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April 16, 2009

Kite Fishing 101

Kite fishing works! One of the best kite pros in the business reveals tips and tricks to get started and get better...

Tackle with a Task

? Kite rods
The first piece of equipment you need is a kite reel on a kite rod. Kite rods are short, just 3 to 4 feet in length, with one or two guides. Have a busted trolling rod? Take it to a local rod builder for conversion to a kite rod.

Kite rods built with the best components will last a long time. Mine,  manufactured by Biscayne Rod (www, have endured more than 15 years of hard-core use. Their heavy metal butts not only    provide weight, but absorb the extra pressure exerted from such a stiff rod.

? Ring guides
The top guide must be strong with a wide diameter so swivels or floss clip stops on the kite line can flow through it easily. Especially when using electric kite reels, you'll inadvertently reel the kite all the way in, jamming the kite clips tightly against the rod tip, causing weak ring guides to crack or break.

? Roller tops
To avoid ring breakage, some kite-rod manufacturers utilize a large roller top. Again, just make sure there's   sufficient space to accommodate swivels spliced into the kite line.

Be careful with such large roller tops, however, if you use braid as your kite line since its ultra-thin diameter may jam between the guide roller and frame. Choose from manufacturers that make roller tops with practically zero clearance between the roller and frame.

Winthrop Tool, which also makes the roller guides for braid, offers a third alternative: a new mushroom-design top that allows line to flow over the guide and out the side. I haven't tried it yet, but the design looks promising.

? Kite reels
Any midsize conventional reel will work as a kite reel. You can choose to go with a manual reel, but I can tell you from years of experience that an electric is well worth the extra money. The electric will crank in your kite, leaving you free to reel in fishing lines. Secondly, hand-cranking kites - especially in a lot of wind - can be hard work. (I'm not against that but prefer to apply my energies to something more enjoyable - like fighting a big fish!)

? Kite Lines
You can use either monofilament or braid as your main kite line. I've used both and definitely favor braided line. Because braid's so much thinner and lighter, it will fly a kite with less wind than mono would need. Braided line is also very strong and durable. Even with all the kite fishing I do, I replace my kite lines just once a year; a recreational (weekend) angler would probably get several seasons' use from braid.

Still, many good kite anglers won't use braid as their kite lines, despite monofilament's heavier weight and reduced durability. These anglers figure eventually they will get a backlash on their kite reel. With braid, removing that can be difficult and time-consuming, sometimes requiring the braid be cut up and discarded. Then, too, braided line is tough on fingers and hands when heavy winds cause enough tension to abrade or even slice skin.

As far as kite-line strength, in a good breeze, I use 80-pound braid. Though equal to just 20-pound mono in diameter, 80 will stand up to even the highest wind. But on light-wind days, I use the thinnest kite line I   can get by with, dropping down to 30-pound braid (the equivalent of 8-pound mono). Most kite anglers who use monofilament go with 50-pound for everyday use, but they have 80- to 100-pound-test on hand in case the wind really starts blowing.