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Pontoon Fishing Boat Seats

Modern pontoon boats became popular because they are versatile, fun and can be much more affordable than their more powerful cousins, motor boats. Small, one-person pontoons can be easily hauled on a trailer. Some are even inflatable and are only four inches thick when not inflated. Kits to build larger pontoon boats are relatively inexpensive with pricing starting at much less than $5,000. Manufactured pontoon boats are significantly more expensive and come with more diverse furniture, like fishing seats. As with all boat seats fishing seats, and pontoon bench seats, there are levels of quality, many styles to choose from and of course, all price ranges.

Average pontoon boats are eight to 10 feet wide and 16 to 24 feet long. Much smaller and much larger pontoon boats are available but have some drawbacks. The small, inflatable pontoon boats do not have a great deal of passenger room. Larger pontoon boats, up to 53 feet, cannot be transported easily. The larger pontoon boats are best left in the water most of the year and are more like houseboats than party boats.

Depending on the size of the pontoon boat and motor, it is capable of enough speed to satisfy waterskiing and wakeboarding needs. The average pontoon boat motor can range anywhere from painfully slow 10 hp motors to the more satisfying 300 hp motors. Manufacturers have specified motor requirements for each model of pontoon boat in product descriptions.

Pontoon boats quickly gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, earning the name party boats or party barges. Pontoon decks accommodate fishing because the open floor plan allows plenty of room for casting. Additional types of seating, like fishing seats can be installed with just a few bolts.

Using pontoon boats for fishing is best done on calmer, inland water. The dynamics of pontoon boats makes them poor choices for open sea fishing. They are difficult to steer in rough water, so large waves can be dangerous. Much of the standard pontoon seating on pontoon boats can accommodate fishing, but specialized fishing seats, like those with fishing rod holders, can be more fun.

Fishing seats are available in portable or fixed styles. Small, bicycle seat fishing chairs, also called butt seats or casting seats, are as easy to install as the more complex, padded fishing seats. Styles that fit the fisher's personal needs, as well as their budgets, are readily available.

In addition to the variety of fishing chairs on the market, fishing rod holders that can be worn as a belt or those affixed to existing pontoon furniture are available. The fishing rod holders, or gimbals, swivel so the fishing rod is easier to control. These and other pontoon seat accessories make pontoon boats great for fishing.

Fishing Boat Seat Features

Fishing boat seats are available in many styles with one major similarity - they have no armrests. This is to allow more freedom of movement when casting. The best option for a pontoon fishing seat is one that suits the owner's needs, is comfortable and supportive.

Bicycle or butt seats are also called casting seats. These pontoon seats look very much like a bicycle seat but typically have more cushioning and a low back that supports the lumbar region.

Fishing boat seats that provide lumbar support were designed to give additional bracing to the lower back, reducing back stress. This can be especially important when the fishing trip is extended or in stormy weather. Lower back pain is one of the primary medical complaints; fishing for pleasure should be as pain free as possible.

Folding fishing seats allow the back of the seat to flip open for use and flip down for storage. With up to 16 passengers on the pontoon boat, these fishing seats can be folded down for storage, allowing less encumbered passenger movement. High-end fishing seats are manufactured using shock absorbers. In choppy water or while fighting heavy fish, the shock absorbers contract and expand to protect the body against jarring.

Some fishing seats are created with a trampoline surface. This type of seating features fabric tightly stretched against the chair frame to cushion the body.

Similar to some captains pontoon seats, padded headrests keep the head in a relaxed position and reduces straining. In turn, this reduces muscle stress and makes for a more enjoyable fishing experience.

Back ventilation is available in fishing seats to allow the lower back to breathe. In the heat of the day, while working to land a fish, the body sweats. This sweating is more pronounced because of the vinyl upholstery material. The open lower-back area of the fishing seat allows perspiration to dry out.

Fishing Seat Upholstery Fabric and Cushioning

By far, the most popular upholstery fabric for pontoon boats is marine grade vinyl. Manmade marine vinyl can be coated for increased resistance to heat and fire, UV rays, mold and mildew, and resistance to abrasion. Marine-grade vinyl means the vinyl is waterproof and durable enough to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Vinyl on fishing boat seats is susceptible to damage from any number of culprits. Some marine grade vinyl is treated to resist UV rays and other damaging effects, but in time, this protective coating is worn off. It is important to treat vinyl on pontoon boats with a protectant after cleaning to continue to minimize damage from the elements. Protective coatings can also increase resistance to mold and mildew, one of the primary agents that causes damage to upholstery vinyl.

High impact plastic frames increase the lifespan of fishing seats and is very durable. Some fishing seats have little or no cushioning, but are constructed using only rigid polyurethane. These discount pontoon seats are extremely durable and affordable but not as comfortable as padded cushions.

Fishing seat frames are typically constructed with polymer. Molding polymers, or plastics, is often achieved using the injection molding process. Injection molding begins with grains of the polymers poured into a heated drum. The drum is attached to the mold. When the plaster is liquefied, a plunger-like device pushes it into the mold by filling one or more openings in the mold. During this process, the mold is kept cold to speed up the solidifying cooling process.

After the frame is cooled, the locked mold is opened and the fishing chair is removed. Liquid polymer can seep into the joints of the mold, leaving a ragged edge. These excess plastic burrs are also called flash. They are cut or sanded off the edges for a smooth finish.

Upholstery foam is used to provide the cushioning in the fishing seat. Compression upholstery foam provides good support and durability. Open cell foam is lightweight and flexible, increasing comfort. Closed-cell foam is used for smaller cushions. It is heavier than open cell foam but is buoyant. Often small closed-cell cushions are used as additional flotation devices.

