How to take your favourite activity to the next level

Earlier this year, aerial videographer, Jaiden Maclean became a viral sensation for a YouTube clip that showed him drone fishing for 20kg long tail-tuna off the New South Wales coastline (seriously – you have to watch this). As drones continue to create a buzz, we quizzed the adventure-lover on how the gadget can take your favourite activity to the next level – and could even help you land the catch of your life. Here are his top tips:

Rule 1: Scope out the Scene

“When my mates and I first came up with the idea of drone fishing, we didn’t realise there were other people out there trying it too. I started an aerial drone business, Sea Ulcer TV about 18 months ago, using unmanned aerial vehicles to capture surf videos for Red Bull, sports games and even real estate marketing. In my spare time, I fly my drone out the front of my house filming dolphins and started to spot tuna swimming along with them. It made me think – how could we catch them without having to leave the beach ourselves?

Rule 2: Start in the Shed

Originally my mates and I tested [the concept] with elastic bands. We attached the fishing line to an elastic band and tied the elastic band to the drone. The idea being that, when the fish took the bait, the elastic band would break and release from the aircraft. But we were having issues with recoil because, when the band broke, it would fling the line back up and get caught in the drone propeller. It took a lot of visits to Bunnings and local fishing shops to come up with a release mechanism that pulled the force down instead of up.


Rule 3: Drone On About Your Passion.

I don’t just use drones for line fishing. My brother is a sponsored surfer and I’ve been filming him with a drone for years. I also love spearfishing and use a drone to scope out the best dive spots around islands. You can send out the camera, sit in a boat with your iPad and watch what’s going on underneath the water. I also have great footage, shot from above, of other people shooting fish and then getting towed behind them.

Rule 4: Practise Makes Perfect

Some people who’ve viewed the video, now watched by over 2million people, have said it gives us an unfair disadvantage (because you can position bait right on top of a school of fish). But, it’s far from easy. It took a week of 12 hours days to catch that first tuna. They’re so fast! If you spot them 500metres up the beach, you only have a few minutes to get your kit ready and send it out to them. A lot of people buy a drone, test it out, find it too hard and give up. You have to persevere. Even one solid days of practise will improve your control.

Rule 5: Don’t have an Altitude Problem

It is important to watch your height. As a rule, when I send my bait out I have the altitude of the drone at around 17 metres. That gives me a good field of view from the camera to the fish. If you go too low the belly of the line tends to sag in the water, gets caught in the waves and creates drag on the drone. Also, only use your drone when there is less than 15 knots of wind, otherwise there’s a chance you could lose it.


Rule 6: Invest in Quality Equipment.

We’re about to launch our drone fishing mechanism, available to buy online, which can attach to most drones on the market because it has a telescopic centrepiece which means you can widen the leg span. I personally use the Phantom 3 Professional but for beginners a lower-end model is just as good. For most people the camera quality doesn’t matter as much. It’s more important to pick a drone with a quality motor and good lift. You’ll need that power for anything over the water, especially if you’re flying into the wind.

Rule 7: Imagine the Possibilities

There are many things a drone can do, besides just taking cool photos. My biggest goal is to use [our mechanism] to take people fishing who have disabilities. Since the video went viral we’ve had a lot of interest from people in wheelchairs who used to love fishing but can’t go out in a boat anymore. It gives them an opportunity to catch a really good fish off the beach, whether it’s Marlin at Fraser Island or Salmon in Western Australia. There are a couple of guys in Perth who want to travel down and come fishing with us. I’d love anyone to contact us through our Facebook page. We just have to wait for the long-tail tuna to come back and we’ll be out there!