Best Tandem Fishing Kayak – Paddle Power!

Welcome to Paddle n Reel.

Best Tandem Fishing Kayak – Paddle Power!

Looking for a 2 person fishing kayak to paddle?

Are you wanting to head out fishing with a buddy or perhaps looking to spend some quality time with your spouse or kids? Maybe you’re needing more space for that trusty companion you take along with you.

Whatever the reason, you have come to the right place. We have done the research for you and come up with a list of what we believe to be the best tandem fishing kayaks available. Paddle power of course!  

All of the kayaks below are fantastic options, and to simplify things we have broken them down into three categories:

  1. Tandem Fishing Kayaks: – Designed and built specifically with kayak fishing in mind.
  2. Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (with lawn chair style seats): – Multi use, fishing or recreation
  3. Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (with clip in style seats): – Multi use, fishing or recreation

If it’s of interest, check out our Inflatable 2 person/tandem fishing kayak article.


Tandem-fishing-kayaks: click to view


FeelFree Kayaks Lure ll Tandem – Best Overall!
Jackson Kayak Big Tuna 2021
– Runner Up
Vibe Yellowfin 130T


Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (Lawn chair style seats): click to view


Crescent Kayak Crew 2020 – Top Pick
Native Watercraft Stingray 13.5
Runner Up
Wilderness Systems Pamilco 135T
and 145TTop Sit-In Option


Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (Clip in style seats): click to view


Perception Tribe 13.5 Tandem – Top Pick
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL
and Malibu Two XL Angler
Feel Free Kayaks Corona


Buyers Guide

What things should I consider when purchasing a 2 person/tandem fishing kayak?

Comfort

How comfortable a particular seat style or position can be is quite subjective as we are all built differently and have differing needs depending on a myriad of variables such as age, body shape, injuries, fitness level etc. It is therefore important that you know what is going to work best for you. 

Seat configurations

Most, but not all of the options below offer a range of seating configurations, some, like the Feel Free Lure ll Tandem have less options in comparison to the Jackson Kayak Big Tuna which according to their website offers over thirty seating configurations. That said, the Big Tuna, though in our ‘dedicated fishing kayak category could easily cross over to the ‘recreation/fishing’ kayak category whereas the Feel Free Lure ll is a fully dedicated vessel built for that purpose. 

Solo option

For many, having the ability to head out solo is a must. All the kayaks listed below can be paddled solo though performance will vary between models. All the models listed below offer a center seat position.

Weight

Being designed to accommodate two people these kayaks are obviously going to be heavier than most comparable single seat kayaks. That said, a few pounds can make a world of difference when loading and unloading a kayak, particularly when car topping. Careful thought on how you plan to transport your kayak and the extra costs involved in purchasing the appropriate gear to do so is recommended.

Extra items may include:

Transport
See above.

Upgrades
Many of these kayaks come light on fishing options particularly in the recreation/fishing categories which for some people is a negative but for me personally isn’t too much of an issue as it gives me the freedom to position things exactly where I want them. It does however require some DIY skills. That said, they are fairly easy installs for most and there is a ton of information out there to aid you.

Stability
I would say this is more important on a tandem kayak than a single. In a single you can easily anticipate your own movements and compensate if needed. With another person in the kayak with you there is no way to anticipate their movements so you need a higher level of stability to counteract this.

Price
The categories generally follow a descending order of price. Kayaks in the ‘dedicated fishing’ kayak category are the most expensive and the ‘clip in seat’ category the least expensive. 

Paddling Performance
Again, this can be subjective although often noted for its paddling performance is the Crescent Kayaks Crew.

Check out the models below to see our recommendations…


1. Tandem Fishing Kayaks


FeelFree Kayaks Lure II Tandem –   Best Overall

Specs:

Length: 14 ft 2 in
Width: 36 in
Capacity: 500 lb
Weight: 105 lb (seats not included)

A company that really pays a lot of attention to the details and is known for their innovation Is FeelFree kayaks.

