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Drones for fishing?
Now, you may or may not have heard of drone fishing. But chances are, after reading this, you will almost certainly want to give it go…
We’ll explain exactly what drone fishing is, and hopefully, how it will help you reel in more fish. We’ve put together some expert tips so you can choose from the very best fishing drones and learn how to use a drone to make the most of the latest technology and fishing techniques.
Top Fishing Drone Picks: At A Glance
5 Best Fishing Drones
1: DJI Phantom 4 PRO (Best Drone For Fishing Overall)
The Phantom 4 Pro is a quadcopter drone with an onboard camera, for photos and videos, and a lithium-ion battery that lasts for up to 5 hours, with 30 minutes of flight time on a full charge. It’s an upgrade from the DJI Phantom 3 standard, with a distance control range of just over 3 and a half miles (19,685 feet), which could be beneficial when you’re out fishing.
It features a 20 megapixel multi-directional 4K camera lens with a 1 inch CMOS sensor that can shoot videos and capture high quality images, including 4K videos. This lets you view live video with great picture quality during the flight.
A useful feature of this model is the Draw feature, which allows you to draw routes on the screen and the drone will follow that path while maintaining altitude. It has intelligent flight controls with drone telemetry and can also be used with the DJI Go app on a smartphone, which will automatically record your flights and routes, which could be good if you’re looking to find that lucrative fishing spot again.
It also features powerful motors and excellent drone technology, including a return to home feature, as well as 5 directional obstacle sensing and 4 directional obstacle avoidance, making it easy to fly. This means the drone can remember obstacles on its route out and avoid them when it automatically returns to you (with the return to home feature activated.) The legs let the fishing drone stand with the body and camera off the ground when it lands.
While this is not fully waterproof smart drone, it is a splash drone that can handle rain and all weather. You can also purchase additional accessories to make it waterproof, such as a drone wetsuit, which you might not find with other drones. This can make it a perfect drone for surf fishing and it takes great photos.
- Up to 30 mins flight time
- 3.5 mile control range
- Draw route feature
- Obstacle avoidance
2: Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
This Typhoon H Pro fishing drone features a fully integrated remote controller that has a built-in 7 inch touchscreen Android display, so there’s no need to connect it to a smartphone or other device. But it can be tricky to set up and use.
It has an anti-vibration 12 megapixel 4K camera that can capture detailed still images and 4K quality videos, as well as being able to rotate 360 degrees, so it can be an excellent scouting drone.
This Pro version features RealSense technology that allows it to detect obstacles in its path and memorize them so it can avoid them in the future with its auto return function so it can fly hands free. It also benefits from GPS technology, meaning it’s able to locate subjects, even when there might be obstructions, such as trees.
However, if it does happen to crash, there may be some damage, as it’s not the most sturdy compared to other drones.
This model also has intelligent flight modes to fly along pre-set coordinates, which could come in useful when you’re out fishing. It has a maximum range of up to 25 minutes of flight time and can fly up to a maximum height of 400 feet. The maximum transmission distance it can travel away from the remote controller is 1 mile, while still allowing to view the recording video transmission (live video).
Another feature of this great drone is that it has automatic return but it will also return to a safe landing spot when its battery is running low, which could be ideal to prevent it landing in the water when you’re fishing. Additionally, this is not a splash drone, so it’s not built to land in water.
- RealSense technology for obstacle avoidance
- 7-inch touchscreen control
- GPS navigation
- Safe landing on low battery
- Durability not great
- Not the easiest to use
3: UPair One Drone
This drone has a 2.7K HD camera that can shoot both still and moving images (8MP). The controller features a 7 inch LCD screen where you can keep an eye on the footage and location of the drone, with a one key photos option, helping you to find the best fishing spots and can be great for surf fishing.
It can work for up to 19 minutes of flight time on a full battery and can travel a maximum unobstructed range of 3,280 feet, however, for the video transmission to still be received by the controller, the maximum transmission distance is 2,624 feet.
