Fishing is the second most popular outdoor hobby in the USA! Coming in second place after jogging, over 44 million Americans fish recreationally.
This is in part due to the pandemic. Fishing is an activity that gets you out of the house, but also away from the crowds. Even as lockdowns have lifted over the last two years, it’s keeping its spot as a beloved American activity.
With an increase in anglers comes an increase in equipment sales, one of which is RC fishing boats. As they increase in popularity, they continue to divide opinion. Traditionally-minded skeptics are slow to get on board. And novices getting their boats stuck doesn’t help to change their opinions.
With the right boat and the right amount of practice though, they are a powerful tool.
If you’re thinking of investing, read our guide below. We’ve listed the benefits, drawbacks, and best remote control fishing bait boats on the market. Plus, we have a bunch of tips to improve your fishing bait boat experience!
What is a Fishing Bait Boat?
A remote-control fishing bait boat – or RC fishing boat – is a boat designed to catch carp, as well as cat and pike. It’s used by fishermen to cast further than usually possible.
The fishing line connects to the boat, which users drive remotely to wherever you want to drop the line. Their usual range is up to 500 meters, depending on the model you use.
The fuel or battery-powered boats have one or two open storage areas, or hoppers. These can be filled with bait that users release on demand, as well as carrying your lead and rig.
How to Use RC Fishing Boats
The challenge with bait boats is making sure you use them the right way. Problems arise when anglers start to use them beyond their design capabilities.
Generally speaking, you should only use a bait boat where you can see it. That means not driving it to areas beyond your view, such as behind islands or into inaccessible bays. If you can’t see the boat, you won’t know if it’s gotten caught, causing damage, or in someone else’s way.
After all, how can you retrieve a stuck boat if you can’t even see it?
The second point is mostly common sense – be respectful of other people. With a bait boat, it’s easier than with a rod to get in other people’s way. Be aware of those around you, and never use your boat in a way that disrupts other anglers’ experience.
Benefits of Using a Remote Control Fishing Bait Boat
RC fishing boats have several benefits besides their further reach. They allow you to catch carp in areas they usually feed with confidence. And their specific bait release options increase your likelihood of success.
Lots of Bait with Little Disturbance
RC fishing boat hoppers can be filled with all kinds of bait. Paste baits, slop mix, and even live bait can be loaded into the boat.
But best of all, the bait release barely disturbs the water. As the hopper trap door releases into the water, it slips into the swim as gently as possible. Compared to traditional casting, it provides a stealthy advantage, especially as fish far out aren’t used to being baited.
Bait and Hook at the Same Time
The boats also allow you to bait the water and release your hook at the same time. Instead of a delay between the two when using a lot of bait, your hook is dropped into the water at the same time. That increases your chances of a catch, making sure you don’t miss the first few feeders.
Reach Places You Can’t Cast
Probably the most well-known advantage of a fishing bait boat is its reach.
With many boats traveling up to 500 meters and expensive models going even further, they allow you to cast further out. This allows anglers to access areas where fish aren’t often baited, helping them to catch more. This combined with the unique bait release methods of an RC fishing boat makes it a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, not everyone uses the boats this way.
Some fishermen on principle only drive their boat to where they know they could cast. They make use of the boat’s baiting methods without extending their reach. But this is a personal choice, not a requirement.
Are There Any Downsides to RC Fishing Boats?
With all these game-changing benefits, why doesn’t everyone have a bait boat? Here are a couple of reasons you should consider before investing in one.
Cost of RC Fishing Boats
Technically speaking, a fishing bait boat is of course not a necessary piece of equipment. So any cost to you is completely extraneous to usual fishing expenses. We make this point because they don’t come cheap.
While cheaper models exist, RC products in general are expensive when they’re good quality. Even RC cars can cost thousands of dollars.
So what should you expect to pay for RC fishing boats? Typical products on the market fall between $400-$600. For the very high-end models, you’ll easily be shelling out thousands of dollars.
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To some, this is an extortionate cost. But for others, the fishing experience that comes with a bait boat is worth far more than that! So we wouldn’t say the cost is really a downside, but definitely something to be aware of before you look to buy.
RC fishing boats and RC fishing drones are not the most well-received piece of equipment.
Those less experienced with their bait boats have been known to cause tangles in other anglers’ lines or encroach on their territory. Others think that the boats are “cheating” as they allow you to access areas that can’t be cast to. Either way, they may not make you the most popular.
