12 Best Drones for Fishing in 2022 + Convert ANY Drone to a Fishing Drone
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There I was, 2:30 in the morning, and I realized I had been binge watching drone fishing videos for 4 hours! I knew I had to rig up my drone for fishing and get in on the excitement. A couple questions though: can I use my drone for fishing? Do I need a special fishing drone? What are the best drones for fishing?
The short answer is you can use ANY drone for fishing. Whether you are using it for scouting fishing spots, filming your catch or even casting your line, any drone can be used for fishing as long as it is rigged up correctly. There are a few qualities that make some drones better for fishing though: long battery life, good stability and long range (waterproof wouldn’t hurt either since you’ll be flying it over water…). Which drone you pick will ultimately be decided by your goals. Do you want a dedicated fishing drone? Or do you want a drone that you can sometimes fish with? Below, I walk through what drone fishing is, how to start drone fishing and also 15 of the best fishing drones on the market today.
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What is drone fishing?
The term “drone fishing” conjures up images of fighting a 200 pound marlin with nothing but a radio transmitter in your hand while you struggle to pull the mighty fish ashore with your drone hovering above. As cool as that sounds, that is not what is meant by drone fishing (and it probably wouldn’t be legal). But don’t worry, what drone fishing actually entails is still REALLY COOL! Check this video out:
Drone fishing covers a couple of unique uses for your drone. The closest thing to the dream described above is using your drone as a way to deliver a bait or lure to a fishing spot. Instead of casting your bait and hoping you are accurate enough to land it anywhere near where you are trying to fish, you carry your fishing line and bait out to the exact place you want to drop the bait.
The second way to use a drone for fishing is to use the drones camera to scout for fishing spots. If you want to catch fish, you got to be where the fish are hanging out. Finding good fishing spots used to take a lot of trial and error and long days on the water to find a few good spots. With a good fishing drone, you can scout out an entire shoreline, river or lake in a single day looking for the right structure, habitat, etc that are sure to hold some fish!
The third way to use a drone while fishing is probably my favorite. Filming your fishing adventure with a drone can provide you with some amazing footage of your day out on the water. From panoramic shots of your fishing hole to live action footage of you fighting some fish. Filming yourself fishing with a drone will bring a whole new level of enjoyment to your time out on the water!
How to scout for fish with a drone?
All the same rules for scouting for fish apply. You just get speed up the process and have a little more fun scouting for fish with a drone. Finding your target species of fish on a body of water depends on so many things. Are you surf fishing at the beach or fishing the edge of a lake? Are you trying to catch largemouth bass or catfish? Different environments have different qualities and different fish hang out in different places. If you are serious about catching more and bigger fish, I highly recommend you get to learning and trying different techniques. There are countless books, blogs (check out Wired2Fish), and YouTube channels dedicated to make you a more successful fisherman (or woman).
If you just want to get started scouting for fish with a drone, I can give you some simple scouting advice that works for 99% of the fish out there: look for anything different.
Thankfully for us that like to fish, fish don’t just swim around aimlessly. That would make them hard to find in massive bodies of water. They love structure: brush piles, overhanging limbs, rock piles, ledges, sandbars, etc. If there is 100 yards of lake shore with nothing but grass and there is a downed tree in the water. There may be fish elsewhere but I can GUARANTEE there are fish around that downed tree.
Structure isn’t the only thing that attracts fish. They love changes in the water: clear water to murky water, slow moving water to fast moving water, etc. Look for fish to congregate where there are changes in the water.
- If you are drone fishing from the beach (ie. surf fishing), the typical spots to scout for fish with a drone would be the surf line (ie. where the waves are rolling over) or on rock jetties or sandbars.
- If you are drone fishing on a lake, pond or river, look for structure like submerged logs, brush piles, sandbars or even shady spots
Scouting for fish with a drone is hands down the easiest way to spot these differences which will mean that when you do start casting your line out, you are maximizing your chances of landing a ton of fish!
How to film yourself fishing with a drone?
