I stopped by my parents’ house the other day, and the latest copy of the ‘Feather-Craft’ catalog was waiting for my perusal. It’s rare that I order anything from these catalogs, but it is fun to take a look at the toys. Talking about art is like dancing about architecture, is like comparing fly rods in a catalog… and this poses an interesting challenge for marketers. Personally, I find it interesting that pictures aren’t featured more prominently. Instead, we find that statistics, specifications, and descriptions litter the pages.
We see this when discussing leader and tippet material more than anywhere else. They talk about diameters and test strength. We see various sizes of tippet material and extruded, tapered leaders in packs of two and three, from more brands than I could name. We see phrases like ‘ultra-stiff,’ ‘high-tech,’ ‘high-tenacity copolymer,’ ‘strength to diameter ratio,’ ‘abrasion resistance,’ and ‘invisibility.’
That being said, we never see phrases like sustainable. We’re not seeing descriptions of half-lives, environmental impact, and lifetimes, and this is a big deal. Both nylon and fluorocarbon monofilaments have incredibly long lifetimes. Nylon is estimated to last approximately 600 years, while fluorocarbon has shown no evidence of dregadation over time.
When I tie my flies, I often don’t bother with head cement. It doesn’t make sense. I recognize that, whether my casting sucks or not, I’m much more likely to lose flies before they fall victim to trout teeth. And when we, as anglers, lose files, it’s inevitable that we lose tippet along with it. I’ve personally lost enough streamers that some of my favorite honey holes are now a carpet of my woven monofilaments.
Apparently though, we used to have a choice outside of traditional monofilaments. Back around 2009, it seems that there was plenty of blog buzz about biodegradeable fishing lines and tippet material (see also Brad’s Blog, the Lateral Line, and Recycled Fish).
This was around the time that Eagle Claw brought ‘Bioline’ to market. Apparently, Bioline could fully degrade within five years, while significantly weakening after two (allowing wildlife to break free if entangled). Bioline was supposed to be comparable to other monofilaments in all traditional metrics such as visibility, stretch, abrasion resistance, and memory. Better yet, it only cost a few additional dollars per spool.
I could tell a story here about it’s remarkable development. How it was developed with technology from the medical field. How it utilizes the same technology seen in biodegradable stitches. But there’s an underlying question here.
Why isn’t this product still offered? If anglers cared enough about conservation, why wasn’t this line flying off the shelves?
I took this question to Eagle Claw, and received some insight from a very patient Eagle Claw spokeswoman:
Unfortunately [we] will not be going forward with the product. The initial feedback was great […] but sales started off slower than we would like. Added to that, stronger Federal and State regulations on anything biodegradable forced us to make the decision that it was not cost effective to continue with the line.
At Eagle Claw we believe our commitment to the environment is an investment in our collective futures. Through the introduction of innovative products, we’re able to manufacture items that help us meet our present needs while preserving the planet for those who come after us. Our Goal: A brighter future for our customers, our employees, and our neighbors.
There are plenty of arguments that you could make here, but at the end of the day, the ball was in our court. We so often plead for companies to take risks on more sustainable product lines. We had an opportunity to speak with our wallets and we didn’t.
We screwed up… and we’ll be dealing with it for at least another #600years.