Are Drones Cheating? | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A man in an old town predator kayak, flying a drone Photo by Robwil Valderrey

New technology can make you a better angler, but where should you draw the line?

Anglers will jump on any technology to gain an edge. Carbon fiber, lithium ion, magnetic oil and high carbon steel are only a few of the advanced materials we use to fool a fish. 

When remote controlled aircraft outfitted with cameras, called drones, started filling the skies, it was only a matter of time before anglers figured out a way to use them. 

Brandon Barton prides himself on being on the cutting edge of technology; outsmarting fish isn’t a hobby, it’s his business. As a tournament angler and professional kayak fishing guide, every fish he catches is money in the bank. 

To give himself the edge, he was an early adopter of drone technology. “I got my first drone to add cool shots to my kayak fishing videos,” Barton admits. Once he was airborne, Barton started noticing pot holes and grass flats that would hold fish. “Before long, I was spotting schools of mullet and redfish,” he exclaims. 

Barton uses his drone to map out fishing spots and track fish behavior. “I was quickly able to locate the fish and go out and catch them.” He uses a small drone that folds away for storage. “Get a 4K camera and add a polarized filter to cut through glare on the water,” he recommends. He also suggests and extra battery since fly time is only 15 to 20 minutes. “Get a cheap one to start out before flying over the water,” he adds. 

Some anglers have taken drones to the next level; they use the drone as fishing tackle. Search for “Drone Fishing” on Google and you’ll get a surprising number of hits. One of them is a video by Panama pro guide Adam Fisk using his drone to deliver baits. 

“I mostly use the drone from shore,” he says. He connects the line coming from his rod and reel to a release clip on the drone. Then, he flies the drone far out to sea. When he wants to drop the bait, he tightens the drag on the reel, the clip pops open and the offering drops on target. 

“I’ve flown six-ounce sinker and a 10-inch mullet,” he says. Recently, Fisk has been using a drone designed for fishing. “I can carry an eight-ounce sinker and whole bonita,” he says, getting excited. 

To release the bait, he pushes a button on the remote to trigger the line-release on the drone. He’s even used it to drop a topwater popper just beyond the breakers for rooster fish.

Barton and Fisk aren’t alone. Drone fishing is a real thing. The start-up hobby has spawned companies building fishing drones. Tony Zhang is marketing manager of Swellpro Technologies. “We started to build waterproof drones in 2013 when our co-founder, Eric Hu, found many pilots were crashing into the water.” 

The first Swellpro models featured a waterproof camera. Then, they added a remote-controlled release clip for surf rescue teams to deliver lifesaving gear. “One of our customers was a surf fisherman,” Zhang recalls, “he recommended we design a release clip for fishing.”

Timing was perfect, Zhang says drone fishing is catching on in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and United States. “We believe drone fishing is an ever-growing trend,” he predicts, “More and more anglers are joining the community.”

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