Best Tandem Fishing Kayaks in 2021: The Ultimate Guide

Whether you want to go fishing with a friend, teach your kid fishing, or just have a great time on the water with your partner, a tandem fishing kayak is often better than two separate kayaks.

Major brands such as Hobie, Old Town, Vibe, Crescent, and Ocean Kayak offer capable fishing kayaks for 2 people. There are sit-on-top and sit-inside models, hard shell and inflatable options, paddle-propelled and pedal-driven kayaks. How do you choose the one that’s right for you?

RELATED: Best Fishing Kayaks: Reviews and Ultimate Buying Guide

In this overview, we take a look at the most interesting models in 2021 and factors to consider when looking for the best two-person fishing kayak for your needs.

Quick Answer: Best 2 Person Fishing Kayaks in 2021

Comparison Table: Best Fishing Kayaks for Two People

PictureModel (click for full review)SpecsWhere to Buy
Crescent Crew TandemCrescent CrewSize: 13′ x 35″
Weight: 79 lb
Capacity: 600 lb
Austin Kayak
FeelFree Lure II TandemFeelFree Lure II TandemSize: 14’2″ x 36″
Weight: 105 lb
Capacity: 500 lb
Water Outfitters
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135TWilderness Systems Tarpon 135TSize: 13’6″ x 34″
Weight: 88 lb
Capacity: 600 lb
Water Outfitters
Vibe Yellowfin 130T TandemVibe Yellowfin 130T TandemSize: 13′ x 35″
Weight: 77 lbs
Capacity: 500 lb
Amazon
Native Ultimate 15 FXNative Ultimate FX 15Size: 15’3″ x 31″
Weight: 80 lb
Capacity: 600 lb
Austin Kayak
Jackson Big TunaJackson Big TunaSize: 14’2″ x 35″
Weight: 92 lb
Capacity: 500 lb
Backcountry
Intex Excursion ProIntex Excursion ProSize: 12’7″ x 37″
Weight: 39 lb
Capacity: 400 lb
Amazon

Crescent Crew

Crescent Crew

Length: 13’ (396 cm)
Width: 35” (89 cm)
Weight: 79 lb (35.8 kg)
Capacity: 600 lb (272 kg)

Introduced in 2020, Crescent Crew takes the best from the popular LiteTackle model and adds enough capacity and room for family, kids, and dogs.

This kayak is 13 ft (396 cm) long and weighs 79 lb (35.8 kg), so it’s not too huge even as a solo boat. Still, it offers a generous capacity of 600 lb (with scupper plugs), two comfortable frame seats and an open, clean deck, so you can easily take a couple of kids and a dog with you.

It does not come with any fishing-specific features out of the box, but you can easily add gear tracks and rod holders in the pre-molded flat spots to turn it into a proper fishing kayak. For fish finder, however, you’re limited to side-mounted options because the Crew does not have a transducer scupper.

Crescent Crew features molded footrests in the front, four molded cup holders, adjustable footrests for the rear paddler, and five sturdy carrying handles. A huge tank well on the stern can hold a lot of fishing or camping gear (not every tandem has that).

The kayak can be converted from tandem to solo in a matter of seconds. You can also reverse the front seat for a face-to-face seating position. It retains the awesome paddling performance of the LiteTackle model and is equally great as a recreational kayak or (with some modifications) as a tandem or solo fishing platform.


FeelFree Lure II Tandem

FeelFree Lure II Tandem

Length: 14’ 2” (431.8 cm)
Width: 36” (91.4 cm)
Weight: 105 lb (47.6 kg)
Capacity: 500 lb (227 kg)

The FeelFree Lure II tandem kayak is the most feature-rich fishing platform in this roundup. It is a stable, comfortable, and versatile fishing vessel for two people. You can also paddle or pedal this kayak solo. 

