Fish Kites

...From Around The World

Rather than go into any sort of depth about any types of Fish kites in particular, this page touches on the variety of types of kites that are inspired by fish! Skim through and perhaps have a smile at something you never knew.

But first, check out this Black Nylon Shark kite on Amazon. Just like in the water, nothing makes a more instant impression on you than a good shark kite!




Kid's Fish Kites

Western kids that is! Just about every living creature on, in or above the earth has been represented on a kid's diamond or other flat kite. The sail of a flat kite is a great excuse for decoration isn't it.

Personally, I just get a kick out of how a kite flies, so my home-made kites tend to be somewhat plain-looking. Most of them will soar on the barest whisper of a breeze though...

The most attractive or eye-catching designs tend to out-sell the others, and you wouldn't believe how many cheap kites fly (!) off the shelves these days.

The United States heads the list, with millions of kites sold each year. Naturally, fish designs pop up on these kites from time to time.

Realistic, abstract, funny, gaudy or artistic, you're likely to find these flying fish in any big kite shop. The HQ Shark Kite from Amazon is a typical online example. If there is any such thing as 'typical' in this category, that is!

Some fish kites for kids are just Diamonds with a marine theme.

The Tropical Fish Kite in the photo is another example, although at 187 cm (72 inches) tall, it's for big kids! Like many modern flat kites, the sail is nylon and the spars are fiberglass. At about $50 U.S. it seems like a quality kite that would last a long time. It would be no trouble getting this one way up there on 150 meters of line. Photo from willofthewind.com, with permission.

Novelty kites of many kinds sell well to kids too. In terms of fish, there's a few out there, nearly all in nylon and fiberglass. For example...

Kids kites sometimes have a fish outline and appearance for a bit of novelty

This one's called the 3D Mini Fish Kite. It has an appropriate appearance and outline, so in flight it looks like a fish swimming with its head aimed at the sky. The wing-span is 36 cm (14 inches). Despite the 3D tag, it's actually a flat kite with a couple of keels for stability. Hence there is no tail, making the kite look like a more realistic fish. Naturally, those keels are designed to look like fins! OK, so it's kind of 3D... Photo from sunnystuff.com, with permission.

Sometimes large fish fins double as the sail, or part of it, on some kites for kids.

Another kite in this vein is the Fish Shape Kite. Yes, it's definitely shaped like a fish, but this time the fins are included in the sail outline. They function as little wings on either side of the fish's body. It's a 60 cm (23 inch) span flat kite with no keels. Instead, a couple of thin tails attached to the tail-end of the body provide stability. A very cheap beginner's kite, it's suitable for 8 year olds and up. I bet there are a few similar ones out there too, from other manufacturers. Photo obtained from winddancekites.com, with permission.





A Stunt Kite

There's even a stunt kite with a distinctly fishy appearance.

Now, how's this for something different! The Tropical Fish Nylon Stunt Kite is made to look remarkably like those tall aquarium fish with large fins! It even has 2 small tail fins separate from the main sail, which is a nice touch. This kite is made from the usual nylon rip-stop material and fiberglass spars. Wingspan is 122 cm, height 66 cm (48 x 26 inches).

I'm sure this unusually decorated stunt kite would get quite a few second glances down at the beach, as people realize what a clever design it is. This kite would be quite a sight, racing around above the sand on its 50 meter (150 foot) lines in a stiff onshore breeze!

The manufacturers say they are happy to have 8 year olds and older at the controls of this stunter. Photo from gaylainc.com, with permission.





Inflatable Fish Kites

Anyone who has been to a large kite festival would be familiar with the giant inflatable kites that are usually on display. When you think a bit more about it, you realize that most of these are actually sea creatures. Of those, quite a number could accurately be described as Fish kites. Why is this? Well, I'd say it has a lot to do with the motion of big inflatables in the wind! Designers realized early on that this motion could be very similar to underwater motion. Hence, it was only natural to make the most of it and come up with realistically moving sea creatures. This kind of kite really looks like it is 'swimming' through the air!

