There are so many different kayaks out there, and all of them have their own pros and cons. You want to get the best one for you and a friend to go fishing but how do you know which ones are good and which are bad?
To help make things a bit easier we’ve put together a first time buyer’s guide to help you know what to look for and reviews of what we think are the best tandem fishing kayaks on the market in 2021.
Quick Answer: The Best Fishing Kayaks for Two People
How to Choose a Tandem Fishing Kayak: A First Time Guide for Buyers
Sometimes you want to take a friend fishing with you. Tandem kayaks are a great way to divide up the tasks and spend time with your loved ones. Parents can enjoy taking their kids, couples can spend time together, and friends can enjoy a few laughs. But tandem kayaks are a special-purpose item, and before you invest a lot of cash in one, you’ll want to take a careful look at who will use it and when.
What Features Should you Look For?
Possibly one of the most significant benefits of a tandem kayak for fishing is the ability to let one person fish while the other person paddles. With two people, there’s a lot of versatility added to the boat.
Just buying a boat designed for two gets you some benefits. These boats will be longer and wider than their single-person counterparts. That means they’ll be more stable, and in some cases, a little faster. They’ll have a higher load capacity and likely have more storage space for fishing gear, too.
Many people put a little bit too much emphasis on these boats’ length and weight when shopping. A decently-sized tandem fishing kayak might be 15 or 17 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. That sounds like a lot, but remember, you’re going to have another person there to help you lift it. It’s generally better to deal with a big boat capable of doing what you ask of it on the water than to cut corners just because you want something shorter or lighter.
Fishing Specific Features
In the world of angling kayaks, there are many outfitting options. Sonar fishfinders, rod holders, accessory rail systems, tackle box storage, and coolers are just a few examples. To make your decision even harder, what you decide you need when you buy the boat might be different than what you decide you need after a year of owning the boat.
The best solution is to purchase the most versatile boat you can afford. Many boats add a few molded-in rod holders and call themselves a fishing kayak. The best boats have a built-in accessory rail or track system and multipurpose hatches that can house upgrades like fishfinders. You can paddle these boats as they come, and add more toys as needed. In other words, they are designed to grow with you and meet your needs for many years to come.
A lot of tandem fishing kayaks are pedal kayaks. Pedaling is excellent for fishing kayaks because it frees up your hands for casting. If you want a pedal-powered boat, you’re going to have to make that decision right in the beginning. Some manufacturers sell their pedal unit separately as an add-on, but you still have to have the right boat for the unit. You cannot convert most kayaks to pedals–the drive mounts and hull designs are different. So if you want or will eventually want a pedal boat, you should decide that first.
In a never-ending balancing act, manufacturers toy with their boats’ length, width, weight, and cost formula. Many shoppers are attracted by smaller boats that fit more easily on their cars or in their garages. Bluntly put, two people with fishing gear will require a pretty big kayak. Anything less than 13 feet or so is going to be very tight. And the smaller and tighter it is, the less room you’re going to have for your fishing gear.
A longer kayak will not only have more space, but it will also be narrower and easier to paddle. Nothing paddles worse than a short and fat kayak. Some tandem kayaks are built so wide that it’s nearly impossible for the rear paddler not to hit the sides of the boat with their paddle. And the shorter the boat is, the more problems the paddlers will have with bumping each other’s paddles mid-stroke.
A tandem kayak has the benefit of being able to carry more weight than a single. But it would be best if you still did the math because many small tandems are designed for one large person and a child, or two tiny people. Once you start adding fishing gear and loaded coolers into the mix, it’s not hard to overload even a mid-sized tandem.
When doing your calculations, keep in mind that boats will tend to paddle best when they aren’t loaded to their maximum allowable weights. If you’re on the line, it’s better to get a bigger boat. You never know when you might want to add more gear or bring along a bigger passenger.