In my opinion, one of the absolute best features of this and some other kayaks from FeelFree is the ability to upgrade to a drive system without having to purchase a new kayak. They have had this option for a number years now and I could be wrong, but I believe they were the first to do this.

For me this is a huge deal.

Kayaks cost a lot of money and most of us don’t start out purchasing a very expensive kayak with a drive system, which means we start with a cheaper paddle version before we ‘remortgage the house’ to upgrade to one with a drive system. 

This is just my personal opinion but, I’m going to have a bit of a rant here…. 

I do get tired of the ‘either-or’ mentality with regards to pedal or paddle. I hope this is not an economic strategy from manufacturers where the customer loses out and the company makes more profit. Clearly we can have both, and FeelFree proves that.

Rant over… Whew!

Thankfully other companies have begun to follow suit.. Well done FeelFree!   

I’ve probably missed some but here’s a list of other manufacturers that I could find who are now producing some ‘drive upgradable’ kayaks. 

  • Jackson Kayaks.  Big Rig HD 2021 model.
  • Wilderness Systems. Recon 120, Radar 115, 135  (A.T.A.K. 120, 140 and Thresher 140 are motor drive compatible)
  • Vibe Kayaks. Shearwater 

The FeelFree Lure ll Tandem is a feature rich kayak. It’s heavy, but does boast some nice features.

It’s rudder ready, sold separately with the standard version but installed if purchasing the overdrive version. 

The Lure ll Tandem also comes with two Gravity Seats which are a great design. Built with a ratcheting system they are super easy to adjust, simply lift the seat up and stop at the height you desire. To drop back down pull the strap and down she goes. In spite of having a low back many people find their initial concerns about comfort are unfounded. These seats are highly praised for their comfort.

Packed full of mounting options for accessories and very stable, these are a fantastic 2 person fishing kayak.

There have been a couple of complaints about the bolts that hold the cranks on coming loose. Using some blue loctite seems to fix this. (This may have been addressed on newer models.)

The Lure ll Tandem is only suitable for a single Overdrive/Motordrive unit in the rear. They are not designed to be operated with two which I believe is because the wash from the front prop would significantly disrupt the efficiency of the back prop.

What this means is that the front passenger either has to paddle or just be along for the ride. 

The good news is that the Overdrive is up to the task. 

Features:


  • Overdrive/Motordrive compatible
  • Rudder ready
  • Feel Free Gravity seats, super comfy and easy to adjust
  • Wheel in the Keel
  • Multiple Uni Track rails
  • Stand up leash x 2
  • Standing pads
  • Large molded in handles
  • Removable Sonar & Electronic Pod x2
  • Front hatch
  • Flush mount rod holders
  • Adjustable foot rests
  • Molded in crate recess 

Pros

  • Overdrive compatible
  • Motordrive compatible
  • Gravity seats
  • Loads of mounting options
  • Removable sonar pod/pods
  • Rudder compatible
  • Wheel in the keel
  • Stand up stability
  • Solid molded in handles
  • Uni mount tracks throughout
  • Good Performance

Cons

  • Heavy

A great kayak packed full of fishing features and comfort all at a fantastic price. These combined with the ability to buy without the overdrive and upgrade later make the Feel Free Lure ll Tandem our top choice.

Jackson Kayak Big Tuna 2021 – Runner Up

Specs:

Length:  14 ft 2 in
Width:  35 in
Capacity:  500 lb
Weight:  102 lb

The Big Tuna 2021 is a fantastic offering from Jackson Kayak. Built in the USA and offering some comfortable seats with extreme versatility. According to their website. ‘Boasting more than thirty seating configurations’, there is definitely an option for every occasion!

Another great feature is the ‘Tuna Tank’ in the center which can be used as dry storage or a livewell tank. 

Other fishing features include two flush mount rod holders and up front a bow cover which incorporates rod tip protectors and a paddle park.

One feature which is well thought out is the large rear oval hatch which is positioned cleverly to allow the storage of rods and other long items in the hull.

