Fishing is a hugely fun sport, but there's more going on underwater than most anglers think. See near-misses and all kinds of other activity with the help of an underwater fishing camera.
Use this guide to find the right camera to track and reel in lots more of your target fish.
Why Invest in an Underwater Fishing Camera
Beyond the numerous fishing vloggers, regular anglers often use cameras to see how their tactics are working and where fish are hiding. Plus, it’s just plain fun. If you have a model that can show you recordings in real-time, you can target specific fish and know for sure when the fish have lost interest in your bait.
Trolling with a camera is great for scoping out patterns in fish behavior in places where you tend to fish regularly. Once you can see exactly how the fish are acting, you'll be much more likely to reel in more of them.
Selecting a Quality Underwater Fishing Camera
Durability & Protection
These cameras can get stuck in the grass, hit rocks, or suffer a direct hit from a huge fish. For that reason, choosing a camera with the right housing is really important if you want to get some longevity out of the device. Many housings are getting pretty advanced, mimicking fish, and adding fins for trolling. Just make sure none of the housing is going to break apart or compromise the device itself if conditions get rough.
Waterproof ratings are also essential. The best underwater fishing cameras are sealed to prevent water and other debris from ever entering. You can look for a device's IP (ingress protection) rating to see how much it can handle. Anything below an IP65 is probably not good enough for a camera that will spend most of its useful life in the water. Aim for an IP67 or IP68 if you can.
Screen Size & Resolution
Just like you might see on fish finders, there’s a tradeoff between screen size and portability with underwater fishing cameras. There’s lots to see underneath the water, but that doesn't mean you need a huge screen to see it all. For a reduced price, small models that fit in a pocket are great to have along on less involved fishing trips.
That being said, though, larger models can bring a lot more to the table. At a screen size of just 7 inches, models from brands like MarCum can even merge fish flashers and a fishing camera into a single device, offering unmatched usefulness on a variety of fishing trips.
Resolution is measured in pixels, the name given to small areas of the screen: the more pixels, the more detail. The best models shoot high-definition 1080 pixels, but you can often get by with lower resolution in clear bright water.
Underwater fish cameras mostly run on either lithium or SLA batteries. Lithium batteries weigh much less and often have longer run times. Some lithium batteries can last 10 or 11 hours in a fish camera while SLAs run closer to 5 or 6 depending on how sophisticated the camera is.
Just like on your cell phone, screen brightness, and recording mode, both drain batteries. Some models have automatic turnoff, which means if the camera is dry and out of the water for more than a certain amount of time, it will turn itself off, thereby preserving precious battery power.
It’s the norm on the market to get rechargeable batteries. Some recharge with micro-USB or a simple charger you can plug into any wall outlet. It’s not impossible to charge them in the field if you have that level of equipment.
Depth of View
If you’re using an underwater camera with a cable on it, it’s most likely to be either 30 or 50 feet long. There’s a limit to the depth these cameras can reach because the housing can lose strength as pressure from additional depth grows. It would also be a bit unwieldy to carry around a huge amount of cable.
For wireless models, the depth can be a little more tricky because you’ll have to make sure you don’t plummet below the depth rating for an extended period. Most cameras should be able to handle it if you’re fishing in normal depths up to twenty or twenty-five feet.
Still, with a more costly model, it's probably not worthwhile to risk losing the device or damaging it irreparably by exceeding its depth limit. You should be able to tell when you're too deep because the transmission will fail at some point.
Connecting Cable Quality
The models that have a connecting cable are sometimes easier and faster to use because you just toss them into the water. The connecting cable is one of the most easily damages parts of an underwater fishing camera, and you should take care to store it correctly, unbent, and not pressed up against anything.
Most carrying cases have enough space for the cable to wind up and store rather easily, making storage and transportation easy. Cables are usually sold in lengths of 25-, 30-, 50-, and occasionally longer lengths.
As mentioned above, it can be inconvenient to have too much more cable than that to haul around. The amount of anglers who go to water deeper and want to take a look at the very bottom is also fairly low. There’s not much difference in transmission quality with these cables. Strength and length are the biggest factors to consider.
