Kite Fishing | Equipment & Techniques - All You Need to Know
Everything you need to know about Kite Fishing Equipment & Techniques - How to Kite Fishing InformationIf you seek the most exhilarating nothing short of orgasmic fishing experience ever, then kite fishing is what you want to do! There is absolutely nothing in this world that can compare a sailfish all lit up in its neon colors rushing to take your baits. When fishing we never get to see the bite, with a kite, we always do! It is nothing short of a totally awesome experience that you always look forward to. This article is rather lengthy, if you would like a .pdf version, please feel free to call me (954) 263-6177, or email me via our Contact Us page, and I will be happy to email you a copy.
A Florida tradition, using a kite to catch fish is a method that has been in use for a good 55 to 60 years. Over the years this fishing method has been improved upon through equipment improvements, however, the methods and techniques have remained consistent. Originally, kite fishing was used for drifting live baits, over the years anglers began using kites to "slow troll' 'bump troll" live baits. This technique allows anglers to cover more territory, as well as allow for more control over where you are fishing when currents want to take you in a certain direction, and you need to go in another. Drift control devices, aka "sea anchors" are an invaluable tool for controlling your drift, and they do help out quite a bit. It is important to note that there is a huge difference between a drift control device vs a foul weather sea anchor, not only in price but also in functionality. A drift control device will do the trick, at a substantially lower cost. Anglers fishing far offshore may want to invest in an actual sea anchor, however, if you are fishing close to shore, a drift device will serve you well.
In recent years our fellow anglers in Southern California have started to troll flying fish lures. One of the most awesome aspects of my business is talking to other anglers. I have a lot of anglers/customers new to kite fishing that run out of the San Diego area. Recently the bluefin tuna bite off Southern Cali has been off the charts. They are slamming tuna daily, and all are being caught off kites with rubberlike (PVC, etc) flying fish lures. In Cali, they troll a little faster than just bump trolling, so they use a mix of sparred fishing kites such as the worlds best fishing kite, SFE, as well as parafoil kites, such as the Boston Big Game Club fishing kite. It is always exciting to see new anglers using kites to fish. When using a flying fish lure the objective is to provide a presentation of the flying fish skipping over the waves, hence the higher trolling speeds.
The obvious advantage to using a kite is to allow the angler to put a live bait or lure in the water without having the leader and hook assembly in the water, instead the line with the leader and hook is attached to a release clip that is attached to the line that is used to fly the kite. The line to the kite is called the "kite line". When your target species eats the bait and starts to swim with it, the release clip opens, and your fishing line is released. Kite fishing allows for 100% stealth when it comes to hiding fishing leaders and hooks. Once that release clip lets go of that line, you need to be prepared to quickly reel in the slack and tighten up quickly! This is the reason why all anglers who fish kites prefer high gear ratio fast retrieve reels.
Kite Fishing EquipmentIn this section, I am going to go over the different types of equipment that are used. Here I will share my experience with certain brands that I have used personally, however, there are others that will be mentioned as well. In the end, your preference and what you feel comfortable using is what will always work best for you. Some of the brands mentioned are available in my store, but many others are not.
In the old days, we used to use Dacron to fly our kites, today most anglers are using the new Spectra braided fishing lines. The braided lines offer thinner diameter lines with higher breaking strengths. Both Dacron and braid are good choices. Dacron is still available today from Izorline, Tuf Line, Cabela's Prestige, and Western Filament. A quick Google search will get you to a store that sells Dacron.
When it comes to braided line for use as kite line, my personal preference is 80 LB test Jerry Brown solid spectra. There is no need to go hollow core for this application. Jerry Brown solid line is available in White, Blue, Yellow, and Green. I like to use the white-colored line to spool (fill) the kite reel, and then use green, blue, and lastly high vis yellow for the scope (distance from the kite to the release clip closest to the kite). Rigging the reel with different colors allows the angler to easily visualize release clip deployments. Is that a must? No, not really, you can use just one color. The new Jerry Brown Patriot line, which offers red, white, and blue colors at 10 FT intervals is an excellent choice, not only is it high vis but since it is metered at 10 FT increments, it allows for easier rigging/placement of your release clips by eliminating the "measuring" factor. JB's Patriot line is hollow core, so it is a "tad" pricier, but you are only purchasing 600 yards, which is plenty to fill most electric and manual kite reels. JB also makes the Decade line, which will work fine, but it is not as high-vis as Patriot. New for 2019 at JB is orange, but it is only available in the hollow core line. If JB is not your gig, Powerpro and Momoi also make an outstanding product. When it comes to braid, you want to use a braided line that has at least 8 carriers (threads) per braid, no less.