Features:


  • Pre rigged for rudder
  • Large oval storage hatch offering generous and practical storage
  • Multiple seating positions offering extreme versatility
  • Comfy lawn chair style seats with MOLLE compatible webbing on the back
  • Two flush mount rod holders
  • RAM ball and rod holder included
  • ‘Tuna Tank’ center storage or livewell
  • Replaceable skid plates
  • Adjustable foot rests
  • Front day hatch
  • Rod tip protectors (Removable)

Pros

  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Great reviews
  • The best seating versatility 
  • Well positioned rear hatch
  • Stable
  • Pre-rigged for rudder
  • Good Performance

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Limited mounting options

The Jackson Kayak Big Tuna 2021 is a huge capacity, extremely versatile and stable kayak with great reviews from many happy customers which make it our runner up in this category.

Vibe Yellowfin 130T 

Specs:

Length: 13 ft
Width: 35 in
Capacity: 500 lb
Weight: 80 lb

Another great versatile tandem kayak. These handle well and are super comfortable. 

A top pick if you want a great combination of fishing features and comfort. 

They also offer versatile seating arrangements and have the adjustable foot rests to customise your ride.

Vibe are a well respected kayak company who have been making their mark. Their kayaks are manufactured in China but they seem to have a handle on QC and consistently produce quality products.

Features:


  • Lawn chair style seats
  • Multiple seat options
  • Four top loading mounting tracks
  • Molded in handles
  • Two flush mount rod holders
  • Two built in cup holders
  • Two hatches
  • Bungee paddle parks
  • Rudder ready 
  • Adjustable foot rests
  • Two mounts for rectangular base accessories
  • Four tackle tray holders
  • Scupper plugs included

Check out this long term review from Headwaters Kayak.

Pros

  • Multiple fishing features
  • Multiple seating options
  • Rudder capable
  • Good performance
  • Multiple built in mounting options

Cons

  • Manufactured in China (issue for some)
  • Gear tracks not in ideal position for solo paddler
  • Deck flex

Another great option, check out the Vibe Yellowfin 130T


2. Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (Lawn Chair Style Seats)


Crescent Kayaks Crew Tandem – Top Pick!

Specs:

Length: 13 ft
Width: 35 in
Capacity: 500 lb – (600 lb with scupper plugs)
Weight: 79 lb

The Crescent Kayaks Crew is an incredibly well made kayak with top notch fit and finish.

Everything is sourced locally and great care has gone into every detail, from design right down through production.

Featuring their central keel and rocker profile means this will track and paddle extremely well.

It has extra buoyancy built into the bow and makes a great standing platform.

The Crew may look simple at first glance but it’s anything but. The thought that has gone into the details is amazing, and made all the more so because it happens to be all the subtle details that you don’t see initially.

It’s easy to throw on ‘fishing accessories’, mounting tracks, rod holders, all that kind of thing and miss some of the more fundamental aspects, like paddling performance, placement of accessory options, finding the perfect seat positions for each set up, widening the nose to create more buoyancy when someone stands up front, making space for a larger and more functional rear tankwell, and the list goes on.  

Everything seems to function perfectly. Simple clean, well thought out design with loads of space and everything just works.

Features:


  • Molded foot rests in front
  • Multiple seat options
  • Adjustable foot rests for rear and centre positions
  • Four cup holders
  • Versatile stash pockets
  • Molded in spots for mounting tracks
  • Lawn chair style seats
  • Large rear tankwell
  • Flat stern for trolling motor
  • Bulbous nose for extra buoyancy up front
  • Molded in options for mounting plates and tracks

Here’s an awesome walkthrough from Crescent Kayaks.

Pros

  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Excellent build quality
  • Outstanding paddling performance
  • Excellent stability
  • Multiple seat configurations
  • Rear seat sits higher than front seat for good visibility
  • Large rear tankwell
  • Large open spacious deck throughout
  • Squared off stern suitable for mounting a trolling motor

Cons

  • No pre fitted mounting options
  • No hull access for mounting accessories

The Crescent Kayaks Crew is our Top pick here, build quality and performance with those well thought out details give it the edge it needs to beat the competition.