That being said, RC fishing boats, as well as RC drones, are becoming more and more common. The stigma is fading as their popularity increases.
Again, this isn’t so much a downside as a warning. Be prepared for a few funny looks from fellow fishermen, but the best catch of the lot!
Fishing Bait Boat Limitations
Though they’ve changed the game, bait boats still have their limitations – the weather specifically being one of them. While you may be hardy enough to keep fishing in wind and waves, the RC boats are not.
Some more expensive, hardcore models can be used in more difficult weather conditions. But generally speaking, you are at risk of losing your boat from wind and wave level four onwards. At that point, it’s best to rely on your more traditional fishing equipment.
That being said, some boats claim to work until wind and wave levels five and six. So check your individual boat’s instructions.
Where Can I Use Fishing Bait Boats?
Did you know that computer-assisted fishing is illegal in most, if not all, states? Thankfully, that doesn’t apply to battery-powered RC fishing boats. But it does raise the question of where you’re allowed to use them.
Bait boats are legal if the hook always stays attached to a fishing line. Despite their legality, they have still been banned in some specific fishing spots. This is usually due to the hassle it has caused in the past.
Just to be safe, check the local laws for your area before you start fishing with one.
9 Best Bait Boats of 2023
Now that you’re keen to get this kit, how do you choose which one? We’ve rounded up the best types of boats on the market in all price ranges to help you decide.
1. Lake Reaper Carp Fishing Boat
We’re starting off at the lower end of the financial spectrum, with a fishing bait boat that comes in at about $380. The Lake Reaper is everything you can want and need in a bait boat. It holds up to 1kg of bait and can go out to 400 meters. The battery lasts about 3 hours.
2. Waverunner MK4 Shuttle
At roughly $1,100, the Waverunner is one of the most expensive fishing bait boats on this list. Its price point is due to its incredible range, with the radio technology working at up to 1 kilometer!
To last that journey, its hoppers can also carry 5kg of bait. The battery has a 2-hour runtime.
This model is popular for its autopilot feature. And that is why we love the Waverunner Shuttle. It enables anglers to return their boat to the exact same spot over and over again. It costs about $870, carries 1.5kg of bait, works to 500 meters, and has a 2-hour battery life.
3. Angling Technics Procats
A little cheaper at $850 is Angling Technics Procat. They have long been one of the biggest names in the game, and the Procat is the best-selling bait boat of all time. But it can only carry 750g of bait, and last 1.5 hours on the battery.
So what makes it so popular? It is tremendously light compared to any other bait boat, at less than 3kgs including the battery. This keeps it quiet, agile, and easy to transport.
4. Anatec Catamaran DL
At over $1,300, this is the second most expensive RC fishing boat on our list. Its bait capacity is a considerable 3.5kg. But the battery only lasts a fairly average 2 hours, and it only goes out to 500 meters. For that reason, we highly recommend the Anatec Catamaran.
What makes this boat cost so much is its speed. It can travel at 1 meter a second, which is very fast for an RC fishing boat. It’s also a very durable boat, designed to last for years despite being used in wind and waves.
5. AHWZ GPS RC Fishing Boat
Costing around 10% of our last boat, the AHWZ RC Bait Boat is designed for casual bait boat users. It costs around $350, and still gets the job done.
At just 1.4kg, it’s a very agile boat. And it can carry more than its own weight in bait, with a 1.5kg capacity. Considering its price, the 500-meter radio distance is also impressive. This boat is the real deal, folks! It’s the perfect tool for getting your bait exactly where you need it for maximum fishing success.
With a user-friendly remote control and compact size, this boat is easy to operate and transport to any fishing spot. Trust me, if you want to take your fishing game to the next level, this RC bait boat is a must-have in your arsenal!
Its working battery life isn’t published, but it lasts up to 3 hours when idle. While not the most durable model, and not the best bait boat if there is any swell, it’s a great starting point for newbies!
6. Cresea GPS Bait Boat
Back to the expensive end, the Cresea Products GPS Sea Fishing RC Bait Boat is the monster of the market. It carries up to 8kg of bait! It works at 600 meters away and can remember up to 8 separate points on the water to auto-pilot back to.
