Choosing the Right Fishing Kite

Follow these tips for matching kites to wind conditions.
Steve Dougherty
As fall turns to winter, an influx of marauding sailfish will soon take over South Florida waters. When game fish and forage concentrate along the reef edge, kites provide an ideal approach for presenting live baits on the surface. Selecting the appropriate kite for the prevailing conditions, however, is critical to success. Photos by  Steve Dougherty /
Kite designs vary, allowing the kites to handle winds ranging from calm breezes to gale-force. All-around kites designed to fly in all wind conditions are available, but many serious kite fishermen carry an array of specialized kites perfectly matched to the prevailing conditions. Photo by Steve Dougherty /
AFTCO produces a fishing kite constructed of a non-permeable material that sheds water when wet. While other manufacturers offer multiple kites for various wind speeds, AFTCO kites feature interchangeable spars -- one set is made of graphite and the other fiberglass -- which offer various degrees of flex to compensate for a range of wind speeds
Kites aren't cheap -- some ring up at over $100 -- so you'll want to make sure to fish the appropriate kite for the conditions or your investment may literally fly away. Fish a light-wind kite in gusty conditions and you'll risk breaking the fragile spars. Fish a heavy-wind kite in a lackluster breeze and it will be tough to keep it in the air.
Bob Lewis fishing kites are available in several designs appropriate for winds ranging from 4 mph to more than 30. These kites are the only ones available with integrated floats to keep your kite from sinking like a brick in the event it falls out of the sky.
If you're serious about kite fishing, you should have at least two different types of kites, with backups for each. Carry one fishing kite for light to medium winds and another for heavier, gusty days. Competitive tournament anglers often carry at least four different models in their arsenal with backups waiting in case one goes down.
While known for their specialized outrigger components, Tigress fishing kites are yet another great option. With a simple bridle adjustment, Tigress kites will stay aloft in 5 to 15 mph winds. Tigress also offers a high-wind model that features holes in the kite material to enable air to pass through, helping the kite stay aloft in extra-breezy conditions.
When winds are unusually light and helium balloons are required to keep kites in the air, anglers will benefit from selecting models with lightweight spars made from carbon fiber or composite material.
Sport Fishing Enterprises produces some of the most popular kites in the industry. For light-wind conditions many anglers rely on SFE kites since they have a larger footprint than most others.
SFE heavy-wind kites have a smaller footprint than their light-wind models and are preferred when winds blow gale force. No matter which brand you select, kites will last for several seasons with minimal care. Simply rinse your kites with freshwater to remove any salt spray at the end of the day and be sure to let them dry out before stowing.

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