The most attractive feature of the Lure II is, of course, the super-comfortable Gravity seats. These padded, adjustable seats offer as many as ten height adjustment points and are perfect for long days on the water. The front seat can be removed if you want to paddle the kayak solo. Sadly, you can’t turn the front seat around and sit face to face (some people do it without fully securing the seat, but we would not recommend it).

Another unique feature is that the Lure II can be converted to a pedal-driven kayak. Feelfree’s Overdrive pedal unit pops into the sonal pod opening. You will also need the rudder kit.

Feelfree Lure II can be converted into a solo fishing kayak. You can remove the front seat and have tons of deck space all for yourself. Remember, however, that transporting this kayak alone is not an easy task.

Feelfree Lure II features multiple gear tracks, two sonar pods for no-drill fish finder installation (I can’t think of any other tandem that offers those), adjustable footrests for both paddlers, a dry storage hatch, two flush-mount rod holders, a large rear tank well, and FeelFree’s patented Wheel in the Keel for easier handling.

With its 36-inch beam and 500 lb of capacity, the Lure II can hold a lot of gear and is stable enough to stand on. There are soft pads on the deck to improve traction and dampen any noise that might scare the fish.

At 105 lb (47.6 kg) without the seats, this kayak is the heaviest in our list. That weight is manageable for two adults, but if you plan to go out with a kid, it might be too heavy to handle alone, so think about a trailer and a kayak cart.


Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T

Length: 13’ 6” (411 cm)
Width: 34” (86 cm)
Weight: 88 lb (40 kg)
Capacity: 600 lb (272 kg)

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T takes the performance of the classic Tarpon hull and lets you share it with a friend or family member. It’s a great option if you need to cover some distance to get to your favorite fishing spots.

At 13’6” long and 34” wide, the Tarpon 135T is not the most compact boat in our overview but totally manageable for two adults. The kayak weighs 88 lbs, so you’d better get some help putting it on top of your vehicle and bringing it to the water. The maximum capacity of 600 lbs is on par with Crescent Crew, but the Crescent offers a little more storage space in the rear tank well. The Tarpon, however, has a bow tank well, which the Crew lacks.

Other features include adjustable footrests for both paddlers, two day hatches on the deck, comfortable AirPro seats with adjustable backrests and thigh support, paddle holders, molded bottle holders, and a replaceable skid plate. The Tarpon 135T is also rudder-ready.

In terms of fishing features, there’s not much to look at. The Tarpon has four gear tracks on the gunwales which you can use to mount rod holders, electronics, or other fishing equipment. It does not offer any flush mount rod holders, nor does it have a transducer scupper for your fish finder.

What’s also missing from the Tarpon 135T is the ability to convert it to a solo kayak or to turn the front seat around and sit face to face. The AirPro seats are not removable and limit the boat’s versatility.

But what it lacks in features, the Tarpon 135T makes up for in performance. Deriving from the Tarpon legacy, It is still one of the best paddling kayaks on the market today. So if you enjoy paddling as much as you do fishing, or if you need to go distances to get to your fishing holes, the Tarpon should definitely be on your short list.


Vibe Yellowfin 130T Tandem

Vibe Yellowfin 130T Tandem

Length: 13’ (396 cm)
Width: 35” (88.9 cm)
Weight: 77 lb (35 kg)
Capacity: 500 lb (227 kg)

Vibe Yellowfin 130T is another tandem sit-on-top that also works great when you’re solo. At 77 lbs (35 kg), you can still handle (and even cartop) it alone if you have to. The wide hull, framed seats, useful hatches, and adjustable footrests all work together to provide comfort on the water.

Vibe Yellowfin 130T is 13 ft (396.2 cm) long with a 35-inch (88.9 cm) beam, just like Crescent Crew. The weight is also similar (77 lbs vs 79 lbs for the Crew), which makes the Yellowfin fairly portable, even when going solo.

