What types of flights are there?
There are two things to consider when looking at the difference between dart flights, the shape and the formation. The first thing I want to touch on is the formation. There are two main distinctions between how a flight is made and that is if its foldable dart flight or if its molded dart flight.
What is a foldable flight?
The main point of note about foldable flights is that well… you must fold them open. Jokes aside, foldable flights are characterized by having 4 sheets glued together in such a way that it forms the shape of a flight we all know. Because the flight is comprised of 4 separate sheets it makes it susceptible to nicking with some force. One key benefit to these flights, is their ability to lay flat. This allows you to carry them in smaller cases, or even in your pocket; a feat which might be uncomfortable with a molded flight. Another key feature is they are simple to manufacture which allows for a much larger range of designs and shapes. Additionally, foldable flights have been on the market much longer than molded flights and do not require any “special” or proprietary accessories.
What do you need to use foldable dart flights?
Foldable flights work with any shaft that has the standard 4 prong holder. You could consider using a flight protector also. This is a small cap typically made from nylon or aluminum that goes on the back (or top) of the flight. It helps to eliminate robin hooding of your flight by deflecting in-coming darts, while also keeping them square.
Foldable flights are offered in a wide variety of thicknesses measured in microns (µm). Starting at 75µm and topping off at 180µm. You can find foldable flights that are glitter, metallic, dimpled, ridged with a V pattern, and just plain (I’m sure there are more I haven’t mentioned here). The point is-there is a large variety for players to play with and find what works best for the individual.
Dimplex are flights have small dimples in them to help increase drag and wind resistance. This affects the flight of the dart in the same manner as increasing the size (surface area) of the flight, as it helps the flight slow the dart in the air increasing lift and reducing side to side instability. Dimplex are not recommended for players with a fast-straight throw, as they will gain lift and not have a chance to exit the arch of flight before contacting the board.
Some flights are available extra thick. The thickness does not affect your throw as much as offering an increased durability (and extended lift) of the flights. Most foldable flights are 100 microns in thickness, anything over 120 microns could be considered extra thick.
Pro's and Con's of foldable flights
Foldable flights are inexpensive due to ease and speed of manufacturing, along with lower cost of material. The inexpensive prices allows players to stock up with a wide array of choices available to them.
Depending on your groupings, the life of the flight may vary-either end of the micron spectrum can get damaged. The 75 microns may rip, while the 180 may just show nicks in the material. The most popular foldable flights are 100 micron-which allows for moderate flex while still stiff enough to withstand most impacts.
Select a case to store your darts in fully assembled. Repeatedly removing your flights from the shaft will wear the bottom point faster so they no longer stay in the shaft or will bend while trying to insert onto the shaft again. Storing the flights with less than optimal room can crush them causing them to curl or lose their shape.
Note: When you insert a set of flights onto your shaft for the first time-reverse fold them open-to “square” them off.
Molded dart Flights
What is a molded flight?
It’s a little tricky to describe molded flights without getting into the manufacturing process of each different band. To put it simply, molded flights come in their final shape and prefer to stay in that shape. This rigidity helps to ensure that your flights remain in constant shape. You may find they are easier to assemble onto a shaft with a cone or socket type opening design. Thus, also reducing or negating the chance of “robin hooding” your shaft. To get into the other aspects of molded flights we need to look at different Brand versions.
Condor flights are unique in that they are a flight and a shaft combo all in one. This reduces the number of parts a player needs. The key selling points of Condor are your flights will never pop off and increased durability, zero robin-hooding. The Condor “Zero Stress” flights feature a softer material with increased flexibility in the shaft and flight fins. Increased flexibility allows for tighter grouping and reduced deflections. The Condor “AXE” flights are engineered from a more rigid and elastic material. Thereby letting the flights better retain their shape and provide more flex.
The LStyle system does not require you to use their proprietary shafts but it is recommended. You must certainly only use nylon or plastic shafts with these flights as they are too thick to use with aluminum shafts. LStyle offers a few different types of molded flights. First their traditional Pro series. This flight has a hole pre-punched for use with a cap. The cap locks into the flight while compressing the shaft for a tighter fit and prevent robin-hooding. The second is the EZ flight, which does not require a cap, as it is pre-molded into the flight. It slides over a traditional 4 prong nylon or plastic shaft. This flight also provides for a bit less rigidity and thereby potentially less flight deflection. The third type is their “soft” flight. This molded flight also has a pre-punched hole-requiring a cap to lock onto the shafts-and provides for a lot of flex. It is almost as flexible as a foldable flight. You can find within the LStyle line different shapes as well as different microns and ridged flights. Depending on the shaft you use, you would be able to make this flight a spinning or locked flight.
