Tips for Tandem Kayak Anglers

4-minute read + 7-minute video

It’s not always easy for two anglers to successfully paddle a tandem kayak together. Bending Branches ProStaffer Chris Funk and his wife Angie share some down-to-earth tips to make your experience fun rather than frustrating.

Angie and Chris Funk paddle a tandem fishing kayak

Angie and Chris Funk paddle their Jackson TakeTwo tandem kayak

“Over the years of paddling together, [tandem kayaks have] been talked about as ‘divorce boats.’ We hate that term,” says Angie. “It really is a tandem boat because it does require us to be in tandem with each other relationship-wise and paddling-wise.”

Watch the video below as Angie and Chris discuss how to make tandem kayaking a pleasure:

Why Would You Paddle a Tandem Fishing Kayak?

There are a variety of reasons why you and your spouse, friend or family member would choose a tandem kayak over two single kayaks.

For one, it’s cheaper to buy one kayak than two. The Funks like Jackson’s TakeTwo tandem fishing kayak for those times when they choose to paddle together. It retails for just $1,599 USD (2023 price) while Jackson’s lowest price single fishing kayak is $1,099 USD.

It’s easier to find room to store one kayak than two if space is an issue for you. It’s also easier to transport and move one kayak. You’re more limited to the gear you can take along, so it just simplifies your kayak fishing experience in these ways.

In the above video, the Funks share how they chose their tandem kayak for this particular location because they knew large alligators frequent those waters. Angie was more comfortable being in a kayak with Chris there, even though she often paddles her own single kayak in other locations. So safety can play a part.

If you’re going to kayak with someone who’s new at either paddling or fishing, a tandem kayak will make it easier for that beginner (especially young children) to start out. It enables you to teach easier and them to learn easier when you’re in the same boat.

Weight Distribution is #1

Chris stresses that weight distribution is the most important factor for successful tandem kayaking, hands down.

“You can’t have the heaviest paddler up front. You can’t have the heaviest gear up front. There’s no way to control a front-heavy boat,” Chris says. “It’s even more important than having the experienced paddler in the back.”

If you just can’t get around having the lighter paddler in the stern, then use your gear to distribute extra weight to the back. Chris sometimes even adds weight to the back end to make it heavier. He’s been known to use a cinder block on occasion.

If most of the weight is in the front of your boat, you will handicap yourself right from the start.

Honor the Other Paddler

Chris says paddling together is like dancing—one has to be the lead paddler and the other is the follower.

If one of you stops paddling, pay attention to the other’s paddling rhythm and get in sync with it once you start again. This should happen whether you’re in the front or the back.

Be patient with each other. Communicate. Honor one another (yes, it sounds like marriage counseling, they laugh!). It doesn’t matter who you’re with, if you both honor the other paddler, you’ll get along just fine.

Chris and Angie Funk paddle a tandem fishing kayak

Chris and Angie enjoying their time on the water together

“Be willing to stop paddling until you can get into sync with the other paddler,” says Chris. “Don’t argue about it! Look what you’re surrounded with. You do not want your boat to be the reason for a fight.” Enjoy your time on the water, enjoy the nature around you, enjoy the fishing, enjoy your time together.

“We hate, hate, hate the term divorce boat,” they agree. Chris and Angie learned to paddle a canoe together long before they took up kayak fishing. “People don’t think twice about paddling with somebody else in a canoe, but in a kayak, people tend to go crazy.”

Part of it is you sit closer together in a tandem fishing kayak than in a canoe, so it’s more important for your paddling strokes to be in sync. Then you won’t get your paddles tangled up or keep hitting each other in those closer quarters.

Follow these two simple suggestions—proper weight distribution and honoring the other paddler—and your experience will be so much better.

“Just breathe and paddle and enjoy the time together,” the two conclude.

Photos courtesy of Chris Funk.

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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