If you’re looking for the best fishing done and a guide on how to actually fish with a quadcopter, this article has both subjects covered in detail.
I suggest you also check my underwater drones article, where I feature 2 special fishing drones too.
I’ll cover cheap fishing drone options as well as more professional ones as well as go over how to fly and rig a fishing drone in a few easy ways.
Drone fishing is basically used for 2 purposes, scouting potential fishing sites (so basically surveillance to find the perfect spot) and dropping the bait.
If you love both flying drones and angling, this is the ultimate hobby combo for you.
I’ll explain the mechanisms more in depth later in the article, but for now let's have a look at what is the perfect fishing drone for your needs.
Here are my favorite drones compared in a table (in no particular order).
Read the entire article for more information on each of these drones!
In this section we're looking at what are the main specs you should look for and go a bit over the obvious to see the nuances of why you need certain things more than others if you want to succesfully fish with your drone yet not spend more than what you need.
I wrote another comprehensive article on waterproof drones as well as underwater drones, but I don’t have to go much into details for why having a waterproof drone is a good advantage.
One of the scariest things (especially in off-shore fishing) is having your expensive camera drone fall in the water and ruining it. Of course, this really shouldn’t happen especially with modern powerful and steady GPS drones, but It’s something that gives you peace of mind. Keep in mind that dedicated waterproof drones are usually more expensive and specialized, so you might want not be able to use it for filming weddings and the sorts.
Another important factor, but only if you use the camera for scouting ahead is a good quality camera that can turn up and down and is stabilized by a 3 axis gimbal.
This makes scouting and taking nice shots of the places you’re at way better than cameras that aren’t stabilized.
Most drones these days have plenty of range to fly the bait really far away, as even cheap $200 ones come with over 1km. But keep in mind that the ones with longer ranges are usually more reliable when it comes to signal strength too.
I consider battery life to be even more important than range for fishing drones since you will not feel the pressure of quickly getting your drone back and landing it in time
GPS and return home
All the drones I’ll recommend come with GPS and a few flight modes, so don’t worry, they all come with the return to home function, which is very helpful especially out at the see where you can get a bit lost (btw, this makes the drone return at the initial point it took off from, not where you currently are with the transmitter)
Most drones over $100 have brushless motors, which are quite powerful, but this varies a lot from drone to drone, depending on many factors. You need to make sure the drone is strong enough to carry the bait and keep the fishing line in the air for a while, so I wouldn’t use a drone like the DJI Mini 2 for this purpose, even though it’s a great camera drone. A Phantom or larger Mavic is more suitable.
After I did quite some research and I gathered a lot of drones on my list, I had to remove most of them and leave only my top recommendations so you don’t have to stress too much on making a choice.
Each of the drones below fits a specific role and has its own advantages which you may or may not see fit for your use. I also made sure these are fishing drones for sale, so you don’t have the surprise of being too old of a drone and not finding it anymore.
3 types of cameras
The Splash drone is made by Swellpro (who only make waterproof drones) and it’s a reliable and versatile quadcopter with a few drone camera accessories that you can buy depending on your needs.
It’s on the higher end of pricing, a little over $1000 for the base package but if you’re going to use it mainly for fishing, it’s going to last more than any other standard one thanks to it’s protective coatings.
The main thing that stands out for this fishing drone is that it can also float AND takeoff from salt and freshwater. It can also fly in rain and snow. What’s more it has a power-flip function when floating with the propellers in the water, so it can flip and take off again.
There’s really no better drone when it comes to reliability in both fresh and salt water. This means that you can even intentionally leave it floating to see bellow it with the camera.
It has 25 min of battery which is plenty (albeit, not as much as some of the latest DJI drones) and over 5000ft of range.
Having GPS, it can return to home precisely and if you somehow managed to lose it, it has a lost drone location beacon option.
Each drone goes through 2 pressure tests during production for waterproofing.
It has carbon propellers, which are more durable, but I’m not a big fan since they can cut you quite badly if you’re not careful.
And to end it all up it also comes with a fully integrated remote controller with a 5 inch screen (which starts to justify it’s price already since you don’t have to use your phone).
Unfortunately, if you want add the camera to it, you need to buy a separate camera module (one of 3 possible ones) that also have electronic payload releases.
