Best Fishing Drones: Eyes in the Sky and Bait-Dropping Beasts

While drones may seem like an unlikely addition to your fishing arsenal, there are a few situations in which they make a lot of sense.

For instance, if you’re fishing inshore or offshore, or indeed on any large body of water, you probably have a few favorite spots marked on GPS. 

But what happens when these fail?

As good as fish finders are, they’re not yet capable of forward-facing ranges much beyond 100 feet. And in the ocean, or on the Great Lakes, that’s next to nothing.

Quickly locating schooling bait fish from a bird’s eye view out at distances of as much as eleven miles can salvage an expensive trip more than justifying the cost of a drone. This might be especially the case for charter captains, who can’t afford to strike out while clients are aboard, to say nothing of the cost of fuel to cover the same amount of water.

If a drone is sounding like it makes a lot more sense, keep reading!

Below, you’ll find reviews of the best drones for fishing, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed quickly:

Best Fishing Drones Reviewed

DJI Air 2S - Best Reconnaissance Drone for Fishing

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Weight: 595 g

Flight time: 31 minutes (no wind)

Recharge time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Maximum speed: 42 mph

Maximum ceiling: 5000 meters (16404 feet)

Maximum range: 7.5 miles

Wind compensation: Beaufort Level 5 (19-24 mph or 17-21 knots)

Waterproof: No

Image quality: 20 MP/5.4K

DJI is the leading civilian drone manufacturer, and their dominance of the market tells you a lot about the capabilities of the Air 2S. And while much of the marketing is targeted toward videography, we’ll home in on the aspects that matter to fishermen.

This drone is fast, capable of extremely long-range operation, and equipped with an impressive camera. Reaching maximum speeds of 42 mph, with flight times as long as 31 minutes, the Air 2S is able to compensate for significant wind while reaching distances as great as 7.5 miles from your location.

It can also be fully recharged in less than two hours, making multiple flights to find fish a reality.

These specs matter for anglers.

Imagine this scenario: you’re on your boat and striking out at your favorite honey holes. You need to locate schooling baitfish to find the prey that determine the location of predators. The faster you can cover water and the greater your speed, operating distance, and flight time, the faster you’ll be able to figure out where you need to be to be on the fish.

And since wind is pretty much guaranteed on big water, having a drone that’s capable of bucking a Beaufort 5 breeze means that you can fly even when the conditions are tough.

The gimbal-mounted camera on the DJI Air 2S articulates through a wide range of angles, allowing three-axis control and downward viewing. That’s ideal when you’re looking for fish. And for about $20, you can buy an aftermarket polarized lens of the camera, giving you water-penetrating views that will help you catch fish on challenging days.

While this drone has plenty of bells and whistles that appeal to videographers and camera enthusiasts, we’re highlighting the features that we think matter most to anglers.

But keep in mind that like most drones, if you end up in the water, that’s game over!

I wouldn’t recommend pushing the battery to its maximum when fishing, as that’ll be an expensive lesson if it fails mid-flight.

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Very long-range
  • Excellent wind compensation
  • Great flight time
  • Awesome camera and gimbal mount
  • Aftermarket polarizing lenses are available
  • Quick recharge

Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Not waterproof

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro - Drone Quadcopter UAV with Hasselblad Camera 3-Axis Gimbal HDR 4K Video Adjustable Aperture 20MP 1' CMOS Sensor, up to 48mph, Gray

Amazon 

Weight: 907 g

Flight time: 31 minutes (no wind)

Recharge time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Speed: 44.7 mph

Maximum ceiling: 6000 meters (19685 feet)

Maximum range: 11.18 miles

Wind resistance: Beaufort Level 5 (19-24 mph or 17-21 knots)

Waterproof: No

Image quality: 4K

DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro is a powerful drone that’s designed around camera and video enthusiasts. Larger, but just as fast as the Air 2S, the Mavic Pro 2 boasts a much longer range - just over 11 miles - but the same realistic flight time.

For me, that makes the Air 2S the better drone for fishing.

Let me explain why.

There’s no question that the Mavic 2 Pro has awesome specs: it’s fast, it’s very long range, and it can handle stiff winds with no problem. And like the Air 2S, this drone has an awesome gimbal and an even more impressive camera: the amazing Hasselblad L1D-20c.

But its heavier weight means that even though it sports a longer range, your flight time is still limited to 31 minutes under ideal conditions. The flight controller needs a bit longer to recharge than the Air 2S as well, though not significantly so.