This fishing drone is easy to fly and benefits from GPS technology and intelligent flight modes, which will allow it to record its starting locations and activate its compass. This also enables the drone to navigate its way back to its starting position when there is strong GPS signal strength. However, without dual GPS status, the drone may struggle with this function.
This model also has the ability to calculate its return distance in the case of a low battery.
- LCD screen on controller
- GPS technology
- Still and moving image capture
- Low range for video transmission
- Not the best camera
4: 3DR Solo Quadcopter Bundle
This Solo fishing drone could be a good choice if you already have a GoPro or are planning to buy one separately, as this one does not come with a camera built in or included. The way this one works is you can attach your GoPro to gimbal and receive live streaming videos from the air straight to your smartphone.
This affordable drone is easy to fly and benefits from having a Cable Cam feature that lets you pan around in a specific area while the drone flies itself as if it was on a cable. This could be useful if you’re trying to scout out fishing spots in a particular section of a lake or bay, which we’re a big fan of. It also has a foldable design that’s easy to operate for easy storage.
This model offers up to 20 minutes of flying time and flies at a range of up to a half mile, while still transmitting video footage. It has a maximum flying height of 400 feet and benefits from different flight modes, including a return to home mode if it goes out of range, which you would obviously need to activate before it sets off and goes out of range. Its four legs lets your fishing drone stand off the ground when landed.
This quadcopter drone may not be suitable if you are planning to use a different brand of camera other than GoPro, as it has been engineered to work with GoPro and may not always be compatible with other brands.
- Budget friendly
- Easy to use
- GoPro compatible
- No built-in camera
- Designed to work with GoPro only
5: DJI Mavic Pro
This Mavic Pro fishing drone is a wi-fi quadcopter that boasts being able to fly at up to 40 mph if there’s no wind. It has a maximum flight time of 27 minutes if there’s no wind and you fly it consistently around 15 mph.
It features a 4K camera for ultra HD videos and has OcuSync transmission technology which can give a transmission range of up to 4 miles. It also benefits from technology that lets it avoid obstacles up to 49 feet away during longer distance flights or descents.
Another handy feature is the TapFly technology that lets you tap where you want it to and it’ll head straight there, which could be useful when flying your bait out and scouting fishing spots. The Precision Hover feature may also be useful when using a bait release mechanism. But it can take a while to get the hang of it.
Additionally, the Mavic Pro benefits from a Return Home mode, GPS technology and WiFi. Plus you can even control it using your phone if you choose.
- 4K wi-fi camera
- High speeds
- Up to 4 mile range
- TapFly technology for bait deployment
- Not easy to operate
Drone Fishing? What Is That?!
So, you’re new to the sport and you’re wondering what it’s all about. Well, if you’ve ever watched any wildlife documentaries on TV you’ll know that aerial footage can provide a unique perspective of a landscape, both the underwater world and on land. However, an underwater fishing drone can be hard to come by.
While traditionally wildlife photographers might have used helicopters or small planes for aerial shots, drones are becoming increasingly popular for both photography and in wildlife conservation.
This is because drones are able to access areas that might otherwise be inaccessible, allowing you to get closer to wildlife, hopefully without disturbing it. Chances are, you’ve probably seen drones flying around at some point and, while they’re not silent, they’re usually pretty discreet.
Using a fishing drone with a camera over the water will give you a distinct advantage on fishing adventures, as you will be able to gain a clearer image of the underwater landscape, which should mean a better view of where the fish are located. Of course, there are alternative methods of finding fish.
Drone fishing not only allows you to get an aerial view of the body of water, but it also allows you to get your bait in the precise area where the fish are, simply by using the fishing drone as a tool to carry your line out over the water instead of casting with your rod.
It effectively scouts the area for you, allowing you to remain on the shore or in your boat, monitoring the camera, while the fishing drone does all the hard work.
However, you might not always find a completely waterproof drone, so it’s best to avoid having it crash or land in water. You may be able to find a fishing drone stand to keep it safe while you’re on land or on your boat. Waterproof drones are not always easy to come by but some of them have optional extras that can make them waterproof.
