Kite Lines

edited June 2007 in Bits and Pieces
What type of kite lines do you use and find the best?
Has anyone tryed the new fishing braided type line SPECTRA which is much thinner for the same strength as braded dacron or braided nylon, what about the old nylon- monofilement


  • edited June 2007
    There are various high performance lines which can be used, many of the lines like spectra are ideally suited to stunt kites where what you hold is a handle and the high strength and narrow diameter give a good low windage performance. For KAP such lines can be difficult to handle and can be a bit delicate for tossing on the gravel when inhauling fast in a "situation". Personally I find myself using black dacron braid 100% of the time. It performs very very well, is safe to handle, is incredibly good at shedding tangles when you are winding up the sphaghetti off the floor, has low stretch, and is generally a joy to use. For KAP I really can't see advantage in looking for something else. It seems, to me at least, optimal.

    I use it in a couple of strengths, 80 pound for Autokap off the small delta, and 200 pound for bigger full R/C rig KAP. I have never, ever had a line break with this stuff. Occasionally I've abraded it on a building roof and I always look for frays when winding up. (Spectra will not take this sort of damage at all) Typically I get 2 or 3 years or more use out of it, once in a while turning it end for end to even out the wear.

    Don't be tempted by the strength of lines like spectra and kevlar, they are ideal for what they are used for but not (in my opinion) for KAP. Kevlar particularly has some nasty downsides that are worth looking up if you don't know about.

    Monofilament can be used, I think there are advocates. Darned if I can see an advantage. For my style of KAP 200 feet of monofilament laid on the ground would be no good at all. But as in all things KAP there is perhaps an application where it makes sense. Likewise braided spectra, (by the way not new, I bought braided spectra lines back in the late 80's. Maybe new to fishing not kiting)
  • I concur with just about all of what Simon says. Spectra (also known in Europe as Dyneema, I believe) is soft and slippery -- and it's mostly the slippery part I don't like.

    The stuff is thinner than Dacron for a given tensile strength, and that sounded appealing because my hoop would hold more -- but it's so slippery, pulling it down was exasperating, esp when the kite is pulling hard, and hard on the hands because you have to grip it tighter.
  • edited June 2007
    I'll agree with both Brooks and Simon and I'll add some.

    I'd never fly kevlar or spectra/dyneema simply because it's dangerously thin. Any risk of line burns and cuts rises dramatically with those lines and they simply don't withstand neglect or abuse the way Dacron does.

    Monofilament is too wriggly for me. It seems to have its own idea of how it should wind on a spool. Braided Dacron is lazy, and much easier to get along with. I also favor black. It shows less in photos and looks more sophisticated on the hoop.
  • edited October 2008
    Has anyone else tried Western Filament's braided dacron line? I have a 1000ft of the black 250# (from Goodwinds Kites) that I'm using for my FF30. I noticed when winding it onto my hoop that it has what appears to be a splices every 100ft or so, with a single strand of dacron sticking out the side. After being stretched from several hours of use the spliced aeras are now looking thinner compared to the rest of the line and I'm starting to doubt it's Integrity. I don't know how they can rate this stuff as "250#" when it has splices that are the diameter of 200#. There goes my 50#s of insurance. Is all braided dacron spliced like this? Perhaps someone can point me towards a quality brand. I know Brooks has the 200# available in 1000ft lenghts now, but I'd really prefer 250 for the FF30.

  • Is there a difference between kite braid and fishing braid? The white 160# Dacron that came with one of my kites is a lot tighter weave than the black 220# Offshore Angler Magi-Braid I have been using with my KAP rig. The Magi-Braid works fine and is easy on the hands but the softness makes me worry about abraision.

    I would like to find a line made like planer board line. It is an extremely tight weave 200# Dacron braid designed to be hand retrieved so it sheds tangles extremely well. Also it is thinner than the equivelent fishing braid. Unfortunately it only comes in chartreuse and day glow orange.
  • :-)

    I have to use 4mm Dyneema on the kite I use!


  • Chris, I've been using Western Filament line in a range of sizes for several years, and haven't seen the problem you've reported, nor have any of my customers reported such a thing. I would say call Rex Nelson at WF, (970) 241-8780, and see what he says.