Now, if you want to make simply amazing videos of your fishing adventures, post them to YouTube or in commercials for your charter fishing company, the Mavic 2 Pro is unbeatable.

But as an angling tool for reconnaissance, that incredible (and expensive) camera just isn’t necessary at all, though the greater range might pay off.

If you need or want maximum recon range, the Mavic 2 Pro is going to deliver that in spades, but you’ll pay a premium for that added distance: more than twice the cost of the Air 2S.

As you’d expect, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is equipped with bells and whistles that allow it to hover, track, and circle above targets, but as with all drones designed around video enthusiasts, many of these features will be wasted on anglers who just want to find fish.

As with the Air 2S, aftermarket polarizing filters are available, though they’re a bit more expensive.

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Extremely long-range
  • Excellent wind compensation
  • Great flight time
  • Unbeatable camera and gimbal mount
  • Aftermarket polarizing lenses are available
  • Quick recharge

Cons:

  • Very expensive!
  • Not waterproof

SwellPro FD1 - Best Bait Delivery and Trolling Drone

SwellPro Waterproof Fisherman FD1 Fishing FPV basic Bundle with PL2-F Bait Release with camera, GL-1 FPV Goggles and VTX Video Transmitter, CP01.022

Amazon 

Weight: 2050 g

Flight time: 30 minutes (no wind and no load)

Recharge time: 90 minutes

Speed: 22.3 mph

Maximum ceiling: ?

Maximum range: 1 mile

Wind resistance: Beaufort Level 7 (32-38 mph or 28-33 knots)

Waterproof: Yes, IP67 waterproof rating

Image quality: 800x480 resolution

The SwellPro FD1 is a very different take on the idea of a fishing drone.

Not designed around videography, it’s instead a large platform designed to lift heavy baits and deliver them to hard-to-reach places from the shore.

As such, its specifications and use are very different from either of the DJI models we’ve reviewed above, and its intended application is fishing from the shore, whether that’s the beach or the bank.

The FD1 has a powerful battery and motor, producing incredible lift. Its maximum payload is a massive 4.4 pounds, allowing very large baits to be delivered precisely to where you want them. It can even be used for trolling with lighter loads, employing a quick release system that releases your line on a strike so that you can set the hook and begin your fight.

The FD1 is capable of five “drops” of 1.7 pounds at distances of up to 650 yards on a single charge, requiring 90 minutes to be back at full power after you’ve exhausted your battery.

And unlike the delicate DJIs, the SwellPro is completely waterproof. If you happen to crash it into the sea, or run it out of batteries, it’ll be just fine. If it’s still running, it can even right itself and take off again, making use of its “Power-Flip” feature. 

It’s also capable of bucking near gale-force winds, operating in the rain or spray, and generally bucking anything Mother Nature can throw at it!

This model comes with the PL2-F payload release, which includes a basic camera that can also help you spot fish from the sand.

I wouldn’t choose this drone over either of the DJIs as a recon option, but if I were looking for a way to cast farther from shore than is humanly possible, with pin-point precision, the FD1 is just the ticket.

Pros:

  • Unbelievable wind compensation
  • Massive load for carrying large baits
  • Waterproof!
  • Can flip itself over in the water and take off!
  • Can allow you to troll!

Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Slow
  • Low range
  • Basic camera at best

Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Fishing Drone

Legal requirements

If a fishing drone seems like a good idea to you, keep in mind that there are legal requirements for many drones, all of which are promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

You need to be absolutely sure that all your legal bases are covered before you take to the skies!

What you don’t want

Drones are complicated tech that relies on excellent design, cutting-edge software, and an easy-to-use user interface to make them simple to fly.

The three drones we’ve reviewed above are reliable, tested designs that aren’t going to fail you. 

But that’s not true for every drone on the market, or indeed for every drone you’ll find recommended.

This drone seems like a good idea, until you do some research.

For instance, the highly-recommended PowerVision PowerEgg X seems like a great option until you really dig down into the details. The proprietary firmware that connects your smartphone to the drone has numerous bugs and issues. At best, it simply won’t take off; at worst, it will crash and get severely damaged.

This seems like a great idea, but it really isn’t.

Another example of well-meaning but poor advice are the recommendations for submersible drones. Options like the PowerVision Powerray Wizard aren’t just unreliable and finicky, they’re far worse for finding fish than comparably priced fish finders.

The two different roles for drones

Our research reveals that drones are useful to anglers in two very different roles.

