Surf fishing with drones involves using a drone to carry your baited hook and drop it at a precise location offshore, beyond casting range. This method increases casting distance, targets hard-to-reach areas, and improves chances of catching larger fish. Ensure local regulations allow drone fishing before using this technique.
Drone fishing is the latest trending type of angling and with these drone fishing tips, I will help you get a better idea about how to get started.
In this article, I will go through how to select your drone, from battery life to range and the lure release mechanism, some tactics and techniques, maintenance, and advice to help you catch your first fish from a drone-released bait.
If you have any experience with drone fishing then we would love to hear your advice and wisdom in the comments below to share with everyone else.
Drone fishing has given me a magic opportunity to catch big game fish from shore even tuna, tarpon, or mackerel.
Table of Contents
What is Drone Fishing?
Drone fishing is attaching a lure or bait to a release mechanism on a small drone and flying it significantly further into the water than you could possibly achieve by casting a spinning rod.
I have found drone fishing is particularly useful when you want to get your bait further away from shore. This could be due to very shallow water, large surf breaks, deep distance holes, or schools of fish offshore.
FishingFather has a great article showing how to use Google Maps to select better fishing spots. Using a drone takes this to the next level.
It allows you to use your favorite inshore saltwater spinning rod but target fish species that don’t come in close to shore. The use of drone fishing means that you don’t need a large surf rod to get past the waves.
There are a wide variety of drones available for fishing – and you can easily pick a very cheap drone and add a release mechanism with a lot of spare batteries. But for this exercise, I am going to assume that you want a fishing drone that will fulfill all the criteria you need.
Let’s go through the key factors that you should consider before making your purchase including the battery life, range, weight rating, wind rating, release mechanism, and waterproof rating.
Most drone batteries only last for 30 minutes. Given the high winds you often find on beaches and the additional weight of line and bait it will be carrying, this brings it down to around 20 minutes.
I generally assume each cast to be around 10 minutes (5 minutes out and 5 minutes back). So a normal drone will only give you a maximum of 2 casts.
I always recommend going for a much longer-lasting battery or keeping spare batteries in your tackle bag. You can also get a portable battery charger if you have access to power.
The range of your drone is determined by three factors – the battery life, the speed, and the transmission signal.
The transmission signal is the distance that you can still send directions to your drone from your controller. The worst case scenario is seeing your drone flying off into the distance without any ability to bring it back to land. This is the absolute maximum distance that you should ever attempt.
The other piece of the puzzle is the battery. If your battery only lasts 20 minutes (especially when loaded up with a few hundred feet of line), then your maximum distance is how far your drone can travel in 10 minutes and then return to land. This will also be impacted by the wind.
I suggest using your transmission frequency as the maximum range and then determining the battery range yourself with some experimentation.
There are two popular release mechanisms – electronic and mechanical.
An electronic release gives you the longest range and can either be linked in with your drone controller or come with a separate release button. This is as simple as it sounds – a hook or clamp that can be opened up at the press of a button.
The higher-end fishing drones will come with their own electronic release built in.
A mechanical release is more like a hook or clamp with a separate line that you open by pulling the line. This has a lower range but is generally lower cost. I would only recommend a mechanical release if you are on a budget and don’t want to get the really long ranges.
The waterproof rating of your drone might be the only thing to protect it if it falls into the ocean – and this does happen from time to time, particularly as you are learning.
We strongly recommend looking for a high waterproof rating of a fishing drone.
You will also want your drone to float. This means that if you do crash into the water then you can swim out and retrieve it (or even reel it in with your line if it is still attached).
A camera is a useful addition to your fishing drone but it is not a requirement. It is nice to see the area where you are dropping your bait to see if there is a slightly better location. You can often see things from a drone that you cannot see from land – bait fish balls, structure, changes in water color or depth.
If you intend to use your drone for other recreational uses rather than pure fishing then certainly consider getting a camera.
Drone Fishing Video
It can be difficult to get a good appreciation of drone fishing through words alone, so please watch this video. This shows just how easy it can be to set up your drone, cast your bait, and start catching fish. This video comes out of New Zealand but the concepts apply anywhere including the United States.
Drone Fishing Tactics
Drone fishing follows most of your normal local fishing strategies, but it combines fishing from the shore with targeting fish species that you can normally only catch from a boat. For this reason, it is almost better to consider that you are fishing out to sea.
The selection of your bait and rig is just as important as any other form of angling.
Please read through our drone fishing tactics below:
- Check your local laws and regulations around drone use – some areas particularly around airfields or populated areas do not appreciate drones flying around.
- Check the weather conditions – make sure the wind does not exceed your drone’s wind rating. Also, take into account that high wind will use up more of your drone’s battery life.
- Make sure you get yourself a quality beach rod holder so that you don’t have to worry about your rod while you are focused on controlling your drone.
- Don’t exceed the carrying capacity of your drone – this can include several hundred feet of line.
- If you have a heavy sinker on your rig then this can cause your drone to pendulum around. Consider hooking your sinker as close to your drone as possible so it doesn’t swing in the wind.
Making sure your drone lasts for years to come is the best way to get good value for money – and that means good maintenance.
We have put together some simple to follow tips for maintaining your drone. It really depends on the conditions which you will be using your drone. The most common locations are off the beach which means salt and sand.
Keeping your drone clean from salt and sand in between uses is an easy way to get longer life from it.
Have a read through our drone maintenance tips:
- Replace any damaged propellers prior to use – it is much cheaper to replace a propeller than an entire drone.
- Store your drone battery in a dry, cool environment or a fireproof pouch.
- Clean your drone thoroughly with fresh water after use to remove any salt water or sand.
That brings us to the end of our drone fishing tips article. I hope that you have gained a better understanding of the important criteria when looking for a drone and the best tactics to use it. There are also some other guides online if you want more information.
Drone fishing is a relatively new form of angling and I am still trying to figure out the best strategies and techniques for catching more fish with them. If you are an experienced drone fisherman then I would love to hear your own advice that we can pass on to our readers in the comments below. We would love to share your wisdom with your audience.