Fit flight offers three different type of flights: original, Air and Pro. The original material is a stiffer blend of plastic. More durable but can provide for dart deflection. The Air material is a softer blend of plastic, which allows for less dart deflection, but can be damaged easier (than the original) from incoming darts. The Pro flight is a thinner flight designed for flexibility but has a reinforced grid texture to provide for durability and strength. The Fit Flight system uses a proprietary snap on locking system for assembly of the flight to shaft. The flights are currently offered in 11 different shapes in both Air and original material with a wide range of colors. The unique Pro system offers players the chance to dial in their throw with three different basic shapes of flights and six different sizes within each shape range. The Fit Flight system offers eight different lengths for proprietary shafts in plastic, aluminum, carbon and titanium. You can make your flight either spinning or locked depending on the shaft you purchase.
Dynastar is the original -the granddaddy-of the molded flight market. These flights lock onto their proprietary shafts using a “locking ring” inside the flight that snaps onto a grooved thin pin on the shaft. The original idea behind the Dynastar system was to offer a longer lasting flight material (over foldable) and a zero-robin hooding shaft/flight system. These flights spin on the shaft (unless you pinch them at the locking ring). The material is medium-soft, designed to allow less dart deflection off the flight, however, depending on your groupings, you can still rip or nick the flight. The proprietary shafts are available with an aluminum or nylon base. Dynastar is the only manufacture that has produced a shaft to work with Bottelsen’s GT darts (specialty threading). Footnote: Our founder, John Baxter, was one of the first players sponsored by Dynastar when he threw professionally.
8 Flight’s unique design was intended to eliminate the irritating problem with some molded flights – the dreadful flight “pop off”. Once flights are screwed onto these shafts, it is very difficult to pull them off. The flights are made of a medium-soft plastic which provides flex while generally preventing ripping and nicking. This system is the “baby” in the molded flight market having only launched in 2018. Currently, the 8 Flight system offers four shapes and basic colors with a few prints, although we know there is more to come for this line. The proprietary threaded shaft is offered in five different lengths. The shaft colors are limited, but again, more to come. Although this system doesn’t look like it could spin-it does. The shaft you purchase will determine if your flight will spin or stay locked.
Robson Plus Flight is a very user-friendly flight. Another “baby” coming to the molded flight market within the last five years. The opening for the shaft has a + which cinches down into the shaft and pushes the shaft prongs open. The tapered cone design of the opening compresses the shafts which eliminates robin-hooding and tightens the flight onto the shaft eliminating flight “pop off”. This thin molded flight material designed for aerodynamics, is also rigid with an elastic flex. The flight does not require special shafts-however, we recommend only using 4 prong non-metal shafts. Plus flight offers five shapes in a variety of colors and prints. The flight will spin or lock depending on the plastic or nylon shaft you provide.
Harrows Clic system offers a molded flight made from a uniquely soft material with a lot of flex. Unlike other soft-material molded flights, Clic offers a reinforced edge around the flight to help maintain shape and prevent ripping. The base of the flight stretches over the shaft and snaps into a groove-thus locking the flight in place. While Clic flights are offered in a variety of colors, it is only offered in one shape- Standard. This flight system is designed as a snap on flight using a proprietary shaft. The shafts come in 2 shapes: Slim, a thin tapered shaft with high flexibility, and Normal, a thicker more rigid shaft. Both are available in 3 lengths and a variety of colors to match the flights. The Clic system is a spinning flight system- until you add an o-ring at the top near the flight to deter the flight from spinning.
Dart flights are offered in a wide array of shapes with different shapes coming and going by various manufactures. While we have tried to list all the shapes below, there is bound to be one or two mini flights or a discontinued flight that didn’t make our list. The key difference between these sizes is its surface area. As a rule of thumb, the softer you throw (aka if you lob), then you want a flight with the most surface area. The same can be said with the opposite in that if your throws are fast and straight then you should consider using flights with less surface area. Phil Taylor is a perfect example of fast throw, small flight.
The largest flight giving the most lift and is the most stable in flight, but tends to be slower.