Nothing separates a cheap kayak from a premium one quite as quickly as the quality of the seats. Nice boats will either have a comfortable molded seat or an upgraded chair-style paddling throne. You can add after-market seats to even the most basic kayak, but raised seats may make them feel tippier than they need to be.
Can it be used solo? Some tandems are designed with a central seat location to be used by a single paddler. Depending on the design, these can be great boats for anglers because they have large gear capacity when solo. But they also can be used as a tandem for when you want to take a friend.
Sit-On-Top vs. Sit Inside
Most fishing kayaks that you see marketed are sit-on-top style boats. These boats usually have a few advantages over sit-in designs, especially for anglers. Accessories and storage areas are easily accessible while out on the water, and they tend to be easier to move around in. Some fishermen may like standing up in their kayak, and a wide stable sit-on-top will allow this.
There are also several canoe-style sit-in designs that you can use for fishing. These include a few inflatable options and a few hard plastic ones. They aren’t entirely open like a canoe would be, but have a giant open cockpit between both seats instead. The foredeck and aft deck tend to be enclosed for buoyancy and sometimes for storage.
These boats can carry a large load and can have easy access to your gear, all of which are great for fishing. They tend to be more bare-bones basic designs, though, and they may be harder to outfit since most accessories are made for sit-on-tops. It’s also important to note that these vessels are not self-bailing, like sit-on-top models.
Standard narrow-cockpit sit-in sea kayaks aren’t very user friendly for fishing. Tandem boats with two separate cockpits tend to be very long and very heavy, and accessing your gear while on the water is nearly impossible.
Tandem Kayak Stability
Like all kayaks, it’s hard to generalize how stable a boat will be without actually paddling it. Some boats may look good on paper but paddle poorly and produce wet rides. Other boats look like they might be tippy and ill-equipped for fishing and turn out to be very comfortable.
Another stability factor to consider is how the boat is loaded. If the boat is unbalanced, with one large occupant and one small, or simply by uneven loading of gear, it may become unstable. Boats that are loaded to their maximum capacity are much less stable than lightly laden vessels.
Stability always comes at a cost. A wide, flat kayak might have extreme initial stability that makes it seem impossible to tip. Kayaks like that seldom paddle well, and they’re never much fun to take on long trips. Stability isn’t everything–you want something maneuverable and balanced, too.
When it comes to kayaks, you get what you pay for. You can find many less expensive brands at great prices. But these boats tend to lack the features that anglers want. They also often use thin plastic for their hulls, which does not hold up as well as premium brands.
Best Rated Tandem Fishing Kayak Reviews
Tandem fishing is an excellent way to enjoy nature with your favorite people. Now that you understand the features you may prefer in a kayak; we’ve listed some of our favorite tandem fishing kayaks below. These vessels vary in size, material, and cost, to give you various options to fit your needs.
#1. Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack™ Angler Series Tandem Fishing Kayak
The 385fta FastTrack™ Angler Series is a high-capacity tandem fishing kayak. It can hold one to three people (or up to approximately 635 pounds). This inflatable kayak is made of a durable and rigid material, which the company compares to crocodile hide, so you won’t have to worry about popping or damaging your ride.
The narrower design of the kayak bow helps the boat cut through water and wind with minimal effort. It comes with storage below and bungee cords to attach additional storage if needed. It features a removable skeg (similar to a boat’s rudder) to improve speed and direction.
Setup is simple; it’ll take less than 10 minutes to blow your kayak up. From there, you can carry it to the water and climb in. You won’t need to worry about storing this kayak in a large area— just deflate it when you’re done. It’s also lighter than most hardshell kayaks to make for easier transport.
#2. Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak
- BUILT TO LAST: Constructed with a rotomold injected body to ensure your kayak will never crack or puncture and will last for years...
- EASY TO TRANSPORT: Two carry handles allow for convenient transportation. Fits easily in the bed of a truck or a trailer!