The Yellowfin tandem offers a stable and dry ride, efficient paddling performance, and just the right balance of tracking and maneuverability. You also get a reasonable amount of fishing-specific features such as four gear tracks, two flush-mount rod holders at the stern, two plates for Scotty mounts, and a square-shaped rear tank well that can fit a milk crate or a small cooler.

This kayak is also very versatile. You can remove one seat and put the other one in the middle to convert it to a solo kayak in seconds. You can also turn the front seat around and sit face to face. The seats even have high and low positions (the difference is only about an inch, but still).

The great-performing hull, relatively low weight, and versatility make the Yellowfin 130T a strong contender as the best tandem fishing kayak.


Native Ultimate FX 15

Native Ultimate 15 FX

Length: 15’ 3” (465 cm)
Width: 31” (79 cm)
Weight: 80 lb (36.3 kg)
Capacity: 600 lb (272 kg)

Native Ultimate FX 15 Tandem is a sit-inside kayak/canoe hybrid with an unconventional design and a unique feature set. This kayak is a great platform for fishing, camping, hunting, and just about anything else you want to enjoy on the water. It is a comfortable, high-performance kayak that can be paddled as a tandem or solo.

Native Ultimate FX 15 Tandem is 15’ 3” (465 cm) long and just 31” (79 cm), which makes it the narrowest kayak in our roundup. The narrower hull translates into paddling efficiency and higher speed, so you’ll get to your fishing spot in less time and with less effort.

The kayak weighs 80 lbs (36.3 kg) without the seats and 90 lbs (40.8 kg) fully rigged. It is not the lightest fishing tandem around but certainly something that two adults can handle without too much trouble. Note, however, that the extra length may present additional challenges for storing and transporting this kayak.

The overall capacity of 600 lbs (272 kg) lets you paddle and fish comfortably even if you’re both on the heavier side.

The Ultimate FX 15 Tandem features two removable framed seats with high and low positions. You can convert it into a solo kayak within 5 minutes by taking the front seat out and sliding the back seat forward.

Both paddlers get adjustable footrests, molded-in cup holders, and some short gear tracks with space to add more if needed. The kayak also comes equipped with an anchor trolley. Unfortunately, there are no rod holders out of the box, so you’ll need to buy and install those yourself.

A unique feature of the kayak’s pontoon hull is that when you stand, your feet are below the waterline. This brings a lot of stability despite the narrow hull.

The open, canoe-style cockpit offers a lot of storage space, especially when you go solo.

Overall, the Native Ultimate 15 FX is an interesting option for those who want to enjoy various activities on the water either with a partner or solo. Fish today, hunt tomorrow, go for a paddle with your kid on the weekend. The Ultimate 15 FX can do it all.


Jackson Big Tuna

Jackson Big Tuna

Length: 14’ 2” (432 cm)
Width: 35” (88.9 cm)
Weight: 92 lb (41.7 kg)
Capacity: 500 lb (227 kg)

The Big Tuna is one of Jackson’s largest capacity kayaks. You can paddle it either as a tandem or a solo fishing kayak. The Big Tuna offers different seating positions. You can configure your seats in a traditional tandem way, in a face-to-face manner, or put one seat in the middle and enjoy it as a luxury fishing platform, even if you’re a bigger guy or gal.

This kayak offers rock-solid stability, logical accessory positioning, rudder option, and decent paddling performance for its size. The unique “Tuna Tank” can be used as a livewell or dry storage.

The Big Tuna offers a lot of in-hull storage space but lacks a traditional tank well on the stern, so there’s nowhere to put your usual milk crate or cooler. Another notable omission is the lack of gear tracks on the gunnels. If you want to add custom equipment such as rod holders, camera mounts or electronics, you’ll have to buy and install gear tracks yourself.


Intex Excursion Pro

Intex Excursion Pro

Length: 12’ 7” (383.5 cm)
Width: 37” (94 cm)
Weight: 39 lb (17.7 kg)
Capacity: 400 lb (180 kg)

Intex Excursion Pro is a step up from other Intex kayaks. Unlike cheaper models that are made from vinyl, the Excursion Pro is made from 3-ply PVC laminate with a polyester core. This material is way more abrasion resistant and durable.

