Michael Pearce

Biodegradable line is a cast in the right direction

Old fishing line is in, over and along American waters by thousands of collective miles.

It fatally entangles assorted wildlife. At best it is ugly to the human eye.

No matter if broken out of reach or left by slobs, most modern lines remain in the environment for about 500 years.

As for what's already out there, all we can do is gather it up as best we can.

As for the future, there's now the option of a biodegradable fishing.

I recently got a press kit from Eagle Claw touting their new Bioline, a monofilament said to degrade in five years.

In a phone interview, Chris Russell, Eagle Claws director of marketing, said the line is based on the same type of suture material that dissolves in humans.

I found pros and cons in the press release.

It's biodegradable but that means it won't last forever on a reel.

Eagle Claw said Bioline needs to be replaced on reels about every 10-12 months. That's about the beginning of every new fishing season, anyway.

Stored properly in its original packaging, spools should last several years.

The stated price of about $12 for 225 yards is high, but online it's about $7 per spool.

Not bad, and there's not reason to totally re-spool.

I pulled about 80 yards of eight-pound-test regular line off a reel's spool, tied the same sized Bioline to what was left and refilled the spool.

I did some hard tugging and pulling on both Bioline and my old monofilament.

They felt the same, and improved-clinch, palomar and blood knots cinched down and held.

That gave me confidence to take the new line to a friend's watershed lake Wednesday afternoon.

Fortunately the bass were super active.

Using a quarter-ounce spinnerbait, I whipped a hard first cast. The lure went about 30 yards which was good.

Halfway back a nice bass nailed the lure.

For the next couple of hours the fishing was stupidly good.

I can't credit Bioline for that, but it seemed to hold up on a counted 50 bass. The lake holds no lunkers, but many two- to three-pounders.

They're stout enough to put stress on the line. I screwed the reel's drag tight so the line did all the work.

Several times when snagged, I used the rod and the line to tow the canoe. Most decent eight-pound test lines will let you do that, too.

Every fish, water-logged limb, tree and glob of moss was caught on the same lure with the original knot.

I grabbed the lure and line and gave some sharp tugs as I left. Everything appeared to be snug and strong.

It was certainly not a scientific comparison, but the biodegradable line seemed to fish as well as any traditional line.

But I was still wondering about a few things.

I wondered why it's only made in popular sizes from 4- to 12-pound test and not some popular bass and catfishing sizes.

Russell said they're targeting spin-fishermen, but hope to eventually make Bioline up to 25-pound test.

And why is it relatively hard for consumers to find?

I called several local fishing shops and none carried it. Some had never heard of it.

Dick's Sporting Goods has it online, but neither Wichita store stocks Bioline.

Russell said it's sold on several online sites and in about 300 Walmarts in the midwest.

He admitted it's been a tough sell to retailers stocked to the gills with traditional sellers.

They're hoping a media blitz will create a demand among anglers.

I don't question there's an interest in a biodegradable fishing line.

Every angler I've talked to showed an interest. State park managers and fisheries biologists were very enthused about the concept.

I'm not nai(uml)ve enough to think a biodegradable line solves the problem of angling litter.

Five years is a long time for line to lie around. There's also still plenty of old line strewn around to pick up.

But maybe having something like Bioline on the market will draw more attention to the problem.

And only time will tell if it reacts down the road like marketing says it will.

Who knows, if it does degrade, will some locations eventually only allow biodegradable lines on their waters? I could sure see that happening.

Personally, I'll keep fishing it while I hope it stands that test of time.

The concept is sound and can't be any worse for the environment than what I've been using for the past 50 years.