Add to that its touch screen controller, and you can see why it costs around $200. Its tech setup also includes LED headlights and a sonar fish finder at up to 300 meters away.
7. Flytec 2011-5 Fish Finder
At barely $140, this Flytec 5 bait boat may not be techy, but it still packs a punch! Its bait capacity is 1.5kg between its two hoppers, which are individually controlled. Its working distance is a decent 500 meters. The battery life is 2 hours.
8. Carplounge RT7 All-In-One
Our last recommendation starts at a hefty $1250. But it’s hard to publish its specs as the bait boat features are so customizable! Add fish finders, cameras, better batteries – whatever you want – as long as you’re willing to pay.
9. Hevmeveni Dual Motor Boat
The Hevmeveni dual motor boat is the perfect addition to any fishing trip, with its automatic positioning system and dual-engine design that ensures accurate and efficient bait delivery.
With a powerful 12000mAh battery, you can use it all day without worrying about losing power. This boat is perfect for fishing in any water, from lakes to rivers, and even in the ocean.
So, if you want to improve your fishing game and increase your chances of catching more fish, get yourself this bait boat now!
Top Tips for Using a Fishing Bait Boat
Now that you’ve spent your money, we’ve got some tips to make sure you get the most out of your boat. And that at the same time, you don’t upset your angling neighbors!
Keep Hold of Your Rod
Just because your boat is casting for you doesn’t mean you don’t have to be holding on! If you leave your rod in its stand, you could miss a good catch by not being quick enough to reel it in.
Keep a Tight Line
In a similar vein, you need to keep your line tight. This is essential if you want to successfully reel in your catches.
It also reduces the chances that your line will get caught. If it’s floating loosely in the water, it could easily catch on obstacles in the water, especially if you’re near a bank. Keeping a tight line helps avoid your boat getting stuck.
Don’t Go Too Far Out
Each boat has its own distance limits. If you exceed that, your boat won’t respond to the controller anymore, even with plenty of battery.
So take care to never push your boat beyond its limits. Otherwise, you may have to pay a fee to staff who help retrieve it.
Attach a Separate Line to the Boat
In case you accidentally exceed your boat’s distance limits, it’s a good idea to have a line attached just to your boat. This is separate to the line with your hook that is doing the fishing.
Sometimes called a rescue line, it allows you to reel in your boat in case it exceeds its RC limits or runs out of battery.
A popular technique among bait boat users is to always reel the boat back in with the rescue line. By never driving it back when it needs rebaiting, you can save nearly half of the battery power your boat uses! In other words, you can use it for twice as long.
Use Hoppers Independently
Depending on the model you buy, you may have two hoppers that can be released independently. This introduces some interesting options for you to play around with.
For example, try laying a big-fish trap with your boat. Load one hopper with bait for fish and the other with just your hook bait, and see what you can catch!
Use a Bank Stick
If you’re using your boat anywhere near its maximum reach, it can be difficult to see exactly what’s going in. If you’re closing in on a bank, how can you be sure you aren’t going too close?
Many anglers swear by using a bank stick. Attach a stick of your desired length to the front of your boat to stop it from beaching itself on a bank out of your sight.
Buy a Battery Powered Model
Bait boats are usually either battery or fuel powered. While both models work fine, battery-powered models have several advantages.
First of all, they run quieter. Considering quiet bait release is one of the benefits of a bait boat, a model that runs louder than most is not ideal.
It also uses less power. Unlike faster RC boats, these bait boats use almost no battery to sit idle, whereas fuel-powered vessels have to keep running.
Battery-powered models are also simpler to run and maintain. They take as little upkeep as an RC toy, as opposed to a fuel-operated machine.
Buy a Submergible Model
If you get lucky, you might catch a fish so big it pulls your boat underwater. On the downside – your boat is now submerged.
While this may sound like an unlikely scenario, it’s definitely worth investing in a fully submergible bait boat. If you don’t, one big catch could write off your expensive equipment.
Beware of the Propellors
Depending on your model, your motor may be propellor powered. And not all propellor-powered boats have propellor guards.
If your line snags on your own propellors, the boat will become rather useless. To avoid this, try to drive the boat as straight as possible. Course correct gradually and avoid any sudden turns that could cause tangles.
Know Your Swim Boundaries
We’ve already explained the need to respect anglers around you. Choosing a fishing spot that doesn’t disturb others is key.
