7 Best Tandem Fishing Kayaks: SOT, Inflatable & More Reviewed

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A tandem fishing kayak is a perfect way for friends or family members to get out on the water for a more social and collaborative fishing experience. Read through this guide for a close look at the best-rated tandem fishing kayaks available.

Preview

Product

Max Capacity

Kayak Type

Check Price

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional...

Intex Excursion Pro

400 lbs.

Sit-in

Lifetime Beacon Tandem Kayak, Red, 12'

Lifetime Beacon

500 lbs.

Sit-on-top

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing...

Sevylor Coleman Colorado

440 lbs.

Sit-in

Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak,...

Lifetime 10 Foot

500 lbs.

Sit-on-top

BKC TK122U 12' 6' Tandem 2 or 3 Person SIt On...

Brooklyn Kayak Co. TK122

770 lbs.

Sit-on-top

Hobie 2020 Mirage Compass Duo Papaya

Hobie 2020 Mirage

475 lbs.

Sit-on-top

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T 12 Foot Tandem...

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T

500 lbs.

Sit-on-top


Why Go Tandem? Benefits of 2-Person Fishing Kayaks

Shared camaraderie is the main draw of a tandem fishing kayak, but they have various other advantages over single-person kayaks. For instance:

  • Higher weight capacity to accommodate another angler also means there’s room for extra gear like rods and fishing coolers.
  • Larger dimensions - longer for additional speed and wider for better balance.
  • Safely introduce newcomers to kayaking with an experienced guide accompanying them.
  • One tandem fishing kayak is likely cheaper than two single kayaks.
  • Tandem kayaks frequently have extras such as built-in skeg wheels to make them easier to transport.

Buying Guide: Choosing A Quality Tandem Fishing Kayak

Kayak Style

Seat position and build are the two biggest factors of tandem kayak styles. Sit-on-top kayaks have uniform depth across the hull while the seats on a sit-in model are situated in a dug-out cockpit. Sit-on-top kayaks are safer in the event of a tip-over, but sit-in kayaks keep water away better.

Most kayaks are built of solid material, but others are inflatable. Hardshell kayaks don’t have any risk of puncture, but inflatables are far more portable and fare better in shallow water because their draft, the amount of the hull underwater, is generally smaller.

Durability, Design & Comfort

High-density materials like polyethylene make the most durable hardshell kayak hulls. Inflatables are most often made with PVC, although they can also have nylon or tarpaulin overlays for added puncture resistance. While the material determines the weight and durability, the shape of the hull affects speed and handling. More curve, also called 'rocker,' will make the kayak more likely to rock but gives the yak greater maneuverability. Less rocker means better tracking and easy turning. Extra room in the cockpit will provide a greater sense of comfort, as will an ergonomic seat made out of breathable material.

Size & Weight Capacity

Longer kayaks will give anglers more room, and wider ones make it much easier to stand up and move around. However, the fishing environment can limit what the usable size of a kayak might be. Smaller rivers and shallower water likely call for smaller and shorter vessels.

A high weight capacity is always handy but bear in mind that kayaks that can carry weight are almost always heavier themselves. Longer and broader kayaks can usually hold more weight, so consider your destination and the amount of gear you have to find the perfect length for your needs.

Stability & Safety Features

Width is the main determinant for kayak stability, but the hull design also plays a part. As mentioned earlier, the rocker will affect the overall balance. The chine, which is the shape of the hull where it meets the sides of the kayak, can have hard corners or be more rounded. Hard chine gives better primary stability in calm water and may be easier to stand on.

Additional safety features like built-in buoyancy or self-draining scupper holes can go a long way towards keeping the users dry. Always remember to wear a life jacket just in case.

Storage & Portability

The most important thing to remember when storing a kayak is to keep it from resting its weight on the hull, which can cause serious damage. Lean it sideways against a wall or hang it vertically. Storage for gear on the kayak is handy to have but likely isn’t a good place to leave things once it’s off the water.

Two people should be able to handle a tandem fishing kayak with relative ease, depending on their weight. Built-in carry handles and add-ons like dollies and skeg wheels can make it even easier.