Price & Warranty
Warranties are not the most common in the underwater fishing camera markets.
Most of the big-name manufacturers will give the original purchaser protection against faulty parts or construction in the original building process, which is called a limited warranty, but finding any sort of replacement guarantee is very rare. For the less expensive models that range from around $40 to the mid-100s, that makes sense since they're fairly easy to replace.
But the more robust models will set you back. Fortunately, even if they don't offer an outright warranty, many companies respect the investment on their more costly models and have customer service teams that will help you get back out on to the water with a fish camera. What you really want for your money is a fish camera that will last at least 10 seasons and reliably return crisp, high-definition video.
8 Best Underwater Fishing Cameras Reviewed
1. MarCum Mission SD
Battery Type & Life
12-volt, 9-amp, 11 hours
800 x 480 pixels
Equipped with a tailor-made Sony Super HAD II CCD sensor, this camera has some powerful optics that deliver a clearly defined, full-color or black and white image so you can tell what you’re looking at.
There’s plenty of length on the 75-foot cable so you can get the camera lens where you want it in the majority of fishing spots. Its physical build shares the same classic design that all MarCum fish cameras have, which makes it ideal for propping up nearby when you go ice fishing.
The camera itself comes housed in a casing designed to mimic the shape of a fish, including a swim fin that can hold the cable in place away from the body of the camera to make sure your target fish doesn’t get tangled in the line.
In addition to the clear definition of the picture, the screen also displays helpful secondary metrics like water temperature, battery life, depth, and a relative direction arrow that helps anglers understand which way their camera is facing relative to their bait so they can quickly get a good angle on their rig.
MarCum underwater fishing camera reviews nearly unanimously rate this camera as the best underwater video camera for fishing or, at a minimum, have no problem acknowledging its status as an industry leader. It saves time with its direction arrow and has a great lighting setup and dark water mode for breaking through opaque lakes and rivers.
The carry case that comes with this fish camera is handy to get it out to the fishing hole or onto a boat, and the sun visor is integrated seamlessly. While the organization of the cable and battery could be better within the case, it is undeniably convenient and sturdy for transporting the unit.
One of the most important performance areas where this camera really excels is the battery life. Compared to the next best model, this MarCum likely lasts hours longer. It still has a bright enough screen to use in the daytime without worrying about too much glare.
The resolution is fine for a fish camera and most probably plenty good to see your hook and your target. With a little technical know-how, you can even record with your MarCum camera. Overall it’s clear why this fish camera is consistently viewed as the cream of the crop for performance and ease of use.
Best Underwater Camera for Ice Fishing
Battery Type & Life
Lithium, 8 hours
320 x 240 pixels
This camera's smaller size and light weight make it easy to carry from hole to hole when you're out ice fishing. The camera comes as a separate piece, which is nice for storage but could be a problem if you're prone to losing things, although the included carry case should help keep everything together and in order.
The camera is also treated to be cold-resistant, so it can handle the low temperatures of water under the ice. There aren't too many buttons on the face of the device, which makes it look more appealing, but it still has all the capabilities you need to watch the activity around your lure.
The digital zoom is great for taking a closer look at targets and structures you're having trouble identifying. It also has low light capabilities and a full-color display. A sun visor keeps light out at certain angles but doesn't cover the sides of the screen to block all the light out. The brightness of the display is fine for use in daylight, but in direct sunlight, you might find yourself squinting a bit.
One nice thing you can do with this Moocor fish camera is to rotate the image on the screen. This doesn't quite do the same thing as readjusting the camera itself, but it can be helpful to orient your viewpoint. You can also keep it attached with the included wristband to make sure you don’t drop it if you get a bite on the line.
The portability of this model is great, but the smaller size does somewhat eliminate it being propped up so you can watch it without having it in your hand. It is easy to fix on your fishing pole for hands-free use if you aren't using a really small ice fishing rod.
The resolution is clear enough, and the camera stacks up against any other similar model on the market. So what is the best underwater camera for ice fishing best used for? Most likely, anglers with a more sophisticated ice fishing will want a larger model, but single anglers who only carry one or two poles out onto the ice will love having this camera on hand.