    For now, if you're worried about them, cut the spliced places apart and tie em back together with the fisherman's knot (see my downloadable knots sheet). I've never had that knot fail.

    I would agree with you about proper line for the FF30 -- 200# is too risky when the wind comes up. In fact, I suggest 300#, but don't have it in 1000 ft.
  • edited October 2008
    Brooks, perhaps I got a defective spool, that or it isn't really made by Western Filament as the seller claimed. The price seemed a little too good to be true.

    To give you an idea of what I'm talking about :

    There's a spot like this at least every 100-150ft, some worse than others. They get pretty thin when the line's under tension.
  • edited October 2008
    Glenn, Ashaway's braided dacron has a very tight braid like you're talking about. I have a 1000ft of the 200# I use with my deltas and it's wonderful to work with. Sheds tangles very well. It's a bit too expensive for my taste, though.
  • I can see one of those happening in an occasional roll, but not multiple times. Did the line have a label on it? WF puts a label on each roll. Call Rex.
  • edited October 2008
    Come to think of it there was a label on the end of the roll, but I didn't pay any particular attention to it. I know it had "250" written on it in black marker. I regret throwing the tube out now. I don't really want to bother Rex with it without knowing for sure whether it's his product or not. Then again, WF is all Goodwinds carries. I'll probably just buy another roll from a different place and see if it's any better.
  • edited October 2008
    I have used the blood knot to tie two lengths of kite line together. My decision was based on Brooks' research which found that the blood knot is rated at 80% of the original line rating, whereas the fisherman's knot is rated at 65%.

    Here's the guide I used to tie the blood knot.
  • Chris, the appearance of the tube when you got it doesn't sound like the WF put-ups I've been getting for the last year or so. Maybe it isn't WF. Call Kathy.
  • edited October 2008
    I also have seen a splice in my kite line. See photo below (best viewed in original size).

    I slipped a knot in the line to take the spliced section out of the line tension.

    The line is solid core 150 lbs woven dacron from Kite Builder. Love this line.

    KAP Rig and Dopero Kite Over Avalon

    Flicker link

    Splice in Kite Line - tied off
  • edited October 2008
    It scares me to think of all the rigs/kites that have been lost because of things like this. From now on all flying line will get a thorough inspection beforehand.
  • Chris, it's wise to inspect everything, but don't jump to conclusions that lots of rigs have been lost from broken line. It has happened, but it's very rare, and never to my knowledge from line that was spliced or tied together.
  • edited October 2008
    I edited my post above to show a close up of the splice on the line.

    I ordered an additional spool of kite line from Kite Studio (150 lbs woven dacron)
    ....the spool I received has line that is about 1/3 smaller in thickness than
    previous order.....sent query to Kite Studio to confirm what I got....waiting for a response.
    Kite Line

    Kite Line
  • Thickness, weight, and actual tensile strength can vary from batch to batch on braided line. In my kite shop long ago I ordered line by the weight of the roll as well as the tensile strength, rather than the length, because that's the way the mfr put it up. Length and thickness varied with each lot, while weight stayed the same.
  • It's not just the thickness that specifies the strength of a line. Strength also is dependant on how the line is woven.
  • I am dealing with this in specifying synthetic standing rigging my boat. The ultimate strength of fiber rope and string depends on the inherent strength of the material, the construction method and weight of the fiber. Actual finished diameter has little to do with it. I am beginning to wonder if what the label on the spool has much to do with it either.

    I built a rig to test the stress/strain of some high tech rope and out of curiosity tested several of my Dacron kite lines. Potted the ends in epoxy sockets to eliminate knot weakness and pulled until they broke. An unused length of my original 220 lb Magibraid from Bass Pro Shop broke at 190 lb and some 200 lb kite line that Brook sells broke at 238 lb. Brook's line was noticably thinner than the Magibraid and stretched considerably less before reaching the yield point. The 160 lb white line that came with my FF8 broke at 175 lb. It was similar construction to Brook's line.
  • Brief update on my post above. I confirmed with Kite Studio that I did receive the correct line. Turns out the 150 # line comes in slightly different thickness.

    I wish I had your test rig GlennA. Thanks for the data. Very useful.

