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.
From the makers of some of the best inflatable kayaks in the world, comes perhaps the best model in the world. Sea Eagle has created an extremely cheap, very durable, efficient and convenient kayak in the SE370. I say the best, but I’m also speaking strictly about the price point, as it is far from perfect. However, as far as inflatables go, your not likely to find a model with as much attention for detail.
What I like best about the SE370, is you can tell its been made with a meticulous eye towards the needs of the kayaker. The release valves are near the back of the boat, which means you can sit near the front of the boat. Its deflates easily, is generally light, incredibly durable, and there is plenty of room. You should definitely enjoy this model if you want to try your hand at this hobby, although you should beware that some models come DOA. Luckily they come with 3 year warranties, so send them back if you need to.
The Sea Eagle comes in two different packages, deluxe and pro. The kayak itself is the same in both models, but the pro package comes with several additional accessories, including a carrying bag.
Weight: Its an inflatable kayak. Its light, at just 32 pounds, it has a 650 pound weight capacity and has room for up to three people.
Inflation/Deflation/Storage: the SE370 can be stored just about anywhere. The pro package comes with an airtight bag(deluxe does not), and will auto deflate and inflate in about 8 minutes.
Tracking: Underneath the inflatable are a couple of skegs. This helps with tracking, but can also be a hindrance.
There is a ton of room in the 370, and the main reason why I prefer this model over the 330. Its very stable and tracks well for an inflatable, and better than some hard surfaced models. Getting in and out of it is a cinch.
The seating arrangement is highly adjustable. You can choose to have them in, or you can move them around the kayak, or simply toss them out. There aren’t a ton of features, for instance you aren’t going to get all of the padding and perks like you would with a hard surface kayak, there obviously are no mounts or rod holders, however, you simply can’t beat the price. If you don’t have much of a budget but are serious about fishing, it doesn’t get much cheaper.
The 370 has a couple of inflatable seats which are designed to prop you up, for an easier time paddling. These are useless, and I really don’t like how high above the water you set. Most people who have used this kayak have said that they have a difficult time paddling for long periods of time, so if your short and stout that is a problem.
Some of the products come DOA. If you notice that the kayak deflates or is easily punctured, return immediately. Thankfully there is the three year warranty. The skegs underneath can be a huge problem as well. When you are folding the inflatable up, they can get in the way, and bend pretty easily. Plus there is no protection for them if you paddle up to the shore, they could drag on the bottom and break off, so be wary of that.
Although the kayak itself weighs just 32 pounds, all of the additional gear that comes with it pushes that over 50. If you plan on doing some hiking to a remote location before kayaking, you might be in for a bit of a workout.
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.
One of the more popular brands, Malibu Kayaks have been around since 1999, and are the number one seller of kayaks in the entire world. They offer some of the latest in technological advances and features, with kayaks that boast some of the highest durability and stability ratings on the market. Combined with a lifetime warranty which comes standard with all of their products, they put their brand on the line with every make and model, and you can be rest assured that you are getting quality. On the other hand, this doesn’t come cheap, and most of their kayaks are designed with durability in mind, so the speed and efficiency in the water is sacrificed. Their bases are a little broader than similar models from Old Town and Perception, so you’ll have to decide what matters most to you.
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.
It doesn’t really stand out to me compared to other brands, but doesn’t really have any weak points either and they have a model for just about anything you could want. However, their angler models are simply exceptional, and they look professionally constructed, with plenty of storage spaced, rod holders, and a nice design for transport. If I had to pick one con about them, its that their higher grade models tend to be a little bit on the heavier side, but they are very affordable and offer entry level versions so most people can enjoy them without breaking the bank.
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.
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.
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.
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.