Two of the most innovative pieces of carp fishing technology of the past few decades are bait boats and underwater cameras. So, it’s no surprise to see bait boats and cameras merging to form the ultimate weapon in anyone’s carp fishing armoury.
However, with so many different variations on the market, it can be hard to work out which camera will suit you and your bait boat the best.
In this article, we’re going to run through the best bait boat cameras on the market, and what it is that makes them so special.
Fish EyE Universal Bait Boat Camera Kit
The Fish EyE universal camera kit allows those people with bait boats of any ilk to install a self-powered underwater camera to their boat. The camera on Fish EyE’s universal kit affixes to the side of the bait boat with Velcro, which is included in the pack, and allows you to view the water below the boat from just below the surface. The battery pack is fixed to the camera, and that sits atop the bait boat on Velcro strapping, allowing for easy removal for charging and when you don’t want to use the camera.
The universal kit comes with a tough carry box and includes the camera and battery kit, a 7inch monitor screen, a tripod for the monitor to sit on and all the cable accessories you need to fix and power your camera. The camera itself has some great features such as night vision, a 3.6mm lens, and low consumption of just 150Mah. The unit will work to at least 500m, and in some cases as far as 1000m. This is a great option for anyone not wanting to power their bait boat camera from the boat’s battery, and the entire kit is all you could need for surface filming and streaming.
Buy from: www.fisheyecamerakits.com
Fish EyE Wi-Fi Camera Kit For Bait Boats
The technology in mobile phone apps has allowed us to do everything from controlling the lights in our home to opening our cars in the mornings. But this technology has now been utilised to provide numerous tools for fishing.
There are swim mappers, GPS maps and now you can use the Fish EyE app to live-stream footage from their bait boat cameras. This Wi-Fi camera kit will work on any bait boat, by either powering it through the boat’s battery or using Fish EyE’s external camera power pack. The app is free to download on Apple and Android, and information for the download is included with the camera kit.
The camera itself is the same high-quality camera you find in all of Fish EyE’s other models, with night vision, a large range, clear footage and all the attachment and accessories you’ll need to fix the camera kit to any boat. This is a fantastic option for those anglers wanting to minimise the amount of gear they take on the bank, and instead of needing monitors and tripods, you can utilise your smartphone.
Price: £169.99 (with external battery pack)
Buy from: www.fisheyecamerakits.com
Fish EyE Mini Winch Bait Boat Camera
Fish EyE has been at the forefront of the universal bait boat camera production and has several models available for purchase. The smallest and cheapest kit they have is the Fish EyE Mini Winch Kit.
Firstly, it’s important to note that all of Fish EyE’s cameras are mounted with a winch, allowing you to lower the camera through the depths of the water to get a clearer view of the lakebed below. Other kits, which we will explore a little further in the article, are fitted to the bait boat and are completely static, allowing for less visibility in murkier waters.
The Mini Winch is fitted to your bait boat through either a Dual Lock mounting patch, a 3-D mount bracket or with an anchor patch, all of which are included with the kit. Now, the winch does need to be powered through your bait boat so you will either need to hardwire it through your boat or purchase a camera kit power pack from Fish EyE which costs £79.99.
The Mini Winch prides itself on its Brushless servo motor that allows for very precise control when operated from the handset, it also bright LED lights for dark areas and a camera that transmits 1,000 lines of resolution, which is the highest possible for wireless transmission. If you wanted to use the camera for searching around shallow margins, you can use the included mount to fit the camera to the side of the boat, turning it into a mounted surface camera.
The Mini Winch is 378g in weight and measures 115mm x 75mm x 50mm, and the camera reaches 20ft depth in the water, which is more than suitable for the majority of UK waters.
The Fish EyE Mini Winch comes with many added extras, from a 7” LED Monitor with built-in battery and a recording function, a handset, a wall charger, two antennas, a sunshade, all the mounting brackets and patches, and a protective bag to keep everything safe in transit. The Fish EyE Mini Winch comes in at £550 for the full kit, which is actually a fantastic price based on the quality and manoeuvrability of the camera. The Mini Winch is a great entry model into the bait boat camera world, and if you’re looking to add another dimension to your angling, this is the first step.
Buy from www.fisheyecamerakits.com
Fish EyE MK2.5 with GPS
The Fish EyE MK2.5 features the same winch method as the other cameras but this one also features a stunning GPS capability allowing you to save the spots that you visit for accurate bait and camera placement on your next trip.
The new brushless servo motors in the MK2.5 greatly reduces the noise of the previous versions while increasing the speed also. The winch has its own handset, that also allows for one-handed control of the winch while remaining completely accurate in the water, along with a distance stop failsafe to prevent the boat and camera becoming lost should it pass the 250m range. This camera needs to be hardwired into the bait boat to power the camera, however, you can buy a powerpack from Fish EyE to power the camera externally removing the need to alter the wiring of your bait boat, and these are priced at £79.99.
