What is a Fighting Chair?

Mary McMahon

A fighting chair is a chair which is designed to provide support to an angler while he or she lands a large fish. Big fish can put up quite a fight, and using a fighting chair can make the fishing experience safer for the angler. These chairs are used in saltwater angling with big species like tuna and marlin. For people fishing in competition, there are some specific rules and requirements which must be followed in regards to the fighting chair to ensure that it does not confer an unfair advantage.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Fighting chairs include a footrest and armrests, and may be padded for comfort. The chair can have a safety harness, along with a harness and gimbal for the fishing rod. The chair itself can also rotate, allowing the angler or an assistant to change the position of the chair as the fish moves. Fighting chairs were classically made from woods such as teak, but may be made from plastic and metal components today.

When using a fighting chair, an angler still needs to have physical strength and agility to land a fish, along with an understanding of how to reel a fish in. The chair will not do the work for the sitter, and certain types of devices associated with a fighting chair may be banned in competition if they confer a mechanical advantage. Anglers are certainly not resting in the chair, even if they are sitting down.

Numerous companies make fighting chairs, in several different styles and sizes. One or more chairs can be bolted to various areas of a boat to provide options for anglers. The chairs need to be routinely inspected to make sure that they are operating properly, and it is critical to adjust and inspect safety harnesses on a regular basis to avoid endangering anglers or people on the boat. A fish fighting chair may also be used as a furniture item in a private home or public facility which has a fishing-themed decorating scheme.

Some notable manufacturers sell each fighting chair with a lifetime guarantee, standing behind their products. On charter boats hired for fishing trips, such a guarantee can be important, as the chair may see a great deal of use over its lifetime. People who equip private boats for fishing may want to consider trying out several models of fighting chair before making a final purchase, as the look and feel of each chair can vary.

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Discussion Comments


@Azuza - I agree with you. I was thinking the same thing when I saw this article, I thought the name was more literal and dangerous sounding than it apparently is! I mean, I can imagine that reeling in marlins and other big fish and by no means easy, but I thought it was some sort of death match or something.

I, obviously, have not been on a boat that has had a fighting chair on it. I do not even think I have seen a picture of a fighting chair. They sound kind of comfortable to sit in, only if you do not have an enormous fish to catch. I think it would be neat to see experienced fishermen sit in this chair and reel in huge fish.

I actually kind of like fishing, but I would throw the fish back in the water, as I do not really like the taste of most fish. I have only fished on a very small-scale. I have not even fished on a boat, I have only fished on a dock or the edge of the grass. I don’t think I have even caught anything fishing, besides a rock, or whoever I fish with!


If you're going to get a fighting chair, I would suggest doing what the article said and getting one with a lifetime warranty. Fighting chairs are expensive!

One of my uncles likes to fish. I've been looking around online trying to find a birthday gift for him. I stumbled on fighting chairs and I thought I'd found a good gift.

It's too bad that fighting chairs cost literally thousands of dollars! I think the least expensive one I saw was about $4,000. I just don't have that kind of money! So I think I'll be looking for a different gift for my uncle.


@Azuza - I'm not surprised you guys didn't use a fighting chair just to catch some small fish. Like the article said, people usually only use fighting chairs for large fish.

While a small fish might be somewhat easy to reel in, larger fish aren't. Keep in mind that they're still alive. Just, you know, hooked through the mouth. Obviously they're going to resist. And some of those large fish are very, very large.

For example, a marlin can weight over 1,000 pounds! I can imagine that you might need a little big of help to reel in a fish that large.


I don't know a lot about fishing, but this fighting chair certainly has a dramatic name! Like the angler and the fish are fighting to the death or something. OK, well maybe they are but usually the fish is the only one who dies!

Truthfully, my only experience with fishing was when I was a little girl. My grandfather had a house on a lake and we used to go fishing on his boat. I can tell you for sure we weren't using any fighting chairs! We just caught small fish that weren't that hard to reel in.

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