A huge Peter Lynn Cuttlefish inflatable kite.

Some designers have excelled in this area. For example, Peter Lynn's kites feature in kite festivals all around the world. The photo of a Cuttlefish kite was obtained from gombergkites.com, with permission. Check out this list that are just some of Peter's many kite designs.

  • Cuttlefish - see the photo!
  • Flying Fish
  • Fugu
  • Ray
  • Dolphin
  • Octopus
  • Squid

These kites are often made in several sizes. All are quite expensive compared to most single-line kites, but the smaller sizes are within reach for many people who like the idea of owning and flying an inflatable. The cost of the larger sizes can run into thousands of dollars! Not too surprising, when you consider the amount of material and the hundreds of hours of hand-assembly required. Lots of panels, lots of stitches!





Other Fish Kites

Fishing has been a way of life for generations of people in South-East Asia and the Pacific Ocean. So guess what - where traditional kites are found in this part of the planet, they often represent fish! An impressive example is the Bebean, a large traditional kite from Bali.

Kites inspired by fish also pop up in Chinese culture. This one is called '5 fish'.

Now for an all-too-brief mention of Fish kites in China. Large books have been written on Chinese kites. There's a breadth and depth of kite design over there that's just amazing. However, I'm just going to highlight one kite in particular to show that the Chinese don't mind decorating some of their kites with fish either!

The photo shows a traditional Swallow kite painted with 5 fish images.

This is a genuine silk and bamboo creation, measuring 97 x 87 cm (37 x 33 inches). In line with the Chinese custom of considering their kites to be works of art, this kite is titled 'Five Fish'.

Much more could be written just on the topic of Chinese Fish Kites, but I'll leave that for another day.

Finally, a great shot of 3 Fish kites that were evidently inspired by the Japanese variety. More correctly, they are Windsocks. However, one of them looks suspiciously like a pig ;-) Come to think of it, the top one is just an ordinary spinner... Nothing fishy about that one either!

Japanese carp kite imposters!

Photo courtesy of Paul Downey.

Check out this Black Nylon Shark kite on Amazon. Just the thing to take along to your local kite festival. Or anytime down at the beach, where it's sure to get people's attention!

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    KAP Mystery Solved

    Aug 25, 14 03:57 AM

    Last week I came home from a KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) session down at Brighton beach, here in Adelaide, South Australia. The photos were a disaster, being totally washed out. Over-exposed, to be a little more technical. At the time I thought the problem was purely the position of the sun, relative to the direction of the camera...

    Well guess what. Down at the same beach today, the photos had the same problem - and this time it definitely wasn't the sun. Camera damage seemed a small possibility since the rig had hit the sand at some speed last time, during a white-knuckle experience with the kite in rough air! Which turned out OK, but that's another story.

    Anyway, once back home today, I did a little investigating with the camera, taking some test pictures from the back yard. It was a great relief to find the explanation for the bad images...

    It seems that setting a fixed ISO is not a good idea for this camera in very bright lighting conditions. It can cause the camera to run out of adjustment room for other parameters, like shutter speed or aperture. When the camera was allowed to set ISO automatically, the exposure problem disappeared. Whew!

    The Tyvek-sailed Carbon Diamond performed wonderfully today. It was, for the first time, hoisting the KAP rig into the air. Never has the rig been so steady for so long. Sway was almost non-existent. But whenever I handled the line the camera twisted back and forth due to the rather steep line angle from the rig to the kite. Without enough horizontal separation, the suspension lines do not provide the maximum resistance to twisting. It might be an idea to separate the attachment points even further, on the flying line.

    The 2 meter (7 ft) Diamond was struggling to lift the camera in the fairly light winds coming off the ocean. At times, people on the beach had to duck under the line from me to the camera! The camera was behaving as a sort of aerial tether point, with the kite flying at a steep line angle from there.

    Measured at shoulder height, the on-shore breeze was about 4.5kph gusting to just under 7kph. More of a day for the Multi-Dowel Sled really, which hardly feels a 280g weight on the line!

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe what's on offer in that message series!

    Read More





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