What Is Drone Fishing and How Does it Work? A Reel Innovation That Transforms Angling

What is drone fishing? It’s the practice of using a drone to cast your bait precisely where the fish are biting, without the constraints of shore or boat-based fishing. This article unpacks the process, the equipment needed, and the practicalities of adopting drone fishing, providing insights on how this tech-forward method is reshaping angling.

Last Updated: 12:13, 9 April 2024
author icon Written By: Benjamin Wilson

Key Takeaways

  • Drone fishing utilizes remote-controlled drones to locate fish, cast lines, and drop bait, providing extended casting range and precise lure control without the need for a boat.

  • Key components for effective drone fishing include a suitable drone with a release mechanism that drop the bait, proper fishing gear, and an understanding of drone operation, with emphasis on the drone’s waterproofing, payload capacity, and flight time.

  • While drone fishing offers advantages like cost savings and efficient fish scouting, it also requires awareness of safety precautions, legal considerations, and environmental impacts to ensure sustainable and responsible fishing practices.

The Basics of Drone Fishing

Drone flying over the ocean

If you’ve ever dreamed of casting your line beyond the horizon without a boat, drone fishing is your answer. But how does it work? At its core, drone fishing uses a remote-controlled drone to locate fish, cast lines, and drop bait. The aerial perspective from the drone’s camera enables you to spot fish more effectively. The fishing line is then attached to the drone using snap and release technology, allowing you to cast the line at the exact location you want. It’s a game-changer for surf fishing, casting the line far from the shore, and attracting big fish that usually keep their distance.

As with learning any new skill, practice and dedication are key to drone fishing. The challenges of limited battery life and shortened flight durations can make extended scouting sessions difficult, but don’t let that deter you. Start with a cheaper model to hone your skills and then upgrade to a high-end drone when you’re ready.

Key Components for Drone Fishing

Drone with fishing gear and release mechanism

Just like traditional fishing, drone fishing requires specific equipment to get started. The fundamental elements for drone fishing encompass a suitable drone, a release mechanism, fitting fishing gear, and an understanding of drone operation. The release mechanism is a crucial component that ensures bait dropping at the right spot at the right time. There are various types of release mechanisms available, like electronic bait release systems, tension-triggered release lines, and even integrated bait droppers found in certain drone models like the SplashDrone 4 and Fisherman FD1.

When it comes to fishing lines, it’s advisable to use a thin line with a high breaking point. The strength of the line is determined by its type and diameter, so it’s important to choose wisely. Similarly, the type of reel you choose for drone fishing depends on your personal preferences and the species of fish you’re targeting. Spinning and overhead reels are common choices among drone fishers.

In addition to these physical components, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of drone operation. This knowledge will help you scout, cast, and drop bait effectively.

Advantages of Drone Fishing

Drone casting fishing line

Drone fishing’s allure stems from its numerous advantages over conventional angling methods. One of the main benefits is the extended casting range. By using a drone, you can cast your line up to 100 meters, significantly increasing your chances of catching fish. This is especially beneficial for surf fishing, where the ability to cast farther from the shore can be a game-changer.

Drone fishing also provides better lure control. By attaching the bait line to the drone, you can position your lure with greater accuracy, making it easier to reach specific areas where fish are likely to be located. Scouting for fishing spots is another task where drones come in handy. A quick aerial survey can help you spot schools of fish and identify fruitful fishing areas.

Lastly, drone fishing can lead to significant time and cost savings for recreational fishing enthusiasts by reducing the need for boat rentals and fuel, and by cutting down the time spent on scouting for fish, making drone fishing work efficiently once they started drone fishing.

Selecting the Right Drone for Fishing

Waterproof drone for fishing

Selecting the appropriate drone for fishing is a pivotal step in ensuring a successful drone fishing experience. Several factors come into play here, including:

  • Whether the drone is waterproof

  • Its payload capacity

  • Flight time

  • Control range

We’ll delve into each of these factors in the subsequent subsections.