When using either Dacron or Braid it has been my experience that none of these lines are fans of friction. The most common cause of kite line failure occurs naturally when you are fishing off either a center console or sportfishing boat. Throughout the drifting process, there are times that we correct the attitude of the boat to correct for both wind and/or current directions. When making such corrections it is important to keep an eye on your kite line and make sure that the line is not rubbing up against your t-top, or other structures such as outriggers, rocket launchers, etc. This mostly occurs when drifting however, it may also happen when trolling. Dropping a kite in the water, especially while trolling, will most likely break the spars of the kite if any pulling takes place when it is submerged. The best recipe to avoid a sinking kite is to tie a small balloon filled with air to the spars behind the kite, that will keep the kite floating instead of sinking, and it will not affect flight.
When setting up your kite line there are three measurements that are important. First is the reel's line capacity. You always want the reel to be full while allowing a good quarter inch below the area where the spool ends and the reel frame begins, or sufficient space to allow for clearance of the swivels. Filling the reel to the top will also give you the fastest retrieval speed provided by the reel.
The other two measurements are the spacing between the release clips, and lastly the scope. As far as the spacing between baits/release clips, you can use anywhere from 30 to 50 feet, or more if you wish. The spacing is more personal preference than anything else, it also is important when you are flying more than one kite simultaneously.
The scope of the line is the distance from the release clip closest to the kite, to the kite itself. Scope is very important. The amount of scope is directly related to what I call the "wind bite" on the kite. It is very important to understand that the closer the release clip is to the kite, the easier it is for a fish to pull the kite into the water. So too short of a scope is a problem, and too long is just too long. The second important bit of information with regards to the scope is that the heavier the baits you are using, the more scope you need. Let's say you are kite fishing for tuna in the northeast and your bait of choice is a bluefish. A bluefish is a hard fighting fish of considerable weight when compared to say a sardine. In the case of a bluefish, you want to use a good 150 feet of scope.
In Florida, our menu for live baits includes goggle eyes, pogies further north in the state, and smaller baits such as threadfins, pilchards, tinker mackerel, speedo's, and the largest ones, blue runners. If you are going to use a variety of sizes, then a scope of 120 to 150 feet would be optimum. Some may think that is a lot of scope, but it all depends on the size baits you get and on the particular day you get them. I personally prefer to overdo it on the scope, in lieu of going too short.
When it comes to kite reels there are two basic options and the question, "should I get an electric or a manual reel?" is always the first thought that comes to mind. When I get asked that question my answer is always "have you ever been fishing with someone that uses kites routinely?" The answer is usually no, so at that point, I recommend that they hitch a ride and experience one day of kite fishing with a fellow angler. The reason for this recommendation is because kite fishing is labor-intensive. Before investing in any venture, it is always a good idea to see what the venture is all about. Reminds me when I thought skiing was going to be a great thing for me to get into, then found out that snowboarding was a friendlier activity for my knees. So it always pays to check it out first. Each and every time customers who ask me whether to go electric or manual, they choose electric. Electric reels make the process much easier.
It is important to note that fishing kites have a considerable amount of surface area. When the wind acts upon that surface area, depending on wind speeds, manually cranking the kite in may be an easy task, or it may be difficult to a very difficult one. At times wind conditions may be such, that a 2nd person is needed to reel the kite in. This is particularly true when you are fishing 3 lines off 1 kite. An electric reel eliminates the entire circus act, and it is what I personally recommend. Enjoy your day, don't fight things you don't have to, go electric!
There are many reels that can be used as a manual reel if you choose to start out with manual to test the waters before you drop some cash into an electric reel. If you go this route, I recommend using a 6/0 or 9/0 black Penn Senator. The black Senators have a low retrieve ratio, which means that the kite is not reeled in quickly, however, the lower ratio makes it easier to reel in the kite. When it comes to any fishing reel, the higher the retrieve (gear ratio), the harder the reel is to crank. This is why 2 and 3-speed fishing reels were developed long ago. The idea of the 2nd speed came into play when anglers were battling huge tuna offshore. Tuna fight down and deep, the 2nd speed is a lower gear ratio that allows for easier cranking and it alleviates angler fatigue when fighting a fish. Basically, you don't realize the value of a 2-speed reel until you need it. Tuna and Swordfish anglers appreciate 2-speed reels!