As I mentioned above, filming yourself fishing with a drone may be the coolest thing a good fishing drone can do that will preserve your great fishing memories in all their cinematic goodness. Fishing is usually a game of patience, especially if you are using live bait or some other method a fishing that doesn’t require reeling or active lure manipulation. Apart from sipping on a cold one, you can use this downtime to film some amazing shots of yourself fishing with your drone.
While I like scenic drone fishing footage as much as the next person, what I really love is live action drone fishing caught on camera! If you are using one of the drones mentioned below with active tracking, you can just make the drone take off and follow and film you as you fight your fish! (TIP: Make sure you have a good hook set and hold onto your rod. Remember the goal is catch MORE fish with a drone not lose fish because your too busy trying to get a video.) Even if you don’t have tracking on your drone, you can either have someone else film for you or just make sure you set up in frame of the drone and let it hover there capturing the whole fight on camera!
Filming yourself fishing with a drone is addicting. And the best part is, no matter how slow the fishing is that day, you can always fly your drone!
How to drop bait with a drone?
Using your fishing drone to actually drop a bait in the perfect location may be the most ingenious way to utilize your drone to catch more fish. The idea is simple: you attach your line to the drone and fly it out to where you want it and bombs away!
The idea is not new in the fishing community, fishing drones just take it to another level. Kite fishing has been used for a long time with lots of success. The idea being that an actual kite holds the bait above where the fish should be and when a fish bites, the line releases from the kite so that you can fight the fish!
The simple device that makes this all possible is called a downrigger release clip. As soon as tension is applied to the line, the clip releases.
The big difference with drone fishing is that we just use the drone to carry the bait where we want and then we apply tension to the line have the release clip drop the bait. You would drain your drone batteries in a hurry if your fishing drone had to hold the bait until the fish came like in kite fishing.
A few tips when rigging up your drone for fishing:
- Make sure there is plenty of slack in the line so that you don’t yank your rod out into the water
- Make sure when you are flying the drone out to the desired spot that it stays higher than the rod or you risk tangling the line in the rotors
- Finally, keep the drone higher up in the air so as to not spook the fish!
Is drone fishing legal?
So the last thing I want is for you to get in trouble with Johnny Law when you are just trying to have a nice afternoon on the water. There are three main things to staying legal while fishing with a drone.
- Is it legal to fly a drone where you are fishing? This varies country by country and state by state. Do some research to make sure you can legally fly a drone at all where you want to fish. Call somebody if you have to. This is the main way you will get in trouble drone fishing.
- Can you legally fish? Almost 100% of the time, you are going to be required to having a fishing license to go fishing at all. The costs are generally extremely low, especially if you are a resident of the state you are fishing in. The best place to ask about fishing laws and buy fishing licenses is at local sporting goods stores or bait shops.
- Is it legal to fish with a drone? The short answer is YES, in most places. The general rule of thumb is that it would be illegal to use the drone to help you fight the fish. Since we are just using it to scout or drop a bait, it should be A-OK. Make sure to do your own research about your area and their laws and regulations. I am not a lawyer (I’m a fisherman). I am not responsible for the hefty fine you might receive because you were to lazy to do a little research.
What makes a good fishing drone?
If you are wondering if the drone you already have is a good candidate for fishing or you are looking to buy a new fishing drone, knowing what you are looking for is a must. There a few things you want to take into consideration when looking for the best drone for fishing: battery life, camera, range, stability and payload.
Nothing would ruin a great fishing trip like a dead battery. Between scouting for fish, filming the serenity of nature and dropping baits above the hungry mouths of your quarry, you are going to burn through some drone batteries in a hurry while drone fishing.
So first things first, you want a drone with a long lasting battery. Even that though won’t be enough to keep you on the water catching fish all afternoon. You are going to need extra batteries and even a portable battery charger if you want to be catching fish all day!
If you are just dropping baits from your drone while fishing, then you can skimp on camera quality, but if you want to use your fishing drone for scouting you are going to want a high quality camera to spot all the likely fish hang-outs.
If you are going to film your drone fishing expeditions, than buy the best quality camera drone you can afford. Nothing is more disheartening then finally landing the big one, thinking you have it all on video, only to find out the image is grainy and your friends can’t tell if you caught a fish or an old boot!
