Do you enjoy flying drones? Are you an avid fisherman? Has it ever occurred to you that you could combine the two hobbies? If drone fishing sounds like something you’d like to try your hand at, then this article is for you.
No, you won’t be a drone fishing expert after reading this article, which is mainly comprised of tips and tricks for beginners to drone fishing, as well as a list of the best fishing drones.
Rather, this article is meant for beginners to the sport who would like to learn more about drone fishing and understand what is required in terms of equipment.
How to Rig Your Drone & Drone Fishing Accessories
How can you convert a simple drone into a drone that can be used for fishing? You’ll need a few accessories to rig the drone correctly.
Create an attachment point on your drone, preferably in the middle to avoid problems with weight distribution.
The best attachment points are the legs, landing gear or motor struts. Don’t attach anything to the camera or the gimbal as the payload could cause damage.
The simplest method is to tie a piece of fishing line from one corner to the opposite corner. Repeat the process with the remaining two corners, thus creating an “X” with the fishing lines.
The point where the two lines cross can be secured with tape for more strength.
The next accessory you’ll need is a release mechanism.
Secure a release clip, also known as a downrigger, to the point where the two fishing lines cross.
The release mechanism will allow you to drop your line and bait into the water at the time and location of your choosing.
Some drones that can be used for fishing, like the Phantom 4 Pro (reviewed below) even have air-drop release accessories for you to buy that you can attach to your drone if you aren’t the do-it-yourself type.
Then, you simply need to attach your fishing line to the release mechanism.
Make sure the reel on your rod is unlocked so the line can extend as much as it needs to without resistance.
Fly your fishing drone out to the point where you wish to drop the bait into the water, and lock your reel.
When you begin to fly the drone out after locking the reel the release mechanism will drop your bait into the water.
The last step is simple: fly the drone back to you! You can reel in your fish using your rod and eliminate the chance of your drone’s battery dying, or worse – such as a fish yanking your drone into the water, never to be seen again.
When you are done fishing for the day you should always clean your drone meticulously. Even if you are fishing in freshwater and/or if your drone is water-resistant, you can extend the life of your drone and the battery by taking good care of the device.
List of Top Fishing Drones
DJI Phanton 4 Pro
Specifications: This commercial drone is relatively lightweight at just three pounds, and it can reach an altitude of around400 feet (although for fishing purposes you likely won’t come close to that altitude). It can remain airborne for around 30 minutes, giving fish in the area ample time to take the bait.
The DJI Phanton 4 Pro can withstand temperatures ranging from 32-104 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can use this quadcopter for fishing in a variety of climates. This drone has a maximum payload rating of around 1 pounds in addition to its standard components, and the drone can be controlled with a standard remote or via a mobile app that is available for Apple and Android devices.
Pros: The Phantom 4 Pro’s flight time is vastly superior to most other drones, which is a huge bonus if you’re fishing in a body of water where the fish are apprehensive, or if you want to catch a lot of fish without having to recharge/replace the drone’s battery.
This drone also handles extremely well and can remain stable above the water without any effort on the user’s part.
Cons: The biggest drawback the the DJI Phantom 4 Pro when it comes to fishing is the relatively low payload capacity. You won’t be able to draw large fish out of the water with this drone. The price is also at the higher end of the spectrum.
Our Verdict: The DJI Phantom 4 Pro quadcopter is easy to fly and we love the fact that you can control it with your smart phone or tablet. It’s also a great fishing drone for beginners because of the extended flight time.
3DR Solo Quadcopter
Specifications: This drone weighs 3.35 pounds out of the box. It can stay airborne for about 20 minutes under normal circumstances. It has a maximum altitude of around 400 feet and can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour, although you’re unlikely to need such speed when fishing.
This drone also comes standard with 3DR’s patented Pixhawk 2 autopilot technology and three-axis stabilization.
It has a max payload of 420 grams.
Pros: This fishing drone is great for beginners because it’s known for being very easy to control. The technology 3DR added to this drone allows it to remain stable despite high winds, choppy waters or other circumstances that could throw other drones off kilter. I also appreciate the extended range of this drone, as you can control it from over 1,000 yards away.
Cons: This drone is already quite a bit heavier than other quadcopters so adding fishing gear to it will only serve to shorten your flight time. Although this drone is equipped with GPS capabilities I noticed that the GPS seemed a bit spotty at times, especially over large bodies of water.
A camera isn’t a must for a fishing drone but I should note that if you’re interested in a fishing drone with a camera then the 3DR Solo may not be right for you as it does not come standard with a camera. You need to have or buy a GoPro camera to use with it.
The Verdict: The 3DR SOLO is at the lower end of the price spectrum, but make not mistake about its quality. This would be a great fishing drone for beginners, since it is easy to control, and has a very fair price.
Specifications: This drone weighs in at 6.5 pounds and it can stay airborne for 18 minutes with no added payload. It’s outfitted with a GPS device and can be controlled remotely from as far away as 2,000 yards. The Inspire 1 can go as fast as 22 miles per hour in calm weather, and you can control this model with the factory remote or by using a downloadable app on your tablet or smart phone.
