Vancouver Island is big. Really big. In fact, it’s the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand. Captain James Cook claimed its shores for England in 1778, and its coast has been a hotbed for Canadian fishermen ever since.
Randy Sadler has been running a commercial fishing trawler off of the island since 1984. Technically, he’s run three—the first of which he purchased at age 19 after a youth spent deck-handing on his father’s boat. Her name was the Blue Danube. “I saved up $15,000 and my dad matched that,” says Sadler,”the rest I borrowed from the bank.” In two years, the Blue Danube was paid off and Sadler, now 49, was on his way to a lifetime of chasing salmon and tuna up and down the Pacific coast.
“I haven’t had a summer off since I was 14,” he says. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
But all those years of fishing—trolling, casting, reeling—have a way of making a man think. For Sadler, his thoughts drifted to adapting the commercial gear he was landing monster catches with for sportfishing. He figured if he could haul in 13,000 pounds of sockeye salmon in four days using commercial flashers, there ought to be a way to grab a couple of good ones with lighter, sportfishing gear.
“I just had an idea basically, and I started working on it.”
So in 2006 Sadler drew it all out on paper. He started drilling holes in plastic; making molds and testing them out:
“I tested it against commercial trolling gear, tweaking this and tweaking that. I was playing with pieces of plastic and eventually got this action…most flashers spin but this rolled and corkscrewed through the water. Finally, there came a point that was like…Randy, you’ve got it here!”
What he had was very different from commercial flashers—it sheared and rolled through the water like a kite. It had zero drag with a fish on, and it was a third of the size of any commercial counterpart. All of those tweaks turned in to a product he was able to patent: the Kitetail Flasher. After the patent, the lifelong fisherman founded Kitetail Lures.
The Kitetail is designed to be used on 30-40 pound test line, or about half the weight of most commercial lines. And its characteristics in the water truly are unique.
Vancouver Island has taken notice.
Sadler says that more than 30 stores on the 12,000 square-mile island have picked up the product, which retails for $13.99. The shops say local fishermen are having success with the Kite Tail. It’s especially good in clear water, and it’s giving people a new way to use sportfishing gear.
“Water pressure holds it into a barrel roll like it’s a kite,” says Sadler. “When you get a fish on, it lays flat and knifes the water. This allows the fish to run in any direction eliminating water cupping and resistance. Think of it like you’re flying a kite…if you grab the tail, it won’t drag anymore.”
Right now, you can grab a Kitetail Flasher through retailers on Vancouver Island and in Washington, Oregon and California. But Sadler says the product could be used anywhere fishermen are looking to troll for big fish, and his company is seeking wider distribution in the U.S.
According to Sadler, the new company has been picking up steam every year. They recently made headlines for catching and rescuing an eagle on their lure. Kite Tail also made an appearance at the 2014 Washington Sportsmen Show and has plans to make ICAST 2015.