Super long range isn’t extremely important when it comes to drone fishing as most fishing reels can only hold a couple hundred yards of line. But, I would recommend against opting for short range drones because you are going to be flying this thing over water. Better safe than sorry when your talking about investing in your fishing drone.
Wind can definitely be a factor, especially fishing from the beach. You are going to want a drone that is super stable. Otherwise, you are going to miss out on a lot of good drone fishing days just because of a little wind.
Remember, we aren’t fighting the fish with the drone so the payload capacity doesn’t have to be absurd, but your fishing drone will be carrying at least a hook and lure. When you start adding fishing weights and larger pieces of bait, you need to be a lot more careful with payload capacity.
Do I need a waterproof drone?
It couldn’t hurt! But for the most part, you can go drone fishing without getting your drone soaked. Just be aware of how waterproof or water resistant your drone is before you attempt anything risky just for a fish…
What are the best drones for fishing?
Gannet has built a top of the line drone specifically for fishing! From the mechanical release to the color, everything has been designed with drone fishing in mind! Serious drone fishing enthusiasts have been dying to get their hands on this thing.
As their site says, the Gannet Pro fishing drones have been designed as short-distance delivery drones, unlike most other drones that are symmetrical camera platforms, with a camera hanging from the bottom and able to fly at near identical speeds in any direction, the Gannets are streamlined to fly forward significantly faster and with less power usage than most camera platform drones.
- Fully waterproof
- Stable in high wind
- Built in droprigger release
- High payload capacity
- Built specifically for drone fishing and limited in features for the other amazing uses for drones
Who is the fishing drone for: the avid drone fisherman looking for a dedicated fishing drone.
The people over at Swellpro have also taken notice to the growing trend of drone fishing with their own dedicated drone fishing machine. The Splash Drone 3 has many of the same features as the Gannet Pro Fishing Drone so if you are looking for a dedicated fishing drone, those are the two you might want to do a side by side comparison on.
- Waterproof and saltwater friendly
- Remote controlled droprigger release
- Small payload capacity
- Built specifically for drone fishing
Who is the fishing drone for: the avid drone fisherman looking for a dedicated fishing drone.
Um did you say shark fishing with a drone?! Leave it up to some crazy guys from South Africa that have taken to drone fishing so seriously that they are building custom fishing drones specifically with shark fishing in mind! To say these are overkill would be an understatement and that’s what makes them so awesome! You’ll have to reach out to them directly because they build mostly custom fishing drone packages to suit their clients’ extreme needs!
- Heavy payload capacity
- Custom built for drone fishing (specifically sharks!)
- May be a tad overkill
Who is the fishing drone for: the insanely passionate drone fishermen who wants to battle the biggest and the baddest fish.
While not specifically designed for drone fishing, the Autel X Star Premium drone is a crowd favorite at a budget price. The high quality camera and long range make this drone a great all purpose drone that could easily be outfitted for some fishing. Just add a droprigger release clip and you are to catch some giants!
- 4K Ultra HD Camera
- Quick detach camera gimbal
- Long range
- Hard to find in stock
Who is this fishing drone for: the budget minded first time drone buyer who occasionally wants to go drone fishing.
This sleek looking drone from UPair has all kinds of cool features including a 3 lens camera, follow me mode, flight path and other desirable features! The UPair Two has all the features needed to do everything from scout for fish to film yourself drone fishing to bringing the bait out (with a little setup). And for the price, it is a great way to get into drone fishing without breaking the bank!
- 4K Ultra HD camera
- Follow me mode
- Budget friendly
- You could nitpick a few things but for a starter drone, it’s hard to beat.
Who is this fishing drone for: the beginner looking to dip their toe in the water (sorry I had to) in drone fishing.
Why take a quadcopter drone fishing when you can take a hexacopter?! Six rotors and the highest quality camera make the Typhoon an absolute beast of a machine. You may not catch a fish all day but you will have cinema quality footage to amaze your friends and family. And for all that quality, it’s gonna cost you!
- Insanely high quality camera
- Videographers dream
Who is this fishing drone for: the drone fisherman who wants top of the line, high quality videos to show off!
