Tied to the Sky / spectra kite line

Glossary of Kite Terms



Kites in Canada for sale There are a variety of terms that are used in the sport of Kite flying.  Here is a short

 list to give you some common lingo and their meaning!

Bridle:  the lines which connect to the kite sail and frame to help support the kite and/or to orient the kite at a proper angle to the wind.

Carbon / Graphite:  Stunt kite frames are made of carbon fiber which is relatively are rigid  material and light weight.    Can be in a rod or tube form.  Popular graphite products include: Sky Shark, Icone and Revolution. Wrapped or extruded.

Centre T:  Where the spar for the spine and lower spreaders are joined.

Dark Side (The): An affectionate term for those Kite enthusiast who have embraced flying the quad-line stunt kite by Revolution Kites.

Dual Line: Refers to two line trick or stunt kites. The two lines allow for the control of the kite. (There are Quad line stunt kites as well)

Dyneema kite line: A brand of synthetic fiber used in making performance kite line. It's best advantage is it's very strong and yet very thing and doesn’t stretch much.  Not all spectra lines are created equal!  Spectra fibre is used to make popular premium flying line.  These brands may incorporate unique braiding of the fibre, coating with agents to reduce friction and sometime to make them resistant to UV and salt water.  All of which enhance performance and line life significantly.

Fiberglass: This is a kite material which combines strength and flexibility with relative light weight. It comes in several forms from solid fiberglass rods and hollow tubes.

Frame: The skeleton of the kite.

Freestyle: "Freestyle" kite is typically a good performer, capable of a wide range of tricks while still very stable and predictable. Freestyle is performing a variety tricks of one after another in succession.

Foil Kite:  Foil kites look like a parachute and use the wind itself to give structure to the kite.  These kites can be two, three and four line kites  in a wide variety of sizes.  These kites can genrate a great deal of power.  Obvoiusly the larger the kite the more power / pull with the same wind speed.  You will see smaller recreation ones to the very large which pull the pilot in a buggy, a snowboard or kite surf board.

Ground Stake: A handy tool which allows you to stake your kite handles or flying straps to the ground while you walk to reset or adjust your kite for launch.  This tool helps to ensure your kite doesn’t blow away.

Icarex:  A brand name of a type of ripstop fabric made from polyester fibers. It is lighter and more fade resistant than nylon ripstop fabric. 

Leading edge:  The name for the part of the kite which runs from the nose to the wing tip.

Line Set: The lines which are used to control the kite. They come in a variety of test weight and lengths. Stronger weight lines being used for stronger winds and bigger kites.  Line sets are made of a variety of fibres.

Quad line: Kites with four lines for control. Not only can you maneuver left and right, but you can fly sideways, spin like an airplane propeller, and forward or backward in the wind window.

Ready to Fly / RTF:  Many kites are sold with everything you need to get started.  Ready to fly means all you have to do is assemble the kite, attach the included line and add wind!  Many high end kites are sold as Kite only.

Rip-stop:  Typically used to make kite sails.  It can be made of nylon or polyester.  Hence ripstop nylon or ripstop polyester. Rip-stop is the process that weaves smaller fibers with larger fibers creating squares of reinforcing fibers in the cloth which make it resistant to tearing. The idea being that a tear will stop at one of the reinforcing fibers.

Sail: The cloth material of the kite. The material is usually made from rip-stop nylon, polyester.

SkyShark: Is a brand of high quality performance carbon fibre tubing used to frame performance kites. Made in the USA.

Sleeving: A cover which encloses the ends of flying lines and helps to preserve strength and prevent wear.  Typically where the line sets are tied.

Soul Flying:  This is term referring to a style of stunt kite flying where you express yourself freely with your kite - Whether to music or to silence, precision or full on tricks you are in effect flying your Heart via your kite!

Spar: A generic term referring to the framing material used as the frame of a kite.

Spectra®:  A brand of synthetic fiber used in making performance kite line. It's best advantage is it's very strong and yet very thing and doesn’t stretch much.  Not all spectra lines are created equal!  Spectra fibre is used to make popular premium flying line.  These brands may incorporate unique braiding of the fibre, coating with agents to reduce friction and sometime to make them resistant to UV and salt water.  All of which enhance performance and line life significantly.

Spine: The center rod that runs lengthwise down a kite.

Spreader: The spars which run horizontally across the span of the kite holding the wings open. 

Stand-offs:  Are typically carbon or fibreglass rod which holds the trailing edge of the sail back from the lower spreader.  You may be able to fine-tune the performance of your kite in different wind conditions as their position affects the amount of lift the kite generates and thereby it's speed, turning, and precision.

Tail: Attached to the kite for visual effect or to cause drag on a single line kite.  Made of Ripstop or plastic.  Also a term to describe the lower end of the spine.

Tow point: The part of the bridle where the flying lines are attached using a Larkshead knot.

Winders:  For ease of use, lines are stored on winders.  With line(s) together, wrap the lines around the winder fairly snuggly. Some flyer prefer wrapping the lines in a figure eight motion, others prefer a simple wrap.  With care, either will work just as well.

Wind range: The range of wind speed that a kite will fly well in. Can be given in Kph, mph, or beaufort .

