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Initial Product Review – Splash drone 4 (SD4) Fishing Drone

We have been waiting to get our hands on the Splashdrone 4 (or SD4 as it is also called) for a very long time.  The SD4 has been in development for literally years, so when we heard (from the local Swellpro agent) that the product was well on its way to New Zealand – we were pretty excited!

So we have now have been lucky enough to have had our first SD4 unit for over a month now with already a number of successful fishing trips under our belt, both to the East Coast and also the West Coast of Northern New Zealand.

Drone Fishing Models we have experience so far..

To give you some perspective, we are already really knowledgeable with the earlier Swellpro model, the Splashdrone 3+, as well as experience with the Phantom & Mavic Range of drones & also the Aero Kontiki  So we have a ton of experience.  The DJI models have really good APP software for your phone and are effortless to use, on the flip side, they are not purpose made for fishing, doesn’t carry many baits and we always worry about taking it over the saltwater given it is not waterproof).  On the other extreme, the Aero Kontiki is certainly a beast & is probably a little more hobby grade – but is really stable in the air, can handle 25X hooks & is built really well, (big parts of the drone were actually developed in NZ).  On the flip side here – the Aero Kontiki will cost you the price of the small car to buy, plus also is more complicated than the DJI models or the Splashdrone.  The Splashdrone 3+ to us has been our go-to fishing drone for quite some time, reliable has ever & does the job without any hassle, and can lift 10x Baits really easily.  One negative on this one is that the live video feed screen starts getting static from about 400 metres, which to us is not a major problem as because we are normally fishing upto 500m or 600m anyway and are the video feed is not so important when fishing anyway.

Any kinks for Swellpro to Iron out with this new model?

So we were expecting some big things from the Splashdrone 4, but also knowing that any new drone might still have kinks to iron out (we have seen the same thing with the Mavic when it was first released), so it just happens.  So i must say that i have been pleasantly surprised by our SD4 test machine early on, with no major issues (aside from some Android APP issues early on – which have now been rectified with the latest software update).  You can really tell that this is a 5th generation drone – both in the general design details and also how it flies, they have really perfected a lot of things from earlier generations.

What is the SD4 like in the air and what is it like to fly and setup?

The closest comparable drone to the SD4 is of course the Splashdrone 3+, and we love the 3+ because it flys like a dream and is predictable, so in terms of these features it feels quite similar to flying the 3+ we have found as it behaves quite similar in the air.

Definitely the setup is quite different with the SD4, but it is more getting used to it than anything else.  Although the SD4 works well with a phone & APP (the SD3+ had its own display on the remote control), it can also be used perfectly fine without a phone & important features like “Return to Home”, and “Low battery warnings” are still very visible on the built-in LCD Screen of the SD4.  My first suggestion is to learn to fly the SD4 without the phone or APP present at all.  That way you will learn to fly properly without the disruption of what is on the Phone screen.
So how long does it take to get the SD4 out of the box, setup and ready to use?  We did this exercise a couple of times and both times we got around 5 minutes, which included getting the APP up and running on a phone so we were pretty happy with this.  The most complicated part of the setup process is getting the release & camera accessories positioned correctly on the base of the drone & then screwing them into place, but once you get the idea it’s not difficult.

What are the features of the SD4 Like?

There are definitely some real improvements with the SD4 over the SD3+, the first one we really like is the easily removable battery, which you can simply slide in and slide out.  This means if you do your drone drops and you want to keep fishing with a new battery – this task is made really easy now.  There is no other fishing drone on the market that makes the process of battery removable as easy as the SD4.

The range of the SD4 is now an amazing 3km (for both video and control of the drone), which is 3X the range of the SD3+ of 1km.  Normally as a drone fisherman you don’t go any further than 1km however if you ever want to go further to do some filming around the coast, its nice to know the drone can go the distance, just be careful as the battery does seem to drain pretty fast, especially if you have the camera switched on.  Currently the SD4 is the only drone on the market that is capable of flying for upto 3km.

The other really big feature of the SD4 is the payload weight capacity – this has now doubled to 2KG (as compared with the SD3+), for a drone fisherman this is a real benefit i believe.  Most of the time 1KG is adequate however it is nice to know that the SD4 has some additional redundancy especially if there is a bit of wind and it is gusting – this will just help with the drone’s stability in the air.

Other advanced features that the APP gives you include: Tap to Fly, Orbit Mode (great at getting shots around your boat) and Return to Controller (useful if you are using SD4 on a boat & once you hit return to home, you want it to return to you rather than its starting point so it doesn’t land in the water.

Another welcome change from the Splashdrone 3+ is that they remote control is now water resistant and sand resistant.  This just makes using the drone around the sand & sea so much easier.

How well does it handle as a fishing drone?

Firstly one of the most important things for any fishing drone is reliability & from our fishing trips the Splashdrone 4 didn’t reall miss a beat.  We did bait drops from 400m to 600m meters and the video feed from the drone, the mechanical release system and even the return home worked just as they should.  We also liked that you can load up the drone with more weight than previous.  At one point we were carry quite a heavy load of about 1.5 kg (including sinkers) with a drop on the West Coast (near Auckland) and the Splashdrone 4 handled it with ease.  We haven’t yet tried it in any decent wind (ie. around 15 knots), but with the upgraded motors on the SD4 we expect it would handle it well.

Anyway there is our initial review of the new Splashdrone 4 Fishing Drone.  All-in-all we have been impressed so far.  We have yet to do more filming & getting photos around the New Zealand coast, so will do a followup Review of this in the near future!


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