Aerial tracking, which has exhibited its omnipresent dedication and splendid performance, is one of the most active applications in the remote sensing field. Especially, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based remote sensing system, equipped with a visual tracking approach, has been widely used in aviation, navigation, agriculture, transportation, and public security, etc. As is mentioned above, the UAV-based aerial tracking platform has been gradually developed from research to practical application stage, reaching one of the main aerial remote sensing technologies in the future. However, due to real-world challenging situations, the vibration of the UAV’s mechanical structure (especially under strong wind conditions), and limited computation resources, accuracy, robustness, and high efficiency are all crucial for the onboard tracking methods. Recently, the discriminative correlation filter (DCF)-based trackers have stood out for their high computational efficiency and appealing robustness on a single CPU, and have flourished in the UAV visual tracking community. In this work, the basic framework of the DCF-based trackers is firstly generalized, based on which, 20 state-of-the-art DCF-based trackers are orderly summarized according to their innovations for soloving various issues. Besides, exhaustive and quantitative experiments have been extended on various prevailing UAV tracking benchmarks, i.e., UAV123, UAV123_10fps, UAV20L, UAVDT, DTB70, and VisDrone2019-SOT, which contain 371,625 frames in total. The experiments show the performance, verify the feasibility, and demonstrate the current challenges of DCF-based trackers onboard UAV tracking. Finally, comprehensive conclusions on open challenges and directions for future research is presented.