Best Drone For Fishing
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 best fishing drones and learn how to make the most of the latest technology and fishing techniques.
Top Fishing Drone Picks: At A Glance
(these links take you to Amazon - more on each further below)
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 underwater and on land.
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 drone with a camera over the water will give you a distinct advantage when fishing, 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 cast your bait in the precise area where the fish are, simply by using the 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 drone does all the hard work.
How To Go Drone Fishing
Using a 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 drone’s camera, you’ll also be able to see exactly where the fish are so you can drop your bait in the best spot.
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 zones, 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 drone.
In some areas you may need to register your 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 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 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.
An easy way of doing this is to use fishing line and 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 drop your bait at your desired location without losing your drone.
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.
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, as some will be model specific.
- FLiFLi AirDrop is designed to be compatible with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone and can allow you to release bait from your drone (via a separate remote control) around 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 LED lights on your drone.
- 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 drone’s remote via the LED lights or camera and can drop bait around 500 yards out.
Fly It Out
With your drone rigged and ready you can then fly it out over the water. Remember to unlock your reel before it starts flying, so that the drone won’t be hampered by any resistance from the line.
When you find the perfect spot full of fish, lock your reel and this will activate the release mechanism that will then drop your bait into the water. Once the bait is released you should then fly your drone back to shore or to your boat to save its battery.
How NOT To Lose Your Drone
Drone fishing can be a particularly expensive hobby if you lose your drone. In order for that not to happen there are a few things you should keep in mind before you set out.
Don’t Fly In Windy Conditions
Flying a 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 drone and it could also be dangerous if there are other people around.
Flying it in the wind will also likely affect the battery power, especially if the drone is having to battle against headwinds.
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, your drone is not going to replace your rod, as it simply won’t be as strong as you and your rod, meaning a fish could potentially drag your drone under the water.
Using a 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.
Deactivate The Return To Home Feature
A lot of drones come with a return to home feature that allows the drone to go back to where it started. This 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 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 cast 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.
Having a good camera on your 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, as well as seeing the underwater topography.
Knowing how far your drone can travel before you let it loose over the water is probably a good idea. The drone you choose should have a 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 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 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.
5 Best Fishing Drones
1: DJI Phantom 4 PRO (Best Drone For Fishing Overall)
The Phantom 4 Pro is a quadcopter drone with a lithium-ion battery that lasts for up to 5 hours, with a maximum flight time of 30 minutes on a full charge. It has a distance 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 camera with a 1 inch CMOS sensor that can shoot videos and capture high quality images, including 4K videos.
A handy 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 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 a return to home function, as well as 5 directional obstacle sensing and 4 directional obstacle avoidance, meaning 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.)
2: Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
This Typhoon H Pro drone features a handy remote control 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 camera that can capture detailed still images and 4K quality videos, as well as being able to rotate 360 degrees.
It features RealSense technology that allows it to detect obstacles in its path and memorize them so it can avoid them in the future. It also benefits from GPS navigation, 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 of drones.
This model also has the ability to fly along pre-set coordinates, which could come in useful when you’re out fishing. It has a maximum flight time of up to 25 minutes and can fly up to a maximum height of 400 feet. The distance it can travel away from the remote control is 1 mile, while still allowing to view the video transmission.
Another feature of this drone is that it has a return home function 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.
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, helping you to find the best fishing spots.
It can fly for up to 19 minutes on a full battery and can travel a maximum distance of 3,280 feet, however, for the video transmission to still be received by the controller, the maximum distance is 2,624 feet.
This drone benefits from GPS technology, 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 signals. However, without GPS signals, 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.
4: 3DR Solo Quadcopter Bundle
This Solo 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.
The drone 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, which could be useful if you’re trying to scout out fishing spots in a particular section of a lake or bay.
This model can fly for up to 20 minutes and at a range of up to half a mile, while still transmitting video footage. It has a maximum flying height of 400 feet and benefits from a return to home function if it goes out of range, which you would obviously need to activate before it sets off and goes out of range.
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.
5: DJI Mavic Pro
This Mavic Pro drone is a 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. The Precision Hover feature may also be useful when releasing bait. But it can take a while to get the hang of it.
Additionally, the Mavic Pro benefits from a Return Home function, GPS technology and WiFi. Plus you can even control it using your phone if you choose.
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 on your next fishing trip.
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.