Welcome to the wonderful world of kites, kite string or line and kite-string reels in particular. Flying kites is not hard, anyone can do it and I am sure nearly all of us will have had a go at some time in our lives.
We didn’t necessarily know what sort of kite it was and we didn’t really know what sort of line it had either, other than that it was some sort of string and became knotted and entangled easily and often.
Doubtless we had fun and might have gone flying kites more often if it was not for the fact that last time you went flying, possibly your first and last time, the string had ended up in such a snarled and tortuously unapproachable heap that disentanglement was postponed until some, never arriving, later point and the kite dispatched to the back of a cupboard, possibly never to be seen again, certainly never to be unravelled or flown.
Others of you may have had an experience of kite-flying that ended abruptly when your kite-line snapped and your kite and remaining line tangled themselves up nicely in a nearby tree. So, as we can see, kite string is a very important part of kite-flying and we are going to have a look at some different types of kite-lines and some of the different reels that are available for utilising your kite-string.
Which is the best kite string?
The best kite string, or the best type of kite string is Braided Dacron kite string, This is the brand name for a type of braided-polyester kite string. Braided Dacron is strong and light and resistant to tangling. Strength is important for our kite string, we do not want to have our line snapping unnecessarily at the first sign of an unexpectedly heavy gust of wind.
Our kite string will have to undergo significant force and pressure during its lifetime, so it has to be strong and hard wearing. Heavy gauge steel wire for example is very hard wearing, is certainly very strong but is also very heavy and for kite flying we want as little excess weight as possible, literally dragging us and our kite down.
Braided Dacron is very light despite its strength and durability, perfect for flying kites. Braided Dacron is also magic, or at least it seems that way, because it hardly ever becomes entangled, unlike all those other strings. Braided Dacron seems to somehow, magically avoid becoming tangled, resisting all but the more serious attempts at getting your kite string tangled.
Braided Dacron is not impervious to becoming tangled but it is tangle-resistant to an acceptable level of usability. What is also brilliant about Braided Dacron is that in the less likely, yet inevitable appearance of knots at some point, then Braided Dacron is surprisingly easy to unknot.
This refreshing discovery is made possible by the slippery quality of Braided Dacron, you will find that you are easily able to unravel knots in Braided Dacron and not forced into using your nails and teeth in a painstaking operation that is best left until ‘later’ at the back of that cupboard as we discovered earlier. For my money, Braided Dacron ticks all the right boxes every time and I can see no reason why I would not pick it as my best kite string.
How long is a piece of kite string?
Now that is one of those questions, that is not at all easy to answer definitively, although I can happily answer that other famous question with two words; The egg, this one is trickier. Of course it depends how long you want it or need it to be. Braided Dacron kite string is available in a selection of lengths and weights. When I refer to the weight of the string, this is the strain-bearing weight load that the line can withstand.
A typical range of Braided Dacron kite string is available in 30lbs , 60lbs and 100lbs weight-strengths and different lengths ranging from 50 ft to 1000ft. I would say that for most typical kite flying adventures with a small or medium sized kite, that 600ft of 60lbs Braided Dacron line is a good option.
How do you use kite string?
Kite string is used to control the lift-off, landing and flight of your kite. To help you control the line, there are a variety of different reels available. Some of these reels have a winding mechanism, much like anglers fishing reels. I have found that generally they do not work fantastically well, that they have flimsy mechanisms that start grinding to a stop at the merest whisper of sand and soon become annoying and unreliable.
I think that the simple plastic hoop type reel is the way to go, they allow for easy control of your line by simply letting you apply pressure on the sides of the hoop to control the flow of the line. When it is time to rewind and bring your kite down to land, you simply wind the line onto the reel with your hand, it doesn’t take long, it is more controllable and far less frustrating than a jamming winding-mechanism.
When you are buying kite string it is usual to buy the reel complete with the kite string. There are a large variety of plastic hoop reels available, different sizes and colours with different weights and lengths of line. I will leave the colour up to you but an 8 inch reel with 600ft of 60lb line would be my choice.
Alternatives to Braided Dacron?
When it comes to flying kites, any kind of string that is fairly light and strong will do the job well enough. The stronger the kite string is in proportion to its weight, the better it is for flying kites. Braided Dacron is the best but good alternatives are twisted Dacron or twisted Nylon. These two types are both strong and light and they will be slightly cheaper than Braided Dacron but they will not have its tangle-resistant properties.
Kite string is not an expensive item to purchase and in making a small saving in cost, you will waste a lot more time and experience a lot more frustration when your kite string keeps becoming tangled and spoiling your fun. If you are really strapped for cash then cotton or any old bit of string lying around the house will work. Of course cotton is not as light or strong and unlike Braided Dacron which is tangle-resistant, cotton loves getting tangled and seems to positively encourage it.
Final thoughts about kite string
Essentially there are 4 different types of kite string for single line and duel line kites. These are Cotton, twisted Nylon, twisted Polyester(Dacron) and of course Braided Dacron.
Cotton is the cheapest, heaviest and least strong. Twisted Nylon and twisted Polyester(Dacron) are much better than cotton, stronger, lighter and not as prone to tangling as cotton.
Braided Dacron is slightly more expensive than the other alternatives but it is very light and strong and resistant to tangling and affords you much more fun and satisfaction. If that fatally tangled kite at the back of the cupboard had been strung with Braided Dacron, chances are it would not have ended up there quite so quickly and you would still be enjoying tangle-free flying.