Native Watercraft Stingray 13.5 Tandem – Runner up

Specs:

Length: 13 ft 5 in
Width: 34 in
Capacity: 475 lb
Weight: 80 lb

  

The Native Stingray 13.5 Tandem is another recreational style kayak that’s perfect to fish from. 

A solid performer, the pronounced stern keel makes for excellent tracking while the significant rocker profile and flared bow give it the ability to ride over rougher water. With good stability thrown into the mix you have a kayak that’s perfect for a variety of conditions. 

The option to have multiple seat configurations appeal. Tandem, solo and the option for the front seat to be rear facing. Great for a couples day out or when you’re fishing with a buddy or one of your kids.

These are built tough and should last well. 

One thing I love about the Stingray 13.5 Tandem is the solid molded in handles. Nothing ‘attached’ or penetrating the hull. Nothing to loosen or tear and come off. (Except for the paddle parks.)  Great for being hassle free.

Features:


  • Great hull design
  • Lawn chair style seats
  • Multiple seat options
  • Molded in handles
  • Two flush mount rod holders
  • Rear skid plate
  • Two hatches with cargo bags
  • Paddle holders
  • Designed to be stackable. 
  • Molded in foot rests
  • Four built in cup holders

Pros

  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Multiple seating options
  • Excellent build quality 
  • Good tracking 
  • Suits a variety of conditions
  • Kiddie seat in the middle

Cons

  • Moulded in footrests as opposed to adjustable
  • Limited fishing accessories

Runner up in this category the Native watercraft Stingray 13.5 is well worth a look.

Wilderness Systems Pamilco 135T and 145T – Top pick sit-in kayak

Specs 135T

Length: 13 ft 6 in
Width: 31 in
Capacity: 500 lb
Weight: 72 lb

Specs 145T

Length: 14 ft 6 in
Width: 31 in
Capacity: 550 lb
Weight: 73 lb

The Wilderness Systems Pamilco is a popular model that has been around for many years. There have been extensive reviews with nearly all of them positive which tells you something about the pedigree of this kayak. Built by a trusted brand who build quality vessels the Pamilco is fast and stable, a well performing kayak that’s built tough.
With two sizes available, finding one to suit your needs should be easy. Both models perform well solo, with the front seat is designed to slide back to provide a solo paddling position.
There is built in buoyancy foam in the stern though I would highly recommend purchasing a bow flotation bag for up front and a bilge pump for bailing water if needed. This is a sit-in kayak and as such will fill with water if capsized. Having extra buoyancy front and rear will keep it afloat enough to re-enter and bail out the water.

Features:


  • Performance hull
  • Phase 3® AirPro seating
  • Stern bulkhead foam
  • Rear hatch
  • Thigh/knee padding
  • Adjustable foot braces

Pros

  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Fantastic performance, fast and stable
  • Comfortable seating
  • Large cockpit for easy entry/exit
  • Rudder capable
  • Stern bulkhead foam for extra buoyancy
  • Thigh/knee padding

Cons

  • No fishing accessories

Looking for a sit-in 2 person/tandem fishing kayak? For a quality, well performing kayak look no further than the Wilderness Systems Pamilco 135T or Wilderness Systems Pamilco 145T


3. Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (Clip In Style Seats)


Perception Tribe 13.5 Tandem – Top Pick!  

Specs:

Length: 13 ft 5 in 
Width: 34 in
Capacity: 500 lb
Weight: 79 lb

In competition with the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL below is the Perception Tribe 13.5 Tandem – 2020 Model.

This model boasts new high-back frame seatbacks for increased comfort. A popular kayak that comes in three sizes, 9.5 ft, 11.5 ft and the 13.5 ft tandem reviewed here.

Alongside the new seats it features two small center hatches, two Solo mount recesses for mounting options and a skid plate for extra protection.