Best Wireless Underwater Fishing Camera
Battery Type & Life
Lithium, 3.5 hours
Lithium, 3.5 hours
Spydro has created a sturdy little machine in this portable underwater fish camera. Freedom from cumbersome wires is a huge benefit when you're fishing, and it makes this camera one of the best for casting out attached to your line. It’s certainly the best underwater fishing camera for trolling since you can get a look at the underwater action right off your line.
Attaching this camera is as easy as tying a few knots or clipping it on. It can face down onto the hook or float suspended horizontally if you put the weights in the right place, although since the body of the camera is longer than most, you may find it inadvertently bumping into objects or fish.
Far from the clutter common on many competing cameras’ housing, there are no buttons at all on this model. You can turn the camera on by simply placing it in the water.
You can control it with a smartphone app that also has a map on which it automatically registers waypoints and attaches video to them so you can quickly see what conditions were like at certain points on your route. Transferring those videos to a computer to view later or share with others is as easy as connecting the device and moving the files around.
Since this is a wireless underwater fishing camera, it's not wise to expect a completely steady image from it. There's tons of movement under the water and currents that will shake the camera, which is fine.
That being said, attaching Spydro directly to a leader or your fishing line usually produces footage that’s so shaky it’s almost unusable, as you can see in parts of this video. However, with the included float, weight, and wedge attachments, you can easily stabilize it away from the hook or float it on its own dedicated line.
The best feature on this camera is the automatic bite detector, which will trigger a recording beginning ten seconds before a fish attacks the bait so you can see the whole bite. It's equipped with lights for darker conditions and measures salt levels, temperature, and speed. It's rugged and capable but disarmingly easy to use.
All in all, the Spydro is an excellent camera for trolling but also a great option for anglers who want a look under the surface without too much fuss.
4. MarCum LX-9
Top of the Range
Battery Type & Life
SLA, 8 hours
800 x 600 pixels
Before you balk at the price tag on this MarCum, remember that it’s actually two sophisticated machines in one. In addition to the camera, which is much the same as the one on other MarCum underwater fishing cameras, there’s also a dual-beam 8/20-degree ice transducer that’s capable of giving clear fish-finder readouts so you can see everything in the water column.
This is the only model out there that lets you overlay fish flasher readouts on top of the video from the camera so you can see in full color and a digital readout simultaneously. For maximum versatility, you can also unhook the camera entirely and leave it at home if you're going out for a quick ice fishing trip and don't need the camera. It attaches and re-attaches in about thirty seconds without any trouble at all.
There's a vertical zoom and graph zoom mode, so you can get an idea of what the spread is like in a heavily-populated water column. Temperature and depth readouts also appear on the screen alongside a handy relative location indicator arrow.
The camera on this model is not HD. Still, it gives excellent images nonetheless, as you can see in this live underwater footage from an LX-9 minus the fish flasher or vertical graph overlay.
From the video playback option to the carrying case, this MarCum underwater fish camera has everything you need to get a good look at what's going on under the water. If you customize the transducer, you can use it in any season with great success.
Best Fishing Camera for Beginners
Battery Type & Life
Lithium, 5-6 hours
1280 x 720 pixels
It can be challenging to get used to orienting oneself with an underwater fishing camera. This Eyoyo makes it really easy to learn the ropes because it powers up quickly after a few cables are connected, and then you're ready to go.
There aren't tons of complicated maneuvers or modes to confuse a new angler (or new fish videographer) and turn them off the pursuit. There's also a dedicated hook for dangling a lure right underneath the camera in a down-facing view, so there's no need to spend lots of time with a fancy rigging setup.
While the video from the Eyoyo portable 9-inch camera sure isn’t the most high-definition you can find, the lure rod does make sure that footage is stable and easy to watch, which makes it a great model for tweaking settings and camera movements to find out how best to use an underwater fish camera.
The screen on this model is also large enough to be pretty forgiving, and anglers will have plenty of room to get a good look at fish movements or identify structure and cover. If you don’t need that much screen space, you want more portability, or you fish in smaller bodies of water, this 7-inch model from Eyoyo is comparable to the nine-inch model in every way but not as large.
