There's a wide variety of seating available for permanent or temporary installation on a fishing boat, depending on the size of the boat and the use for which the seat is intended. Small boats rely on built-in benches, but larger boats sometimes are equipped with portable seats which are secured to pedestals or storage compartments. Some fishing boat seats are oriented toward luxury, built with heavily padded cushions, arm rests and cup holders; others are more utilitarian. Indeed, one popular “seat” is more properly described as a leaning post rather than a seat.
Fishing boat seats should be built for marine use and secured to the boat. Folding deck chairs, camping chairs or regular household chairs should not be used for fishing from the deck of a boat because they are unstable and potentially dangerous, both for the angler and the boat itself. Likewise, it’s important that the cushions and other upholstery of fishing boat seats be specifically designed for marine use because of the heavy use and exposure they’re likely to receive. Marine cushions are also designed to float, while most household cushions will sink.
Fishing boats are usually equipped with seats designed for fishing, as well as benches and seats for other purposes. The helmsman’s seat, for example, is a comfortable option for the person driving the boat. Cushioned benches are usually found in multiple locations throughout a fishing boat, and while it’s certainly possible to sit on them while fishing, they’re not designed for the purpose; that is, they don’t provide the support, especially for the back, that’s needed for potentially spending hours at a time fighting a fish.
Recreational fishing boats used for deep sea game fish like marlin, swordfish, tuna and shark often are equipped with “fighting chairs,” specially designed fishing boat seats that swivel to permit anglers to change orientation. They generally have footrests for anglers to brace their feet against while fighting a fish. In addition, they’re usually equipped with harnesses similar to automobile seat belts to strap in anglers and their fishing rods.
Boats that generally fish inshore for species like flounder, bluefish and striped bass don’t need fighting chairs because the fish aren’t often big enough to pull an angler into the water. These boats use a number of different types of seats. Folding fishing seats are very popular, and resemble automobile bucket seats. They're secured to a pedestal or special seating hardware when in use, and can usually be removed and stowed when not needed, providing more deck space. Party boats that carry dozens of passengers often are equipped only with fixed benches around the center cabin.
Another popular fishing boat seat is the swingback seat. This portable seat is usually installed on a cooler or storage unit on deck, and the back can be “swung” in either direction. Inshore boats also use leaning posts, heavily cushioned rests that look like the pommel horses used by gymnasts. They're secured to the deck by one or two pedestals which often are equipped with rod holders and cup holders. Some leaning posts can be equipped with seat backs so anglers can use them either for sitting or leaning.
Freshwater boats like bass boats rely heavily on portable folding fishing boat seats. Some of these seats are height-adjustable so that they can be used either as seats or leaning posts. Other freshwater boats with the traditional deck-and-rail structure usually have fixed benches installed, but may also have hardware installed to accommodate portable folding fishing boat seats.