Pros: This drone has a higher maximum payload than many other fishing drones on the market. While it’s usually best to use your drone to drop your fishing line, you could theoretically haul in a small-to-medium sized fish that takes your bait by using the Inspire 1 Pro.
The fact that you can control this drone from up to 2,000 yards away is also quite impressive, and it’s a feature that could be extremely useful for fishermen who need to reach hot spots that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Cons: Costs associated with this commercial drone are extremely high, thus putting it out of the reach of many amateur anglers. In addition to the high cost of the quadcopter, replacement batteries can run anywhere from $150 to $200 each. The Inspire 1 Pro is also the heaviest fishing drone on our list, and it is not rated as waterproof or water-resistant.
Our Verdict: Although this drone can be cumbersome to carry around, it can be worth it in terms of technology. Fishermen who really want to throw themselves into drone fishing head-first might want to consider this model, but it’s likely going to be out of the price range for most other anglers.
The exception, of course, is if you plan to use this drone for multiple other purposes rather than just fishing.
Also check out these excellent drones you can use for fishing:
How to Choose a Drone for Fishing
Data and specifications mean a lot but each drone pilot and each fisherman has their own preferences. What we can do is provide you with a list of questions to ask yourself before buying a fishing drone:
- What sort of environmental conditions will I face?
- What kinds of fish do I expect to catch?
- How much time/effort/money am I willing to put into drone fishing?
It’s vital to remember that almost any drone can be used for carrying and dropping a fishing line, if it’s properly accessorized. The fishing drones reviewed above, however, have proven to be especially worthwhile. Consider each of the following factors when comparing fishing drones:
- Maximum speed, altitude and flight time
- Payload limit
- Ease of customization
- GPS capability
- Resistance to water damage
- Self-stabilization due to wind, choppy waters, fish bites, etc.
Things to Keep in Mind Before, During & After Drone Fishing
Fishing with a drone is completely different than fishing with a rod and reel, and there are things to keep at the forefront of your mind when fishing with a drone that would never be factors when fishing the old-fashioned way.
For example, fishing with a drone means you don’t have to worry about “hooking” someone during the backstroke of your rod, but you do have four potentially dangerous propellers that could cause serious injury to those nearby.
Since drone fishing is still a relatively new concept, don’t be surprised if a lot of people are in the area while you’re fishing. Sudden gusts of wind can affect your drone during takeoff and when it’s on a flight path.
Make sure you are comfortable flying a drone in normal circumstances before attempting to go drone fishing. After all, you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars or more on a fishing drone and accessories only to lose your drone in the water before you can even catch a single fish.
In fact, many savvy drone fishermen simply use the drone to drop the line in a spot where they would otherwise be unable to cast. Once they feel a bite they still use their rod to reel the fish in manually.
Before using your drone to fish it’s important to know how far away your drone can be and still remain controllable, and you should also conduct test flights with the fishing accessories attached because those accessories could decrease your altitude, payload, and flight time limits.
It’s also imperative that you make sure it’s legal for you to fish with the aid of a drone before casting your first line.
Make sure your drone is fully-charged and that all parts are in good condition. A drone that stops functioning over land simply falls to the ground, and it might be able to be repaired. A drone that falls into the water could be lost forever or severely damaged, even if it is waterproof.
Be aware of other anglers in the area. It does not matter if they are using drones or standard fishing equipment – show respect for your environment and your fellow fishermen at all times.
The drone community is growing, but fishing with a drone is something most people haven’t seen before so let’s protect our reputation in order to allow this sport’s growth to continue.
If your drone can handle the weight then you might be able to lift the fish from the water and bring it to you.
Otherwise, maneuver the drone in such a way that the fish stays on the hook until it’s close enough to your boat or the shore. At that time, you can bring the fish in using a net or grab the line once the fish is above solid ground and cannot escape back into the water.
Drone fishing isn’t something that comes easy to everyone. After all, learning how to fly a drone and learning how to become a good fisherman are challenging enough on their own.
Don’t beat yourself up if combining the two activities proves to be harder than you originally thought.
We hope this article has provided you with some valuable insight on how to become more adept at drone fishing. Remember that safety should always be your first priority, and that there is never any advantage to doing things faster if you’re doing them incorrectly.
Get yourself a drone that is capable of handling fishing tasks, such as one of the drones mentioned above, as well as any drone fishing accessories that you think could improve your odds of landing “the big one.”
Enlist the help of an experienced drone fisherman to make sure you learn the fundamentals of the sport and are giving yourself the best chance of success. By following these tips and practicing as often as possible you’ll be well on your way to hauling in enough fish for a feast, and you might even find yourself teaching others how to use drones for fishing.
Latest posts by Stewart Lawson (see all)
- Best Fishing Drones – A Beginners Guide to Drone Fishing - June 3, 2017
- Important Drone Restrictions [Avoid Getting in Trouble] - May 22, 2017
- How Do I Register My Drone with the FAA? - May 7, 2017