The Tribe 13.5 has been around for a while and is very popular for good reason. Great features and well priced. It’s fast, stable and like it’s competition, versatile. 

With plenty of load capacity and good performance, the Perception Tribe 13.5 would be a great option for family fishing outings. All that’s missing is some fishing mods.

Pros

  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Hugely positive reviews
  • Good tracking and performance
  • Versatile
  • Easy customisation
  • Trusted brand
  • Cheaper than the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL
  • New comfortable seats
  • 2 Solo Mount recesses

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Fixed seating positions

Top Pick for this category! At such a competitive price the Perception Tribe 13.5 Tandem is our top choice.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL and Malibu Two XL Angler   

Specs:

Length: 13 ft 4 in
Width: 34 in
Capacity: 500 lb
Weight: 68 lb

Versatility is key with the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL. A tandem kayak that is stable on the water, fun to use and extremely adaptable. It tracks and handles well which make it suitable for beginners and advanced alike.

The seats can be configured in multiple ways, tandem or solo.


With three pre-molded options for installing hatches and flat topped sides this can easily be customised to suit your needs. Featuring three aftermarket hatch options, a small circular hatch at either end and an oval centre hatch. The smaller hatch areas are designed for Gaspachi hatches but you could install a different brand 6 inch (8 inch overall diameter) hatch if desired.

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Angler version comes with the centre cross-lock hatch pre-installed and also includes four deck mounts and two Scotty rod holders. That’s pretty good value as the parts alone cost almost as much as the price difference. Especially if you don’t have to go through the hassle of installing it all.

If you are looking to install any yourself here’s a helpful video showing a DIY hatch installation. 

Pros

  • Made in U.S.A
  • Hugely positive reviews
  • Versatile
  • Multiple Seat position configurations
  • Stable 
  • Good tracking and performance
  • Easy customisation
  • Trusted brand
  • Johnson Outdoors ‘lifetime’ hull warranty

Cons

  • Sideways position of oval hatch not ideal for long items
  • More expensive than it’s competition

All things considered the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two and Malibu Two Angler are fantastic options. 


If you are looking for a tandem kayak for all occasions from a trusted brand that’s known for its quality then look no further than the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL or Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Angler.

FeelFree Kayaks Corona 

Specs:

Length:  13 ft 1 in
Width:  31 in 
Weight :  79.4 lbs 
Capacity:  617 lbs

I know, not the best model name these days, but this is a great company who makes awesome quality innovative kayaks. This one is similar in style and price to the previous two.

The FeelFree Corona features a huge load capacity, nice comfy seats, large moulded in handles and the Feel Free ‘wheel in the keel’ which all add to the appeal of this colourful tandem kayak. 

Pros
  • Hugely positive reviews
  • Good tracking and performance
  • Versatile
  • Easy customisation
  • Trusted brand
  • Large load capacity
  • Large molded in handles
  • Wheel in the keel
Cons
  • Heavy

If you are looking for a 2 person fishing kayak with huge load capacity then check out the FeelFree Corona!

Best Tandem fishing kayak – Conclusion

From hard core kayak anglers to those wanting to spend some quality time with those they love, getting out on the water in a tandem fishing kayak is a great option. It may take a little practice to find your groove but it’ll be worth it.

Here are our top choices again…..

Tandem Fishing Kayaks:
FeelFree Kayaks Lure ll Tandem – Best Overall!
Jackson Kayak Big Tuna 2021
– Runner Up
Vibe Yellowfin 130T

Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (Lawn chair style seats):
Crescent Kayak Crew – Top Pick
Native Watercraft Stingray 13.5
Runner Up
Wilderness Systems Pamilco 135T
and 145TTop Sit-In Option

Tandem Recreation/Fishing Kayaks (Clip in style seats):
Perception Tribe 13.5 Tandem – Top Pick
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL
and Malibu Two XL Angler
Feel Free Kayaks Corona

We hope you enjoyed our best tandem fishing kayak article Don’t miss our other tandem fishing kayak article on inflatable tandem fishing kayaks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *