Could biodegradable line be the future of reels?

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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Biodegradable line could become a reality on anglers spools as effort grow to ensure  discarded line inflicts minimal damage on the environment.

With single-use plastic packaging crisis being looked at by Government, some anglers are calling for the introduction of biodegradable line.

Currently there seems to be no readily available alternative to our existing nylon which takes as long as 600 years to fully degrade.

Dr Stuart McLanaghan who runs Fish21, an organisation that works to advance sustainability in recreational fishing including biodegradable line alternatives.

The London-based sustainability professional explained: “Line recycling programmes operate successfully in a number of countries; and as a supporting organisation, I’m delighted the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme has attracted such high interest and angler participation.

“But, more sustainable line use isn’t only about good recycling; it also requires manufacturers to promote responsible use of their products; new anglers learning and adopting good practice like not littering, and innovation to deliver more environmentally-friendly solutions, potentially including biodegradable ones.”

Stuart continued: “Biodegradable  line was inspired by absorbable medical sutures (dissolvable stitches).

“American company Bioline®Fishing applied this technology to produce the world’s first commercially available, biodegradable line.

“Bioline was sold to tackle company Eagle Claw and product launch interest apparently far exceeded expectations, but concerns surfaced on line durability, strength and cost.

“The line was independently tested, indicating high consistency with the manufacturer’s stated line breaking strains and it is understood the product also met the manufacturer’s biodegradability claims.

“But after two years Eagle Claw decided to withdraw from retailing the line – perhaps the mainstream market simply wasn’t ready for the product?

“Perceptions rather than infield experience appears to have accounted for much of the lack of consumer confidence – there are important industry lessons here going forward.

“Another biodegradable line, FieldMate, marketed by Japanese manufacturer Toray International has also been withdrawn.”

Biodegradable line of the future

Stuart continued: “Any future mainstreaming of biodegradable lines will require customer confidence on quality and performance, as well as being cost competitive compared with synthetic varieties.

“The field-testing of new products with sustainability features – for example, giving away free test samples to angling club members (perhaps with a voucher redeemable against future purchases) – could prove invaluable in building angler confidence,” Stuart added.

Tony Vincent, UK sales manager for Nash Tackle, commented: “I’m not aware of any biodegradable line on the market currently.

“Although no one likes to think of fishing line hanging around in the environment, a new product would take a huge amount of costly development and testing before it could be sold, and it is not on our company’s agenda at all.

“Retail cost and reliability would have to be major factors to consider,” he added.

Line recycling scheme grows in UK

Viv Shears runs the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme

Viv Shears runs the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Biodegradable line could be a future option but line rotting away still leaves the same plastic chemical trace in the environment in microscopic form.

Viv Shears who runs the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme said: “Easily biodegradable products for all current plastic/synthetic tackle items including line must eventually be the long term solution but line would have to be user compatible.

“Our survey of line usage revealed that less regular anglers only change their line every five years on average, so for these people to have to change annually would be a big extra expense.

“Perhaps the answer would be line that degraded less quickly in use than the one developed previously but much quicker than current line.

“In the meantime our scheme continues to grow and we now have 130 shops registered and 12 fisheries.

“We will have a stand at the Chatsworth Country Fair, the Northern Show in Manchester and the Big One in the spring and will have a bin so anglers can actually bring unwanted line to the shows.

“I am in discussion with companies like Fox and Korda to see how they can support us and I am also working on a scheme for fly line.

“Although there are some technical difficulties to resolve because of the different nature of the product, the RIO company are very interested,” Viv concluded.

And last month, Anglers Against Single-Use Plastic In The Tackle Trade was set up to try and reduce plastic packaging from tackle and bait firms.

Angler's Mail

Running from 1964 until 2020, Angler's Mail was the UK's leading weekly magazine devoted to coarse fishing, telling readers everything they needed to know about which fish to catch, where to catch them, and what kit they needed to do it. Now, loads of the magazine's expert advice can be found on, as a helpful resource for angling newcomers and experts alike.