How To Go Drone Fishing
Using a fishing drone can be useful whether you’re fishing from the shore or casting from a kayak / boat, as it will let you potentially cast your line further than you might otherwise be able to. And with the help of the fishing drone’s camera, you’ll also be able to scout potential fishing sites as you can see exactly where the fish are to get your bait to the best spot. Drones can often be useful for scouting ahead while surf fishing, giving you an unobstructed view over the water and letting you check out otherwise inaccessible places.
No Fly Zones
Before you begin, there are a few things you may need to consider. In the USA there are some areas where drones are forbidden, such as in Federal Aviation Authority designated no-fly areas, for example at airports, in security zones, as well as near stadiums that are due to hold sporting events.
It is also against the law to fly drones in National Parks, National Seashores and other areas operated by the National Park Service. Drones are also banned from being used for any purposes in the state of Oregon, so always check with local and federal laws before you launch your fishing drone. Not all locations or states have made drone fishing legal.
You may also find that a lot of fishing competitions might not allow drones because they can create an unfair advantage and are generally not IGFA legal.
In some areas you may need to register your fishing drone with the FAA prior to flying it, for example if you’re going to be using it as part of your work and not solely as a hobby.
There are other laws that you will have to abide by when you’re using your drone, even if it’s just for fishing. One important law to remember for drone usage is that if you’re planning on flying within 5 miles of an airport you will need to notify the airport operators, as well as air traffic control, prior to your drone taking to the skies.
Create A Center Attachment Point
Once you’ve got your best fishing drone all charged up and ready for action, you will need to get it prepared for fishing. The first thing to do is to fashion an attachment point to it, so that it’s able to hold your line and bait but you’ll need to make sure that your attachment point is somewhere in the center so the drone won’t be off balance when dropping bait or flying.
An easy way of doing this is to use fishing line and simply attach it either to the legs, motor struts or the landing gear. If you tie the fishing line to one corner of the drone as well as to the corner that’s diagonally opposite, then do the same with the other two corners, you should create an X shape with the lines.
Making sure you’ve tied the lines securely, you can then bolster the strength of the crossover section of the X with some tape.
Attach A Release Mechanism
Using the attachment point you’ve just created, you will then need to attach some sort of release mechanism, such as a downrigger, so that you will be able to cast your bait in your desired location without losing your drone. Your drone’s release device can be a pretty vital piece of your drone fishing kit and can minimize the fishing work you need to do.
Once the release mechanism is attached, you can then proceed with attaching your fishing line to the release clip and attaching your bait to the line and an improvised hook.
There are several types of bait release systems you can buy that are made specifically for drone fishing. These can often be easily mounted to your drone but it can be a good idea to check they are compatible with your particular drone model, as some will be model specific and may not work with other drone models or brands.
- FLiFLi AirDrop is designed to be compatible with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone and is designed for dropping bait from your drone (via a separate remote controller) about half a mile out. The Phantom 4 Gannet Bait Release is also designed specifically for the Phantom 4 drone and works in conjunction with the lights on your drone to help you catch fish.
- Gannet Sport Fishing Bait Release is a lightweight bait release system that is designed to be compatible with most drones with custom mounting brackets that can work with the specific make and model of your drone.
- Mavic Pro Gannet Bait Release is made specifically for the Mavic Pro and Platinum drones. It’s lightweight and can be controlled using your Mavic air, DJI Mavic 2 or other Mavic drone’s remote via the LED lights or camera and can drop bait around 500 yards out.
Fly It Out
With your amazing drone rigged and ready you can then fly it out over the water for a bird’s eye view in inaccessible places. Remember to unlock your reel before it starts flying, so that the drone won’t be hampered by any resistance from the line, as reel locking creates high tension.
When you find the desired position full of fish, lock your reel and this will activate the release mechanism that will then drop your bait into the water. You should enable the altitude hold feature on your drone to maintain your spot.
