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Kite-fishing, especially for sailfish, is an incredibly effective tactic. Live baits are suspended from fishing kites using release clips: When a fish is hooked after a quick drop-back by the angler, the tension on the line pulls it from the clip and the fight is on. Many teams prefer to use two kites, weighted so they angle off to the port and starboard sides of the boat, with up to three fishing lines per kite. This enables a boat to cover a large swath of water with the spread. While sailfish are a top target for kite-fishing teams, mahimahi, king mackerel and tuna will also line up for a shot at a lively bait swimming under a kite.
Kite choices can vary widely because they are rated by wind speed. It’s critical to match the right kite to the amount of wind offshore so the kite flies at the correct angle both high enough and far enough away from the boat. Light-wind kites do not perform well in gusty conditions, while the heavier kites won’t fly properly in winds that are below their rating. Knowing that conditions can change throughout the day, teams should be prepared with a variety of kites, from light to medium to heavy, to stay ahead of the curve and keep their baits performing well. Sometimes you’ll even need helium balloons to keep kites flying if there is not enough wind to fly the lightest of kites.
Light-wind kites utilize lightweight spars and material to keep them as light as possible so anglers can carry their baits aloft in just 5 or 10 knots of wind. On the other end of the spectrum are heavy-duty kites, with venting holes for days when the wind is really howling. Knowing which to use — and when — are the keys to success.