For inshore, offshore, and other “big water” fishing, a reconnaissance drone makes a lot of sense. 

It can cover large areas of water quickly and at minimal cost, providing real-time information about bait clusters, actively feeding fish, and other must-know details.

The other role for fishing drones is extended range surf or bank fishing.

The right drone can carry your bait or lure to distances impossible to reach with casting, and deliver it with pinpoint accuracy.

Reconnaissance drones

Long range

A good recon drone should have a very long operating range, allowing it to cover lots of water, perhaps to check on multiple possible spots miles from your current location.

Both DJI drones we review above are capable of very long range flight, making them a fantastic option for getting eyes on potential fishing locations without wasting time or expensive fuel.

High speed

Speed matters.

Range without speed just leads to dead batteries mid flight, and that means lost drones. 

And since the whole point of aerial reconnaissance is efficiency, covering lots of water very quickly is ideal.

The DJI Air 2S is capable of top speeds above 40 mph, and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro can approach 45 mph.

Sure, your boat can probably do that too, but at what cost?

Long battery life

Speed and range require powerful batteries, and you want long flight times to really use your drone to spot good locations.

Look for flight times of no less than 30 minutes in still air, keeping in mind that strong winds will dramatically decrease this number.

Wind resistance

Windy, gusty days are common on the water, and you need a drone that has the software, design, and power to fly true in poor conditions.

Both DJI drones we review are capable of compensating for Beaufort Scale 5 winds, which means they can handle gusts up to 19-24 mph or 17-21 knots with problems.

Fast recharge times

You may want to use your drone multiple times per day to scout good locations, and fast recharging is the key to this.

The DJI Air 2S will fully recharge from empty in 100 minutes, while the heavier DJI Mavic 2 Pro needs 135 minutes for a full top up.

Excellent cameras with great gimbals

Reconnaissance demands great cameras with excellent image quality mounted on gimbals that are highly adjustable.

Both DJI drones we recommend have outstanding cameras, though the Mavic 2 Pro is the clear winner on this front. 

And both drones have awesome gimbals that allow you to rotate, tilt, and adjust the camera view as needed.

Bait-dropping drones

Heavy payloads

A good drone for carrying and dropping bait from the shore needs to be capable of lifting and flying with heavy payloads.

Most commercial drones can’t do this, and aren;t designed to carry additional weight at all.

But the SwellPro FD1 is a real beast, capable of flying with 4.4 pounds of additional weight!

This allows it to easily carry lures, rigged baitfish, and even rigs with heavy sinkers without any trouble at all.

Waterproof

A drone that’s going to be used from the shore needs to be able to handle spray, rain, and even a crash into the water, and the FD1 is simply amazing on this front.

Not only is it rated to IP67, meaning that it’s technically waterproof, it can even flip itself over and take off again!

That’s amazing tech and design, and something I’d look for as a potential buyer.

Wind resistance

Fishing from shore almost always involves wind, and any drone you fly there needs to be very capable.

The FD1 is a real beast on this front, and its powerful software and beefy motors mean that it can handle Beaufort Class 7 winds, near-gale conditions, in which the wind speeds reach 32-38 mph or 28-33 knots!

Long battery life and fast recharge times

The way you’ll use a bait-dropping drone doesn’t involve long flight over vast stretches of water.

Instead, they’re designed to carry a load out to reasonable distances from shore, drop them at a precise location, and return for more.

The FD1 can make five 650-yard runs with 1.7 pounds before requiring a recharge. From dead, it’ll take 90 minutes to reach full power again.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which drone is the best fit for your needs and budget, but we can make some pretty strong recommendations.

If you need a powerful reconnaissance drone, it’s very hard to beat the DJI Air 2S

It’s fast and very long range, featuring extended flight times and excellent wind-compensating tech. It also recharges quickly, getting you back into the air by the time you need it.

Its camera and gimbal are top notch, and with an after-market polarizing lens, the DJI Air 2S is a lethal tool for finding fish in shallow water.

If you’re looking for a true fishing drone that can carry your bait out to hundreds of yards from the sand, look no further than the awesome SwellPro FD1.

Completely waterproof, it’s capable of lifting heavy payloads, flying in stiff winds, and dropping your rigs with precision. It recharges quickly, giving you another five long-range, bait-dropping flights in just 90 minutes.

We hope that this article has helped you make the right choice, and we’d love to hear from you if it has.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete Danylewycz
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.