Rigged vs. Unrigged

Unrigged kayaks are great for barebones anglers who don’t go out with lots of tackle and gear. They also have smaller price tags most of the time. However, spending a little more to have dedicated space for rods, dry storage, and paddle keepers will make spending long periods on the kayak much more comfortable. If you can easily rig a fishfinder on board, then your fishing will be more strategic and effective. Rigged kayaks may also have space for a trolling motor or some other method of hands-free propulsion.

Speed & Propulsion

Longer kayaks go faster, and extra add-ons like foot-operated pedals make it even easier to keep up a good pace. Rudders and fins that go on the bottom of the hull allow anglers to fish while on the move or locate themselves on a GPS device. Most tandem kayaks have these add-ons in front of each seat, so both anglers can put their energy into propelling the craft. Hardshell tandem kayaks are more likely to have rudders and pedals than inflatables.

Price & Warranty

Tandem fishing kayaks run the gamut from unrigged inflatables that might cost a couple of hundred dollars to fully outfitted hardshell models that might cost upwards of $1,000. The more costly models usually have more dedicated space for electronics, rods, and other gear. They’re also more likely to have longer warranties to protect the larger upfront investment. Lifetime warranties are the most optimal, but some manufacturers back up their products with 1, 2, or 5-year warranties.


7 Best Tandem Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

1. Intex Excursion Pro

Best Tandem Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

400 lbs.

Kayak Type

Sit-in

Dimensions

151 x 18 inches

Kayak Weight

44 lbs.

Key Feature

Easy to paddle

Warranty

Yes, 90 days

Strong construction, great speed, and responsive handling all come together to make the Excursion Pro the best tandem inflatable fishing kayak on the market. There are also plenty of handy add-ons for riders’ comfort and improved fishing. Sometimes when fishing in pairs, there can be arguments over who gets the rod holder, but the Excursion Pro has 2 built-in, so each angler has one.

The tracking is fantastic on this yak, partly due to the directional and shallow water skegs on the bottom and partly because of the I-beam floor construction. It may be a bit harder to stand up on this kayak than on a drop-stitch floor, but it’s worth it for the additional ease of paddling. The seats are also made of inflatable material, which is more comfortable than hard plastic but doesn’t offer much support. There’s also an optional booster for the chairs in case you plan to have younger anglers along.

Rated according to the standards of the American Boat & Yacht Council, this yak just feels much more sturdy than the majority of tandem fishing kayaks, inflatable or not. Pumping it up takes a short amount of time, and it packs up into a convenient carry case. Angling teams who want the option to get to remote areas and still be able to paddle through a long day of fishing without fatiguing will find everything they need in this kayak. The warranty could be longer, but it still leaves plenty of time to test it out after you buy it to make sure it suits your needs.

Pros
  • Built-in rod holders
  • Tracks great
  • Portable
  • Included pump & paddles
Cons
  • Hard to stand up
  • Shorter warranty

2. Lifetime Beacon

Best Tandem Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

500 lbs.

Kayak Type

Sit-on-top

Dimensions

144 x 35 inches

Kayak Weight

83.74 lbs.

Key Feature

Storage space

Warranty

Yes, 5 years

It’s not often that manufacturers build their hardshell tandem fishing kayaks with as much storage as the Beacon has, including hull storage with a hatch near the rear seat. There’s even room for a fishing cooler or a milk crate in the stern. Twin skeg rails allow the yak to track pretty well, and there are three pairs of scupper holes along the hull to let water out of the cockpit. The hull is pretty much flat, and the kayak itself is wide, making it easy to stand up and fish.

Anglers who are new to tandem kayaking or seasoned enthusiasts who want to bring a newcomer along will love how easy it is to use the Beacon. Since the riders sit on top, reboarding after tip-overs is easier. It’s a little annoying that the kayak doesn’t come with paddles included already, but that does allow you to take time to find exactly the paddle you want.