When it comes to electric reels there are a few options out there. The digital age has had a deep impact on electric fishing reels, namely, the Auto Stop. Auto Stop is an absolute game-changer. There is nothing that compares to pushing a button and having that kite stop at the point where all 3 of your release clips are on your kite rod's tip guide. This advantage allows you to concentrate on fishing instead of playing with a reel. When it comes to tournament fishing, time is best used for landing your catch. Most electric kite reels that feature Auto Stop, also have level winds, another game-changer, and they also feature a manual handle, so you have the best of both worlds, manual, electric, and power assist, which is using the electrical functions to augment your manual operation of the reel. Depending on which brand of reel you choose, sometimes it makes no sense to go manual first. The two-step decision making process involves the purchase of 2 reels, and setting them up. This is always going to be more expensive than buying one, but there is also the fact that you have a "just in case" back up reel should the need arise. You should always compare prices, think of the advantages, and then decide which route you want to go.
When it comes to brands, in my store you will find the Daiwa Tanacom 1000, Kristal 601-M, Banax Kaigen 1000, Kristal XL 605 DM, and the Kristal XL 610 DM LW. Both the 605 & 610 are special order reels, if interested, give me a call. The suffix DM means that they are programmable (D) reels with manual handles (M), and the LW means that it has a level wind. So which is best? Here is a blurb about each one:
Daiwa Tanacom 1000: My favorite of all the reels. The Daiwa features Auto Stop, level wind, variable speed, and a manual handle. This is a very reliable reel for kite fishing exclusively. When it comes to price, no one beats Daiwa. When used for kite fishing there are no negatives to this reel, it's all good!
Kristal XL 601-M: A great option. The Kristal reels are the most powerful electric reels you can buy. Many anglers and charter captains who routinely fish in heavy wind days prefer Kristal because of this reason. The 601 M is both a manual and electric reel, however, it is not programmable, nor does it have a level wind. The 601 was the industry standard for many years, but the digital age caught up with us. When it comes to price, the 601-M is comparable to the Daiwa Tanacom 1000.
Kristal XL 605 DM & 610 DM LW: Both of these reels feature variable speed control, programmable features including auto stop, accurate line counter, and auto jigging options. The 610 also features a level wind. These reels both feature very powerful motors and manual handles, they are also heavier. These reels are more expensive than the Daiwa and XL 601-M. Personally, I favor the more expensive 610 over the 605.
Banax Kaigen 1000: Banax makes great reels. This reel features Auto Stop and all the same great options found on the Daiwa Tanacom 1000 at a slightly lower price. The Banax does have one drawback, the diameter of the guide on the level wind is smaller than most standard electric reels. If you choose to go this route you will only be able to use a maximum of 2 release clips. The other option is to use kite line whips, when used, those will allow you to fish 3 release clips. Reducing your possibilities to 2 release clips is not a wise choice if you are doing any type of tournament fishing.
One of the features that you will find on most of these reels is the variable speed feature. This is a very important feature that will be utilized in heavy wind days. As I previously mentioned, the surface area of fishing kites and the ability to safely reel in a kite is very wind dependant. Contrary to popular belief you can't crank a kite in at any fast speed that you want. The faster the kite is retrieved, the more pressure is placed on the surface area of the kite. Kite's with spars, such as the SFE kites all have specific wind tolerances, hence the different kite sizes that are categorized by wind speeds: ultralight to the super heavy wind, Category 5 kite. The most delicate kite is the Ultralight, and it is also the largest kite with regards to measurements. More surface area equals easier deployment because the kite "catches" more wind.
Very important: The faster the kite retrieval speed, the more pressure is placed on the kite spars. This pressure increases exponentially with retrieval speeds. The kite with the lowest wind tolerance is the ultralight, and the one with the highest is the Cat 5 kite. Both the Green & Red SFE all wind kites also have lower wind tolerances, but not as much as the ultralight. When you look at these kites, you will notice that neither the ultralights nor all wind kites have holes. The kites with holes have holes because those holes alleviate pressure on the surface area of the kite, allowing for the spars to sustain the required wind speeds. Exceeding the wind speed tolerances through retrieval speeds that are too fast, is comparable to what happens to an umbrella when you open it on a very windy day. Not good!
