Kite line comes in many different
sizes, diameter, lengths, weights, and construction. Choosing
the right line for you kite is almost as important as choosing
the kite itself. If your line is too small it may break, causing
you to damage or lose your kite, or causing injury to yourself
or other around you, or in the worst case...both. If you have a
line that is too large, your kite may not respond correctly
causing you to lose control of your kite, or your kite may not
fly at all. The construction of the line itself is also very
important. Different types of line will have different
characteristics, some will stretch and stay stretched, others
will stretch and rebound back to their original shape, some are
slippery and will slide when twisted around themselves, some may
not slide at all. Longer lines can slow down the response of
your kite, making it easier for some people to control their
kites. Longer kite lines can also increase the area of the power
window for traction kites. Shorter lines can make your respond
much quicker and can get your kite out of the power faster.
Types Of Kite Lines
There are many different types of
kite line used in today's kites. We will cover three of the most
common lines in this section. Each of these three types have
their own characteristics that make them best at what they are
used for. Each type is listed below with their good points and
bad points. By using the list below, you will be able to choose
a line that will work best for you.
Things To Be Aware Of With Kite Lines
Sleeves & Knots
As mentioned above, knots in your kite
line can reduce the strength of your line. If you need to
tie a knot in you line or re-sleeve your line, the diagram
above will show you the proper way to do it. The most
important thing to remember when tying a knot in your line
is to make sure there are no twists in the lines and that
both ends of the line are perfectly parallel throughput the
knot (none of the lines run over the other).
It is a good idea to check your lines for line stretch from
time to time. An easy way to do this is to stake your lines
at one end with a kite stake or a long screwdriver. Make
sure both lines (or sets) are equal on the staked end, then
move to the other end of your lines and firmly pull on the
lines and see if they stretch to the same length. If you
find that one line is shorter than the other, you can undo
the knot on the longer line, slide the sleeve up the line
(if your line is sleeved) to the appropriate point equal to
the shorter line and then loop and re-tie the knot and cut
off the leftover line. Remember to leave enough extra length
in your loop to make up the length of line used by the knot
(approximately 1/2" of length is used in the knot depending
on the line thickness).
Different lengths of line will change the performance of
your kite. Longer lines generally have more stretch and drag
than shorter lines. Longer kite lines can slow down the
response of your kite, making turns respond slower and take
up more area to complete. Kite speed will appear to be
slower on longer lines. This is caused by your kite
travelling in a longer arc through the power window. For
example: Take a 12" string and tie it around a cork and then
spin it around above your head, the cork will spin at a very
fast speed. Now take a 5 foot long string and tie it around
the cork and do the same. The cork will actually cover more
distance, but will appear to be travelling at a slower speed
than on the shorter string. The arc on the longer string
(where the cork is located) is greater than the arc created
by the shorter sting.
Power kite fliers will usually use longer lines than stunt
kite fliers. The longer the lines are on a kite, the longer
the arc is and the larger the power window is, creating more
useable power for the kite (see the diagrams on the right).
Power kite fliers will usually use a line length of 75' to
150', depending on the wind conditions. In
stronger winds, shorter lines will allow you to get your
kite out of the power faster and help you maintain control
of a larger kite. In mild wind, longer lines will let you
keep your kite in the wind window longer, creating more
power for smaller kites. In some cases you may not need to
purchase a different size kite to be able to fly, just a
different length line set.
Stunt kite fliers will usually use shorter lines. Shorter
lines can improve the performance of your kite. Turns will
be quicker and take much less room to complete. Speeds will
be faster and responses to your controls will be more
accurate and precise. Line drag and line stretch will be
minimal. Stunt kite fliers will usually use line lengths of
50' to 100' in length. If you are new to this sport, I would
recommend a line set of 100' for a stunt kite and not less
than 100' for a power kite, as you become more familiar with
your kite you can purchase other line sets of different
lengths to find the best one for your style. If you have a
line set that is damaged, you may be able to use the
undamaged section of those lines to make a shorter set or
lengthen an existing line set, giving you even more
Connecting Your Line -
Tips & Tricks
Most pre-made line sets will have loops tied into the ends
of the line. These loops are there to give you an easy way
to connect and disconnect your lines from your kite and
handles. The loops are designed to be used with a "Larks
Head". The three diagrams above will show you the way to use
a "Larks Head" to attach your lines.
Larks Head knots are the ideal knot to use with your lines
because it is very easy to use and also very easy to remove.
A simple tug on the knot and the Larks Head will loosen,
allowing you to remove your lines from your kite and handles
Some people will attach a length of line to the end of their
handles for adjustment purposes. This line is normally only
attached to the handles and used for the bottom lines or
"brake" lines of a quad line kite. The rope is tied off with
knots in 1 1/2" to 2" increments.
simply moving the connecting point of the brake lines up or
down the knots in the attached line, you can easily adjust
your brakes on your kite for the current wind conditions.
Moving the attachment point towards the handles will shorten
your brake lines, giving your kite less speed. Moving the
attachment point outwards towards the kite will lengthen
your brake lines giving your kite more speed.
This trick when used with the Larks Head will make
adjustments to your brake lines very easy and quick. Below
is a diagram of the rope with knots at 2" inch increments.
To attach your adjustment rope to your handles, simply tie a
loop into one of the ends of the rope (as shown above in the
sleeve and knot section) and then attach it to your handles
with its own Larks Head. You will need to adjust your lines
for the correct length after installing the adjustment rope
to your handles as it will lengthen the lines it is used on.
If your lines are not equal, you may not be able to properly
control your kite. In most cases, an additional length of
rope will need to be added to your top lines that is equal
to the overall length of rope used on the bottom lines.
Attach your lines to the connecting point closest to the
handles on both the top and bottom lines to start with, then
move the bottom lines out until you reach the desired
position for optimum control.