I have owned and used several tandem kayaks now. First up was the Tootega Pulse 120 Tandem, then an old Hobie Outfitter which didn't have any pedal drives so was just paddled, and more recently a RTM Ocean Duo which effectively has the same under hull design as the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2. I can't say that i have been completely happy with any of them but perhaps that is because the majority of the time i am fishing from a single person kayak! Compromises have to be made when using a tandem kayak, especially for kayak fishing. There is certainly less deck space with the addition of an extra paddler, and many of the hull designs on the market aren't built for speed and long distance paddling. I know the answer to my quandary of wanting a fast and efficient tandem fishing kayak and it comes in the shape of a Hobie Oasis with Mirage Drive 180! Trouble is when i am only using a tandem kayak maybe less than 5 times a year, i cannot really justify the cost of the Oasis.... maybe one day!
Anyhow.... dream tandem aside, it was time to try something new at around the £500-700 price point. I opted for the very popular Feelfree Gemini Sport.
Feelfree Gemini Sport Tandem Kayak
The Gemini Sport from Feelfree must be the most popular tandem kayak in the UK at the moment. It's not often i go to the beach, or a seaside town and not see one! It has much the same specification as any typical sit on top tandem fishing kayak - 12ft 4in (3.78m) in length, 32in (83cm) in width and weighing in at 31kg. This model is very popular as a family tandem kayak for general calm water touring and for pottering around the coastline on a calm-to-moderate day, which is pretty much what i will be doing whilst kayak fishing from it when the better half can be persuaded onto the water. It has to be calm and warm for that to happen, so a good all-rounder will be fine for this.
Lets take a closer look at this kayak and its features....
Hull Design of the Feelfree Gemini Sport
Fresh out of the bag, a Feelfree Gemini Sport in the Winter Camo colour....
From the bow and stern....
....and a side view....
Turning the kayak over we can see the design and shape of the under hull...
The Gemini Sport has a typical tandem sit on top kayak deck layout. Front and back seating areas with a rear tank well. The under hull is shaped for stability with a fairly flat profile across the hull. These kayaks are aimed at those entering the kayaking world. For those who haven't paddled before stability is often a desirable characteristic when choosing a kayak. This is especially the case with a tandem/family kayak when two paddlers will be on board, and possibly lively children!
The stable hull will make the Gemini Sport a comfortable kayak to fish from, however with plenty of stability comes not so much speed. It's not going to be the fastest kayak around, and certainly not as fast as my single person fishing kayak but i'll only be heading out in the tandem in calm and light breeze conditions. The bow has some degree of sharpness to it, and is no where near as bulbous as the RTM Ocean Duo / Ocean Kayak Malibu 2. It's not going to be a racing snake but at least the bow should it cut through the water well. A fairly thick keel line runs the length of the hull, becoming more prominent towards the stern. This will aid the kayak remain in a straight line when paddling from A to B.
Feelfree use medium density polyethylene (MDPE) in their hull construction and the plastic has a good thickness to it so there should be little issue with durability with this kayak. It feels a very solid and robust kayak, and the build quality and quality of fixings is good.
Feelfree Gemini Sport Features
Starting at the bow we find a moulded-in bow handle. As it is moulded into the hull it is proper solid and chunky too so doesn't dig into your hand if carrying the kayak for a while. Just back from the handle there is a small curved area before the start of the front seat foot rests. This area could potentially be used to mount accessories.
Into the front paddler seating area we find several moulded-in footrests. There are 4 scupper holes, 2 located beneath the seating area, and two more towards the bow in the foot notches.
This gives plenty of options for paddlers of various heights. I'm 6ft 2in and felt a little cramped when sat in the front so it's probably best suited to a paddler of 6ft and less. I'll be the back seat paddler anyway as this is the better position for the stronger paddler of the two as you can more efficiently power the kayak from the stern, and have more control over the steering.
There is also a small bungee bottle holder in the centre.
Just forwards to the seat there is a hatch with rubber cover. Take off the rubber hatch cover and you find a mesh storage bag - this is pretty big and has more than enough room to shove a cag/jacket in, or your lunch. The hatch cover is leashed too which is always nice to see. You can remove the mesh bag and gain access to the hull beneath if more storage is required. . This may come in handy if i ever install a fish finder to this kayak, as i'll need to glue the transducer against the hull inside. The hatch cover is a little tight to get back on, but if it wasn't tight it would't be waterproof!
At the side of the front cockpit there is a bungee paddle holder. Also note the moulded-in recessed seat clip point - these are really neat and are much nicer than fixings such as pad eyes which sit proud of the hull. I'm surprised more manufacturers don't incorporate such neat fixings in their designs!
Moving back along the deck we come to the rear seating area. This has much the same layout and features as the front with a rubber hatch, moulded-in foot rests, 4 scupper holes, moulded-in seat clip points and a paddle keep (opposite side of hull to front paddle keep).
There is a slight difference at the foot rests. In the central portion there is no drinks holder. Instead we find a wide flat area. This is designed as a central seat position in case you wanted to take the Gemini Sport out with just one paddler. Simply set a seat up in this central position. Your weight is then more evenly distributed on the hull and will make the Gemini Sport perform better when paddled by one. Feelfree have even included a couple of extra moulded-in footrests in the front footwell to accommodate for someone paddling in this position. This is a nice touch as some tandem kayaks don't come with such extra foot rests. Some tandem kayaks don't even come with a central seat position at all - this means the solo paddler would have to paddle from the back seat but this isn't great as the bow then sits way to high in the water or may even poke up into the air! Anyhow, the Gemini Sport can be paddled solo if needed. I doubt i'll need to but the option is there.
On the side of the kayak at the centre there are moulded-in side handles. Again proper solid and sturdy, ideal for getting a good hold when loading onto and off of a car roof rack.
Moving back we find the rear tank well. Bungee is installed between pad eyes. These pad eyes sit below the rest of the deck on a ledge - again a nice little touch and will likely prevent these getting broken at some point. The tank well has two scupper holes for drainage. It is a fairly small space but big enough for a 30L dry bag stuffed with gear, or a small fishing crate. There are also two rectangular recessed areas either side for the tank well - these are designed for the Feelfree rectangular flush mount rod holders - i will be adding these to this kayak for rod storage whilst paddling.
At the very stern we find a screw-in drain bung to drain any water out that may get inside. In theory a sealed rotomoulded hull should not get any water inside, but you'd be surprised how condensation will find it's way inside during storage! A little bit may get in through the hatch covers if not put on correctly. Should any water get inside, it can be drained out through this drain bung.
There is also a moulded-in hole at the very back. This is for the installation of a Feelfree Skeg if needed. This is to aid with straight line tracking but i don't think i'll be needing one.
Beneath the stern we find the 'Wheel-in-the-Keel'. This is a neat little feature. It is essentially a plastic wheel housed within a recess in the stern keel line. It works really well on firm surfaces and is ideal for moving the kayak around at home, in car parks and for slipway launches. It certainly saves dragging the hull and damaging the plastic. The wheel is removable and replaceable so if it ever broke then it is easy to put a new one in.
Whilst great for firm surfaces, it is useless for soft sand! The weight of the kayak causes it to dig in and not work. Not the end of the world though as you can just drag the kayak on soft sand like a sledge, without causing any damage to the kayak.
I have heard people say that the wheel will cause drag in the water and make the kayak slower. Now, theres some element in truth here - there will be some extra drag caused by the wheel if compared to having no wheel and a continuous keel line. But this is a kayak we are talking about, not a speed boat. I don't expect two paddlers to be able to paddle this kayak at much more than 3.5 knots, and at such speeds that wheel is going to have negligible effect. I'd be surprised if it makes 0.1 knots of difference!
Just behind the wheel there is a moulded-in depression. This acts as the stern carry handle. Not as substantial as the front or side handles, but ample for someone to get one or two hands on the back for carrying.
The kayak has 10 scupper holes in total. These are well finished and sit within a teardrop shaped depression under the kayak.
Feelfree Gemini Sport - Seat and Paddles
The Feelfree Gemini Sport is available as a 'standard' package with alloy shaft paddles and canvas seats, and as a 'deluxe' package with fibreglass shaft paddles and deluxe seats. I opted to go for the deluxe package as the seats are much more supportive and comfortable, which will be nice for long days on the water fishing. The paddles are also a little lighter but warmer to hold because of the fibreglass shaft.
The Feelfree Day Tourer Fibreglass Shaft paddles are 220cm in length and feature durable polypropylene blades which are a general touring shape for mid-to-high angle paddling styles which is what most people adopt when paddling. The fibreglass shaft as an index grip and drip rings. It's not a high performance paddle but then again it's not being used on a high performance kayak! It's not cheap crap either, which is often the case in kayak package deals available from kayak shops. It is actually a bloody good paddle to be included within the package and they cost £65 each if purchased on their own.
The Feelfree Deluxe Seats use a 4 point attachment and clip onto the moulded-in clip points. Once the straps are tensioned the seat is proper solid providing plenty of support. The sides wrap around slightly which holds the body well, and gives you a bit more connectivity with the kayak. This will help with handling and control of the kayak on the water and you can lean you body weight against the seat with more positivity. The seat pad and backrest are padded to provide a bit more comfort.
The back of the seat has some bungee, enough to shove a jacket in, or a small dry bag. The only niggle with these seats are the clips. It would have been nice to see brass clips here, or stainless karabiners. Instead the clips are zinc plated which will leave them prone to corrosion if not rinsed off after use in saltwater. It would be simple enough to put on brass or stainless clips if needed though. Other than that these seats are very good. The seats cost £60 each if brought separately and again not cheap crap thrown in a package deal. A thumbs up from me.
This is a great all-round tandem kayak. You can only get so much performance out of a 12-13ft hull and many of the tandem kayaks have similar hull designs built for stability rather than performance. In that respect, for the money the Gemini Sport is very good and comes with a good amount of features. I like the recessed accessory clip points, i like the solid moulded-in handles and i like the pre-moulded area for rod holder installation. The wheel-in-the-keel is very handy too. Build quality is good and the simplistic deck layout leaves little to go wrong.
I will be using this for a handful of kayak fishing sessions each year when the better half can be persuaded onto the water. It has to be a certain temperature and negligible winds for this to occur so i will only be using this in calmer conditions on the coast and for this the Gemini Sport will perform well. A few modifications/additions are needed to turn the Gemini Sport into a fishing kayak and i will be installing a couple of flush-mount-rod holders at the back to hold the rods whilst paddling, an anchor trolley kit so that i can anchor the kayak, and perhaps a trolling rod holder or two.
Where to Buy?
In the UK, Feelfree are distributed by the Canoe Shops Group and sold throughout their range of stores. I purchased mine from Cornwall Canoes. The deluxe package including the Feelfree Gemini Sport Kayak, 2 x Feelfree Day Tourer Glass Shaft Paddles and 2 x Feelfree Deluxe Seats cost a reasonable £629.00 (January 2018). This seemed a great deal given that the seats and paddles would cost £250.00 if purchased separately. Not bad considering some tandems of similar spec cost more than this package deal for just the kayak hull! If you are interested in finding out more then click this link to visit the Cornwall Canoes website.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and i'll do my best to answer. Time to rig this kayak for fishing!
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