The camera weighs 450g and is sized 130mm x 100mm x 70mm, making it incredibly light and small considering the technology within it. The camera reaches depths of 20ft and transmits 1000 lines of resolution like the Mini Winch, which is the highest possible for wireless transmitting. This camera also has the bright LED’s making it great for dark and deep channels, along with a side mounting system should you want to explore more shallow water. The MK2.5 represents all the great qualities in the Mini Winch, but with the addition of the GPS functions making it the ultimate underwater fishing camera.
Buy from: www.fisheyecamerakits.com
Carplounge Bait Boat Cameras
Carplounge are creators of arguably the best bait boat on the market today with the RT4, however, it’s the add-ons which make this bait boat so well received, including an underwater camera. However, Carplounge wants their customers to have complete control over the production of their bait boats for everything from underwater camera kits to skin design, so that’s why they offer two different underwater camera options for their bait boats, but these cameras can also be purchased separately.
Here’s a rundown of Carplounge’s bait boat cameras.
Wireless Scorpion Bait Boat Camera
The Scorpion Cam is a unique underwater camera kit, that can be altered for use above water too. The camera is on a bendable arm, allowing you to change the direction it aims at, and how deep underwater it goes. Of course, the length isn’t very long, meaning that your two main options are to use it as a surface camera, or for an above-water camera when searching in snags and overhangs.
The camera is attached to the top of any bait boat using a Velcro strip, meaning it can be removed when you don’t need the camera feature. It takes power from the boat’s batteries, but Carplounge boasts an easy installation, with a guide included with the product. The kit comes with a high resolution 7” monitor display and a receiver module which is perfect for viewing the footage below bankside. The camera has a 700-line resolution and has 8 super-bright LED lights for lighting up the darkest of spots.
This is a great camera for improving whatever bait boat you have quickly, and while the camera may not be as powerful as some other underwater cameras, the ease of install and flexibility of the camera makes up for it in spades.
Buy from: www.carplounge.de
Winch Cam Pro Underwater Camera For Bait Boats
Caplounge’s winch camera is similar to the Fish EyE in the sense that the camera is lowered through the water column remotely through the bankside controls. However, the two winch cameras do possess different features, mainly surrounding the control unit and monitor. The Winch Cam Pro comes with a controller box that has the controls to the camera, as well as an in-built 7” LED monitor screen. The camera itself transmits 700TVL, or lines of resolution, which is a little less than the Fish EyE but is still strong enough to give you a clear view of the lakebed, and it also features infrared LED lights.
The camera cable is incredibly thin at just 1.5mm in diameter, and due to the Kevlar material it’s made from, can withstand up to 30kg in force, meaning you can trust its sturdiness, and the cable is 10m in length, however, Carplounge are running a promotion at the minute where they provide an extended 20m cable free of charge. Again, Carplounge boasts the ease of installation for the Winch Cam Pro, removing the need to send your bait boat in for installation.
The Winch Cam Pro is another example of a well-made winch camera that can radically improve any bait boat it’s used with, however, the price is a lot higher than the Fish EyE, and the camera is of lesser quality, so the best value option would be the Fish EyE. Nevertheless, Carplounge are known for providing top quality products with a lot of added extras, so you will never go far wrong purchasing bait boat equipment from them!
Buy from: www.carplounge.de
Fish Spy Marker Float & Underwater Camera + Bait Boat Mount
TF Gear combined a marker float with an underwater camera in this cheap alternative to winch cameras. These cameras were designed to be attached to a line and brought through the water columns by reeling up and down, however with the invention of a clever bait boat mount, these have become surface bait boat cameras too.
The best thing about this camera is that you can stream the footage live to an app on your phone, requiring no external controlling, and this connection is made via Wi-Fi.
The camera quality is good enough to get a clear picture of the water below, but may not be as clear as other, more expensive options. This camera is a cheap alternative to the more expensive options, but it is incredibly effective in shallow margins and clear water, and it’s not an option to be snubbed!
Device Price: £59.99
Mount Price: £14.49
Fish Spy Echo Underwater Camera For Bait Boats
The Fish Spy Echo, again manufactured by TF Gear, possess not only an underwater camera but an echo sounder too. This means even the cheapest of bait boats can be upgraded to have the same features of a bait boat 15 times its price.
Of course, there may be some drawbacks in terms of the quality of the streaming video or the accuracy of the echo sounder, but for everyday feature finding, this should present more than enough for most anglers. Again, the camera links to an app on your phone to allow you to see the footage of the water below and the echo sounder information, and the device itself is connected to the boat via an external mount.
Just like the Fish Spy Marker Float, this device is a cheap alternative to expensive cameras and fish finders, and for the average angler, this will present much more value for money than anything else on the market.
Device Price: £129.99
Mount Price: £14.99
Carp fishing is now full of gadgets and technology from power banks, drones, underwater cameras and bait boats, and while we shudder to think about what Chris Yates would think, innovation is almost impossible to avoid.
These gadgets are simply tools to supplement to watercraft, not a replacement to it. If you have no skill or knowledge of carp fishing, a bait boat will not catch your more fish.
The same can be said for underwater cameras, as it is a wonderful tool to have at your disposal, but without the skill to capitalise on the information, it’s merely just an observation device. Use these tools as edges to further improve your skills and you’ll have more fish on the bank in no time!