Tandem Fishing Kayak


If there is one thing more fun than kayak fishing, it is kayak fishing with a friend! This type of kayak fishing is referred to as “tandem” kayak fishing. Of course, most fishing kayaks are built for only one fisherman. Trying to overload this kind of kayak with multiple people is NOT a good idea (trust us!).

The solution to this problem is a fishing kayak built for two. A tandem fishing kayak! This Tandem Fishing Kayak Ultimate Guide will teach you everything you need to know to properly and safely use a tandem fishing kayak with your fishing buddies!


Tandem Fishing Kayak Ultimate Guide

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As the popularity of kayak fishing continues to skyrocket, so too does the popularity of kayak fishing with a friend. The only effective way to get you and your friend on the same kayak, at the same time, is by way of using a tandem fishing kayak. There are a number of different kinds of tandem kayaks on the market today. Some are outfitted for general kayaking purposes and others as performance or rafting kayaks. This KFC article focuses on the best kind of tandem kayak – the tandem fishing kayak!

Tandem Fishing Kayak Ultimate Guide: Overview

Tandem Fishing Kayak

KFC’s Tandem Fishing Kayak Ultimate Guide includes all of the important details about the tandem fishing kayak. We have written this article to serve as the #1 free resource for the most important  tandem fishing kayak information. To do this, we’ve separated the Ultimate Guide into several different categories.

First, we’ve included a brief highlighting of the basics of a tandem fishing kayak. Next, we’ve included a short “how to” type checklist that will serve as a guide for ensuring that you properly assemble your tandem fishing kayak and, once assembled, that you know how to use it the right way! Next, we discuss a number of the important features that you’ll want to be sure to find in whatever tandem fishing kayak you decide to move forward with. Then, we’ve added a link to one of our favorite kinds of tandem fishing kayaks where you can visit the product page to learn more. Finally, we include a short write up about our own experience with using a tandem fishing kayak.

The Basics

Tandem Fishing Kayak

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Shortcut to Tandem Fishing Kayak Review

First, let’s make sure we understand what tandem means. Tandem means, “having two things, one arranged in front of the other”. In the world of tandem kayak fishing, this means that one fisherman is situated right in front of the other.

Most tandem kayaks are going to have exactly duplicated features. Think of it like one long kayak. Instead of having one seat, there are two. Instead of one pair of rod holders, there are two, and so forth. That being said, frequently there is only one cargo hold (generally located near the rear of the kayak). Sometimes there are two screw down waterproof hatches and other times there is only one! Choose your seat wisely!

Tandem Fishing Kayak

Having a companion to assist you in paddling your kayak from location to location is great, but its not without drawbacks. Some KFC readers have written in to us suggesting that they were unable to develop a harmonious paddling stroke or timing with their partner and, as a result, actually had more difficulty maneuvering the kayak. Of course, this can be fixed with the proper technique, or by designating one person as the paddler and one person as the navigator (I know which one I would pick!).

One extra thing to think about. While tandem kayaks are built to support two kayak fishermen, the kayak can become off balanced if the two fisherman are blatantly moving in opposite manners or directions of one another. Most tandem fishing kayaks can support loads of well over 400 pounds. Most also feature a broad width (35″). These two capabilities make the risk of overturn very slight, but it can happen! Make sure you and your fishing partner understand that you need to be reasonably aware of the other’s movements and their impact upon you and your tandem fishing kayak!

Tandem Fishing Kayak Ultimate Guide: How to Use Properly

Tandem Fishing Kayak

Buying a tandem kayak is one thing, but knowing how to assemble and properly use it is another. KFC has put together a short checklist that will get you up and running quickly. It is our experience that most tandem kayaks actually come pretty much “put together” straight out of the box. That said, there are some important things to consider:

  1. Begin by connecting the seat backs (if they have been included with your model) to the kayak by attaching the ropes to the connection points. Usually these connection points are “U” loops.
  2. You’ll want to confirm that the seat is to your liking by sitting in the seat and making certain that it is adjusted to cradle your back and generally put you in a comfortable position for kayak fishing.
  3. Now, assuming you are already on the water, you should place your rods in the deck mounted kayak rod holders.
  4. If the deck mounted rod holders are not included with your model of tandem fishing kayak, you can find them on the after market.
  5. Tighten the rod holders down to confirm a tight grip on the rod.
  6. KFC always suggests that you test any side mounted kayak paddle holders that have been included on your tandem fishing kayak to confirm that they keep a solid grip on the paddle’s shaft.
  7. Place any additional kayak fishing gear into the water proof storage hatches that have been built into your tandem fishing kayak.
  8. If your model does not have these, don’t worry! There are plenty of high quality “dry bags” on the market that will keep your valuables perfectly dry!
  9. We’ve found that it helps to add kayak outriggers to help keep your tandem kayak balanced. Yes, tandem kayaks are built for two, but the additional stability provided by a high quality outrigger is a welcomed feature!

Important Features

Tandem Fishing Kayak

There are a number of important features to look for in any tandem fishing kayak. Below we list several of these key features. While many have been listed, please realize that all kayak fishermen have different preferences and different kayak fishing styles. Because of this, there are some fishermen that will believe one feature is more important than another. There are even some fishermen that will think one of the below listed features isn’t even important at all! Well, the features we list below are those that are most frequently mentioned by your fellow KFC readers, let’s take a look!