Waterproof vs Non-Waterproof Drones

Waterproofing is a vital consideration when selecting a drone for fishing. Given the aquatic nature of the activity, it is likely that your drone will come into contact with water. Waterproof drones, like the SplashDrone 4, are designed to withstand harsh marine environments, making them ideal for fishing. Some other popular waterproof drones include the PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard and the Walkera Rodeo 110, known for their reliable performance in wet conditions.

However, it’s also possible to use non-waterproof drones for fishing. The key is to exercise caution and take extra protective measures to avoid damage from water exposure. Remember, non-waterproof drones are not inherently designed for use near water, so it’s crucial to handle them carefully.

Payload Capacity

Payload capacity refers to the maximum weight a drone can carry - this includes your bait and fishing equipment. In drone fishing, the payload capacity is a crucial factor that determines the drone’s ability to handle the required weight. The payload capacity of a drone is influenced by various factors, including the size and power of the drone’s motors, the battery capacity, and environmental conditions.

Most fishing drones have a payload capacity of about 1 to 2 kilograms, which is adequate for carrying basic fishing gear. If you want to enhance your drone’s payload capacity, you can conduct tests and make modifications to improve the drone’s flight time and lifting capacity. Aim for a payload capacity that allows the drone to carry a weight of 300-400g, surpassing the weight of the largest planned bait.

Flight Time and Control Range

Flight time and control range are two more factors to consider when choosing a fishing drone. Flight time refers to how long the drone can stay airborne on a single charge, while control range refers to how far the drone can travel from the controller. In general, fishing drones should have a flight time of around 30 minutes. This allows enough time for scouting and operation over water without the need for frequent recharging.

The control range, on the other hand, should be large enough to reach your desired fishing spots. While the exact range can vary, a control range of approximately 800 m to 1 km is usually sufficient for most fishing needs. Just be sure to check local regulations to ensure that drone fishing is legal in your area.

Essential Drone Fishing Accessories

Angler operating a drone for fishing

After selecting your drone, the next step is to contemplate the accessories. The most effective release mechanisms for drone fishing include the Gannet drone bait release, which is compatible with all DJI Drones and provides excellent casting. When it comes to fishing rods and reels, you’ll need a large capacity surfcasting reel with a free-spool function. Spinning reels are also a good option due to their versatility.

Using a high-quality fishing line is also beneficial. It improves control and stability, preventing the line from being pulled down and away from the drone. A high-quality line with a small diameter and high breaking strength allows for better precision when dropping the baited line.

Mastering Drone Fishing Techniques

Mastering drone fishing techniques, like any new skill, demands time and practice. Starting with the basics, beginners should focus on learning how to hover and land the drone in a stationary position. Once you’re comfortable with these fundamental maneuvers, you can start experimenting with more advanced techniques, such as drone casting to target specific areas.

Using drones for fish scouting is another technique worth mastering to catch fish. By flying the drone over the water, you can gain a bird’s eye view of the aquatic environment and identify areas where fish are congregating. Over time, you’ll find that these skills significantly improve your drone fishing experience.

Never overlook the safety and legality aspects of drone fishing as they are two pivotal aspects. While drones can be used for scouting fish, casting lines, and dropping bait within legal limits, it’s prohibited to use a drone to pull a hooked fish out of the water or closer to the angler. Is drone fishing legal? Drones are generally recognized as aircraft by most states, making them subject to local and federal aviation regulations.

In terms of safety, it’s important to monitor weather conditions and conduct regular drone maintenance to prevent accidents or malfunctions. To ensure you’re adhering to local regulations, consider using apps or tools that provide up-to-date information on drone flying regulations in your area.

Overcoming Drone Fishing Challenges

Drone fishing, like any activity, presents its unique set of challenges. One common issue is the pendulum effect, where the rig, including the bait and sinker, swings back and forth like a pendulum, causing instability in the drone. This can be prevented by keeping the weight around 4 to 6 meters below the pivot point of the drone and experimenting with different types of rigs.

