plenty of additional space to mount, and an adjustable foot brace and guide system. What I like most about the Twin Heron is its handling ability, which is excellent for a tandem fishing kayak. However, keep in mind that it only supports between 400 and 500 pounds, so if you plan on using this it may benefit you to cut out the twinkies.

Riot Kayaks Polarity 16.5 Tandem Kayak

Riot is another household name when it comes to yakangling, the other two major brands being Old Town and Malibu. This Kayak is huge, at 16.5 feet long, but at the same time, it only weighs 84.8 pounds thanks to its material makeup. It’s very fast for a tandem model, and has plenty of space with compartments for both the front and the rear, something you don’t always get unless you have a solo model. Also comes with quicklock footbrakes in the front and a piot rudder system to help when you need to stop while tracking.

Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak

Nothing super amazing about this model, this is your barebones inexpensive model if you are looking to just get out to the middle of a lake effectively. This model cares more about the fishing aspect, than the kayaking aspect, clearly, as looks very cumbersome and doesn’t have enough of a V-shaped hull. However, it comes with paddles, a dry storage compartment, and is very light.

KL Industries Sun Dolphin Journey SS Kayak

KL Industries make a lot of entry model fishing models, but I really, really like their Sun Dolphin Journey. Its unique in that it has just one massive cockpit, kind of like a canoe, but you can fit two people inside. It comes with two flush mount rod holders along with another swivel holder, a dry storage compartment, and adjustable foot braces and thigh pads.