Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices

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Mechanical vs Electric Bait-Dropping devices is quite an important issue when we would like to use our drone for fishing. You see, drone fishing entered our life in order to make our fishing better. And bait dropping devices are a big part of it. However, many anglers seem to forget that the bait-dropping device should not only drop the bait wherever you would like, but it should also keep the safety of your drone, and more importantly – the safety of the people in the drone’s flying path. Now it is fairly clear for everyone that everyone wants the easiest and most comfortable way to achieve it, and having an electric solution sounds like the best way.

So today I will do a comparison of Mechanical vs Electric Bait-Dropping devices, and we will see which one is better for you, but also for your drone. I do want to clarify that I won’t explain here the different types of electric and mechanic devices, if you want to learn more about it, go read our post about it here.

Let’s start with the Electric Bait Dropping Device

Payload Release for DJI Phantom 2-3a-3p-3s-from-aboveElectric bait-dropping devices are fairly the easiest device to operate. You basically push a button to load your bait, and whenever you want to drop it, you just push a button again. This is simple, easy, and fast.

A surprising thing about the electric bait-dropping devices is that they were here before the mechanical devices showed up. Well, usually this supposes to be the other way around, isn’t it? Usually, we first prototype something that we know it works, and the next step is we try to improve it and make it automatic. So basically, I was expecting to see the mechanical devices before the electric ones.

So why the mechanical devices came out after the electric ones? Well, the answer to that question is not due to the simplicity of use. It is fairly related to the safety of the drone and the people around it.

Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices – Safety First

How is safety related to the electric bait dropping device? For that let’s go back a bit…

The electric bait dropping devices were firstly made for other tasks other than fishing. They were originally called air-dropping devices since people used them in order to drop things up from the sky, such as balloons at birthday parties, or use them in important tasks such as dropping a life-saving vest for a drowning swimmer during a search and rescue operation.

However, it is highly important to note that these scenarios are completely different when comparing it to fishing. It is different since, in these scenarios, the pilot is not having a line attached between him and his drone. Now, this is critical, since if our fishing line will get tangled during your “cast” it will cost your drone. If the line will get tangled in the reel itself, it means the line is not coming out, while the drone is flying away (at least it will try to fly). And since the line is stronger than the drone’s flying capabilities, the line won’t break, and the drone will lose its balance and it will drop like a rock into the water. This scenario is just one reason why electric bait-dropping devices can be dangerous to your drone.

So, using an electric device can cause serious problems, and crashing your drone, as I just explained, is one possible option. Look, I know most people want the electric device,  me too. It is fairly simple. But after seeing so many drones crashing into the water I realized that as much as I want it – I actually don’t want it and need to stay away from it. It sucks, but that’s the reality we need to face.

Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices – The Use of a Battery

Well, whenever we say electric we mean that the device is working due to a battery. A battery in the case of drones can be very problematic. Why is that you ask? Well, this is since a battery is creating an electromagnetic field. And it is known that electromagnetic fields do not go along with compasses. While I am sure you know that even the drone itself has a battery, however, rest assured that the manufacture knows exactly where to place it in order for that not to disturb its compass.

Electric Bait-Dropping Devices – Other problems

Other than the previous problem I mentioned, there is another problem with the electric bait-dropping device. This problem is related to the way the device is designed to operate. Currently, 99% of the electric devices work by a photo-resistor. While you should not care about how it’s doing its job, in our case you actually should.

Let me explain, the electric device is having a servo which moves an arm. This arm is what holds your bait. And like any electric device, we need a button to press in order to decide when we want the arm to hold the bait and when we want it to drop it. So this “button” is the photo-resistor I just mentioned. A photo-resistor is a very simple unit which “presses” the button for you when there is light, simple as that.