When the subject of kite rods comes up most anglers will select the cheapest kite rod they can find. This reasoning appears to make sense because you are not using this rod to fish, just to fly a kite. Unfortunately, that argument doesn't hold water. The most important component of any kite rod is the tip guide. Keep in mind that other than kite line, you are also running swivels through that kite tip. All standard tip guides were designed to run a line through them, some are monofilament only, and some can do both mono and braid. Those that can run braid are more expensive than those that are made for mono exclusively. None of the standard rod tip guides are made to be used with swivels. If a tip guide starts to get worn in the usual manner, where the inner diameter of the ring starts to get "rough", it won't be long before that "roughness" breaks your line. When that line breaks, there goes your braided line, your release clips, your snap swivel, and your kite. If that happens and you can't recover any of it, that cheap kite rod becomes the most expensive kite rod you ever bought. At BMC I only sell one brand of kite rod, and that is my Sceptre Pro-Tournament Kite Rod, all of my kite rods come with the stainless steel indestructible Winthrop Kite Tip guide. Winthrop guides are used by most manufacturers that make kite rods. If you haven't seen the Winthrop Kite Tip, check it out here.
Unfortunately not all rod holders are created to a standard size, some are deeper than others. A good example is a T-Top mounted rod holder, which due to headroom is usually shorter than those you would mount on your gunwales. Prior to purchasing a kite rod, you will need to measure the depth of the rod holders you plan to use when you kite fish. By design, kite rods are shorter than standard fishing rods. When choosing a kite rod, your objective when it comes to length is to have a kite rod that when the release clips are at the tip of the rod, you do not have to reach out by leaning over your gunwales to get to the clips or remove the rod from the rod holder. Another important thing when it comes to length, the butt section of the rod when inserted into the rod holder should have sufficient room so that the back of your kite reel does not touch or bang up against the gunwales when the rod and reel are placed in the rod holder. Once you know your rod holder measurements, then you can select your kite rod based on the measurement specifications of the available rods you have to choose from. There may be some anglers that will require a custom kite rod due to the rod holders they plan to use. At BMC I can custom make a kite rod with the specific measurements you need. Getting a custom rod is far less expensive than changing rod holders to accommodate the rod.
Remember that you are never going to use your kite rod to fish, therefore to a certain degree, the weight of the rod is a moot point. That said, this kite rod is going to be holding your reel, as well as playing the role of a supportive base for your kite. It is possible that wind can pull a kite rod from a rod holder, so the question becomes, do you want the lightest kite rod? Nope, you want a kite rod that has some weight to it, and even then, on some windy days, you may have to use a tether to prevent loss. The best blanks for a kite rod are fiberglass blanks, these are also the least expensive. Some kite reels are heavier than others and help with the problem, however, some are very light. The heaviest kite reels are the Kristal models.
Kite rods come with three basic butt types, EVA foam, plastic aka "slick butt", and aluminum uni-butts. If you require a shorter than normal custom rod size, you may need to go with a foam or a plastic butt. Depending on the size you need, there are also short versions of the #2 (50 LB Class) uni-butts. My Sceptre PRO-Tournament Series Kite Rod comes with a #2 aluminum uni-butt. This butt is 15 inches to the rear reel seat cap where the rear foot of the reel seat goes into, minus the 1/2 inch indentations on the gimbal that allows you to secure the rod to point in a certain direction. These indentations fit on the 2 metal rods at the bottom of the rod holder that your rod gimbal fits into.
Kite Fishing AccessoriesThe following items are what I consider to be accessories, my reasoning for calling them accessories is that these items are items that you will frequently purchase because they are not "forever items", and they eventually wear out and have to be replaced. These items include kite rings, kite markers, release clips, helium balloons, and balloon attachment devices such as the Kite Thongs. Kite line is also an accessory, however, it is one, that may need changing, although it is very infrequent that such a need arises. I grouped the kite line under equipment because of that reason.
