Super Spread

Big Boat Kite Fishing Tactics

FSF Staff January 25, 2013

Kite fishing is a proven technique that can be utilized by anglers fishing from all types of vessels. While the approach requires specialized tackle, you can make kite fishing as complicated or as stress free as you like by choosing your level of intensity. One kite with a single bait is easy to handle, but monitoring three kites with three baits dangling from each requires the constant attention of a dedicated team.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

Though kite fishing is standard practice when targeting sailfish and king mackerel, the techniques employed vary greatly depending on your platform. Kite fishing from an open center console enables anglers to dangle baits off the downwind side of the boat while simultaneously presenting flat lines throughout the water column along the upwind side. Because you are fully exposed to the elements on a center console, catching the wind when launching a kite isn’t that troublesome.

Power drifting lets anglers keep their baits in the strike zone for longer periods of time and focus on particular depths and contours where active fish are likely holding.

Unfortunately, crews stuck in the cockpit of a large convertible or express style sportfish don’t have the same unrestricted fishability afforded by an open fisherman. In the case of larger sportfish yachts, anglers tend to their kite baits from a centralized rocket launcher in the cockpit. With that being said, the lack of maneuverability for the crew is more than made up for with impressive amenities and the captain’s ability to spot fish from a much greater distance while perched high above the water in the tower.

While drifting and dreaming in a center console lets anglers cover both the upwind and downwind sides, crews must reset once they’ve drifted beyond the ideal depth—even though they can somewhat control and slow their drift with a drift sock. At the helm of a sportfish the captain remains in control while powering the boat into the wind and seas. This enables the skipper to make slight adjustments and slide in and out of the optimal strike zone. Power drifting lets anglers keep their baits in the strike zone for longer periods of time and focus on particular depths and contours where active fish are likely holding.

Launching kites from a sportfish is much different than what can be expected from an open center console. First and foremost, crews in large game boats have to compensate for the blockage of wind from the house since the captain must keep the bow into the wind to keep the kites off the stern. In preparation of launch, the captain can pivot the boat slightly to get a clean path for the wind to grab the kite. Once set, most captains position the boat so they quarter off the wind to create a more lateral spread. It’s really important not to overcompensate for the drift. Powering too much will make your baits swim too hard and result in an unnatural presentation and potentially tangled lines. If you aren’t careful you will kill your baits, which will require the arduous task of retrieving the kite and having to reset the entire spread.

To help keep kites aloft in an effective flight pattern, most big boat crews deploy them from the outriggers to increase spread and maximize veer. With the development of this tactic innovative anglers capitalize on a specialized ring that clips to the outrigger’s halyard so the kite line can be raised and lowered as needed. A stainless steel ring large enough for the kite’s release clips to pass through is connected to a short length of 300 lb. monofilament. The opposite end of the mono is attached to a snap swivel or longline clip to facilitate an easy connection to the outrigger release clip. When it comes time to launch the kite, the angler passes the kite line through the ring before attaching the snap swivel to the kite bridle. When deploying a kite in this fashion it’s a good idea to raise the halyard about half way up the outrigger so if the kite takes a dive it won’t be able to reach the water’s surface.

Once the kite is flying steady the halyard can be retrieved in order to reach the kite clips. Now the spread is set like normal and when complete the halyard and adjoining ring can be raised to the top of the outrigger. While outriggers will help steer your kites in the right direction, you can also attach tiny split-shots to the outside corners of the kites to help pursuade them left or right.

Kite fishing is an extremely effective technique that can add a new dimension to your approach when forage fish and predators are concentrated along a particular depth or contour line. Work your live baits with dedication and vigor all day and the results will soon tip in your favor. Don’t get discouraged if your kite baits don’t produce strikes, because flat line bites can also be attributed to the commotion of a lively spread on the surface. Good luck and be sure to carefully monitor your airspace.

Outrigger Kite Ring

Stainless steel rings help facilitate a wider spread when fishing kites from outriggers.

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