Carl Mcilwee saw the potential of a drone as part of his beach fishing arsenal three years ago and shares his journey into drone fishing…
I first started drone fishing about three years ago. I got into it after I bought a Mavic Pro drone for my painting and decorating business.
As fishing is a passion of mine, I thought one day, “I wonder if I can take my fishing line out with my drone?”
I rigged up a bit of wire underneath it and gave it a go. It was pretty dodgy and scary. I didn’t want the wire to catch the props and the drone fall in the water, because that would have been the end of that – luckily it didn’t!
I started to do some research online and came across a company called dronefishing.com. They made a proper dropper for the drone I had, and other models too.
I bought one, and that’s where the fun of fishing with a drone began.
I now have three different drones I use for fishing – a Mavic Pro, Phantom 3 Pro and Splashdrone 3.
It was a sharp learning curve and the following are some of the things I discerned along the way by doing my research and trying things out…
First up, I always make sure the wind is not too strong. Drones all fly in different wind speeds, so just check the instructions/specifications of the one you are using.
Next, I make sure all of my batteries are fully charged for the drone, remote and phone (if that type of drone needs the latter two components to fly).
I always make my fishing rigs up before I go out to save time on the beach. I typically use a sand sinker, and anywhere between 1 and 14 hooks. Six-ounce is usually a good size for the sinker, but this will depend on what load the drone can take.
The crucial part of the rig is making a 400mm to 500mm drop line. This goes from your drone dropper to your fishing rig, and keeps your main line away from the drone’s propellers so your machine doesn’t end up in the drink.
I like to have the drop line coming off my sinker so it is the first thing to fly, followed by the hooks.
Next, my rods. I use decent boat and spinning rods with 50-100 pound braid on them. Braid is preferred over mono line as it is much thinner, allowing you to get more on the spool, and has less drag in the water.
You don’t need a surfcaster because the drone does the casting for you, and you don’t even get wet doing it!
Bait and a chilly-bin are the next two things to prepare. I use squid, pilchards and fresh kahawai if you have it. You can use whatever you want really – it is a matter of personal preference, although fresh is best!
Now you are ready to fly it all out. The best way is to lay your line on the beach with your rod in a holder. Release the rod’s drag, connect your drop line to the drone, and you are set. Slowly fly the drone up and away, making sure the kids, other beach goers and the dog are not going to get caught up. You also need to control the reel to make sure you don’t get an over-run.
After a handful of flights, you will get into a routine and can begin experimenting with different setups, baits or even lures. You will soon be drone fishing like a pro!
I highly recommend this style of fishing. It’s lots of fun and you can do it with your family, mates or by yourself. It also gets you behind the breakers where you can’t reach with a surfcaster – unless you can cast 400 meters! My best advice is to do your homework. Watch YouTube videos and read articles so you can get a better understanding of how drone fishing can be done. Make sure you fly safely and check your flying zones i.e. not around airports – but this is just common sense. I fly my drones out at around 5m to 20m high when taking out the fishing line.
Carl with the proof that drone fishing is a great way to get beyond the breakers to where the bigger fish are.
I hope this has been helpful and might encourage you to get involved with drone fishing. I have a Facebook page called Drone Fishing Aotearoa that contains videos and pictures on the subject which you might find helpful.
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