Drone stability is another challenge, especially in windy conditions. The compass sensor is crucial for maintaining the stability of the fishing drone during flight. By addressing these issues and others related to drone fishing, you can overcome potential challenges and enjoy a successful fishing experience.

Real-Life Drone Fishing Success Stories

Real-life success stories could sway your opinion if you’re still doubtful about drone fishing. Here are a few examples:

  • The Sea Ulcer Youtube video, “Drone Fishing For Tuna”, went viral with over 5.3 million views, inspiring many to try drone fishing.

  • In Australia, a blog chronicling the drone fishing adventures of four friends has attracted significant attention within the fishing community.

  • An innovative drone fishing technique developed by a man from Dunsborough has also gained attention within the fishing community.

These success stories show the potential of drone fishing and may help alleviate any doubts you have.

These stories highlight the potential of drone fishing, or fishing with a drone. For example, John Bertolasio caught the largest fish using a drone, setting a new record in this innovative field of angling. Drone fishing has also expanded the range of fishing, allowing anglers to access different aquatic environments, from saltwater to frozen lakes, rivers, and freshwater bodies. These stories prove that with the right equipment and techniques, anyone can enjoy the thrill of drone fishing.

Tips for First-Time Drone Fishers

Here are some tips to get you started if you’re a novice keen on trying drone fishing. Begin with practicing basic drone operations, such as hovering and landing, and familiarizing yourself with movements like yaw, pitch, and roll. This will help you master fundamental drone maneuvers before you start fishing.

It’s also important to fly your drone in a safe and legally compliant manner. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Always monitor battery levels and the drone’s altitude during flight

  • Make sure your drone has safety features such as obstacle avoidance and return-to-home functions

  • Always have spare parts like hook sections, release wires, spare batteries, and spare propellers on hand. These can be lifesavers in case of unexpected malfunctions.

Environmental Impact and Ethical Concerns

Despite the numerous benefits of drone fishing, one must consider its environmental and ethical implications. Overexploitation is a major concern, as drone fishing provides anglers with access to specific fish populations and increases the probability of fish mortality, even for released fish.

From an ethical standpoint, the convenience of drone fishing could potentially diminish the competitive aspect of sportfishing, leading to significant conservation concerns. As drone fishers, it’s crucial to practice responsible angling and ensure the sustainability of fish populations for future generations.


In conclusion, drone fishing is a revolutionary approach to angling that brings together technology and nature in a unique way. While it does require certain skills and equipment, with practice and patience, anyone can master this innovative method. Remember to fly safely, respect local regulations, and practice responsible angling to ensure the sustainability of fish populations. Happy drone fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does drone fishing work?

Drone fishing works by using drones to scout for fish from the air and drop bait into the water from a distance, allowing for greater casting range.

What do you need for drone fishing?

For drone fishing, you will need a large capacity surfcasting reel or a big overhead reel with 30-50lbs braided fishing line, preferably with a free-spool function. Braided line is recommended for its flexibility and casting range, but keep in mind that it is highly visible in the water.

Are fishing drones worth it?

Yes, fishing drones can be worth it as they allow you to extend your reach and target specific areas where you know the fish are, with the added advantage of a payload release mechanism.

Is drone fishing banned?

Yes, drone fishing is banned in some states, such as Hawaii, due to concerns about harassing wildlife.

What is the practice of drone fishing and what specific function does it fulfill?

Drone fishing is the practice of using a remote-controlled drone to scout for fish, cast lines, and drop bait, enhancing traditional angling methods by providing a bird's eye view of the water and allowing for greater casting range.

Meet the tester

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Benjamin Wilson
Benjamin, with a background in naval architecture, is passionate about RC boats. From sailboats to speedboats, he's sailed them all. Based in Florida, he's our anchor when it comes to all things aquatic in the RC world.
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