Kite rings are used to pass your actual fishing line through them. The ring allows your fishing line to drop below the arm of the release clip, it also serves to create a space that your line runs through that faces the line and provides for a straight shot through the ring. There are times that due to the wind, changes in current, or boat movements may cause the release clips to swivel around the kite line and tangle your fishing line around it, kite rings prevent this from happening. The use of kite rings when using release clips is imperative. Although not a common use, our metal kite rings may also be used on downriggers as well as outriggers to maintain straight-line orientation when the line is released from the clip. Kite rings are placed above your kite line markers and are part of your main fishing line. The main fishing line is usually separated from your leader through the use of a SPRO Power Swivel or a Quick Rig Mini Swivel, both are the best swivels for this application. The rings on the #2 swivel size are large enough to make sure that your line marker doesn't go into your leader. The #2 size is the largest size (highest LB test) of the smaller power swivels.
Kite markers are used as a visual aid to keep an eye on the lines that drop down from the release clips where your baits are. These markers are available in many different colors, and there is also orange-colored tape that you can tie to your lines. Kite markers are part of your main fishing line and are separated from your leader through the use of a SPRO, or a Quick Rig Mini Power Swivel.
When it comes to colors I prefer to use red, yellow, and green. These three colors are familiar to everyone because they are the colors of all traffic lights. In my opinion, this color pattern is best because everyone is familiar with traffic lights. My personal kite setup is as follows, I use RED for the line that is attached to the release clip closest to the kite, YELLOW for the middle release clip, and GREEN for the release clip that is closest to my fishing rod. I also have rods that are permanently assigned to the same release clip. I achieve this by using those self-adhesive round colored dots that may be purchased at an Office Depot and other office supply stores. I purchase red, yellow, and green dots, and place those on my fishing rods. This allows for quick easy identification of which rod to pick up when a fish bites and the line or lines is/are released from the clips. Getting 2 or more bites simultaneously is NOT an uncommon occurrence when you are kite fishing. The color coordination does allow for some degree of sanity when chaos ensues!
There are a few release clips that are available on the market today. Personally, I prefer the Black's brand and in particular their 3 release clip kite kit model RC 60, which includes 3 pre-drilled different colored release clips, swivels, and a snap swivel that you use to attach the kite. These clips are easy to use. When you look at them, you will see that one side is larger than the other. The shorter side is the section of the clip that holds the release arm, and the longer side is where the arm is secured and the tension adjustment is. When you rig these onto your kite line, the section where the tension adjustment is should be facing you when you look up at the kite. This allows the arm to open away from you and allows for a quick clean drop of the line when the fish bites.
One of the great mysteries of kite fishing is the adjustment of the tension on the release clip. If the tension is too light, the clip will release before you get it into position, or shortly thereafter, and if it is too tight, the fish will drag your kite into the water. Believe it or not, the great god of the sea, Poseidon will provide you with a "feel" to adjust the tension on your release clips. In the meantime, you can use this method.
1. Place a 10 oz lure or line with a 10 oz lead in the water.
2. Drop your line back approximately 75 feet from the boat.
3. Start trolling at 5 knots.
4. Place your line in one of the release clips.
5. Increase your speed to 8 knots.
6. At 8 knots the clip should release if it doesn't, lighten up on the tension until it does.
7. Stop the boat, reel in your line.
8. Now place line in your release clips, hold it with one hand, and pull until the clip releases. This will give you a "feel" for the proper adjustment. Do it a few times, it will stay with you forever. or at least until Poseidon gives you that blessing.
If you have never seen Poseidon he is the fellow on our Sceptre Fishing Rods logo that is holding the mighty trident.
The Black's release clip kit is by far the best you can buy, however, it has one drawback. The snap swivel that comes with the kit will rust after a few uses. It is best not use the clip that comes with the kit, instead use a quality ball bearing swivel of the same size.
All balloons are made of latex regardless of size. Unfortunately, latex and heat, from the sun, or warehousing is NOT a good mix. Both will weaken the balloon. Helium is an expensive gas, even at it's lowest market price, it isn't cheap. The 40-inch helium balloons that we use for fishing kites are heavy walled (thick) balloons that take a considerable amount of helium to inflate, if that balloon pops, the loss of helium will greatly exceed the cost of a quality balloon that is properly stored and quickly shipped to your destination. I am sure a lot of you have done price comparisons when it comes to balloons, and have noticed the price differences. Keeping helium balloons is expensive, these have to be shipped 2nd-day air to the retailer, then the retailer has to keep it in a temperature-controlled environment, which means not in an un-air-conditioned warehouse. Then the balloons must be shipped to the customer using a 2-day time frame, which the Post Office achieves at the most inexpensive rate available.