A wheel built into the skeg makes it easy for one person to move this yak over land, allowing the other person to carry gear or a tackle box. That also means a solo angler can also use this kayak easily. The polyethylene body is UV protected so it will hold its color longer. Maintaining this model is very easy since it self-drains and doesn’t have many nooks where sediment can collect. The padded seats are comfortable and adjust quickly, as do the foot braces. Best of all, this kayak is backed by a 5-year limited warranty for nearly unparalleled peace of mind.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Built-in skeg wheel
  • In-hull storage
  • Quick-adjusting seats
Cons
  • Paddles not included

3. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Best Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

440 lbs.

Kayak Type

Sit-in

Dimensions

130 x 35 inches

Kayak Weight

32.4 lbs.

Key Feature

Trolling motor mount

Warranty

Yes, one year

With more rod holders and sewn-in mesh gear pockets, the Colorado has more at-hand storage than just about any other inflatable tandem fishing kayak on the market. There’s even a bit of room near the back where a small crate or cooler may fit. It’s also easy to attach other gear or keep a catch fresh in a mesh bag in the water using this kayak’s D-rings. As far as durability goes, the bottom is covered with a thick tarpaulin that resists scratches and jabs from submerged obstacles like sticks and rocks.

The air pockets give no intimation of leaking or giving out once they’re inflated to the proper PSI. The manufacturer has gone so far as to guarantee that this air system is leakproof. The valves definitely add to that sense of certainty and help inflate the craft in a reasonably short time. Plus, there’s a nylon cover that protects the top of the craft in much the same way as the tarpaulin protects the bottom.

Besides its toughness and room for gear, the Coleman Colorado can also mount a kayak trolling motor that is pretty unique on the market. The rod holders are well-paced for trolling, or the angling team can keep their rods in hand since they won’t have to paddle. Convenient paddle keepers make a great place to keep oars out of the way. For the majority of freshwater fishing, this Coleman is one of the best-rated tandem fishing kayaks around.

Pros
  • Leakproof
  • Tarpaulin & nylon coverings
  • Mesh gear pockets
  • Plenty of room
Cons
  • Paddle & pump not included

4. Lifetime 10 Foot

Best Value Tandem Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

500 lbs.

Kayak Type

Sit-on-top

Dimensions

120 x 36 inches

Kayak Weight

60 lbs.

Key Feature

3-person capacity

Warranty

Yes, 5 years

There are no frills on this tandem fishing kayak. It’s a straightforward model, but it still has all the essentials. Footrests run the entire length of the cockpit for a comfy ride, whether one or two people are inside. Both seats are easy to adjust and remove for cleaning. You can even bring a smaller passenger, like a child or a dog, in the center of this yak. It’s wide enough that everyone will be comfortable, and that width also gives it some of the best stability available on the market.

A 6-inch hatch in the stern makes for great storage, and there are also three built-in rod holders. The Lifetime 10 tandem fishing kayak can also hold a trolling motor. For a hardshell, it’s surprisingly lightweight, and the hull is built out of a UV-resistant polyethylene material. Self-bailing scupper holes in the bottom not only keep water out but also make cleaning this kayak a breeze.

Compared to many other hardshell kayaks, and especially hardshell tandem fishing kayaks, the Lifetime 10 foot is pretty light and easy to transport over land or take down off a car rack. It tracks very well in the water and, being two feet shorter than some other models, can turn much more easily. Of course, that detracts from its overall speed, but it can still get moving at a pretty good clip. The paddle is included with this model, which means it’s ready to hit the water right out of the box with little more than a few seat adjustments for comfort.

Pros
  • In-hull storage
  • Motor compatible
  • Fantastic tracking
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • Less speed

5. Brooklyn Kayak Co. TK122

Best Rated Tandem Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

770 lbs.

Kayak Type

Sit-on-top

Dimensions

154 x 34 inches

Kayak Weight

77 lbs.

Key Feature

Durability

Warranty

Yes, 5 years (hull) 1 year (accessories)

The TK122 is a constant favorite in tandem fishing kayak reviews, which often remark on its durability and storage capacity. Far and away one of the strongest and most damage-resistant tandem kayaks out there, it also has excellent primary and secondary stability. The hull is flat, which means the draft is shorter than usual, and coasting through the shallows is a cinch as long as there’s enough water to get some push off of the paddles. There are also lines in the hull for improved tracking.