    If you are willing, a very interesting discussion / test case would be to repeat your tests with the same line but with a few knots in the line or even better yet a splice point (as in Chris and my posts above). See what the break points are. I have read reviews that claim knots reduce the line strength by 50%. Splice points are unknown. I have noticed on the large reels of line that use there are several splice points and even simple knots in the line as supplied by the manufacture and the knots are not at even points (some only 50 feet apart). See photo below for two examples.

    Most kite flyers over engineer the line strength to make up for the knots and other weak points. Some use a sleeve over the knots to strengthen them.

    Given that I fly high most of the time these factors are very important to me.

    Kite Line - Knots and Splices
  • And if you decide to test with knots it would be great to know how much the strength varies by the type of knot.
  • At one point I had a knot book that gave a ballpark percentage of line strength for the knot. Only a handful were 100%. Most were considerably lower. My guess is they used something like Glenn' setup to test. Still, I love seeing new empirical data.

  • WW,

    This photo looks like it's 2 spools of venetian blind cord which is typically nylon - not Dacron.

    Kite Line

    I have used a lot of this stuff (in different sizes) for decorative knotting.
    Globe knot
  • I've been using Spectra all year and love it but it was "an investment" as it isn't cheap. I do wear gloves all the time but fancy fingerless (my hands are my living) gloves as used in yacht racing (Harken). Never had a problem so far. I use 175kg, 1.25ml x 200m of bright yellow (i know, i know it's all they had and i couldn't be bothered waiting) Spectra. Amazingly small on the Halo (nothing more fancy than that here...). Man is it strong. Amazing stuff. Never ever gets tangled. Bonus! As you use it the shine wears off. I always use a ratchet pulley to wind in so i'm never taking the strain anyway. The pulley can be used with or without the ratchet for paying out line and moderating the flight. I had fancy plans for a winder but gave up once I started using the pulley full time. less bulk in the kit bag is desirable and a pulley with a bit of line attached to it fits in my pocket. My Halo with Dacron hasn't been used all year. Now if i had another rig it might! two kites up at once anyone?
  • z1ggur4t:
    You sound like a great fan of Spectra, can you tell me its advantages over Dacron?
  • James, I'd say none really from the KAPer's viewpoint.
    Spectra, usually sold as Dyneema in the UK, has very low stretch and high strength for its diameter. It is favoured by sports kite flyers for these two reasons together with its ability to slide over itself, which is important when flying sports kites, especially in teams. Small diameter means it is difficult to handle for the single line flyer. It also tends to cut through itself at knots unless sleeved. Personally, I stick to Dyneema for sports kites and Dacron braid for single line kites.
  • the only downside i can see is if you have really large hands. as it's incredibly small diameter it may be difficult to manage. not a problem for me being a weedy kinda guy with average size but slim hands. me, my aim is to have everything as small, light and strong as possible. i also wanted to have two Halo's one with different strength line so for the second i thought i'd give Spectra a try. i'm also going to try Dyneema that is used for racing yacht rigging which is also amazingly strong but larger diameter (but very light) and not so shiny. I've been using it for my picavet line for over a year now and there's zero sign of ware, it doesn't really tangle if plonked down in the heat of the moment and is a little easier to handle. i also use it for the line on my ratchet pulley. works a treat. horses for course's really but i'm always open to trying something new and i really don't want a line issue to bring my lovingly crafted, much tweaked rig and camera plunging to earth with a bang. sometimes i look up and have to pinch myself as the whole shebang is held aloft with what looks like sewing thread. it's pretty amazing stuff. that and the Halo appears to have next to nothing on it but it'll hit 200m. the thing i found with Dacron too is it sags as it's heavier and i'm mainly a Delta, slack line, lighter wind type of flyer. i tend not to fly if the wind is up around mid to high b4.
  • advantages, small, light, incredibly strong, difficult to tangle, easy to untangle, doesn't sag or drag with weight. dis, not cheap, shiny surface, small diameter.
  • Do NOT use spectra/dyneema if you are flying near other kites with dacron or similar lines. The melting point of spectra/dyneema is very low, and friction from contact with other types of line is enough to cause melting, thus allowing your precious kite its freedom. It is fine if you are flying alone and are happy handling the small diameter and slippery line. Certainly it reduces weight and drag, so is ideal if you want to break a height record! For most purposes, I would say stick with braided dacron.
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