Intex Excursion Pro is 12’7” (383.5 cm) long and 37” (94 cm) wide. At 39 lb (17.7 kg), it is the heaviest kayak in Intex’s line but still pretty lightweight.

The capacity of 400 lb (180 kg) means that the kayak can take two smaller persons with limited gear or one average-sized adult with a reasonable amount of fishing or camping equipment.

Intex Excursion Pro comes with two inflatable seats that slide fore and aft on velcro strips and can be easily removed. It also includes one removable seat booster that lets you sit higher.

Other features include two collapsible paddles that you’d better replace ASAP, a hand pump and a pressure gauge, adjustable footrests, two skegs (a large one and a small, shallow water skeg), and even a mounting bracket for your fishing accessories. There are also two flush-mount rod holders but those are hardly usable.

Overall, Intex Excursion Pro is pretty well equipped for its price. The better, more durable construction makes this kayak suitable for longer fishing trips or even overnight camping trips – if you paddle it solo, of course.


Buying a Tandem Fishing Kayak: Things to Consider

Do You Need a Tandem Kayak?

The first question you should ask yourself is “do I REALLY need a tandem kayak?”. It’s not uncommon to overestimate your partner or kid’s interest in kayak fishing and end up mostly going out alone. In that case, you won’t be happy with all the extra bulk and weight of a tandem kayak.

Capacity

The next important factor is how much weight the kayak will need to support. This includes not only your body weight but also the weight of all the gear you plan to take with you. For many kayak anglers, this is A LOT of additional weight, so pay close attention here.

Also consider that for optimal performance and drier ride, you should aim to stay within about 70 percent of the kayak’s advertised maximum capacity.

So if you weigh 200 lbs and you plan to take your 200 lbs buddy on board, and each of you brings 25 lb of gear, that’s 450 lbs total. To be comfortable on the water, you need a kayak with the maximum capacity of at least 450 / 0.7 = 642 lbs.

Length and Weight

Consider how you will transport and store the boat that’s really long and usually pretty heavy. This is usually not a problem for two adults, but if you’re going out with a kid, in some cases you’ll have to handle the kayak alone. 

Storage Space

 A typical shortcoming of tandem models is limited storage space. 

Comfort

Another factor to pay attention to is how comfortable you and your partner will be on the water. First of all, consider the legroom. Make sure there’s enough space to sit without bending your knees too much and to make casts without “catching” your partner.

Look at the seats. Some modern kayaks offer comfortable framed seats that will keep you on the water longer. Those seats can be easily removed from the kayak for transportation. They can also double as beach chairs for camping. Crescent Crew and some other models let you turn the front seat around and sit face to face, which is super useful when paddling with kids. Imagine how much easier it is to teach your son fishing when he can actually see what you’re doing.

Features

Pay attention to the fishing specific features the kayak offers. Tackle storage, rod holders, gear tracks, fish finder compatibility. Depending on your specific needs, some features may be more important than the others.

Versatility

Another differentiating factor is how versatile the kayak is. Some models offer better paddling performance and can be used for recreational and touring outings. Some kayaks can be converted into a solo configuration and used as a spacious fishing platform for one. 

Paddle vs. Pedal Drive

Finally, do you like to paddle the kayak or pedal it? Pedal drives are great for fishing kayaks as they keep your hands free, but they come with additional weight and cost. FeelFree Lure II in our roundup lets you start with the simpler, paddle-propelled version and upgrade to a pedal drive later on. Hobie Mirage Compass Duo, on the other hand, comes with two pedal drive units but is still narrow and lightweight enough to be paddled efficiently.

Alex loves kayaking, fishing, and all things outdoors. When he's not out there in the wild, he's probably typing away at his laptop or trying to be the world's best father for his two lovely daughters.

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