Does Fishing Line Dissolve? 5 Things You Should Know!

Heading out on the lake, to the river, or even out on a boat into the ocean for some weekend or vacation fishing is what dreams are made of. There’s nothing like casting a line and hoping for the big one to head your way, reel it in, and show it off to all of your friends and your Facebook feed! But when you cast that line, few people stop and think what happens to that line when you toss it out of the boat or cut it to set a fish-free.

Here’s whether fishing line will dissolve

Most fishing lines on the market do not dissolve. The two most common fishing lines are monofilament (made from nylon plastic) and braided (made from microfibers). These two materials simply do not dissolve in water, but with a few biodegradable exceptions that have hit the market recently.

Since most fishing line does not dissolve, this can quickly cause problems in local fishing holes, the ocean, and your stream. To keep the wild places where we all love to fish, clean, and be around for a while, there are some things you should know before just casting your line out into the world. Besides causing issues in your local watering hole, salt water, and other elements can put your next big catch at risk. We’ll talk through some of the ways water affects your line, how to care for it, and how to keep that line that won’t dissolve, out of the local ecosystem!

Fishing Line Vs. Salt Water

Most of the world’s fishing is done in saltwater. There’s just a lot more of it around! Tossing your line out into the big blue may seem like a little thing, but when it comes to the effects saltwater has on your fishing line, there’s more than what meets the eye.

Keeping your equipment in peak condition is one of the best ways to keep reeling in the big ones and impressing your family on holidays. Saltwater can wreak havoc on your equipment from your boat to your boots to your rod and reel.

Saltwater hasn’t been shown to fade or dissolve your fishing line when moving from freshwater to saltwater, but you do need to care for your equipment by running the line and reel thoroughly through freshwater. This is basic maintenance and should be done regardless of where you’ll be fishing for this upcoming season.

While it won’t dissolve it outright, saltwater can make your line more brittle over time, with no washing or cleaning of the line. You’ll be lucky to pull the big one out of the ocean if your line is brittle and starting to break. Keep your line in top condition by rinsing it thoroughly after use!

Fishing Line Vs. Fresh Water

If you’re ready to move out to the lakes, streams, and rivers for a little backwoods fishing, you may start to relax and think that your fishing line won’t encounter any problems in the freshwater. While this is true most of the time, you’ll still need to take good care of your equipment to keep bringing in the big trout!

Since there’s less of a corrosive element to freshwater, you likely won’t see the brittleness start to set in. However, you should still clean and maintain your equipment after each outing. Algae, moss, and other debris can get caught in your reel and leave you with knots and bunches in your otherwise perfect line.

Common fish like trout or pike often break lines and take off with the hook, line, and sinker. While it’s not ideal to leave your line out in the lake or river as it can end up messing with the ecosystem, there’s little you can do once the line breaks. Since fishing lines, the most common ones anyway, are made of plastic material, it’s bound to be around in the world for a long time.

To keep the lakes, rivers, and streams of the world clean and ready for the next generation, taking good care of your equipment is key. You’ll be able to reel in those big monster catfish and keep the ecosystem where they thrive happy and healthy!

Fishing Lines that Dissolve

While it may seem like something that should be easily available on the market, a fishing line that dissolves is a new phenomenon and has been driven by fisherman and ecologists who want to preserve the wild places of the world.

There are now several products available that offer a fishing line that will dissolve and disappear over time. The line stays strong for use when out on the water, but if cut or broken by a fish will dissolve with time in the water.

Companies have been jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to biodegradable fishing lines and there are several available now. One of the first to get on board was Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle. They created and built a whole new set of fishing lines that slowly degrades over time. No fishing line will degrade completely, but getting rid of a lot of it will help keep the environment clean and ready for use in the future.

Bioline is another company that’s offering biofilament fishing lines. It’s created with biodegradable polymers which degrade with CO2, water, and other biomass elements in the water. Microorganisms in the water break down and slowly digest the line, which is helped along by the sunlight in the area where the line is sitting.

Other lines are specifically designed not to break down. After all, not everyone can afford to switch out their line after every fishing trip! Being able to reuse the line with proper care and maintenance is a good way to save money and keep more lines out of landfills.

Best Practices to Keep Your Fishing Line from Dissolving

There are a few things you can do to keep your fishing line running smoothly from a trip to trip! By keeping this line going for a few rounds at the water, you’ll keep the old line out of a landfill and you’ll increase your chances of reeling in the big fish you’ve been waiting for.

Check Your Guides

This goes for both spinning rods and conventional ones. Little things can cause big problems, and any groove or chip in your guide can cause breakage. Always check them before you head out on the water and after you get back. Keep your rods off the deck of the boat and avoid putting hooks or lures into parts of the guides where the line will end up touching.

Stretch Your Line

If you let your line run behind your boat after you’re done fishing for the day, the line will stretch and keep it from twisting back on itself. This keeps your line healthy, especially on spinning rods, as the line twist can cause it to break with even less pressure than usual. Too many twists and knots can weaken your line and you’ll end up losing both your line and your fish to the open water.

Worry Less About the First Few Feet of Line

The first 50 feet of line or so endures the most abuse when you’re out and about on the water. It gets exposed to the most sunlight, the most water, and takes on the most algae and growth. You’ll end up getting rid of this top bit of line with regular frequency and that will help keep all of it in better shape. It’s the idea of only being as strong as your weakest link; if the top part of your line isn’t strong, you’ll lose your fish just as quickly as if the rest of it was weak.

Reel Care

Your reels are a crucial part of keeping your line healthy as well. After every fishing season, take time to make sure your reels are clean, lubricated, and in good working order before putting them away. If there are issues, you can send them to the manufacturer for maintenance and get them back promptly. Detailed owner’s manuals can also direct you on how to take care of the reel yourself if you so choose!

Change the Line

During the off-season, you may want to change out the line on your reel and in doing so, you’ll need to avoid tight spirals on the line itself. These spirals can cause backlashes and resistance when you’re out fishing, so stretch the line around a larger object to keep the tight spirals from occurring. The old line should be recycled rather than just thrown away because, as we discussed before, it won’t dissolve in a landfill. Recycled lines can be cared for correctly and kept out of the wild spaces we all love so much!

Recycling your Line

Most fishing lines won’t dissolve. It’s a fact that makes for strong lines but is a hazard to the environment. With that being said, there are some things you can do to keep your old fishing line out of landfills and out of the wild places where the fishing is still so good.

The first thing you can do is talk to your local tackle shop and fishing store about where you can recycle your old fishing line. Chances are that they have a place for you to recycle it or they can recommend some biodegradable fishing line.

You can also swap out your regular line for something that will degrade over time. Check in with your local tackle shop and see what they have in stock for just such an occasion! More and more lines will switch over to this degradable line and as the technology gets better, the lines will be just as strong as the old stuff.


The fishing line, the traditional line anyway, doesn’t dissolve over time. It may become brittle with exposure to the sun and saltwater but that only puts it at risk to break when you’ve got the big fish on the line. To keep the environment clean of all debris, you’ll want to swap to a degradable line and keep your equipment in top shape for ease of use. With a little maintenance, you’ll be fishing in cleaner waters with a strong line for decades. Happy fishing!

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