While the straightforward non-DVR model is great for learning, you might want to invest in a model with DVR if you want to record your footage to watch later or share with fellow anglers. Not everybody finds that to be an essential feature, but it can be helpful if you’re trying to use your newfound footage to improve your fishing methods.
6. MarCum Recon 5
Best Value for Money
Battery Type & Life
Lithium, 6 hours
800 x 480 pixels
Anglers who tend to shy away from bulky, heavy equipment will love this compact MarCum underwater fishing camera. It has all the features all robust MarCum cameras have, but the screen is about as big as the one on a cell phone.
Bank anglers, dock fishermen, and kayak fishers should enjoy the ability to stow this camera in a gear pocket or a utility vest until they want to use it. The fifty-foot cable is great for getting the lens beneath the surface of the water from a bridge, dock, or any other elevated above-water vantage point.
The 90-110° field of view grants a good look at the water around the camera. It performs well in low light situations and even in fairly murky water. Just like other MarCum models, this one has a nice, red softshell case that makes it easy to carry around. If you don’t have tons of cash to throw at a combo, all-in-one like the LX-9, this is a suitable alternative that you can easily place on top of a standard flasher or fish finder to get the best of both worlds.
There’s enough battery power for this unit to last through a long half-day of fishing, but that’s on continuous mode. If you prefer to take a look at the beginning of your trip or bust out the electronics to see why the fish just aren’t biting, then this is a great choice.
This is the least intrusive underwater fishing camera you can find without going wireless, and even the wire on this model is easy to accommodate. For those who prefer a wider look at what’s underneath the surface, the 16:9 aspect ratio on this device is a relief on the eyes compared to the standard square aspects. The Recon 5 may not be the most powerful camera MarCum has put out, but it’s one of the most accessible for the price.
7. Aqua-Vu AV 715C
Packed with Features
Battery Type & Life
12V, 7 amp, ~8-10 hours
Aqua-Vu has been vying with MarCum for control over the camera and fish finder market for some time now, and you can tell they're making that effort when you see all the features on the AV 715C.
It’s versatile enough to use on the ice or in warmer conditions. The spool used to wrap the power cable also works a handy stand for the device, which is handy on or off a boat. From adjustable LED lighting for dark water to the various stabilizing attachments, this camera does everything you could need it to do and does it well.
All the positive characteristics in the competition are there on this model as well. There’s a soft shell case, a fifty-foot camera cable, video-out support, and a sun shield. Add to that the improved camera lens, sonar compatibility, the active-pixel (CMOS) sensor, and the camera housing that's designed not to spook the fish away, and you have a high-performing underwater fish camera.
To really kick this device into high gear, pair it with one of the accessories that enable it to be used in specific applications. There’s a telescoping rod to maintain complete control, a trolling fin that stabilizes the camera while you drag it behind the boat facing behind you or up ahead, and an XD housing that holds tight onto the camera cable and pairs with other accessories.
All these performance-enhancing add-ons are sold separately, but Aqua-Vu doesn't overcharge for them.
Best Cheap Trolling Option
Battery Type & Life
Rechargeable micro USB, 4 hours
1280 x 720 pixels
It’s almost unbelievable that there can be an underwater fishing camera this cheap on the market, but here it is. There are even some competing models, but few perform so well for such a low price as the Olymbros.
It doesn’t have any sound recording if that’s something you look for in your underwater footage, but it does have some LED lighting and attaches easily on a fishing line to give you a good look at what’s happening at the end of your line. The front and rear swivels make it easy to stabilize the device and weigh it down or just attach it to a leader to get it out into the water.
The Olymbros has two sections that connect with a twist-off connection. There’s a control panel inside with a micro-SD card and a light button, a power button, and a record button. Some weight can be added to the inside of the device if you want to give it some additional stability.
It can be a little awkward at times to have to hit the record button, screw the two ends of the device together, and then get the thing in the water. Luckily, they’ve designed this camera with a 3-minute cycle recording so you’ll be able to just delete the first footage captured while you get it put together and cast out into the water.
