Most chances are that when you first flew your drone over water you were afraid. Especially if you are about to do it for your first time. So, if this is the case for you, in this post, I will guide you on how to safely fly your drone over water.
Unless your drone is fully waterproof, such as the SplashDrone 3+ or the EX-1 6S, most chances are that the company you bought the drone from, will instruct you not to fly the drone over the water. For example, DJI, the biggest drone manufacturer advises its customers not to fly their drones over water. But let’s face it, we want to take the advantage of the drone when fishing. So we take the approach of “If you can’t fight them, join them”. So this is the reason I will teach you how to safely fly your drone over water. This will help you not only in drone fishing but also for other “wet” tasks.
How To Safely Fly Your Drone Over Water – Let’s Begin
So let’s begin with proper tips… And I have to say that since most of the drones that are being used for fishing are DJI’s, most of the tips in this post are DJI related. That’s of course unless you bought yourself a waterproof drone, which provides you with greater peace of mind. I also advise you to read our post about how to prevent your drone from flying away – this is something that happened a lot, especially when flying over water.
Practice makes Perfect
Practicing, in general, is something most people don’t like to do. However, it is so important in our case since a failure in drone fishing not only means that the drone has crashed, it can also be dangerous to people around the drone. So why it is important for us to practice?
- Practicing greatly increases the chances you will remember all the little and important details you need to follow.
- When you practice enough, the next time you need to do it, you will do it automatically without the need of thinking too much about it. So even if someone is distracting you, you will do things properly since you are doing it without thinking.
- As much as you practice, you are capable of doing more complex things, your flight will be more precise and accurate, allowing you to do more “risky” things you won’t even think of doing before.
- As much as you practice, you will gain expertise. And that will increase your motivation as well. Motivation to perfect your moves, to perfect your fishing, and to perfect the way you fish.
You should not consider practicing as repetition, but as a goal-directed rehearsal, which leads you towards problem-solving. You don’t practice since you were told to practice. You practice in order to know how to perfect your steps. That can only be achieved in practice.
DJI Flight simulator is accessible, intuitive, and realistic, and you can practice lots of different training scenarios. It has 3 training modules that will allow you to develop the skills you will need to fly your drone safely for any task. You can practice, take off, and maneuvering tasks. You can practice lots of hours behind the sticks. It accurately has all the drone models and the way the drones perform in real-life scenarios, including the effects of winds, sunrise, sunset, and more. Learn more about DJI Flight Simulator in the following video.
Plan before you fly
Once you practiced enough, planning your moves before actually doing it can be critical. Also, prepare yourself for situations you don’t want to face and think about what will you do in these situations. Doing so can be the difference between success and a horrible crash. This way, whenever you face the situation in real, you will act fast and right without panicking,
Planning your moves will ve beneficial since:
- It will save you more battery life
- This will allow yourself to make more bait drops.
- Focus more on your fishing – which is the reason you using the drone.
- Try other new spots for fishing.
Once you have done it, you practiced enough, and you planned your moves, you are ready to hit the water.
Be aware of the risks
When you fly your drone, regardless of fishing, there are several risks that threaten your drone. So in addition to this guide, I also encourage you to read our post about drone fishing risks. This post discusses the potential risks you have when flying a drone in general. Some things will be covered here as well.
DJI Drones – Disable VPS (Visual Positioning System)
In case you have a drone by DJI, such as the Phantom or Mavic, you have a feature called Visual Positioning System (VPS). VPS is a technology that maps the surface below the drone, helping in positioning the drone. However, when flying over water, the light is reflecting off of the surface and causes issues with this specific technology. For example, the drone can drift downwards 4 feet in only 1 second and sink. Here is a video showing you how the drone performs over water.
In this situation, I highly recommended you disable this feature before flying your drone over the water.
How to disable the Visual Positioning System?
Disabling the VPS is fairly easy and can be done in 5 seconds.
- First click on the general settings button. This is the three dots on the upper right corner
- Then, click on the visual navigation settings, which is on the left side
- Scroll down and click on “Advanced Settings”
- Disable the first option called “Enable Vision Positioning”. Make sure it looks like this:
- When prompt “Disable Vision Positioning?” click on the okay button.
