What is the Airflo Tightlines TLD Elite Boat Seat?
The Airflo Tightlines TLD Elite Boat Seat is probably the most widely seen boat seats in the UK and you'll undoubtedly see them on any trip to a UK reservoir. The seat is designed to be portable, so you take it with you on each trip and connect it to the planks in the boat, then remove it when you're done. The seat is actually made by Wise, but I think Airflo have adapted this for the fly fishing market.
Do I really need a boat seat?
Most reservoir and loch trout fisheries use Coulam style boats which have three cross-beam seats. They're effectively planks of wood which span the boat at the front, middle and end. You can sit on them, but you'll get a sore backside after a while. You'll also sit in a poor posture and get a bad back which can be uncomfortable for days after, especially when you reach a certain age... A boat seat has a comfy cushioned base and back and is much more comfortable. It also feels a bit safer and you'll feel less likely to topple over backwards out of the boat when conditions are choppy.
Do they rotate?
Yes, a Wise WD10 boat seat swivel base attachment is supplied with the TLD Boat Seat which rotates 360 degrees. One side of this screws to the bottom of the seat, while the other side attaches to the Elite Clamp. This lets you easily turn your seat to reach gear in the boat, use the engine or adjust your drogue. It also allows you to switch sides if you need to.
What is the Airflo TLD Elite Clamp?
The Airflo TLD Elite Clamp is an improved fitting which aims to solve some of the drawbacks of the original Airflo Standard Boat Seat Clamp supplied with the standard TLD Boat Seat. The Elite Clamp comprises two metal plates with a couple of large thumbscrews. The upper plate screws onto the swivel plate, which is in turn attached to the seat.
The lower plate has a cut out notch at one end, which allows you to attach the clamp and seat to the seat board in the boat simply by loosening the screws and rotating the plate. It's very straightforward and George, aged 10, was able to install it himself without any assistance. I suspect the screws might be a bit of a challenge in colder weather though. The Elite Clamp costs £59.99 when purchased separately, compared to £39.99 for the Standard Boat Seat Clamp.
Is it easy to put together?
The seat comes in three parts which you need to assemble yourself. The swivel mechanism screws to the Elite Clamp and then screws to the base of the seat using the screws pre-installed. The swivel mechanism provided on our seat was jammed solid when it arrived and it took a bit of oil and brute force to loosen it, but it worked fine when in place.
The Elite Clamp was easy to install. You just need a screwdriver and a small spanner. Ours came with a deep scratch on the underside. The seat itself has a sturdy and slightly old-fashioned feel to it and comes with card and plastic protectors stapled in place. Unfortunately, it's hard to remove these without leaving remnants of the card which looks a little untidy.
What is the Airflo Tightlines TLD Boat Seat like to use?
Aside from the issue of the stud coming apart sometimes when carrying the seat using the strap, the seat is very easy to transport. It folds up neatly and is also very quick and easy to install in the boat - George has no problems doing it himself. It rotates freely when you're sitting on it (after it's had a drop of oil, anyway) and it's very comfortable to fish from. It does make a huge difference to your day afloat.
How else can you attach TLD Boat Seats?
Some people make their own attachment for TLD Boat Seats using a thick piece of marine plywood. The swivel attachment is screwed into the top of the plywood and some slots are made to take a couple of ratchet straps. The ratchet straps then connect around the seat plank and can be tightened up to keep the seat in place. These homemade fixings do work really well, but ratchet straps can be a bit fiddly to remove at times, especially if your hands are cold.
How easy is this seat to transport?
The seat itself is relatively heavy but comes with a thin carry strap to allow you to carry it in one hand when you're lugging your gear back off the boat. Unfortunately, the carry strap clips on with just a single stud fastener and it often comes undone, which can cause you to drop the seat. A better connection here would be helpful.
The seat itself folds in half, so it's relatively compact and fits in most car boots easily. The hinge mechanism is fairly well designed to make it harder for you to trap or chop off any fingers, which is good.
How much do they cost?
Although these are sturdy and come with a good warranty, they're very expensive for what they are, I think. The Airflo Tightlines TLD Elite Boat Seat costs a massive £169.99, so isn't cheap. However, it should last you many years and will increase your comfort during and after a long session on the water. If you've already got a similar seat, or have purchased one of the other models in the range which doesn't include one, the Elite clamp can be purchased separately. Like the seat though, it's not cheap either at £59.99.