1. CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON: Different shapes fly best in different wind speeds. Diamonds are ideal in moderate winds, while big box kites are good when it’s blowing strong and steady. For beach kiting, go with a triangular kite like the Delta from Premier Kites ($47), which has a polycarbonate frame and a 102-inch wingspan and handles well in all kinds of conditions.
2. LIFTOFF: Most kites require a partner and a breeze of at least five miles per hour to maintain loft. Here’s a surefire method for a successful launch on your first go. (1) Spool out 40 feet of line as your kite holder walks downwind of you. (2) Watch for signs of an approaching gust—swirling sand, rustling leaves—then run directly into the wind as your partner releases the kite. (3) Don’t pay out more line until your kite is steadily gaining altitude.
3. GET HIGH: Most rigs come with around 120 feet of string, which isn’t nearly enough for serious kiting. You want 1,000 feet of a line that won’t get tangled and is lighter than nylon. (The higher you go, the more line weight is a factor.) Opt for two spools of 50-pound Dacron ($15). Dole out the line conservatively; if there’s not enough tension, the kite will dive.
4. FLY RIGHT: Old-school bobbins work fine, but you’ll have a much easier time if you upgrade to a deep-sea fishing rig like Penn’s Senator reel and Slammer rod ($130 for both). Preload the reel with one of the 500-foot spools, get your kite in the air with the other, then tie the two together with a square knot. For hands-free kiting, zip-tie a 12-inch-long PVC pipe to a lawn chair and insert the butt end of the rod. Crack a beer. Enjoy.