Our BMC balloons, which we obviously do not manufacture, are sent to us via 2nd day FedEx or UPS. Unfortunately, there is no flat-rate USPS service for pallettes. But I do keep all of our stock in a temperature-controlled environment, and ship these balloons to you via USPS Priority Mail. We purchase white balloons because they are cooler and have a lesser chance of over-pressuring from the heat of the sun. When the temperature inside the balloon increases, the volume increases, and the balloon could pop, depending at what level it is filled to. This is definitely not a common occurrence because you rarely have to fill the balloon to capacity, all you need is enough lift to get the kite up in the air. So a yellow balloon will work, we just sell white because we can purchase all white balloons due to our purchase volumes. If you are using colored balloons and they don't pop, there is no need to make any changes.
Balloon clips in lieu of tying, never! The plastic clips present a leakage problem. This happens because of the thick nature of the latex used in the manufacturing of the balloon. Also, latex stretches, the Frank Sterling law of stretch states that you can stretch to a point, and any further stretching beyond that point will impair the elastic properties. Think of it as underwear, you have size 32, and one day you need a size 44, if you put the 32s on, they are not going to look the same after you take them off. In addition, when it comes to balloons, an overstretched balloon will cause the thickness of the latex to become compromised through thinning. I call that a balloon aneurysm. So the bottom line is helium is expensive, clips leak, and helium balloons are not re-usable. Tie the balloons, fish them, then throw them out. You can save an inflated balloon for the next day if you are heading offshore again. Never done it for more than one day, so can't say two days, but then again, I have never tried it.
When storing your balloons on the boat, only bring with you what you think you are going to use that day. Keep the balloons out of the sun, and when the day is over, bring them inside the house. Any balloon that stays on the boat for days is of questionable quality and is just not worth using.
Helium Balloon Attachment Devices:
There are two brands of helium balloon attachment devices that I am aware of, the original Kite Thong, and the Z Trap On. Both are excellent choices and work as they should. At BMC I sell the Kite Thong. Kite thongs come in 2 models, the 3 strap, and the 4 strap. If you are drift fishing, the 3 strap is what you want to use, and if you are slow trolling, then the 4 strap is what you need. If you do both, the 4 strap is all you need.
Are helium balloon attachment devices a MUST use item? No, they are not, however, they are a smart item to use. The alternative is to tie the nozzle to the cross member section of the spars, then tie a piece of a light braided line across the top of the kite, and then secure the line across the center of the ballon with tape to keep the balloon in place. The problem with this method is the tape. The tape is adhesive and the sun really takes a toll on it. When the tape starts to come undone, it may damage the outer surface of the latex balloon causing thinning. The procedure of using line and tape takes longer. The devices allow for a quick safe way to attach the balloon to the kite without added complications.
SFE Fishing Kites:
I have a little saying with regards to SFE Kites, "SFE Kites are often imitated, but never duplicated". Over the years I have seen a lot of fishing kites come and go, some made overseas, some not. A good fishing kite is one that flies steadily with no erratic movements. In order to achieve flight stability, the entire kite must be made by hand, and such is the case when it comes to an SFE Kite. Every SFE kite features an adjustable bridle that is utilized to adjust how high off the surface of the water you want your kite to fly.
Each SFE kite goes through a rigorous manufacturing process. Everything from the breathable cloth, to the spars, and the crossbar that the spars go into, plays a pivotal role in the performance of the kite. Every SFE kite is individually sparred. When you look at your kite you will find a number adhered to the kite spars. This number correlates to the specific spars that particular kite needs for optimum performance. The numbers are different, some are negative numbers and some are not. The numbers translate to how the spar was cut, wind tolerance, etc. This number is very important because you will need it should you need to replace a spar. The best method to obtain replacement spars is to get them directly from SFE.
NOTE: SFE kite spars are not interchangeable, so if you are fishing more than one kite, make sure that you assemble the kites one at a time so the spars don't get mixed up.
The flight stability of the SFE Kites makes it not only the world's best fishing kite but also the best kite for anglers new to the sport. There is a learning curve when it comes to deploying a kite from a boat and an SFE kite makes that process much easier, this is why I recommend the All Wind aka Ultimate All Purpose Kite for beginners. The all wind kite is available in 2 colors, the "SFE green kite" model 1671 and the "SFE red kite" model 1672. SFE models 1671 & 1672 is the most commonly used kite due to its range of wind speeds.