Wind window: 
 A 180 degrees in which the kite flies.  It’s size is determined by the length of the flying lines. At the edges of the window the kite will slow and has a tendency to stall and makes for a great place to land.

Diagram of a Stunt Kite

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Why do we Sleeve Spectra Kite Lines?

kite line sleeving kitKite line Sleeving 


(You can find this article in our Kite Resources section too!)

Line sets
 are an important and costly necessity of flying your multiline sport kite, so it is important to make sure that you take steps to protect your line sets to maintain performance, increase longevity of the line and save you money.

Sleeving is like a tube sock that we put on the ends of spectra kite lines or any place where we tie a knot. Sleeving is made of hollow braided Dacron and is usually positioned at either end of each line where the line connects via a Larkshead Knot to the flying straps or to the kite tow point.

Spectra kite line, while stronger than steel, has a relatively low melting point.  Wherever there is a knot in the line this is a place of friction which creates heat and will significantly reduce the strength of your spectra line and will be the point of a line break.

This sleeving material acts like a heat diffuser by reducing and diffusing the heat generated by friction at the knot.

Sleeving Your lines.

At Great Canadian Kite Company, all of the sport kite spectra line sets we sell comes pre-sleeved. We are pleased to offer Shanti Kite line that provides superior braid, performance and kite line life. That being said it is possible to purchase line sets that are not sleeved, or perhaps you wish to buy bulk kite line and make your own line sets and then a kite line sleeving kit is an invaluable tool!   

To make your own line sets you will first want to stretch your lines and make them equal length.  With cheaper line (even cheaper spectra labeled line) you can expect lines to stretch as much as 12-15% where quality line sets may stretch 4-6%.   The point is line will stretch with use and it may be necessary to equalize your lines from time to time.

Once your lines are stretched and measured you are ready to sleeve each end. Our Sleeving kits come with simple instruction, two different colours of sleeving and a sleeving tool.  Here are the basic steps to sleeving your spectra kite line:

  • Sleeve one end of the line at a time making sure that you use the same colour of sleeving for both ends of the same line.  This is really helpful to help you keep straight which line goes to each side of the kite and which its corresponding flying strap.
  • Insert the sleeving tool through your Dacron sleeving. Pull the tool a few centimetres through the sleeving.
  • After the tool is inserted through the Dacron carefully take a lighter and melt the ends of the dacron for a clean looking sleeving job. This will keep the Dacron sleeving from fraying.
  • Thread your Spectra line through the end of the sleeving tool and pull the tool back through the dacron sleeving bringing the kite line with it.
  • With the sleeving now on your line, you can remove the sleeving tool.
  • Slide the sleeving towards the end of the line being careful not to go too far or you will have to reinstall the sleeve using the sleeving tool.
  • Tie a knot in the very end of the line (including the sleeve).
  • Stretch the sleeving back up the line so it won't bunched up.
  • Tie another knot at the end farthest from the end.
  • Bring these two knots together and make a loop as shown below. Make sure this loop is big enough that you can easily tie a Larkshead knot to attach to the kite or flying straps.  Ensure these loops are the same size on each end of each line.

The end of the line is now sleeved and you can repeat the process for each of the other lines.  Remember: make sure you have the same colour sleeving on the ends of the same line. 

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Spectra Kite Flying Line - Stunt Kites

spectra kite lineKite line is an important asset for every kite, especially performance stunt kites. Not all line is created equal! The old adage "You get what you pay for" is true with kite line.

For example, there is a big difference between generic spectra line and
 Shanti. Shanti is a premium quality because of the fibre quality, braiding and fibre treatment which reduces drag and friction! This means longer kite line life and better kite performance. 

Since 1974, Shanti has led the world in the development of kite lines, spools and Winders. In 1985,  Shanti invented Speed-line, the worlds first spectra kite line.  Speed line has been copied by nearly every kite company in the world and it has been widely used in the sport fishing industry.

    To make Spectra suitable for fishing line, companies began coating the line to make itspectra kite line easier to handle, but ironically for the kite flyer coating the line actually increased friction!  In past 10 years kiteflyers have grown accustom to coated flying lines and some prefer the feel.  During this time the quality of coating has improved significantly and in 2009, Shanti began working with engineers to produce a coating that was specifically designed for kite flying not fishing.  This new neon yellow coating uses a polymer-alloy which bonds to the fibres and protects them from damage while remaining slippery.

The new coating allows Shanti to work with some new high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) fibres.  “High modulus” is a comparative term which simply refers to the fibres  strength to weight ratio.  High modulus fibre is stronger and lighter than low modulus fibre.
    The new line from Shanti - Skybond - has the highest modulus rating of any kite line they have tested.  They explain a 100lb/test Skybond line is thinner than 90 lb/test Spectra, but is 10% stronger, costs almost the same!  Bonus!

Is Skybond better than Shanti’s Speedline?  Nope.  This is the classic oranges versus apples question. Speedline has a soft finish.  It is more slippery, has less stretch and wears 3 to 5 times longer than other high performance lines.  But for flyers who like coated lines, the new Skybond is as revolutionary as the original was 32 years ago.  Skybond is also made in the USA.


Info: courtesy of Shanti Kite Company

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