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Fish Stories: World Sailfish Championships

Sailfish Special

March 19, 2007

The World Sailfish Championship is about a month away, kicking off on April 17th in Key West, Florida. Think you can compete against the best? Better start practicing. Here’s the lowdown on one of the most popular techniques for bagging sails, kite fishing.

Fly A Kite

When someone tells you to go fly a kite and sailfish are involved, it’s a good thing. Kite fishing can be a fun and productive way to fish. Here’s how to get rigged up.

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  • Spool your kite reels with a low diameter braided line. The stretch in mono lines can make controlling a kite difficult and the braided lines cut through the wind better for more accurate kite placement.
  • Drill three inline release clips with differing hole diameters so that they will slide over three different sized wind-on swivels. Place the first swivel 120′ from the kite and the next two at 80′ lengths. The key is to have all three clips slide down to the kite upon retrieval but have each clip stop at it’s preset distance at the next largest swivel when deployed.
  • Choose the appropriate kite for the wind conditions. Read and follow the kite’s directions carefully.
  • Bank the kite to the right or left using small split shot weights attached directly to the kite’s upper right or left corner. The idea is to get one kite going to the left and the other to the right to create a full spread with three baits on each.
  • Place your line in each clip as you set out the kite. Keep the line in free spool with the clicker on so you don’t pop it free.
  • Bait each line with a live threadfin, goggle eye, or blue runner that you caught at an inshore buoy or shoal by dropping sabiki rigs under a chum bag. Or buy cast netting, if you can throw one.
  • Crank the bait out directly underneath the kite without letting it get blown way behind the kite. The key is to keep it underneath the kite swimming just below the surface on it’s own will. If it gets blown out behind the kite it will drag through the current unnaturally.
  • Keep the bait in the water as the wind gusts the kite up and down by carefully winding in or letting out small increments of line. Keep an eye out for that sail popping up or that indicator dipping to the water. When your bait runs off push the drag to strike and wind the slack out to hook up. Watch the other baits and try to keep the kite baits out during the fight, without tangling, for multiple hookups.

The Proper Rigging

Can’t figure out how to rig up your tackle for kite fishing? The key is attaching an indicator on your line that will sit mid-air under the kite so you can quickly identify the location of each bait. They also quickly signal a bite. Here are the two dominant methods you’ll find in south Florida.

The Palm Beach Ribbon

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  • Tie a short Bimini twist in your main line and then, using an Albright knot, attach 15′ of 40-60lb leader material to your double line.
  • Snell a circle hook onto the leader. I prefer using a nail knot that comes in through the hook’s point side of the eye first.
  • Knot a foot-long piece of orange surveyor’s ribbon onto the main line in between the Albright and Bimini. This placement will help keep it from sliding up and down the line as it stops at each of the knots.
  • If king mackerel are heavy in the area, attach the ribbon to a rubber band and then attach the rubber band to the line. This can help prevent losing sails to the sharp toothed kingfish eating the tape during the fight.
  • Attach large split shot’s onto the line 6-10 feet up the leader from the bait to keep it down in strong winds.

The Miami Bobber

  • Slide a 2″ Styrofoam float onto your main line. Red painted floats seem to be the most visible but some crews will use different colors to differentiate each bait. Annoying kingfish target these floats far less often than the surveyor’s tape.
  • Tie a short Bimini twist and using the double line tie a fisherman’s knot directly to a small snap swivel.
  • Windy conditions may require sliding on an inline sinker below the float to keep your baits under the kite.
  • Rig up a 15′ leader with a snelled circle hook on one end and a surgeon’s loop or crimped loop on the other end to attach the leader to the snap swivel.
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