Once the bait is released you should then fly your drone back to shore or to your boat to save its battery, or use the one key return for autopilot.
Video: Drone Fishing For Tuna
How NOT To Lose Your Drone
Drone fishing can be a particularly expensive hobby if you lose your fishing drone.
In order for that not to happen there are a few things you should keep in mind before you set out, so that you can be successful both flying drones and catching fish.
Don’t Fly In Windy Conditions
Flying a fishing drone in the wind will significantly affect your ability to control it, no matter how good a pilot you might consider yourself to be. One strong gust could mean the end of your perfect fishing drone and it could also be dangerous if there are other people around.
Flying it in high wind speeds will also likely affect the battery power, especially if the fishing drone is having to battle against headwinds.
Video: Flying A Drone In High Winds Is DANGEROUS
Don’t Drop Your Bait In The Water While It’s Still Attached To Your Drone
You might think it’s a good idea to use the drone to drag your bait through the water or help you reel in your catch. But remember, even the best fishing drone is not going to replace your fishing rod, as it simply won’t be as strong as you and your rod, meaning a fish could potentially drag your fishing drone under the water when your fishing line pulls.
Using a fishing drone for this is also likely to use up a lot of battery power, which may affect its ability to get back to dry land in time and could mean the end of your fishing adventure.
Deactivate The Return To Home Feature
A lot of the best drones come with a return to home feature that allows the drone to go back to where it started. This auto landing feature can be a useful tool if you’re staying in the same place on the beach or at the side of a river, as it will return to you when its battery starts to drain.
However, if you’re on a moving boat and the return to home feature is on, the drone might automatically start flying off to where you launched it even if you’re no longer there, and there’s often not a lot you can do about it.
What Drone Features Should I Look Out For?
When you’re using your drone for fishing, you are going to want to make sure it has a decent enough battery. One that will allow you to fly it out to the location where you want to put your bait, with enough power for it to be able to fly back to you. Running out of power over the water is never a good idea.
You should also consider that the battery life on the drone will probably not take into account the extra weight of the bait and line, so it will likely not last as long as its packaging might state.
You may also be able to get external long endurance batteries and brushless motors to increase the performance time of your drone, which can be useful in marine environments.
Having a good quality camera on your fishing drone will give you a clearer image of what your drone can see as it flies over the water, meaning you should have a better chance of spotting the areas where the fish are in their natural habitat, as well as seeing the underwater topography – ideal for beach fishing.
The feed is generally live video of the drone in flight if it offers smart shots and is connected to an app or screen. Most cameras will take photos and videos.
Some drone cameras may be waterproof and sand proof, with fully sealed electronics and corrosion resistant hardware, even if the drone itself is not. However, you may see splash drones that can handle a little water, such as rain.
Some of the best drones, however, may not have a water resistant camera and might not be great at preventing corrosion.
Knowing how far your drone can travel before you let it loose over the water is probably a good idea. The fishing drone you choose should have a control range stated on the packaging or instructions. You’ll be able to keep an eye on its range when you’re fishing if you know the length of your main line.
If you’re planning on fishing in rivers or smaller bodies of water, the maximum range of the drone may not be too much of an issue and a short range can be ideal. But for ocean fishing you may want one with a longer range, especially if you’re standing on the shore and can’t travel along behind it.
Some of the best drones may only go a certain distance and might not always be able to fly long range but they may have a long battery life or more features, for example.
Did you find this helpful? Now that you know a little bit more about fishing drones, you should have a better handle on the types of drones that might work best for you (and are easy to fly) on your next fishing trip, as well as some of the best deals for your budget.
You should have learned how a drone can help lead you to new fishing spots relatively quickly, compared to scouting out the area with maps, or even trial and error. But you should also have learned about the things to avoid when you’re drone fishing, such as flying in high winds.
Video: Drone Video Footage Of TOO MANY Fish!
Let us know if you have any comments or if you want to share your own experiences with us, please get in touch. And don’t forget you can share this article with your fishing buddies if you want to help them improve their catches.