The Mortal asks:

Oh great and mighty Kite Oracle, who's lines never tangle or break, prey help me in my plight. Every time I handle a kite line, it ties it'sself in knots before my very eyes. How do I tame the beast?

The Kite Oracle replies:

My dear supplicant, you must be more specific. You tell me not what type of line you are using. Different lines are tamed in different ways. Here are some methods you could use:


The most basic form of line handling is to simply lay the line in a heap on the ground. Whilst this may look like a disaster waiting to happen, it is in fact an effective method. Consider an Indian fighter. Start with the line on the reel and launch the kite from your hand. When you have some altitude, dig the reel into the ground (yes, that's why one end is pointy) and let the line out further by letting it pull off the side of the spool. When you want to pull the kite in, simply pull in the line and let it huild a heap at your feet. Don't try to wind it or do anything special, just let it lie the way that it wants to. When you come to let the line out again, you will find that the next piece of line is always on the top of the heap. and it just lifts off without tangling. Note however that you must take the line from the top. If you go back to the reel and start winding in the line from the bottom, you will immediately be subject to the curse of death by tangles. This method is not limited to fighters. It works just as well with large diameter rope.


Another easy method suitable for fighters is to simply wind the line in a ball. Start with a screwed up ball of paper. Wind one way for a while, then turn the ball 90 degrees and wind further. Keep turning the ball every now and again as you wind to keep the build-up of line even. To let the line out quickly, just drop the ball to the floor and let the ball roll around. The lightness of the ball lets it unwind easily. If you want to wind it in while fighting, you probably need a helper.

Bag or box

Heap in a bag or box. Store soft kites by first stuffing the kite into the bag, then simply heaping the line on top. Just like heaping it on the ground, don't try to coil it, just push it in and let it stack whatever way it likes. When finished, leave the end sticking out of the bag, so that it can't get tangled. To unpack, anchor the end of the line and walk downwind, letting the line (and eventually the kite) pull straight out of the bag. On a larger scale, this also works with a small van and a big kite such as Peter Lynn's Octopus. Start by chucking the tail of the kite in the van, followed by the body, the vent, the bridle and then just pile the line on top. Provided that you someone ensures that nothing snags on the car, you can just take the end of the line and walk away with it to recover the whole kite, ready to fly.

Carrying basket

In a basket for carying. Some fighter fliers adapt the bag or box idea by wearing a basket which they can pile the line into while still retaining the freedom to run round the field.

Indian reel

On an Indian reel. These look something like this:
======|            |======>
Traditionally the centre of the spool is made of bamboo slats to reduce the weight to a minimum, making it easier for the kite to pull the line out quickly. You may, however find them made from solid wood, plastic or simply a cable drum with a stake pushed through. There are several ways to handle the line on this sort of reel. Firstly, you can rest the handles in the crick between your thumb and forefinger and use your fingers on the ridge of the drum to control the reeling in or out of the line. For a quick release of line from the reel, hold it firmly in one hand and use the other to guide the line over the edge of the reel, so that it falls off easily without requiring the reel to spin. Experienced fliers can manipilate these reels with deft precision and speed.

Deep Sky Reel

On a deep-sky reel. Traditional single-line reels are often nicely turned in wood with ball-bearing races and wooden and/or leather handles. They are comfortable and safe for handling heavier line and reasonably strong pulling kites. When winding in line on a drum type reel, there are a couple of basic handling points to remember:

Figure-8 winder

Figure of 8 winder. The simplest of these would be a flat rectangle, with a wide, shallow notch cut on the top and bottom edge:
   |       |
   |       A
   |       |
   |       |
You wind the line from the top notch, across the edge at point "A", round the bottom notch and back across "A" in a figure-of-eight pattern. Winding in a fig-8 avoids puting a twist in the line. Different adaptations of this design can be seen, from small models for storing dual or quad lines to larger, stronger ones suitable for taking the strain of winding in and out during a Rokakku fight.


This is a (typically yellow) reel with this cross-section:
|      /
|    /
|  |
|    \
|      \
You wind by holding flat side of the reel fast in your left hand and winding on the line with your right. To release the line, you still keep the reel stationary and allow the line to fall off the edge of the angled flange. The constuction makes it easy to ensure that you always release from the same side that you wind from. For this reason, this reel is popular for storing a pair of stunt-lines, as you can wind up both lines together, confident that they will come off the reel untwisted.


I often apply the Dynacaster principle to whatever I can find to hand, such as a coke-can, a piece of wood or a pair of sky-claws. There is a universal convention to always wind clock-wise, so you can tell which side the line should fall off, because it's the side where the line falls off anti-clockwise.


These are a simple reel, similar to the Dynacaster but without the angled flange. They have no inner spokes, allowing the line to be fed out without having to touch it by hand. Unfortunately, with these reels, it is most convenient to wind by holding the reel stationary and to unwind by letting the reel slip through your hands. They are, however useful for single lines, as they are comfortable to let slip to release line, reducing but not eliminating the problem of friction burns. Some people wind stunt lines onto a pair of halos, to allow them to release line as they fly, but this is seldom seen above the rank newbie level.

Peter Powell Stunt Handles

Handles separate

Wind the lines onto each handle separately. You can then adjust the line length by not winding out all the line. The quickest way of letting the line out (particularly on the cheaper toy-immitations) it to let the handle fall to the ground and jig around by it's self as you pull the line.

Handles together

Hold the handles together and wind both lines onto both handles at once. This takes half as much time as winding them separately. Unwind by holding the handle and letting it move from wide to side as you pull the line off, but don't let go and don't turn the handle round and round.

Sky claws

These handles are like padded broom-sticks. They come with a holder that turns them into a line-store that is kinda related to the Indian reel. To wind the lines on, you must laboriously turn the reel to wind on without twisting. Winding off is simply a case of letting the reel spin in your hand as you pull the line off. Despite the intended method, the Kite Oracle always throws away the holder, puts the handles together and winds clockwise using the coke-can method described above.

Peter Lynn dead man release handles

Hold the handles together to make a rectangle, with the round line-hole of each handle pressing against the rubber grip of the other handle. Hold the strap out of the way and wind clockwise as usual. When finished winding, wrap the strap round the lines to hold them in place.
With experience, you will be able to spot when someone has wound a line incorrectly, wind the line back on and unwind it in the way that releases the twists.

You owe the Kite Oracle a cat's cradle.