That’s it, you are done. Just don’t forget to turn it back on when you are done flying the drone over the water.
Setting the drone’s “Home” Manually
Another issue I saw was when people used their drone on a boat and since the boat is not staying at the same place, in case the drone will be set to return to home, it will fly to a place you are not there anymore, and it will basically land on the water, which means sinking deep into the ocean (or lake). So, in such cases, you need to reset your home point. Resetting your home point can be done as such:
- Open the general settings button
- Click on the “Main Controller Settings”
- Choose “Home Point: Me”. This is the button with a person and home point next to it
You can do it also in another way, which is faster by swiping the main screen to the left and press the “Home Point: Me” option.
Another great tip on how to safely fly your drone over water is using the feature called “Course Lock”. Course lock basically helps you keep the orientation of the drone even after you turn it around. Let me explain, when you start your drone and take off, there is the front and the rear of the drone. Let’s say that the drone is pointing to the north. So if you push the stick forward, the drone will fly towards the north. And if you rotate the drone by 180 degrees, not the drone is pointing to the south. So again, if you push the stick forward, the drone, at this time will fly towards the south. That can be very confusing especially to beginners.
So, the course lock basically keeps the direction of the drone no matter how much you rotated the drone. So, if we take the previous example I said earlier, after rotating the drone by 180 degrees, pushing the sticks forward will still fly the drone towards the north. Make any sense? No? In this case, watch the following video that explains it as well.
How to set course lock
Setting up the course lock is extremely easy, so just follow these simple steps:
- Start your drone and fly it to a safe spot near you.
- On the remote control, click on the remote icon. This will open for you the intelligent flight modes screen.
- Scroll through the options until you see the “Course Lock”. Click on it.
- Once it is clicked, you will be prompt to adjust the drone’s heading, prior to starting the course lock.
- Click on the Apply button once you are happy with the drone’s orientation.
Interference with the Compass and GPS
In order to properly navigate with your drone, it is equipped with a compass and a GPS. As much as it is extremely useful, there are things that interfere with it. For example structures such as lighthouses, boats, yachts, or any structure that is using an antenna, a WiFi network, or even a magnet will interfere with the drone’s GPS and compass.
Flying your drone away from these types of objects will help in keeping a good strong signal to your drone.
Watch out where you fly
Another tip on how to safely fly your drone over water is related to things that can collide with your drone. The first thing you should watch out for is birds, especially seagulls. Birds seem to feel threatened by drones, and they intend to attack it. So, in case you see seagulls near you, keep your drone away from they, or postpone your flight for a few minutes (as much as possible).
This is unlikely to happen, but I will still mention it. When you use your drone in your fishing, it is recommended to fly your drone high up in the air (something around 10 – 20 meters up in the air). While some anglers do follow this tip, some other anglers prefer to capture a video where you can see the fish bites the bait. For that, anglers lower the drone towards the water, trying to capture an epic video of the whole adventure. In this situation you should always be aware of the waves, making sure they cannot reach your drone.
Consider Wind’s Speed
Winds can be very dangerous to your drone, and you should always pay close attention to it. Every time you fly your drone, you must consider the speed of the winds. While each drone has its own capabilities to resist winds, you must know the following:
- Winds will drain your drone’s battery faster – since the drone is constantly resisting the winds. This affects the “Return To Home” feature as well.
- The higher you take your drone, the stronger the winds will be.
- You can be aware of how strong the winds are according to the altitude indicator.
- If you are in GPS mode and you see your drone is constantly moving at a horizontal speed while you don’t touch the remote control, it means that the winds are stronger than your drone resistance, and it is recommended to land the drone and not fly the drone.
Before wrapping up, it will be worth your time to watch the following video…
Since flying over the water can be very dangerous to your drone, you should be as careful as possible any time you go drone fishing. Make sure you follow the tips we mentioned in this “How to Safely fly your drone over water” guide. There are a lot of people who already crashed their drones in the water, so learning the mistakes others did will help you keep your drone and your surroundings safe.
However, if you made the unwanted happen and you crashed your drone, make sure to follow the steps in our guide of how to fix a water damaged drone.
Like always, fly safe and tight lines.