You can fit a lot of gear on this kayak. There’s room for a fishing cooler of up to about 20 liters if need be, and there’s also a storage hatch in front of each seat. Both storage hatches have waterproof bag inserts to keep personal property safe and shielded from water damage, but be careful with the latches on the lid as they can break if used too roughly. Not only are there scupper holes for easy drainage, but BKC also includes plugs scupper plugs with the purchase of this kayak to prevent water from coming up into the cockpit in colder weather.

Some thought has clearly gone into the chairs, too. They’re very comfortable and provide enough support to keep anglers upright and pain-free throughout a long day of fishing. Although it isn’t the lightest kayak, it is pretty easy for two people to transport with the built-in carry handles. The paddles that come with this kayak are collapsible for even more portability. The hull can handle dragging and all manner of scrapes and bumps without showing a mark, so even anglers who really like to push their kayaks to the limits will get lots of mileage out of this one.

Pros
  • Two waterproof hatches
  • Ample cooler space
  • Collapsible paddles
  • Works in shallows
  • Strong hull
Cons
  • Weak hatch cover latches

6. Hobie 2020 Mirage

Best Tandem Pedal Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

475 lbs.

Kayak Type

Sit-on-top

Dimensions

162 x 35 inches

Kayak Weight

127 lbs.

Key Feature

Pedal propulsion

Warranty

Yes, 3 years

It should be no surprise to find Hobie on any list of the best tandem fishing kayaks, and the 2020 Mirage Compass Duo is a great example of why. Powered by pedals so anglers can go hands-free to fish or relax, this kayak uses proprietary technology Hobie calls MirageDrive to propel the craft efficiently and at a fast clip. The fins also fold up when they collide with vegetation, rocks, or submerged logs to prevent damage. As long as you can get unstuck with your paddle, you can be sure that this kayak can get through rough water and around pretty much any obstacle.

What you get for the comparably larger investment in the Hobie Mirage is a roomy cockpit, four built-in gear tracks for fish finders, rod holders, or other mounted gear, and a hull construction that makes for superior tracking and unparalleled responsiveness. The floor of the cockpit is flat, and there’s plenty of room to stand. Each seat has its own set of pedals, a storage hatch, and two-rod holders at convenient locations. Plus, the chairs are made of a breathable mesh material that will help keep riders cool.

Behind the second seat, there’s a storage area with bungee cables to hold down gear. It can also be outfitted to hold a fishing cooler or a milk crate. There’s also an integrated attachment point for a small kayak anchor. The anchor is sold separately, but it makes holding the yak in position much easier. There’s also a built-in transducer cavity to make installing a fish finder that much easier and protect the ducer from damage.

Pros
  • Dual hatches & pedals
  • Easy to stand on
  • 4 gear tracks
  • Anchor & transducer ready
  • Breathable seat fabric
Cons
  • Large investment

7. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T

Best Tandem Fishing Kayak Under $1000

Max Load Capacity

500 lbs.

Kayak Type

Sit-on-top

Dimensions

146 x 35 inches

Kayak Weight

72 lbs.

Key Feature

Built-in buoyancy

Warranty

Yes, lifetime warranty

Based out of Atlanta, GA, Vibe Kayaks has less of a footprint in the kayak market, but they’re steadily growing thanks to the reliable performance of products like their Skipjack series. The 120T is a fantastic tandem fishing kayak considering its price point. It has features like dual storage hatches, gear rails for fish finders, built-in rod holders, and plenty of open space for a fish cooler. You might expect to find that on a kayak that’s double the price of the Skipjack, but it’s all here too.

Besides those features, this kayak also handles pretty well on the water. The hull shape is more rounded than some competing models, which makes it more reactive to directional changes. There’s also some built-in buoyancy to help keep the kayak afloat and right-side up. Together with the waterproof storage and slip-resistant deck, that should give peace of mind to anyone worried about losing personal items or winding up in the water.

