Fishing Kites

Hanging Lures A Loooong Way Off

An example of modern fishing kites, made strong and waterproof.Simple but useful
An example of modern fishing kites, made strong and waterproof.Simple but useful

A bit of history to begin with. The technique of using fishing kites to drop a baited line into the water originated with the ancient Chinese.

Later, Pacific islanders came up with similar ideas, for example the Solomon Islanders.

Traditional kites for this purpose also appear throughout the Malay Peninsula. Early forms of these kites were as simple as a large leaf threaded with strips of fine bamboo, with a hook hung from a long length of line.

This form of fishing is still used in some parts of Asia today.

In more modern times, it seems that a certain Captain Bob Lewis was responsible for making this form of fishing more popular in the West. Bob Lewis was active in the sailfish-rich waters off southern Florida, in the U.S.A.



Modern Fishing Kites

Today, the kites used are mainly simple sleds, diamonds and deltas that are adjusted to fly low. That makes sense since the idea is to take the fishing line out far away from the angler. For example, to get across surf and into deeper water where bigger fish can be caught. Kite fishing is also done out of boats, where the odds of catching a fish are increased by flying more than one kite at once. Commercial kite-based systems have been around since the late 80s.

In really light conditions, keen anglers just attach a helium-filled balloon to their kites to keep them in the air!

The price range seems to be around US$20 to US$150. At the bottom end are small sleds such as the Pocket Sled Kite from Paul's Fishing Kites. The same company sells the Casting Kite in the middle of the price range and their Mega Kite for around US$150.

That's a lot more than for comparable simple recreational kites. But I suppose they have to be very waterproof, and also quite strong in case they get dragged through the water. Or perhaps anglers spend so much on other gear that the retailers hope they can get away with offering pricey kites!

Here's a run down on how kites are used for fishing these days:

  • different sized kites can be used to drop anywhere from 2 to 25+ hooks into the water, from a single line
  • some fishermen use kites to drop their hooks up to 2 kilometers (1 mile+) out to sea!
  • the kites are sometimes used to lay bait on the surface of the water
  • most commonly used to fish live baits for sailfish, dolphin fish and tuna
  • also effective for baiting marlin, king mackerel, tarpon, sharks and freshwater bass

The advantages of using 'casting kites', particularly when using live baits include:

  • both the windward and leeward sides of a boat can be fished
  • baits fluttering near the surface send out vibrations that attract predators
  • the vertical pull holds leaders out of the water where fish are less likely to see them and shy away

Some well-known kites used by anglers include:

  • Paul's Fishing Kites
  • AFTCO kites
  • Bob Lewis kites
  • SFE fishing kites

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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

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Wind Speeds

Light Air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2

Gentle ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7

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