Drone Fishing: An Odd Tech Experience

When you hear someone say ‘drone fishing,’ your first thought may be of watching your $500 drone get pulled underwater by a medium-sized trout. 

Not a good outcome for such a large investment, you may think. But when drone fishing is explained, it will make a lot more sense.

How does drone fishing work, and why should you consider using your expensive drone in this way? Read on and all will become clear!

What Is Drone Fishing?

One challenge of surf fishing is getting your line out far enough that you can get to where larger fish can take your bait. If you are creative, you can figure out ways to get your line out farther than your casting skills can take it.

A Brilliant Idea

Here’s one idea: place your rod in a sand pole, lighten up the drag, take your sinker in hand and swim out to where you want the hook to be.

When you are out far enough, continue to pull line out of your reel until the line goes slack, indicating the sinker has hit bottom,

There are drawbacks to this approach. For one, you get wet. You also face the hazards that come from tides and currents, not to mention sharks. So is there an alternative?

Drone Vs. Swim

Drone fishing involves the same concept, although you will stay much drier, and you can even get your line out farther than the swim method without fear of sea hazards.

Drone fishing involves hooking your line to a downrigger release clip (see below) attached to the bottom of your drone and then flying your drone out over the water.

Once there, let your drone hover until the proverbial big one hits your bait, and Voila! The line releases and you reel in that trophy.

Is Drone Fishing Legal?

In most places, drone fishing is both legal and unregulated. But you would be wise to check with your state’s fish and game department to be sure.

One place where drone fishing is illegal is in the state of Texas. You may not use drones for finding or catching fish in that state’s waters.

What Does The IGFA Say About Drone Fishing?

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) is the organization that establishes rules for ethical angling and maintains and disburses world records for game fish.

In their view, drone fishing meets IGFA guidelines as long as the drone releases the line when the fish hits the bait.

How Do You Get Prepared for Drone Fishing?

How Do You Get Prepared for Drone Fishing

Back in our country’s colonial days, one of the earliest cookbooks had a recipe for Bear Stew. The first step they recommended? “Shoot a bear.”

In much the same way, your first step in drone fishing is to get an appropriate drone.

Fishing Drone Characteristics

A fishing drone doesn’t have to be a monster with a significant range and a long flight time, but it should be a decent-sized quadcopter with a good load capacity, decent staying power, easy controllability, and that can stand up to wind gusts without flipping and crashing (or in this case, splashing).

Good Fishing Drones

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Some medium-priced ($-$) drones that fit the bill are the DJI Phantom III, the Parrot AR 2.0 Power Edition, and the 3DR IRIS+.

If the price is no object, you can go for the Swellpro Splash Pro III Plus Fishing Bundle, which is water resistant and comes with everything you need for drone fishing included.

But realize that drone will set your pocketbook back about $$$, so it’s not for everyone.

How to Start Drone Fishing

We’ll assume that you opted for one of the lower-priced models. So now you have to prepare your drone for drone fishing. Here’s one way to do that:

Prepare the drone

To keep an equal load on all the propellers, you need to position your downrigger release clip as close to the center of gravity of your drone as you can.

A downrigger release clip is a device that has a spring clip into which you place your line. When something tugs on the line (such as a biting fish), the line releases from the clip.

You may wish to drill small holes in each of the four corners of your drone’s ‘feet’ and attach monofilament lines running crosswise, forming an ‘X’ with the junction of the ‘X’ being at the center point of your drone.

Attach the downrigger

Downriggers come with an attachment line (leader) and an attachment clamp. You should attach the clamp to the ‘X’ formed by the two lines you’ve rigged to your drone’s feet.

Watch your battery

When using the downrigger system, since the fish has to bite before the line releases, remember to monitor your flight time carefully.

Otherwise, you may end up reeling in your drone rather than the fish you had hoped to catch.

Electronic release device

Some drones support an add-on unit called an electronic release device. This allows you to release your line upon demand. An electronic release usually uses only one channel.

The advantage is that you don’t have to wait for the fish to bite to release the line as you do with the downrigger system.

Check your drone’s owner manual or with the manufacturer to see if your drone supports external devices such as this.


So now you have an idea of how to use your drone to enhance your entire fishing experience.

Don’t forget that when you’re fishing in clear water, you can also use your drone to find schools of fish, or look in a fishing hole to see if Ol’ Smokey the trophy trout is swimming by.

For a reasonable investment, you can add a drone to your list of must-have fishing gear and show all your fellow anglers how technology can update even the age-old sport of fishing.

And, you can do it while staying dry!

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