You can find this drone easily on Amazon (but mainly in US, so if you're international I recommend the other options on the list).
You need to buy the camera and release device separately from the drone.
The Phantom 4 or Phantom 3 series are both just as good for drone fishing, with the edge for the P4 as it has better specs.
It’s suitable as a fishing drone mainly because it can be caught by hand when landing, so it’s suitable for off-shore boat fishing too.
It comes with an incredible 4k 60fps camera and a 1 inch sensor, has great range of over 3.5miles and with the 30 minute battery life it trumps even the Splash Drone 3 in terms of specs. The only downside of this is that it doesn’t come with waterproofing and you need to buy a cheap payload clip accessory from amazon.
Great thing about it is that it can be bought from most countries in the world both on Amazon or on the official DJI site. It’s a great camera drone, super easy to operate and if you buy the DJI care refresh plan you can also feel safer when flying above water.
The drone is quite strong as it can handle up to 1kg payload and in the Pro V2.0 version also comes with an included bright screen LCD
You can find this drone both on Amazon as well as DJI official site.
This already made system makes it easy to hook the fishing like to the phantom 4 and release it electronically
No image stabilization
If you’re looking for a more compact fishing drone that you can easily carry with you, the Mavic 2 Series is the answer. It’s both compact yet very strong, being able to handle wind very well as well as some weight. I chose the Mavic 2 Zoom instead of the Pro, as the zoom option can be very helpful when scouting for fish or a place to fish. The pro version is also usable, but I would think an overkill if you’re not a professional videographer.
It comes with some of the best specs around, including a 9 km range, 4k camera, all around obstacle avoidance sensors, follow me mode, return to home and a lot more. It’s pretty much a Phantom 4, but smaller and easier to carry, that can also zoom. The only drawback I see is that you can’t catch it in your hand when you’re on a boat.
You can find this drone both on Amazon as well as DJI official site.
A cheap and easy solution for the Mavic 2 lineup can be found on Amazon.
No image stabilization
This is the only cheap drone I recommend for fishing and that is because it’s like a smaller version of a phantom and has a really high quality build and specs. It can be easily found on Amazon for a really good price in my opinion.
It comes with powerful brushless motors and landing legs similar to a phantom so you can catch it. Being well under $200 I must say it has some incredible specs, including a 3 axis gimbal (which you don’t really see in this price range).
The battery life is quite decent at 22 minutes, and the range, although not as much as the other ones on this list, still gets to 500m, which is enough for most types of fishing. If you lose the signal, it can return to home.
This drone is perfect for people who want to experiment with fishing drones yet are on a very low budget. I am a drone reviewer and I know what I’m talking about, this is about as good as it gets for the price.
You can find the cheap Simrex x11 drone on Amazon directly
This is a universal cheap solution that works by adjusting release tension. Workes perfectly with drones like the Simrex x11.
In this section we're going to take a look at the multiple ways in which you can set up fishing drone and what the safest flying process looks like.
Here are a few of the FAQs answered quickly if you don't have the time to read more in depth about everything.
Never fly on rain unless your drone is waterproof, and make sure the wind doesn't blow that strongly. Always have a checklist for before you fly so you make sure everything is in order and the drone flies.
Attach the fishing line to the drones release device (which is usually attached to the landing gear).
One method is to make a loop and attach the rig to the bait release If you’re using tension clips the line diameter is very important so you have to take that into account and test before hand.
There are 3 release mechanisms you could use:
1.Third party tension release mechanism ( drop the line when you lock the reel for the fishing rod. This locking creates high tension in the line and it drops down in the water.
2.Improvised release mechanism - use a clip to mount on the drone, move the drone to the desired position and then lock the reel and move the drone a bit so that the fishing line pulls itself free and falls at that exact point.
3.Third party remote controlled trigger release - a device that attaches to your drone and drops the line by pressing a switch on the transmitter
4.Improvised hook release - use an improvised hook to hold the line when the drone is facing away from you and rotate the drone the other way to release the line from the hook when you reached your fishing spot.
Fly the drone away from you if it’s a mechanical release, or press the corresponding button if it’s an electronic one.
Test it at similar distances to what you would do in the water to make sure you practice.
In real life scenarios, make sure to monitor the battery of the drone and how close it is to water.