So, the way it performs on your drone is by placing this photo-resistor next to one of your drone’s LED lights. And you are instructed to turn on the LED light whenever you want to drop your bait. It is very simple and very easy. But, the reason this is a problem for us, is since when we go out fishing during the day, in case the sun is in front of you, the sun provides lots of strong light that sometimes prevents the photo-resistor detect that you turned on the LED light. Which, in other words, means that the photo-resistor won’t make that “button-press”, which means you won’t be able to drop your bait.

This problematic situation forces you to fly back your drone along with your bait and a few hundred meters of line. This situation is dangerous and just a small mistake can cause you to lose your drone.

Mechanical bait-dropping device

The second option we discuss in our “Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices” post is the mechanical one. The first reaction I get from people once they hear about the mechanical device is a disappointment. Well, I truly understand them since the electric device sounds better than the mechanic. But in fact, the mechanical device is actually great and easier to install on your drone.

There are two types of mechanic bait-dropping devices, which both take almost the same approach. But, regardless of the type, they are tension release drone dropping devices – which means the bait is being released from the drone using a tension that is being felt by the drone.

The First Method – The Sky Rigger

Drone Fishing with Sky Rigger - PartsThe first type is the one Sea Ulcer made for their Sky Rigger device. The idea behind the Sky Rigger is basically having 2 plates that are being pressed towards each other using a clamp. On the other side of the clamp, you assign how tight or loose the pressure of the device will be. Before you close the clamp, you put your line between them. And later, when you want to release the line and drop your bait, you just do it by closing the bail of your reel. That will basically put tension on the device that will cause the line to slip away between the plates, and drop your bait. That’s it, very simple. No need to press a button, nor charging a battery, and etc’.

The unique advantage of the Sky Rigger over other mechanical bait-dropping devices is that you don’t need to do any change in your rig. And when I say it, I especially mean no use of a drop loop.

Another advantage you have with the Sky Rigger is that it is not restricting you to work with a specific thickness of a line. Since you don’t need to do a drop loop, use any line that you want.

On the other hand, the only downside about the Sky Rigger is that it is compatible with the DJI Phantoms. However, Sea Ulcer is working on other drone’s models for the Sky Rigger, so I hope soon we will inform you about it.

The Second Method – The SkyClip

SkyClip of the Mavic Air 2The second type of a mechanic bait-dropping device is by using 2 ball bearings, instead of those 2 plates in the Sky Rigger. There is no clamp to hold the line in between, instead, you use a loop to go behind the ball bearings, which secures the line in place. By the way, in drone fishing, this loop called a drop loop, I will explain about it later on. And in order to set the desired tension between the 2 ball bearings, there is a screw. The tighten they are the stronger the tension will be.

There are only a few companies that manufacture this type of method, and SkyClip is one of them. The reason I mention SkyClip among the others is since it is the most economic one, and is no different when taking into consideration all the advantages that a mechanical bait-dropping device has. Plus it has unique advantages over the other available devices.

So what it’s the unique advantage you ask? The SkyClip has a unique advantage over the other mechanical bait-dropping devices (including the Sky Rigger) is by having a pre-defined tension setup which is already being set in the factory before shipping out to the anglers. SkyClip calls this MTS which stands for Maximum Threshold setting. That basically means it protects you from failing to know the correct tension your drone can take. This is another safety precaution for your drone, ensuring it won’t crash no matter how strong you pull the line.

Drop Loop

However, keep in mind that in order to work with the SkyClip, on the contrary to the Sky Rigger, you will need to make a drop loop. A drop-loop is a simple loop you make, which you attach behind the 2 ball bearings. Regardless of your mainline, the line in which you make the drop loop should be 0.7 thickness. This is the recommendation of SkyClip. Don’t use a thicker line, it will be harder to release from the drone, and can cause it to crash. But, and here is another great part of the SkyClip. Since you are advised not to change the settings of the SkyClip – which sets the device’s tension. If you would like to adjust the tension, you simply do it by using a thinner line. This will cause your bait to get released easier. However, as said before, working with a 0.7 line is good.