Additional features like cupholders and spacious storage give anglers plenty of room to store whatever they need on board. Paddle holders and rod holders are both built-in to keep everything clutter-free. Vibe has also built this kayak with not one, but two universal fish finder mounts so both anglers can look underneath the water or a kayak GPS unit can be installed. The seats are plenty comfortable, and the kayak is wide enough to prevent legs and knees from colliding with the plastic kayak body. For what it costs, this is a great kayak for all kinds of sport fishing trips.

Pros
  • Plenty of storage
  • Slip-resistant floor
  • Comfortable chairs
  • 2 fish finder mounts
Cons
  • No space for a rudder

Fishing in a Tandem Kayak

To get in a tandem kayak, point the bow toward the water and get about half of the body in the water. The person in the back should get in first to stabilize it while the other paddler gets in the front.

If the craft is inflatable, pump up the bottom before you pump up the sides. Check the PSI to ensure it’s pumped up to the right level.

When closing in on a target, try not to paddle—otherwise, paddle in a scooping motion. If you feel discomfort in your wrists, you likely need to adjust your paddling style.


Tandem Kayak Fishing Safety Tips

Tipping over is always a concern, but it can be prevented by communicating with your partner before standing and positioning your kayak well when caught in bad conditions. In choppy water and high winds, use the bow to cut into the chop head-on. Make sure you have a PFD on at all times, as well as some form of sun protection.

If the kayak tips over, the first thing to do is flip it right-side-up. To climb back in, reach across to the opposite side and pull your torso onto the kayak.


Caring for Your Tandem Fishing Kayak

If you have self-draining scupper holes, all you need to do after a kayaking trip most of the time is give it a good spray down with clean water. Don’t hesitate to flip it over to get larger debris out. Hardshell kayaks will benefit from a UV-resistant application about once a season. Store the kayak on a vertical hook if possible, otherwise use a rack that will hold it on its side. If you don’t have any storage equipment, lean it against a flat wall on its side.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are the top brands of tandem fishing kayaks & who makes the most stable models?

The most commonly known tandem kayaks are made by companies like Driftsun, Intex, and Advanced Elements. Each company has several models that are stable on the water, but it depends on how you plan to use it. The Intex Excursion Pro is one of the easiest kayaks to paddle and never feels like it’s going to tip.

Is it easy to transport a 2-person kayak?

If both paddlers can chip in, carrying a 2-person kayak by built-in handles is a fairly easy task. Overlanding with a dolly is pretty easy for just one person, but overlanding in complicated terrain is usually easier if two people are carrying it. That way, they can each maneuver the kayak to get it to the launch site more quickly.

Why is a tandem fishing kayak with pedals so much more expensive?

The design tech used in kayak pedal propulsion systems has been improved and developed over several decades. Crafting and manufacturing take much more attention to detail than a single-piece molded kayak does. The good news is that tandem fishing kayaks with pedals are more often than not built to last for a long time.

Is it possible to paddle a double fishing kayak solo?

Many tandem fishing kayaks have removable seats so that solo anglers can use them. Inflatables are more commonly the type that have this feature. As long as you can get used to having the extra length and weight, you can paddle a tandem fishing kayak by yourself.

What color of kayaks attract sharks?

High contrast colors are more likely to get a shark’s attention, according to the Center for Watershed Sciences. Light grey and blue kayaks attract the least attention. Sharks have a powerful bite that can definitely do some damage to a hardshell kayak hull, but they usually won’t hang onto one long enough to take a chomp out of it.

Is it easier to fish in a tandem kayak?

Generally speaking, tandem fishing kayaks are wider and have better stability, making it easier to fish off of them. They also have more room for gear storage and are more likely to have a higher number of built-in rod holders. Space for a fishing cooler and electronics is also more common on tandem kayaks.

Where can I find quality tandem fishing kayaks for sale?

There are many manufacturers of tandem fishing kayaks. Most of them have a presence on Amazon, either through self-managed seller profiles or through authorized retailers. All the same warranty benefits apply most of the time, and there are almost always good shipping deals.


Conclusion

A tandem fishing kayak should be easy to handle and have plenty of room for an angling team and all their gear. No model exemplifies these key points better than the Intex Excursion Pro, which is what makes it the best tandem fishing kayak on the market.