Rod Holders. Whether they are “deck mounted” or “flush” rod holders are a key feature of any tandem fishing kayak. While you can buy deck mounted rod holders on the after market, it is a little more difficult to install flush mounted rod holders into a fishing kayak. Rod holders are great and they help keep you and your partner’s gear separated into two organized areas. This makes tandem kayak fishing much easier! The image of the kayak below shows a tandem kayak that includes both types of rod holder:

Tandem Fishing Kayak

Paddle Holders. Paddle holders are a great feature on any tandem fishing kayak. Paddle holders, like rod holders, are available on the after market. Most of the time, however, an after market kayak paddle holder is going to require installation. The installation will typically involve the drilling of holes into the hull of the fishing kayak and then the placement of screws and bolts to secure the kayak paddle holder in place. While this can easily be done, it is also a slight inconvenience and does require some extra tools. Better to get a tandem fishing kayak that has already done the leg work for you. See the example below:

Tandem Fishing Kayak

Waterproof Storage Hatches. One of the most frustrating things about kayak fishing is when your valuables fall overboard or when your electronics (or other sensitive items) get wet. Even worse, when tandem kayak fishing, is when your fishing partner is the one who kicks these items overboard or splashes them with his or her paddle stroke! Luckily, this situation can be totally avoided by moving forward with a tandem kayak that has been built with waterproof storage hatches. Most waterproof storage hatches, like the one shown below, screw down flush with the kayak’s deck. They usually contain ample room for a number of items and are many times lined with a soft material so as to avoid scratches (like on your iPhone on camera).

Tandem Fishing Kayak
Tandem Fishing Kayak

Cargo Area. Tandem fishing is a ton of fun, but it also involves twice the gear! That is why it is important to buy a tandem fishing kayak that has a cargo area near the bow or stern of the kayak. Even better is a cargo area that features bungee straps to tightly secure your load. A cargo area is one of the few things that cannot be bought on the after market. Simply put, your options for storability of your kayak fishing gear are going to be quite limited if your tandem fishing kayak does not have a bungee tie down cargo area. Check out the image below and imagine what you could fit in this location!

Carrying Handles. Fishing kayaks are heavy. They are irregularly shaped and can be difficult to move. You and your tandem kayak fishing partner would significantly benefit from a kayak that features carry handles, both on the front and the rear. Carrying handles, like cargo holds, are one of the features that are less available on the after market. This means that you get one shot at the ease of use provided by these handles – when you decide whether or not to buy a tandem fishing kayak that has these already included! The image below is a good example of what side handles will typically look like. We like the ergonomic design!

Tandem Fishing Kayak

Capacity. When you are tandem kayak fishing, you are essentially doubling everything that you would otherwise have when you are solo kayak fishing. Double the fishermen, double the gear, double the weight, you get the picture. You’ll want to ensure that your tandem fishing kayak is rated for at least a 400 pound load capacity. 400 pounds?! You say. My partner and I aren’t that heavy! Well, maybe not, but when you start adding kayak fishing gear (and hopefully lots of fish) the weight can add up! Also, be sure your tandem fishing kayak has a nice wide “beam” (at least 34″). We have shown an example of what we mean by “beam” below:

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Fish with your Friends!

We know that shopping for kayak fishing gear can be a daunting task. There are so many different options on the market and it can be difficult to determine which of them are high quality and which of them are better left avoided.

We’ve been very pleased with the tandem fishing kayak you see depicted above. It comes standard with all of the features we mention above (and more). Also, it is more of less ready to go from right out of the box. This essentially fully assembled tandem fishing kayak was perfect for allowing us to get out on the water quickly. The other benefit? My fishing partner and I didn’t have to argue about which kind of after market products we needed to install. Everything was already included. All of it was of high quality.

My Experience

They say that the fastest way to lose a friend is to buy a boat with them. Well, with this tandem fishing kayak, you won’t have to be concerned about that. Why? Well, the lost friendships typically occur due to the high repair costs associated with a boat that is frequently in need of repair. Because this particular manufacturer has such a keen eye for high quality features and design, the likelihood of frequent and expensive repairs is quite low. That has been our experience, at least! Give it a shot!


Like you see in the picture above, kayak fishing is a ton of fun with a big group! We hope this post has helped you learn more about the tandem fishing kayak and its important features. This ultimate guide is a very thorough review of all things related to tandem kayaks. That said, if you still have questions as to whether a tandem kayak is right for you, or questions about which particular models or features might best suit your particular style, please make sure to comment near the bottom of this page! We love to have conversations with our readers and we think these conversations serve as great references for the rest of the kayak fishing community! Learn about other fun two person activities!

If you want a “change of pace”, check out this great list of kayak fishing destinations!


Do you own or have you ever used a tandem kayak?  How did it perform? Do you still have it today? Any other features you find to be important? What overall score would you give it? Do you enjoy tandem fishing, or do you prefer the solitude of being alone on the water? Remember, if you have any questions, we’d love to discuss them with you! Please share your knowledge with the KFC Community by posting a comment below.  I read and reply to all comments, and I love interacting with our readers!

4 Replies to “Tandem Fishing Kayak”

    1. I definitely agree. Fishing with my son is one of the main benefits of kayak fishing for me. You can make a lifetime of memories on these regular fishing excursions. Thanks for posting, Rob!

  1. Are these type of kayaks big enough to hold two grown men? I think tandem fishing is better than solo, but I don’t want to sink!

    1. Shane,

      Yes, they are! Most tandem kayaks can support loads of ~400 pounds. Of course, you’ll want to remember to include yourself, your tandem, and the weight of the gear that you are bringing onto the water with you, in this calculation! We recently wrote about the fun we were having using a Tandem Pedal Kayak and now that I think about it, perhaps I lost a little bit of weight while paddling and helped improve the buoyancy of the kayak, even if just a little!

      Two is better than one!
      – DS

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