Acrylic fabric, another popular upholstery material, is less dense than vinyl. Manmade acrylic fibers are woven together like cloth, allowing air to pass through the fabric into the fishing seat. Dampness or water can pass through the acrylic fabric, but the small spaces between the strands of fiber allow the dampness to dry out, reducing long-term damage.

Laminated fabrics of all kinds can be durable, waterproof, antibacterial, mold and mildew resistant, UV-resistant and resistant to heat. Vinyl and acrylic upholstery material are often manufactured with protective laminates to enhance the usability and durability of the fabrics.

Fishing boat seats are often sold as just the seat unit, making them a prime candidate as a replacement pontoon seat. A pedestal, either swivel or fixed, is secured to the pontoon deck with bolts and the seat is then attached to the pedestal. Other pontoon seat accessories are also available for fishing seats.

Damaged Fishing Boat Seats

Fishing boat seats can be damaged by a number of contributing factors. The most obvious culprit is severe wear because of the frequency the boat seats are used. The stress and excitement of catching fish can cause damage by the fisher's extreme body movement in the heat of battle.

Pontoon fishing seats, captain's chairs, pontoon benches and other types of furniture can require replacement because of wear and tear or because of accidents. Older pontoon boat furniture allows water leakage through worn seams and damaged upholstery.

Elemental factors that cause damage to fishing seats and other pontoon furniture include wind, water, UV rays, dirt, pollen and other natural materials. Manmade damage is caused by accidental ripping, normal wear and tear, spilling food and drink, sunscreen and other spilled products that mar the surface of the upholstery fabric.

Regardless of the reason for installing or replacing a pontoon boat fishing seat, new and used replacement seats are easy to obtain and to secure to the boat deck.

Locating New and Used Fishing Boat Seats

Take the measurements of the area for the fishing seat so the new seat matches the existing pontoon furniture in size, height and color. If an existing seat is to be removed to make room for the fishing seat, measure the base of the unit to be removed as well as the size of the seat, cushions and any other pertinent information. Complete information about the prospective fishing seat makes finding exactly what you want much easier.

Purchasing used fishing seats is often the best option, especially when a tight budget has to be taken into consideration. OEM, or original equipment manufacturers, can be a good choice if you are looking for a top of the line product or cannot locate a used seating unit.

OEM equipment is listed on the manufacturer's web site or in catalogues. Boat stores and marinas often have selections available from multiple manufacturers.

Used pontoon furniture can be found at marinas, or from pontoon boat owners who have upgraded their boat furniture. Salvaged pontoon furniture from boats no longer in use can also be a good bargain.

Pricing and Quality of Fishing Seats

One of the advantages of purchasing fishing seats and other pontoon furniture from the original manufacturer is that the units have absolutely no wear. The seats were engineered to fit the pontoon deck so they will fit well. Purchasing a new, top of the line fishing seat from an OEM means you will be getting the latest technology and features. The disadvantage of purchasing fishing seats from the manufacturer is higher prices. Your budget for installation of the seat will be a large factor in deciding whether to buy a new or used fishing seat.

Do your homework before purchasing used fishing seats and other pontoon furniture. Keep in mind that used fishing seats should be significantly less expensive than new seats. Buying online, from classified directories or auction sites carries the risk of buying unseen, so getting a current photograph can help in making your decision. Price shopping from a number of sources will let you choose the best quality used fishing seat at the best price.

Check for excessive wear on the fishing seat seams, look carefully at the upholstery fabric and make sure the padding is still in good shape before committing to a purchase. Check the stitching and zippers for wear; they should both be constructed of materials that do not rust or rot in damp conditions.

If the fishing seat pedestal is included with the chair, the price will be higher, but it may be well worth buying a complete unit rather than a seat and a separate pedestal.

As with many products, there are varying grades of fishing seats and pontoon furniture, typically they are advertised as good, better and best. More expensive pontoon furniture has thicker padding, a better grade of upholstery fabric or pontoon seat vinyl, and may have features unavailable in lower-priced models.

Installing and Caring for Fishing Boat Seats

Installing pontoon boat furniture, including additional seating for fishing, is not a difficult endeavor. Pontoon seats are simply bolted in place. After confirming there is enough room to install the fishing seat where you want it, drill holes that match the base of the unit.

Once the fishing seat is installed, increase longevity of the new and existing furniture by keeping it clean and protected from the environment. Routine, thorough cleaning is the best way to make sure your boat furniture reaches its projected life span or longer. Using a pontoon seat cover will also help extend the life of the upholstery and fabric.

Deep clean the furniture a minimum of twice each year, more if the pontoon boat is used often. Cleaning fishing seats is especially important because fish, bait and water come into contact with the surface more often than other pontoon furniture.

Use a high quality cleaner for marine grade upholstery material to get the best results. Do not use abrasive cleaners, metal brushes or any type of product that could damage the fabric. Low-pressure water from a garden hose is best for thoroughly rinsing the furniture. Soap residue left on the material can actually damage the material.

Marine protectants are designed to reduce damage from UV rays, mold and mildew, and other damaging agents. The protectants will also help to keep the fabric supple and reduce the possibility of cracking. Protectants should be applied after each washing or more often if the pontoon boat is often in the sun.

Keep furniture coverings as clean and dry as possible while boating. Fishing seats and pontoon seats will be much more durable if spills are cleaned immediately, if towels are used when the occupant is wet, and if debris is routinely removed.

Boat tarps can also increase the life of fishing seats. When the pontoon boat is in dock and covered, damaging effects are reduced significantly. Winter storage in a covered area will help protect the furniture from additional damage.