If you can't reach that spot where the fish are, use a kite.
A common question we get from readers who have never kite-fished is: "Why would I fish with a kite?" The simple answer is reach. These specially designed fishing kites allow you to reach places you cannot cast to, and also places where if you motor up and top-water fish, you may scare off your quarry.
Kites are used mainly on pelagic species of fish that roam the open ocean and feed at the surface. These species include: Blue marlin, White marlin, Striped marlin, Dolphin, Sailfish, Wahoo and others. However, many people also use kites to reach Kingfish when they're feeding on schools of baitfish, and to reach pods of Tarpon that would most times move around a boat. Kites are also used on large lakes, often from shore by anglers who do not use boats.
How Kites Work
Kites are used for spreading your live baits out over a wider and larger area either while anchored or drifting. It lets you cover a lot of water when searching for gamefish. Kites can take baits out easily as far as 200-300 yards, allowing the angler to entice his target fish without being anywhere near them, which is clearly a huge advantage.
Kites also keep the presentation of your live bait more realistic looking to the gamefish by keeping your fishing line and terminal tackle out of the water where the gamefish cannot see it. Another great thing kites do is give you the ability to fish two to three different baits off of one kite and those baits can be placed at different locations and different depths.
Charles Buckley, a local angler who fishes in Tampa Bay and beyond, said using a kite has rejuvenated his interest in fishing.
"With the mid-sized kite (Midi), distance is no longer a problem," said Buckley. "I let the Kite take the bait to any area I choose to fish. I have full control of where it's going to drop the bait, and I can work with the wind to achieve great results."
Kites we offer at TheOnlineFisherman.com
We do not offer a lot of products, but had the opportunity to work with the people from Caught in Flight Kites in Australia a few years back and the relationship has been productive. THis is the line of kites they offer in the States:
They make kites in different sizes to use in variable wind conditions. The large kites are used for conditions from almost no wind to mild wind; the mid-sized kites are used from mild winds to near-heavy winds, and the mini kites are used in heavy wind conditions. The most popular size for the angler who only wants to use one is the Midi kite, which is useful in most conditions.
Kites require some special equipment including a special kite rod which is only about 2 feet long with only an eye tip; a kite reel which is a conventional level-wind reel with a line-counter built into it; Multi-Colored Dacron line just for the kite reel, and various swivels and snap swivels, beads, Hi-Vis floats and release clips. Setups range from the very basic to special electric reels, etc. A friend of mine uses an old grouper rod he bought for $3 at a garage sale and cut to a two-foot length, so this does not have to be an expensive proposition, only an organized one.
The most important piece of equipment (besides the kite) is the release clip, which releases the line when a fish hits. A clip holds the fishing line next to the kite line, and lets it drop down to where the fish are. The clips have an adjustable tension pad so you can use various sizes and weights for baits that will hold until a fish strikes a bait. When the strike happens, the fishing line "releases" or drops off the kite line. After the brief fishing line slack is reeled up, the fish gets tight and the kite stays in the air. Then you reel in the fish.
Using a Kite to Fish - Preparation
If this is your first time flying a kite, I would suggest spending some time surveying the area you will practice in and looking for dangers. Avoid flying near power lines, roads or wherever you may injure or inconvenience other people. Testing and getting used to your new kite at the local park or an area in which you can safely practice for the first time is recommended. Caution should be used with the kite line when air-borne as it can be very strong and we suggest that you keep your hands away from the line at all times (for safety measures). Now that you have dealt with the safety aspect you can relax and enjoy your test flight.
The removal of any twists in the line is also something you will need to do. This can be done during the first flight. Place several high quality ball-bearing swivels between the kite line and the kite when in flight. This will remove any unwanted twists and be the bait-location separator. Launch the kite and slowly release the drag on the kite reel. As the kite starts drawing line from your reel, control the speed and make sure it's not too quick so the kite does not fall from the sky, and not too slow so that the kite flies above your head. Rule of thumb: keep it about 50 feet off the deck of a boat or off the ground if fishing from the shore. If you do this several times the line will be set up, ready for use.
Using Live Bait with a kite
In kite-fishing, live bait works best, but small cut bait will work too. Only certain types of baitfish will work effectively under a kite, such as goggle eyes, mackerels, blue runners, pilchards, mullet, sardines, threadfin herring and the ubiquitous shrimp in a pinch. Start out by selecting your spot to fish. When kite fishing, you must select a area of water with tidal movement, like a rip current, a temperature gradient, a color change, or over the top of an artificial reef or even a bridge if you're after Tarpon.
Now you are ready to bait your rod. I like to sew my baits on with a wax line bridle. This gives you the most hook exposure possible, and increases your hookup chances. Use a needle and sew the bait through the back of its neck, just behind the head of the fish, without going too deep. About a quarter of the bait fish's body is as far as you'll want to stick that needle. Catch the loop of the wax line bridal on both sides with the hook and twist it up. Then stick the hook back underneath the entire bridal, making the hook tight to the body of the baitfish. The fish, angled with his head up when he is dangling, will force the baitfish to struggle to keep his head below water, so he can breathe. This will cause a lot of vibrations, which is the desired effect when kite fishing.
Setting the hook - what happens when you get a hit
Once the bait is the desired distance from where you are fishing, you will have to make constant adjustments, in order to keep the bait right near the top of the water. The bait should be under the water or slapping the top of the water, but the hook, leader and fishing line should all be out of the water. Placing a colored float or ribbon on the snap swivel of the fishing line, which is about 8' to 15' out of the water, just above the bait gives visibility. Indications that you are receiving a 'hit' happens if the water under your bait boils, a fish jumps directly under the clip area or your reel is screaming out.
The best thing to do when you get a bite is to free-spool your reel, tethering it with your thumb, and let the fish eat the bait. After a few seconds, lock the rod into strike position and start winding as fast as you can, to get the slack out of the line. When you come tight, the line will pop out of the pressure release clip. Keep winding until you come tight on the fish. When you come tight, set the hook with a couple gentle, but firm, tugs with the rod if using a J-Hook. If you are using a circle hook just continue to reel when you feel the fish or your rod doubles over.
This will set the hook into the fish's jaw.
The most fun part of kite fishing is that you will see that the whole bite sequence to hook-up ratio is usually very high. It takes practice to become proficient. Keep trying! Practice does, indeed, make perfect. I can't find a more effective or exciting way to catch that big one.
"Caught In Flight" fishing kites are also available at Tampa Fishing Outfitters, the largest tackle store on the west coast of Florida. Visit the perfect destination for all your tackle needs at: 3916 West Osborne Avenue, Tampa, FL 33614 -- Phone: (813) 870-1234. At the store you will also find all the accessories required for Kite-fishing, including: Ball-bearing swivels, Dacron line, Hi-Vis floats, release clips and more.
Below is the first in a video series, which explains how Kites work, what reels to use, and what other accesories you can use for various applications.
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