- PLENTY OF STORAGE: An air tight compartment, two storage areas located on each end of the kayak along with a designated platform...
For a durable and robust fishing option, consider the Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak. This hardshell kayak comes with two adjustable, padded EVA seats, multiple rod holders, two aluminum handles, and several storage options. If you need dry storage space (to hold your electronics or food), this kayak has a compartment. If you need additional storage, there’s a cargo space with bungee cords for reinforcement.
This kayak is made for anglers. It holds up to 650 pounds and weighs about 60 pounds itself. It’s just over 12 feet long and three feet wide, so it can easily hold two adult-sized people. It’s a bit challenging to store and a heavier item to carry, but it’s built to last for years of use.
#3. Vibe Skipjack 120T Angler
- KEY FEATURES | 2 or 3 person sit on top fishing kayak: 12.2 -foot 72-pound multi-person kayak perfect for fishing, travel, or...
- ACCESSORY OPTIONS | 2 flush mount rod holders with caps and 4 Mounting points for Scotty, RAM, or Railblaza mount rod holders
- STORAGE OPTIONS | Two V-Wave Hatches with built in cup holders for safe housing of smaller items and rear cargo area with bungee...
Vibe Kayaks has created a two-person, 12-foot-long, sit-on-top kayak that rivals any competitor. The hardshell Vibe Skipjack 120T Angler features multiple mounted rod holders, padded seats with backrests, and grip handles for more comfortable transport. There are built-in cup holders on this kayak, as well as bungee-reinforced cargo space.
The kayak weighs just over 70 pounds and safely holds about 500 pounds. It’s one of the heavier and more cumbersome kayaks to carry around, but it makes for a very stable ride while you’re on the water. The hull of this kayak is sharp and sleek— you’ll cut through the water and cover a significant amount of ground in a short amount of time.
This kayak works fine in the ocean, but it excels in freshwater environments, like the lake.
#4. Brooklyn Kayak Company TK219 12ft Tandem Fishing Kayak
- THE PERFECT KAYAK FOR OUTDOOR FUN: Our Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC TK219K tandem kayak has extra space to fit 3 - making it ideal...
- FULLY LOADED ACCESSORIES: Our kayak comes equipped with 2 soft padded seats, 2 adjustable aluminum paddles, 2 waterproof hatches,...
- CRAFTED FOR STABILITY: Our Roto Molded single Piece High density polyethylene material is superior to inflatable kayaks and a...
For a more budget-flexible, two-to-three-person kayak, try the BKC UH-TK219 12ft. This tandem fishing kayak comes with padded seats and paddles. Half a dozen rod holders are available, and, similar to competitors, this hardshell kayak is “roto-molded” for added durability.
This device can support nearly 600 pounds. It weighs just under 70 pounds, though, and could be difficult for some people to carry around. There is waterproof storage available at each seat in the kayak for riders and cargo space in the rear for your gear.
#5. Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122U 12′ 6″ Tandem Fishing Kayak
- THE PERFECT KAYAK FOR OUTDOOR FUN: Our Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC TK122U tandem kayak has extra space to fit 3 - making it ideal...
- FULLY LOADED ACCESSORIES: Our kayak comes equipped with 2 ergonomic aluminum frame seats, 2 adjustable aluminum paddles, 2...
- CRAFTED FOR STABILITY: Our Roto Molded single Piece High density polyethylene material is superior to inflatable kayaks and a...
The Brooklyn Kayaking Company also manufactures the TK122U— a great tandem fishing option for families or kayakers hoping to carry a lot of weight. This durable option can support up to 770 pounds— which is significantly higher than most competitors. There’s enough space on the kayak to fit two people comfortably, as well as a child or a large amount of cargo.
Riders sit on top of this kayak on one of two upright chairs. There are two “articulating” rod holders, four built-in rod holders, two aluminum paddles, and several storage areas available. Two of the storage hatches are entirely waterproof.