Longer life battery drones can stay for a while and watch the bait, but if you’re on a lower budget you might not afford this luxury, so you need to return the drone back pretty much as soon as you dropped the bait.
TIP: If you plan to press the automatic return to home and you’re on a boat, remember it will come back at the point it initially left from, so by floating away from that point it won’t be necessarily landing on the boat, so you should guide the drone manually after some point.
TIP: practice flying the drone a few times before heading for the sea (even though nowadays GPS drones are easy to maneuvre
TIP: if you plan to take off or land on a boat, make sure you do so from a flat surface as the drone might tip otherwise
There’s not many accessories you can buy for a fishing drone besides what already comes in the box, but the most important ones are:
Bait releases - A clipping hook, be it mechanical or electronic is definitely required. You can find them on amazon or build your own at home (or these might come with your drone as with the Splash Drone 3)
Spare batteries - You clearly need at least 2 batteries for any drone to make sure you have plenty of time in the air.
Fish finders - This is a bit of an addition, if you want to make sure you maximize your chances to find banks of fish
Landing pads - A necessity if you do on-shore surf fishing and you are on a beach, since the sand might get inside your drone when raising it in the air
In this final section, we're taking a look at some specific questions that people ask me, which might also be useful to you.
Surf Fishing is the sport of catching fish by standing on the shoreline and it’s the perfect scenario for using a drone to enhance your experience and send the bait as far off as possible.
Not being on a boat, you are pretty much limited by how far you can throw the hook. Using a drone for this type of fishing is possible in all types of shore fishing like rocky beaches and even fishing piers, but the one people ask me most about is surfcasting, also known as beach casting which, as you may have figured, involves fishing from a beach.
This is almost the perfect environment to use a drone, as the land is usually fairly flat so it’s easy to land and launch the drone from.
The only consideration I would add is the sand messing up with your drone. I suggest you also get a drone landing pad so the sand doesn’t get into the internals and cause problems.
In general, saltwater fishing with a drone means that its complex electronics might have to deal with seawater at some point and that’s why professionals use drones that are corrosion resistant and waterproof.
But this can only be a problem after more extended use.
Now, the other kind of drone fishing you can do is offshore, and that’s the more complicated type as you will be on a moving boat, so things like Auto Return Home with GPS is going to be more tricky to do.
There are people that ask me if Drone fishing for tuna is doable and I must say yes, even though I haven’t tried it myself. The principle is the same, as you don’t need an extra large drone to actually bring the tuna out of the water, it’s only used for dropping the bait and scouting.
Again, remember to check the weather ahead and make sure not to move the boat too much from the initial point to make it easier for you to know how to get it back.
Have a large area where you can land the drone, as wind and wave movements will make it much less precise than on land. If you have no choice, you can also catch the drone with your hand, I suggest this method on quadcopters that have easy to grab on landing gear like the Phantom series from DJI or the Autel drones.
Underwater fishing can work pretty much in the same way as regular drone fishing, but with a completely different experience.
The underwater drones are basically small submarines that can help you see the fish in the water as well as watch the bait in real time and see what’s catching and what’s the perfect moment to draw the line.
In the video bellow you can see how in very clear water you can have an awesome experience with an underwater drone like the PowerRay.
What’s more you can actually use the same system where you attach a clipping system to the underwater fishing drone, lock the reel and swim away with the drone to leave the bait at that spot.
Although I would recommend bigger drones, it is indeed possible to fish with drones like the DJI mini 2 and especially the mavic Air 2, since you can find payload clips on Amazon and considering you have a lightweight bait, this is more than possible. I urge you to test this multiple times on the ground and see the limits of the drone before going over water.
If the main line is attached to a release clip is IGFA legal as the device does not give the angler an unfair advantage when fighting the fish, just adding to the process of finding it.
Texas illegal in-land water bodies like lakes or rivers (more about drone usage in general than fishing with drones).
Otherwise, especially in large bodies of water you won’t be annoying anyone as you’re not flying over anyone's property.
Drone fishing can be cheaper than you think, or more expensive than you expect, but just so you know there are options out there that will allow you to try fishing with a drone without breaking the bank, or you could simply mix your cinematic camera drone with a fishing rig and got yourself the perfect setup that does both really well.
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