Slightly smaller than Standard thus being a little faster with a little less lift, while being just as stable.
Faster than kite, but less stable, it provides greater lift than say a slim or fantail and is more stable than those as well.
Slight Variation Shapes
Smaller than a shape, but not as small as a slim, this flight offers speed and about as much lift as a kite, while being very stable more like standard.
A shape sized flight with a tapered end that lets it come off the hand faster and smoother than a traditional shape, but does become a little less stable as a result.
Meant for a smooth medium speed thrower, this flight offers great lift and stability with less resistance than a shape sized flight, so it is faster than the shape.
Faster than a f-shape or fantail, but less stable as well. It offers more stability than a slim while giving the speed near a slim size. Great for a faster thrower, who doesn’t have nearly any arch to their throw.
Faster and less stable than a kite, but gives quite a bit more lift than a slim or astra, the fantail is similar to a pear, but a smidge faster.
Somewhere between a fantail and a pear in shape it offers greater lift than an astra, but is nearly as fast.
Extremely fast, little to no stability, but has greater lift than a slim with the speed of a slim.
More lift and stability than a super kite. The bullet has great speed with decent stability. It also offers more lift for a smooth throw at fast speeds; works well with heavier darts than a smaller flight would with a same weight dart due to the increase in lift and stability.
More lift 17% more lift than a standard offers, these flights work well when having changed a shaft length the dart still lands tail down, the extra lift pulls up the tail, and bring these darts into a flat position. Often 30+ gram darts will need these larger than standard flights to get the lift these weights need.
A newer flight shape, it’s as if you could get the speed of a slim and kite to blend, and the stability and lift of a vortex in one flight. It’s a very impressive shape for all speed throwers, and offers good stability and speed, but is slower than a kite, and faster than a shape.
Similar in lift and speed to a standard the shape offers a bit of an edge in speed, giving less drag for a smoother release to medium or medium fast throwers.
Not common in play, but looks cool, right? The skull offers lift similar to a shape, but is faster like a pear.
Slimmer than a kite, and the cut out in the tail end of the flight, offers less lift than a kite, and more speed. Good for faster throwers.
Looks cool, but is not common in play. A bit more lift than a kite while offering better looks than the traditional kite.
The V-Wing (also known as bee) flight is a very fast, but stable flight normal paired with a micro shaft of extra short, on small barrels, which don’t weigh much. Not a lot of stability, but good speed, and more lift than a pear, probably similar in lift to a fantail.
Looks pretty, and gives a good amount of lift, similar to a shape, but a bit faster off the hand.
Very similar to a V-Wing, but is a more stable due to the increased surface area. Between a super kite and a traditional kite in size, and feel.
Phil “The Power” Taylor. These flights demand good follow through for success, but are incredibly accurate if you can control them. More lift than previously small sizes, the Vapor S gives you tight grouping from your best forms, and a mess when you lose focus.
Designed by Phil Taylor after he watched a documentary about submarines, the design is for smooth flight in the air, with little blocking your next dart from hitting the much needed third triple!
The best size is the size that works best for YOU. As you can see there are many different shapes-and shapes that offer similar, but slightly different results. What do you use? Find a shape that works for you and tweak your throw from there. Remember, the smaller the flight, the faster and straighter trajectory to the board. The bigger the flight, the more arc trajectory and the dart will slow down as a result. Some players gain control over their darts when the dart slows down.
First-for clarification- Is it not the flights that spin, but the shafts. Second-Spinning does not help with your throw or trajectory, only the dart/flight deflection of the second and third dart coming in to land a score. With this in mind-do you use a spinning shaft? This depends on how tight your groupings are and if you are experiencing a lot of dart deflection from your flights. If you have tight groupings and darts deflecting into a different pie after striking a flight, then the answer is yes, you would most likely benefit from spinning shafts.
Thicker flights such as 150 micron or 180 micron for folding flights are going to be a sturdier flight; otherwise, consider a molded flight that suits your budget and your throw.
Just like a golf ball the dimples give the flights more lift.
The key is experimentation here. Start with a flight that appears to work and experiment with similar shapes to perfect your throw. Always remember the shaft/flight combination that works with one barrel, may not always work with a different (shorter or longer) barrel. You may have to adjust shaft length and flight size accordingly. Again, if you want a faster, straighter dart, use a smaller flight. If you want your trajectory to arc and to slow your dart go up in flight size. Note: your shaft length can also affect this trajectory.