SFE also has other models, including the Ultralight model 1670, which is the very light wind kite. The ultralight kite is the largest kite in the SFE lineup. The larger size is to allow for a larger surface area that results in a lesser wind requirement to achieve flight. Although the ultralight kite eliminates the use of helium some of the time, it is not 100%. There are many days when very low to zero wind conditions are present, and the use of helium will be a necessity.
When it comes to days where higher winds are present, there are 3 SFE kites that we consider to be "high wind kites". These three kites have holes. The holes are to allow wind to go through them alleviating wind pressure on the surface area of the kite that results in a steady flight pattern. The diameter of the holes, as well as the number of holes, are different from kite to kite. Here is a brief description of each of the high wind kites, and hole patterns associated with each one:
SFE 12-30 MPH High Wind Kite Model 1683: This kite features a total of 40 small diameter holes. This is an excellent choice for southern California anglers who are pulling flying fish lures. The larger diameter holes allow for faster trolling speeds while maintaining stable flight. This kite is also frequently used in billfish tournaments by anglers who like to use higher retrieval speeds to pull their kites in. Frequently you will see this kite used with a helium balloon.
SFE 20-30 MPH High Wind Kite Model 1684: The 20-30 kite features a total of 40 large diameter holes. This high wind kite is a mid-range kite that features spars that allow you to fish in winds above 20 MPH. At times this kite is also used by tournament anglers to allow for higher retrieval speeds.
SFE 25 PLUS MPH High Wind Kite Model 1685: This kite is an extra heavy wind kite, commonly referred to as the Cat 5 kite, or as we Florida boys sometimes refer to as the "stay at home kite." The 1685 kite is meant for extreme winds and is rarely utilized, however, you will see this kite used in the winter billfish tournaments when winds are high, and so are the seas.
Fishing two to three kites is not an uncommon occurrence during a lot of fishing tournaments. This is achieved by having one kite fly to the left, one fly center, and the other fly to the right. The SFE will allow you to very simply do this through the use of very light split shot sinkers made of lead or tungsten. The split shots are placed on the side that you want the kite to fly towards. The amount of weight is relative to the wind speed. We simply try using the lightest and add more weight to achieve the flight pattern we need.
Fishing Kite Helium Systems:
Our fishing kite helium systems are one of our oldest products. BMC was the originator of helium systems with marine regulators. We feature 5 different helium systems, starting with our original and most popular system the 60 CU FT high-pressure system, an our 24, 30, & 55 CU FT space saver systems for smaller boats, and we also have a 120 CU FT system that is basically two of our high pressure 60 CU FT helium cylinders and a regulator. At one point we were selling a single 120 CU FT cylinder, however, those cylinders are difficult to get filled at 100% capacity, so we set up this system with 2 60 CU FT tanks.
A helium system is cost-effective if you use helium 3 times a year or more. Disposable cylinders are not cost-effective once your usage exceeds 3 kite fishing sessions where helium is needed. At BMC we created the space saver systems for those anglers who have limited space and must go with such a system. While the space saver systems work great, the 24 and 30 CU FT systems are the least cost-effective, closely followed by our 1800 PSI 55 CU FT system.
When cylinders are filled there are two charges, one is a fill charge, and the second is the gas charge. This charging format is what makes the smaller 24 &
30 CU FT systems less cost-effective than the larger systems. The smaller the cylinder, the more frequent the fills, and the more fill charges you will incur. This is why I always advise my customers to get the largest system they can fit on their boat. When it comes to filling the tanks a local welding shop is your best bet. Some of the major gas suppliers will fill the cylinder for you, and some will not. Those who do not fill will rent you a cylinder instead. We sell our helium regulators individually for those anglers who do not have a way to fill a helium cylinder, and the only option they have is a rental.
If you are considering the purchase of a helium system it is of utmost importance that you secure a fill location before you make the purchase. There are some areas of the country where the procurement of helium is difficult or non-existent.
Fishing Gear for Fishing with KitesWhen fishing live baits off the kites all types of fishing rods and reels, both conventional and spin may be used. A lot of anglers prefer spinning over conventional, and some of us prefer conventional over spinning. A large variety of rod types may be used such as standup rods, spin rods, boat rods, and live bait rods.