What Makes the Mechanical Bait-Dropping Device Better?

Well, if you reached it till here, it means that you really want the best for your drone. The reason I say it is since some anglers don’t like to hear that the electric device is dangerous to their drone. Some prefer to disregard the safety issue and deny the fact that this can be dangerous to their drone or to their surroundings.

Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices – Mechanical Advantages

Okay, so let’s start listing the main advantages of the mechanical bait-dropping device over the electrical ones.

Advantage #1 – Safety

The biggest advantage the mechanical bait-dropping device has over the electric one is drone safety. Earlier I explained to you that in case of a line-tangled scenario, using an electric device will cause your drone to crash. In the case of the mechanical device, it will automatically release the line and the drone will keep flying. This problem of having your line tangled in the reel is not something that will happen very often, and probably you will meet anglers that never faced this problem.  But remember that it will take only one tangle to crash your drone.

Advantage #2 – No LED Lights

While not using a LED light should not make any difference for you, however, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you fly the drone in front of the sun or not, you will be able to drop your bait in any situation you want.

Advantage #3 – Fish as you wish

Another obvious difference between the Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices is the way you can use the device for fishing. With the electric bait-dropping device you can use it only for dropping the bait wherever you want. However, with the mechanical bait-dropping device you can fish in 3 different techniques, dropping (like the electric), dangling, and trolling.

Trolling is a technique you use lures or baits. This allows your leader to be above the waterline, making the lures appear more realistic to the fish. This method increases dramatically your strike rate.

Dangling means when you tease the fish by dropping baits in and out of the water. It doesn’t matter if you use live baits or not, but, remember that live baits can still be held in the strike zone regardless of tide or the wind.

Advantage #4 – No Batteries

Well, not using a battery is important when drone fishing, the reason for that is since the battery that is being used in the electric device is creating an electric magnetic field that disturbs the drone’s compass. This disturbance is not always over even after the magnetic field was removed. You can learn more about the magnetic field disturbance towards compasses here.

Advantage #5 – Fish in any weather

As you probably understand, the mechanical bait-dropping devices are waterproof and can take salt-water. That means you can fish with it in any weather you would like. The electric devices, well, obviously are not waterproof and not even splash-proof. So, it is fairly easy for them to get ruined while fishing. It doesn’t take much for them to stop working if it starts raining or wave’s drops will hit the device.

Advantage #6 – Easy To Install / Uninstall

Last, but not least, is how easy is it to install the mechanical bait-dropping device compared to the electric devices. To make the story short, in order to install the mechanical device you don’t need any tools. With an electrical bait dropping device, you need to have zip ties to secure it to the drone.

Also, it will take you less time to install the mechanical bait-dropping device over the electric. This is since you need to mount the device on the drone and also install the photoresistor. Which with the mechanical you just need to mount the device.

Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices – Other Solutions

Well, except for the mechanical and the electric bait-dropping devices there is a third solution which is basically a combination of the two. That means you will be able to operate the device using a click of a button, and also have the safety required for your drone. This solution took both the advantages of the electric and the mechanical.

SkyClip already announced its Commander which is planned to be released in the upcoming months, and that is going to be the ultimate solution for drone fishing.


Well, that was fairly long, but it was worth it. As I mentioned, it is highly important to choose the right device for your drone. Which in our case, the comparison of the Mechanical VS Electric Bait-Dropping Devices, the mechanical is the absolute winner. But also remember that regardless of which bait dropping device you choose, there are still other guidelines you should follow and consider in order to not crash your drone into the water. For that, make sure to read our post about how to safely fly your drone over the water.

And just before I wrap up, do yourself a favor, you already spent enough money on your drone. So don’t try to save a few dollars on a wrong bait-dropping device. This can cost you your drone, and you know it doesn’t worth it. Here is a small reminder of how your drone can end up choosing the wrong device. And till the next time, tight lines and fly safely.

Crashed drones into the water

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