Drone Fishing in it's short history has been a high cost - high reward sport where you would have to fork out thousands for a drone, plus upgrade the rod and reel. This however, doesn't have to be the case, and in this article we will look at the key bits of equipment needed and assess whether or not spending more on gear will equate to better results.
Of course to get into drone fishing, you will need a drone... and there are quite a few options out there that vary in price, ease of use and payload. You can check out our Best Fishing Drones 2023 Compared list to find the right drone for your needs and budget.
When drone fishing, the rod plays two main rolls:
1. Hold the line above the waves
2. Cope with long retrievals under load
The perfect rod for drone fishing is a long (10ft+) beach rod with a strong (10kg+) breaking strain. There are even manufacturers like Oannes, G-Reaper, Valkyrie etc. that make rods specifically designed for drone fishing.
The reality is however, just about any surf rod will do the trick. We have tested the full spectrum from the $30 Kmart Surf Combo to the $500 Oannes drone rods and while the drone rod was stronger under retrievals and in fights, the cheaper rods are still very capable of longer retrievals and fighting the larger fish, assuming the paired reel is up to it.
There are two key features a reel MUST have for drone fishing
1. Big line capacity (500m+)
2. Strength to fight target species or larger (15kg+)
One of the benefits of drone fishing is not having to cast using traditional methods, so you can use both overhead and spinning reels. Whichever style you go for, it is important that it is able to take plenty of line at a reasonable strength. We find that usually an 8000 series reel or above (depending on manufacturer or naming system) is suitable for holding enough braid line to cast ~ 500m with an extra couple hundred metres should you have a big fight.
In terms of strength, look for reels with a drag rating of at least 15kg. A strong, well made reel is not only beneficial when you hook up, but you can quickly tire reeling in seaweed 500m+ with a poorly made reel with an unsmooth action. If you have the budget for it, an electric reel would make easy work of these long retrievals.
The best line for drone fishing maximises breaking strength and minimises diameter, to maximise the amount you can get on the spool.
As you might imagine, braid is the most popular line type for drone fishing. We find that a 30lb mainline is suitable for most targets but if you are going after sharks etc, you may want to go for higher breaking strain line. When choosing the right line, look at the PE rating (line diameter) as it differs between brands, even if the strength is the same. The lower PE rating the thinner the line and the more you can spool.
Monofilament or Fluorocarbon
Mono is usually cheaper than braid and is more elastic and transparent. Fluoro is even more transparent and abrasion resistant still. However using these line types, you will likely struggle to fit enough on your reel.
Check out our favourite drone fishing rigs
The most popular style of drone fishing is to drop a few nice chunks of meat either onto a "bust up" or in a nice gulley a few hundred metres out. However, for the more energetic among us, you can simply attach a lure, drop it where the action is and reel it in.