In the last issue I covered some of the basics of indoor kite flying. This issue I will be discussing line and handle selection.
Once you have chosen a kite, your next big decision is line. When I first started flying indoors a year ago everyone it seemed was using 50 pound test spectra line. There are good reasons for this. 50# is very light, probably the ideal weight for indoors.
Not long after I started I became frustrated with my lines when they had multiple twists due to spins. It seemed that I couldn’t get more then three or four twists without the lines loosing their slipperiness. As a result the kite would resist input.
This happened because of two factors. One is that I use short lines, usually 10 -12 feet. On such short lines, three twists means that a good portion of your line is twisted. It would probably be like having 100 foot lines with thirty twists.
The other factor is that 50# line doesn’t have as tight a braid as a higher test line. Thus, the line is not as “slippery”.
See my dilemma? I didn’t want to lengthen my lines because I knew I would be competing. Some of the places that hold indoor competitions usually have ceilings around 20 feet. My theory was to practice on and be use to flying on lines that I would compete with. This meant limiting myself to those 10 -12 foot lines. I wanted to have my routine down with no variations for line length. After all, one of the big advantages to indoor flying is the lack of variables. So I would keep my lines to one length. Since I am 6 feet tall, I have a reach of almost 7 1/2 feet. With 12 foot lines I would be able to clear a 20 foot ceilings.
So, longer lines were out for me. This left one other option that I could think of. Since the braid on line such as 80# spectra is a bit tighter, I decided to give 80# a try. It worked. I was able to get a couple of extra twists without the line binding up.
I know you are probably thinking sure this would be okay for larger kites, but what about my little micro-carbon kites? It works just as well. I use 10 foot lines of 80# on my Pi and Wren and it works just fine. It is not at all too heavy for the little kites. If I were to use 15 or 20 feet of line, perhaps then it might cause a problem on these kites. But if I wanted to use that length of line, I would probably go with the 50# and it would be okay as far as twists at that length.
Now that you are completely confused, let me summarize. When using shorter lines, say less then 12 feet, try 80# spectra to keep the lines slippery enough while the lines are twisted. Line length over 15 feet you can get away with 50# and keep control when the lines contain multiple twists.
12 feet or less, use 80#. 15 feet or more, try 50#. Works for me.
For Revolution kites indoors, you will need the UL handles. The longer handles give you better control. Try to keep your leaders or pig tails to a bare minimum. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I cursed my handles for snagging my lines. I was even tempted to design a handle that used no leader or pig tail before I switched to flying Decas. The worst time for snags is when doing 3-D maneuvers. I was constantly catching my lines on some of the throws I was doing. If you have this problem as well, experiment with holding the handles in different positions during your throw. I found that by keeping the handles parallel to the direction of the kite the risk was minimized. This reduced the chance of the lines snagging by limiting the area they could catch on.
So for Revs, use the UL handles and keep leaders to a minimum.
On Decas, it’s really simple: use the handles that came with the kite. I tried using the 2X2 handles once and realized that they are not meant for indoor flying. That second bow that faces back is very good at snagging the lines.
So just stay with the handles that came with the kite.
Handles for dual line come in different varieties. Some use finger straps and others use just a sleeved loop. My favorite handles are those from Precision Kite Company. I paid about $5.00 extra when I bought my Wren. They are a lightweight strap folded over to fit one finger with a leader containing, I believe, three knots. Jeff Howard suggests putting the loop around your ring finger with the leader coming up through your fist. You grasp the leader with thumb and forefinger and control the line from that grip. It works really well. I have also used just looped, sleeved line in this same fashion with good results.
Whatever you choose, make sure your fingers are comfortable and that you have maximum sensitivity of the line. It is probably better to have the line pretty much connected to your fingers in order to be more connected to the kite. Thick straps and the rings they contain may reduce your feel and actually add sloppiness to the control. Keep it simple.
So now we have covered how kites fly indoors; what kites to fly indoors; where to fly indoors and what line and handles to use. We have even talked about the basic maneuvers to get started.
Next issue I want to talk about more maneuvers and some ideas on how we as fliers can increase the availability of facilities willing to accommodate our strange desire to fly kites indoors.
Coming later in the year I will share with you what I have experienced while competing at indoor events. Some of the events I will be attending are Grand Haven, Wildwood, BASKC and Newport. Hope to meet many of you there.
For those of you who have written to me regarding this column, I thank you for your kind words. If anyone has any comments or suggestions, please pass them on. I’ll do my best to give you accurate information and an honest opinion.
So until next time, keep practicing and I’ll see you indoors.