The design of this camera and the swivel attachments allow it to coast through the water nicely if you add enough weight to it, making it great for trolling behind your boat. Bear in mind that the camera itself is rather lightweight, and you'll need to weigh it down to keep it trolling at the right depth in the water.
There is some lighting for lower light, but to get the best performance, you'll want bright light and clear water. The biggest drawback is that there's no way to play your footage on the boat unless you have a computer with you, so you can do some heavy-duty planning and mapping of fishing spots over several fishing trips, but you won't get live information like you do on some other devices.
How Underwater Cameras Work
Drop underwater fishing cameras in the water by their cable or fix them on some fishing line, and you can see underwater on the attached screen, a cell phone, or a larger display when you get home.
While fish finders are suitable for a wider look at the water column, a camera shows you exactly what's happening in crisp HD.
How to Use an Underwater Fishing Camera
Some models are ready to go as soon as you connect the camera and the battery. Others take more time, but there’s not tons of calibrating to do with these cameras.
The most important thing with wireless cameras is putting them on your fishing line. Generally, all you need to do is tie them on with a solid knot at one or both ends, depending on the presentation you want.
If you’ve never used one of these things before, consider the following tips:
- 1The camera can dangle next to your line or attach onto it.
- 2You can troll with most cameras, but not all of them, so do your research.
- 3Weight is important for camera stability. Some lighter cameras will need additional weight added.
- 4Learn how to use an orientation/direction arrow if your camera has one. It quickly helps to find your lure if your camera is suspended.
Camera Care & Maintenance Tips
In addition to storing it correctly, you should always make sure to tie your camera on a strong line and use a leader. Otherwise, you risk the fish running away with it or losing it to a snag in some rocks or cover.
Since these units should be waterproof, you can rinse them off after each trip in a snap. There can be a buildup on the camera lens, especially if you’ve been fishing in saltwater. The best thing you can do for your camera is to get a carrying case, keep it clean, and don’t overcharge the battery.
People also Ask (FAQs)
Are underwater fishing cameras any good?
Underwater fishing cameras vary in the definition of their footage and in their ability to move in the water. If you purchase the right one, you can troll around a favorite fishing spot to study fish movement, structure, and cover in hi-definition. If you only need to monitor how the activity around your lure is progressing, you can likely get by with a smaller, cheaper model. In any case, underwater fishing cameras are great for seeing what’s going on and triangulating your fishing strategy.
Do underwater cameras scare fish away?
Manufacturers have been tweaking their designs to reduce the amount of white light and noise the device makes. These things can scare fish away, but just as unfortunate is their tendency to interest the fish in attacking the camera rather than the bait.
Some cameras also have housing that is designed to look like a fish so that it will blend in. When you check out your footage, you can often see fish looking right into the camera for a brief moment as they try to decide what it is, but it’s fairly rare to see them bolt away with new camera designs.
What is underwater drone camera fishing?
A drone is just a really beefed-up underwater fishing camera. They give anglers much more freedom of movement, especially those who aren't fishing from a boat. They take a little more skill to pilot, and they can scare fish a bit more, but once you get the hang of them, drones can be great for exploring the underwater world with absolute freedom.
Can I use my underwater fishing camera in any type of water?
There are models specifically built to be all-season, but some are not designed to be used in cold water or saltwater. Make sure the model you choose will work in all conditions so you don't have to invest in more than one camera and keep straight which one is for which condition. Many cameras will mention that they are tailored to ice fishing, but there are plenty that work anywhere and everywhere.
Where is the best place to buy these underwater cameras?
Since this isn’t the type of gear you have to try on or hold in your hands necessarily, the best place to find a good deal and quick delivery is going to be Amazon. You can still try to find a demo model at a brick-and-mortar store, but with so many sample videos on sites like YouTube, shopping online for an underwater fishing camera has never been easier.
It’s hard to say what the best underwater fishing camera is for all occasions. The best option is most likely a versatile, sturdy, high-def camera that works all year round. The MarCum Mission SD is our top pick for the best underwater fishing camera because it allows you to catch more fish and get better underwater views in any season.