Sky High Success

Two kites are better than one, as long as you can stay out of trouble.

Capt. Steve Dougherty November 17, 2009

Kite-fishing is far from a new concept, as primitive anglers around the world have been utilizing makeshift fishing kites for centuries. Indo-Pacific island tribes created fishing kites from large banana and breadfruit leaves threaded with thin strips of bamboo, while others used wide strips of palm leaves sewn together with vegetable fibers. Thankfully, technological advancements have led to user-friendly designs that can withstand the elements better than a brittle leaf.

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Photo: Steve Dougherty

A popular tactic when anglers wish to suspend enticing live baits on the waters surface, kite-fishing provides a major advantage when game fish are feeding in large concentrations, and when keen-eyed predators such as blackfin tuna refuse to strike flat-lined baits. With cool winter weather rapidly approaching, accompanied by prevailing northerly winds, anglers in South Florida are already gearing up for a red-hot sailfish season. And while at first glance kite-fishing may seem like an endeavor best suited for professionals, with the correct equipment and only a bit of practice even novice anglers can effectively accomplish this exciting means of enticing powerful predators.

If you want your kite to veer to the right, place an 1/8 oz. split shot on the bottom right corner of the kite.

Flight Plan
If you’re just getting into the game, a single kite will be enough to keep your hands full, but once you’re comfortable and ready to fly multiple kites there are a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor. Unfortunately, since a kite’s flight plan is determined by the prevailing wind direction, your kites will want to fly in the same general direction. However, with the addition of a few properly placed split shots you can force your kites to fly in opposite directions. The benefit of fishing multiple kites is that it enables you to cover a broader area while simultaneously fishing a variety of offerings. If you want your kite to veer to the right, place an 1/8 oz. split shot on the bottom right corner of the kite. If one isn’t enough to change the kite’s attitude you can add a second or third. Repeat the process on the bottom left corner of the left kite so the two fly in opposing directions. Remember that all kites fly differently and to get consistent results you will have to go through some trial and error. Be sure to test your kite after each and every adjustment.

Most kites are equipped with bridles that enable anglers to adjust the height at which the kite flies. If you move the bridle slider away from the kite, it will cause the kite to fly higher, while moving the bridle towards the kite will force the kite towards the waters surface. Be careful when adjusting the bridle and make sure you move the slider in small increments. When your kite is flying at the optimal height take note of the wind speed and bridle configuration so you can duplicate your performance the next time you hit the water. If you’re not well versed in kite-fishing you owe it to yourself to give this highly effective and action packed technique a chance.

Where’s The Party?
Nothing’s more frustrating than a kite that won’t fly properly due to lack of wind. Without a 5 to 10-knot breeze even light wind kites will fall from the sky. This is where helium balloons come into play. While kite-fishing may seem difficult enough as it is, the addition of a three foot helium balloon may seem like another obstacle to overcome, yet it isn’t as challenging as you may think and you’ll soon discover that the benefits far outweigh the effort. Start by inflating a 36-inch balloon to full capacity and attach a piece of monofilament or rigging floss to the balloon’s nipple, where it is tied. Place the balloon in the center of the kite and attach it to the centerpiece where the four kite spars meet. Next, tie a piece of monofilament to the top corners of the kite to fasten the balloon. By positioning the balloon to the right or left of the kite you can further adjust the direction it flies. Use a piece of tape to fasten the monofilament to the top of the balloon, but once the tape is secured don’t try to peel it off because the balloon may burst. It is important that your helium balloon’s bridle isn’t too tight or you kite won’t fly as desired. You will know if it isn’t rigged properly because it will likely wobble from side-to-side as it falls from the sky. It is an undeniable fact that kite-fishing is one of the most exciting forms of blue water angling. The anticipation alone is enough to skip a few heartbeats while witnessing an entire strike sequence is one of the greatest sights in all of anglings glory.

Be Prepared For The Worst

It’s important that you carry different kites for a variety of conditions because you don’t want to fly a low-wind kite in breezy conditions, or vice versa. When conditions aren’t ideal kites often crash into the water, which can result in broken kite lines or spars; yet another reason why it’s a good idea to carry backups. When it comes to selection there are numerous companies that offer fishing kites and most vary in how they compensate for kite adjustments and wind speed with unique bridle systems while some utilize interchangeable spars and varying cloth weights.

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