If you thought those guys at Sharkan were building crazy drones for fishing, you need to check out Aero Kontiki. This is the Ferrari of fishing drones! Carbon fiber everything. Crazy accurate GPS. Automatic line release. These drones are unbelievable. If you are the type of person that needs the nicest everything, then this is the ticket!
- Carbon fiber construction for strength
- Great battery life
- Automatic line release
- It will cost you a kidney!
Who is this fishing drone for: the drone fisherman who has everything and wants the best
Marketed as a “Smart Drone”, this is technological equivalent of the GoPro. Easy to use. Control it with your smart phone. High tech to the max. And funny enough it doesn’t come with a camera. That’s because the 3DR Solo is designed to carry your GoPro. So if you somehow don’t already own a GoPro, you will have to pick one of those up too if you want to do any scouting or filming with your new fishing drone.
- Easy to use
- Built for GoPro
- Built for GoPro (I know its both a pro and a con because if you don’t have a GoPro it’s an added cost)
Who is this fishing drone for: the GoPro owner wanting to take their action filming to the skies!
DJI owns the drone space. So all of their models are top notch! The Phantom 4 was built with beginner drone flyers in mind with 5 obstacle sensors and other features to make flying the drone a breeze. This is a great all around platform to get started not only in drone fishing but drones in general.
- High-quality camera
- Stabilization system
- Loud and bulky
Who is this fishing drone for: the drone fisherman who wants to do more with their drone than just fish
How much fishing equipment do I own? YES. In all seriousness though, fishing equipment is bulky and I always have to bring one more rod, some extra tackle, a camp chair, never forget the cooler. And now I have to bring a fishing drone with me too? The DJI Mavic Pro is built for portability with its folding design. This makes it the ideal drone for fishing for the fishermen with too much gear!
- Foldable design
- 4K Camera
- Android app sometimes faulty
Who is the fishing drone for: the person that takes way too much with them, because let’s face it: more gear = more fish of course
A go-to for aspiring drone videographers, the DJI Inspire 2 is the ultimate platform for building a fishing drone that makes National Geographic quality videos! Is it overkill for just fishing? Hell yes. But if you are looking more than just a drone for fishing, the video capabilities of the Inspire 2 are unmatched!
- Amazing build quality
- Plenty of features
- Extremely reliable
- Good battery life
- Pricey but you get what you pay for
Who is this fishing drone for: the drone fisherman who wants top of the line, high quality videos to show off!
All the great video prowess of the Inspire 2 in a smaller, more portable package! To me it’s a cross between the packability and portability of the Mavic Pro and videography of the Inspire 2. Lots to love for the drone fisherman concerned with high quality video when scouting and filming. The Inspire 1 Pro also has a spotlight feature so it can lock onto you filming you while you reel in the big one!
- Spotlight feature
- Lots of camera features means a steeper learning curve to get the most out of it
Who is this fishing drone for: the person who wants the best of both worlds
How to convert any drone to a fishing drone
So if you are looking to take your drone or any of the drones listed above that are not specifically designed for dropping a bait and turn it into a drone for fishing. You have a few options.
The budget option is the tried and true downrigger release clip like these. All you do is pinch the line between the clip, fly the bait off to the desire location and give a quick tug to the line and it will pull free from your fishing drone and drop in the water.
The other option would be to use a remote controlled payload delivery system. You will have to find one that fits your new fishing drone but take a look here.
And lastly, it would be irresponsible of me not to mention that there is always the possibility your drone could take a swim. And unless your drone is designed to float like the Swellpro Splash 3, your drone will sink. But luckily the fine people over at Getterback have a solution for that. It is an automated drone recovery device that shoots your drone to the surface for you to recover with CO2 gas. A little peace of mind to go with your peaceful day on the water!
So hopefully you are convinced that the world of drone fishing has a lot to offer. The biggest thing you have to decide is what your budget is and what else you want to do with your drone. Do you want a dedicated drone for fishing? Or do you want a all-purpose drone?
So what do you think? Are you going to giving drone fishing a shot? Which drone are you going to use for fishing?