When we hear of kite angling, or any use of kite with fishing, most people think of the method used by big game fishermen for deploying live baits for marlin, sailfish and other game fish. Do an internet search on kite fishing and this is what most of the results will lead to this method.
Well for those who don’t know, there is another use for kites and fishing that doesn’t involve a boat. In many parts of the world, anglers use kites when fishing from shore. The main reason is to be able to get their baits out far enough to reach offshore reefs or just get to deeper water. How often have you seen birds breaking beyond casting distance and wished you could out there? When fishing shallow sandy beaches with large surf conditions, it is often impossible to get your bait out behind the back line of breakers just by casting. The other advantage of using a kite is that it allows you to keep the bait and tackle near the surface, thereby avoiding getting hooked up in reefs or other objects on the bottom.
The question I get asked the most about kite fishing is “what happens when the kite gets pulled under water?” Well the only time that happens, or should happen, is if the wind dies, or your kite loses it’s tail and becomes unstable and dives into the water. The kite is supposed to stay in the air all the time. This leads to the type of kite one should use.
With kite fishing, you need a kite that is going to provide the correct amount of pull and lift. More importantly, you want a kite that is very stable. Kid’s kites from a toy store are probably not going to cut it. I could write an entire article just on kites, but for now, let’s go with a square homemade kite using thin wooden strips and garbage bag plastic covering. A square kite with a good tail will hang in the sky without moving and provide a consistent pull. Your kite will get wet, so water proof materials, especially the tail, is critical.
The kite tail should be long enough to keep the kite stable and also remain dry and sand free. One of the best kite tail materials is a roll of nylon tube netting that is used to bag vegetables like onions. You can easily shake the sand and water off it. The size of the kite is selected based on the wind speed and size of bait you are fishing with. Strong wind, small kite and vice versa. With the correct kite, it should be snatched easily out of your hand by the wind, with no running up and down the beach.
In order to fly a kite and drag a bait out to sea, you will need a lot of line. Therefore you need a big reel. Usually kite fishermen are not after small fish, so big game fish reels are common that can hold hundreds or even thousands of yards of line. Again it depends how far off shore you will be fishing. Sometimes a kite can be used simply to get past a small set of waves and keep the bait suspended in the water column.
There are two main methods of deploying the kite. One is to have a dedicated kite rig, for launching flying and retrieving the kite, and a separate fishing rig for hooking and landing the fish. The two rigs are connected up until the time of the strike and then the two separate allowing you to fight the fish. The other method is to have the kite attached to the fishing line, all on the same rig. This method keeps things simpler, but means you may end up fighting the kite and the fish. Having the kite attached during the fight can help keep the fish near the surface during the fight too. The kite is detached just before the last 150 feet or so of line is retrieved. This is usually a critical function and having a buddy to help is important.
Either method can work and can be adapted depending on the particular fishing conditions you experience. Kite fishing of any kind, when done from the shore, obviously works best when offshore breezes are common. In those countries or regions where offshore breezes are not common, points or jetties can still be fished successfully. With an adjustable kite, you can also tack the kite into the wind and achieve fishing angles close to forty degrees either side of the wind direction. In other words, you do not have to fish only where the wind is blowing.
Another adjustment your kite should have is an elevation adjuster. This allows the kite to fly high with less horizontal pull, or fly flat and low and pull with maximum force. By changing the pitch of the kite it will behave much like the lip on a crank bait. How much tilt you put on the kite is often determined by wind conditions and needs to be balanced with the weight of the terminal tackle and surf conditions. When launching a large bait through pounding surf, you need a strong force to counter the force of the waves. In this case it is better to fly the kite lower with more power. Fishing off quiet beaches or with very string winds, it may be better to angle the kite to fly higher. Mastering this takes practice.
In the next part, we will examine the terminal tackle, other equipment and safety.