This kayak could be used in the ocean or on a lake. Its stabilizing beam keeps everything steady, even in choppier conditions.
#6. Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL Angler Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL Angler Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayak is an excellent tool for any parents who hope to take their kids out on the water. If you’re an avid angler and you want to share the experience with your child, look no further.
This kayak supports 450 to 500 pounds. It weighs about 75 pounds on its own, which can make it challenging to carry around— especially if you’re hauling it by yourself, and it reaches approximately 13 feet long. Manufacturers made this product to excel in flat water up to moderate ocean waves.
The kayak comes with two seats, and backrests can be attached. There are two rod holders available, so you can safely perch your fishing rod while paddling. The kayak was designed with portability in mind— one person could paddle this device if needed, thanks to its rocker shape.
#7. BKC PK14 Sit-On-Top Pedal Drive
- THE PERFECT KAYAK FOR OUTDOOR FUN: Our Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC PK14 kayak is built for excitement. Bicycle style pedals turn a...
- FULLY LOADED ACCESSORIES: Our kayak comes equipped with 2 ergonomic aluminum frame seats, 2 adjustable aluminum paddles, 3 water...
- DUAL PEDAL DRIVE SYSTEM: Get your tandem kayak moving faster than ever with or without a paddle using the included dual...
If you’re looking for a kayak equipped with a range of accessories, check out the BKC PK14 Sit-On-Top Pedal Drive. It comes with bicycle-like pedals, a hand-controlled rudder, two upright seats with backrests, and so much more. Its design allows users to turn in tight corners, stop and reverse quickly, and avoid using paddles if they want.
This kayak features several waterproof storage hatches and three flushed, built-in rod holders. It’s 14 feet long and supports up to 670 pounds. This kayak can satisfy even the heaviest-duty outdoorsman. The downside- the hardshell kayak weighs close to 100 pounds on its own and could be difficult for one person to haul by themselves.
#8. Intex Excursion Professional Series 2 Person Angling Kayak
- Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: Light weight and highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight
- High pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with high pressure spring loaded valves for easy inflation and fast...
- Includes 2 removable skews for deep and shallow water, 2 floor mounted footrests, 2 integrated recessed fishing rod holders, 2...
One budget-friendly inflatable tandem fishing kayak is the Intex Excursion Professional Series. This option is incredibly durable, considering it’s an inflatable kayak. It’s made of laminate PVC and polyester to increase its rigidity and structure. It helps the kayak stay resistant against damage from collisions, as well as impacts from the environment, like sun damage.
This kayak comes with two adjustable seats, two sets of footrests, and two paddles. There is a removable mounting bracket as well to attach accessories like fishing rods to the kayak. It supports up to 400 pounds, weighs less than 40 pounds, and reaches over 12 feet long when inflated fully.
#9. Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- 18-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use , NMMA certified
- 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover provide durable protection from punctures
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
If your main priority for a tandem fishing kayak is the price, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person is budget-friendly. It’s an excellent choice for the lake or flat water use; it’s best not to use this in the ocean.
This kayak can be inflated and deflated quickly and easily. It comes with several rod and paddle holders for users. Storage is limited— there are mesh pockets to hold smaller items, but not many larger cargo spaces. This tandem fishing kayak supports about 470 pounds of weight. It’s highly portable and a good choice if you’re looking to just get out on the water.
Conclusion: Which one Should you Buy?
There are hundreds of kayaks to choose from while searching for your preferred vessel. The best tandem fishing kayak, though, is the Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack™ Angler Series. It’s the best overall choice for the broadest range of users— it supports a significant amount of weight without being too heavy to haul around. It isn’t the most budget-flexible option, but it’s less expensive than most competitors, and it often outperforms.
Regardless of which kayak you choose, we hope you prioritize safety and fun while you’re on the water. And while you’re out looking for your new tandem fishing kayak, consider picking up a new life jacket.