One of the best ways to do this is to know your boundaries. Just because you can reach areas you couldn’t when casting doesn’t mean you should encroach on other anglers’ swim.
For similar reasons, don’t use it too close to the shore. Doing so will not only annoy those around you, and is entirely unnecessary as you can cast there easily.
Protect Your Bait From Birds
Birds may not be geniuses, but they recognize a floating meal when they see one. Hungry scavengers may swoop in and steal your vessel’s load, causing a disturbance when they do so. To avoid this, many boat users tape a simple piece of cardboard on top of their vessel to keep the birds away.
There are several types of birds that are known to steal fishing bait, either from the surface of the water or from the fishing line itself.
Some of the most common culprits include:
- Seagulls are notorious for swooping down and snatching bait right off the surface of the water.
- Pelicans are not afraid to get up close to fishing boats, including bait boats, in search of a meal.
- Ospreys are skilled at catching fish and will often snatch bait from fishing lines if they spot an opportunity.
- Herons are opportunistic feeders and will sometimes snatch bait from the surface of the water.
It’s worth noting that these birds are protected by law in many areas and should not be harmed in any way. If you are having trouble with birds stealing your fishing bait, you may want to try moving to a different location or using a bait container to keep your bait out of reach.
Use Your Boat to Map the Swim
RC fishing boats don’t just have to be used for fishing. They are just RC boats after all! You can use them in other ways to enhance your fishing experience.
The most popular of these is attaching a device to your boat that can map the swim. You can then drive it around the area you want to cast to get a lay of the land, as it were. This extra information can make a big difference to your choice of casting area and overall success rate.
6 Common Questions
What is the best bait to use?
The best bait to use depends on the target species, location, and time of year. Live bait, such as worms, minnows, or shrimp, often prove most effective in attracting fish, but artificial lures, like spinnerbaits and crank baits, can also be productive.
Always research the preferences of the species you are targeting and local conditions before selecting your bait.
How do remote control bait boats work?
Remote control bait boats work by delivering your baited hook and line to a precise location on the water. They are typically controlled via a remote, allowing you to navigate the boat out to a specific spot before releasing the baited hook. This technology enables anglers to reach areas that might be inaccessible or too far to cast from the shore.
Can you really fish with an RC boat?
Yes, you can really fish with an RC boat, as they are designed to help you place your bait and line in hard-to-reach areas. Many RC boats have features like bait droppers or line release mechanisms, enabling you to deploy your bait in specific spots. However, the actual process of hooking and reeling in the fish will still require a traditional fishing rod and reel.
Do RC bait boats include a reel?
RC bait boats typically do not include a reel, as their primary function is to deliver the bait and line to a desired location. The angler still uses a separate fishing rod and reel to cast the line, which is then attached to the bait boat. Once the bait is released by the boat, the angler resumes control with their rod and reel to catch the fish.
What is bait casting for fishing?
Bait casting for fishing refers to the technique of casting a baited hook using a bait casting reel, which is designed to handle heavier lines and lures.
This method allows for greater accuracy and control when casting, enabling the angler to reach specific targets more effectively. Bait casting reels are often preferred by experienced anglers pursuing larger species or fishing in areas with heavy cover.
Should my bait boat have GPS?
Incorporating GPS in your bait boat can be highly advantageous, as it allows you to navigate to specific locations and save productive fishing spots. GPS-enabled bait boats can help you accurately position your bait in areas where fish are likely to congregate. Additionally, a GPS system can improve safety by ensuring you can easily navigate back to your starting point if you venture far out on the water.
Ready to Buy Your Boat?
Hopefully our guide has been helpful in making your decision. You should know now exactly what bait boat is best for your next fishing trip. That’s everything you need to know about RC fishing boats, and how to choose the best model for you. But there’s more where that came from!
If you’re a keen angler or an RC enthusiast, this is the place to be for the latest tech updates. Follow us on social media to stay up to date. And if there’s a specific list you’d like us to tackle, get in touch today!
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There's a lot of great boats on this list! But hands down don't waste your money until you are sure you will use the boat at least once or twice a month. Start with Flytec at around $100 and go from there. If you are a serious fisherman, then upgrade to the Anatec Catamaran.
There are much more expensive bait boats in this list, but Flytec will work for a fraction of the cost. Don't feel pressured to pay higher prices for lower quality.