Drone Fishing: How To Get Started

While it may seem like the stuff of science fiction, drone fishing is becoming popular with fishing enthusiasts who want to go beyond what they can do with a simple rod and reel. Drones have limitless applications and uses. If you have the right equipment, a drone can not only extend your capabilities as a fisherman but also give you a video recording of your fishing exploits.

The idea of using drones to fish might strike some as unsportsmanlike at first blush, but this is far from the case. Don’t get the impression that your drone is doing the fishing for you. Where would be the fun in that? Rather, the drone is another tool to add to your tackle box. It helps you go beyond what you’d be able to do on your own.

If you’ve been fishing from the shore for years, you understand the limitations of this kind of fishing, both in the size and the number of fish, you can catch. A human being can cast around 100 feet maximum, and most can’t cast even that far using their arm. But a drone can be used to drop your line ten times farther out.

A New Way to Fish

Traditionally, if you wanted to cast out in deeper waters, away from the shore, you had to get closer to where the fish were by taking a boat or kayak onto the water and casting from there. With the use of a drone, this is unnecessary. Drone fishing vastly improves the range you can cast without ever leaving the beach.

All you need to go drone fishing is a sturdy rod, a drone, and a long reel. Attach your fishing line to the drone and then send it out over the water. Once the line is in the ideal position, the drone releases the line, and you’re able to cast much farther from shore than you ever could have without the use of a boat.

Choosing A Drone For Fishing

drone flying over water

The DJI Phantom III drone is an excellent choice for drone fishing because it’s easy to use even in strong winds. It’s got a good battery for a drone with 25 minutes of flight time. This may not sound like much, but considering it can carry a weight of 2.2 lbs it’s pretty impressive. At around $500, the DJI Phantom III isn’t cheap, but it is a good value.

If you’re looking for something less expensive, that is still a quality piece of machinery, consider the Parrot AR 2.0. It’s lighter, which means it can run for 36 minutes of flight time according to the manufacturer. The tradeoff is that the load capacity is less than a pound. It’s available for around $200.

If you’re looking for a waterproof drone, you can’t go wrong with the Swellpro Splash drone which is made to survive encounters with the water. Keep in that even if your drone can survive being immersed in water that doesn’t necessarily mean you can retrieve it. You need to prepare in advance to prevent your drone from being lost at sea. More details about how to prevent this are below.

Converting Your Drone For Fishing

white DJI Phantom 3 Professional

A drone needs to be able to fly well in a range of conditions, be quick enough to drop the line over the water and return in around 3 minutes, and have a dependable battery to be useful for drone fishing. It also needs to have the carrying capacity necessary to carry a fishing line. Since you’ll need a minimum of 300 meters of line to fish with, you’ll need a drone that can handle the weight.

You’ll need to attach your fishing line to a release mechanism that will deploy the line when the drone is out over the water. This release mechanism should be centered beneath your drone. If you’ve got a camera attached to your drone, make sure not to attach your release to the camera. It might cause serious damage or accidentally pull your camera into the water.

If your drone has legs, you can use the legs to suspend the release clip underneath the drone. If it doesn’t have legs, you might be able to attach the release mechanism to the bottom of your drone. Consider the combined weight of a camera and a fishing line. If your camera is detachable, it might be a good idea to detach it while fishing with your drone.

With your release securely fastened to the drone, take the line from your fishing rod and attach it to drone’s release. Now you’re ready to let it fly. With some practice, drone fishing can vastly increase your capabilities for on-shore fishing, but you should be prepared for the drone to slow you down at first if you’re used to casting by hand.

Any drone you use will need to have an onboard GPS you can monitor from your smartphone. Without this, you won’t be able to gauge accurately how far out over the water your drone has gone. You won’t know when the drone is exiting the range of communication with your remote. Trying to guess how far to send out your drone is not worth the risk.

Important Things To Keep In Mind

man holding a drone controller

Before you set out on a fishing trip, make sure that you’ve packed enough spare batteries for the drone. Most drone batteries run out quickly, and when they do your fishing companion is done for the day. That’s why a spare battery pack can be a lifesaver. Expect that on a full charge a drone has about 20 minutes of run time, roughly enough time to cast off three or four times without stopping. Batteries typically cost around $50.

Also, make sure that the rod you’re using is up to the task of long casts. You’ll need a reel that has a length of at least 500 meters. Spools of fishing line can be heavy, which is why you’ll need a sturdy rod that won’t snap. Expect the spool to be between 30 and 50 pounds when fully spun up. Consider using a braided line rather than a mono spool. This will help compact the size of your reel.

An overhead reel is not ideal for short casts, but it is a good idea for long casting like the casts you’ll be using with the drone. If you think you’ll use it, consider picking up a rod with an overhead reel and use this as your drone fishing rod. The overhead reel reduces the risk that the line might tangle. Remember that a tangled line can send your drone straight into the water.

A Shimano TLD25 is a great fishing rod to use. Attach a reel that can hold 500 meters of line and you’re all set to go out. If you want to compromise and have a line that you can use in several different situations, consider a surfcasting reel which you can use for fishing from the beach as well.

Always remember to watch for sudden gusts of wind. Drones aren’t cheap, and that’s why you always want to mitigate the risk to your equipment as much as possible. If the skies are cloudy and the wind appears to be picking up, you won’t regret playing it safe and bringing your drone back to shore.


Don’t Lose Your Drone While Drone Fishing

With any drone, there is a risk of accidentally navigating outside of its range. If your drone flies too far from your control, it can lose connection with the remote mechanism. If it’s flying over the open ocean, the result is your drone plunging straight into “the drink.” Most drones have a roughly 300-yard range but check with the manufacturer to find out exactly how far out your drone can go.

Even if your drone loses battery or connection to your remote and falls into the water, you can still retrieve it if there’s a line attached to it. You might attach two lines to the drone, one with the hook that can be deployed when it’s out over open water and the other that can be a kind of safety line you can use to reel in the drone if it crashes. Just make sure these lines don’t get tangled.

It’s always best to plan ahead. Practicing flying your drone over land before you take your drone out over the water. This dry run will let you know what to expect from the battery and remote range. A crash over land can cause damage to your drone too, so be as cautious as you can be. But a drone that falls to Earth is a lot easier to retrieve than one that’s been lost to the sea.

Conclusion

drone facing sunset

Using your drone to assist in fishing is a clever way to make use of drone technology. Make sure to give yourself lots of practice with your drone, but make sure to do so in an area where flying drones won’t bring complaints from your fellow beachgoers.

Because drones are still a relatively new technology, they operate in something of a grey area legally. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates air travel, and drones fall under their jurisdiction, so you should go to the FAA’s website before drone fishing in a public space. It’s also a good idea to check for any restrictions at the beach where you want to fly before you go.

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