Selecting a Conventional Reel:
When it comes to the selection of a conventional reel for kite fishing, you want to choose the reel that has the fastest line pickup rate, the same is also true for selecting a spinning reel. The higher line pickup rate is essential for picking up the line slack after a fish takes a kite bait this is why those of us who fish kites use reels that have a high-speed line rate of retrieval.
The brand of the reel is what you feel comfortable using, or personal preference. When selecting a high-speed reel most anglers pay special attention to the gear ratio, we consider high speed retrieve reels to be those that have a 6:1 ratio or higher. While the ratio is an important factor, the diameter of the spool is more significant. For example an Avet MXL 6:1 reel will pick up less line per crank than an Avet LX 6.0, both reels have the same gear ratio, but the LX has a larger spool. The larger the spool the more line is picked up per revolution. The other factor that plays a role is what I call "high-speed retrieval time". High-speed retrieval time is related to line diameter. The thicker the line, the less high-speed retrieval time you have, and the thinner the line, the more high-speed retrieval time you have. As we all know, the higher the line class, the less line we can put on a reel so the line diameter is directly related to the time it takes for the reel to empty or fill. As far as drag systems are concerned, lever drags are the best way to go, although the new click-through star drags are also really nice.
The Avet LX 6.0 and HX standard spool single speed reels are my personal favorites for kite fishing, and the Penn Fathom 40 NLDHS, which has both a large diameter spool and a whopping 7:1 gear ratio, is a close second, and the Alutecnos Veloce 20 is another excellent choice. There are other manufacturers who also make high speed retrieve reels. Personally, Avet Reels are the only reels I fish, so my recommendations always go that route, however, this is more personal preference than anything else. California Anglers may want to consider the Avet HXW Raptor 2 speed reel for trolling flying fish lures. The Avet HXW Raptor spooled with Jerry Brown 60 LB test braid has become my go-to reel for tuna and marlin fishing. This reel has ample line capacity, drag, and it is light enough for standup fishing, a big thumbs up on all its features.
Here are two rules that deal with drags and retrieval speeds:
Drag vs Reel's Line Retrieval Speed (does not include water resistance influenced by line diameter & boat attitude)
1. As line goes out drag increases & line retrieval speed decreases
2. As line is reeled onto the reel drag decreases and line retrieval speed increases
Thicker line diameters increase drag. The line moving through the water increases drag. A boat going straight increases drag less than a boat doing a slow curve.
When it comes to fishing rods live bait and stand up rods are the most popular rod types used. Typically what we look for in a rod for kite fishing, is a preferable length of 7 FT or more, sensitive tip action, and lightweight. The reason for the length is so that if a fish runs under the boat we have sufficient length to clear the motors. Kingfish are notorious for these types of runs.
There are rods that have graphite composite blanks, and rods that are made of e-glass (fiberglass), depending on the blank the rods is made from, fiberglass is usually heavier. My Sceptre Live Bait Rods weigh about 3 ounces more than my Sceptre Carbon Series Live Bait Rods that feature the double helix graphite composite blanks from United Composites.
Another consideration when it comes to fishing rods used for kite fishing is the rod guides. There are many different types of guides and guide ring materials to choose from. The best guides for heavy offshore use with braided lines are the Fuji SIC guides. American Tackle and Batson also make excellent guides that are comparable to the SIC guides from Fuji. All three manufacturers are great choices, and all three make what I consider to be the best rod guides in the industry. Those of us who fish monofilament lines typically select rods with guides that work for both braid and nylon fishing lines.
On a personal note, I use braided lines for swordfishing and offshore trolling only. When I fish live baits off the kites I only use 20 LB test monofilament line. The 20 LB Suffix and Momoi monofilaments are great choices. Both lines have the abrasion resistance and excellent knot strength needed. These manufacturers make their monofilament in clear, blue, and high vis colors. Personally, I favor the clear and blue colors, I am not a fan of high vis lines, however, many anglers prefer high vis lines to facilitate line identification, and the lines perform just as good.
If you are fishing live baits off the kites you can use any type of leader, mono or fluoro. Remember that the leader is in the air, so the use of fluoro is not necessary. On our boat, I normally rig all my rods with fluorocarbon leaders because we use the rods for both slow trolling and kite fishing. Our technique is to slow troll to find the fish, then put out the kites when we determine the depth where they are biting.
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