I can remember a time when on a national news show, it was announced that the toy phenomenon of the era—the Cabbage Patch Doll—enjoyed such a sales run, there was no more market left to approach. The stats, as I recall, suggested that there had been enough dolls sold that every child on the planet could have at least two!
Fast forward ahead to fishing industry of this decade that introduced, waffled, then expanded its marketing of braided line. Since its arrival the fishing public has tried it, discounted some and then grudgingly, began to accept the “super” line as necessary.
Part of the public’s reluctance was due to handling and knot-tying issues, and the fact it was “different” from what they were used to. Some of that reluctance, of course was due to its price tag of three to five times that of the common nylon or copolymers available.
However, once spinning reel users figured out that line twist was almost a non-issue with braid, and that the ever-twisting mono could be scrapped for a few yards of fluorocarbon leader (regardless of its price tag) the pendulum seemed to swing.
Consider: Clearly, any typical user of monofilament lines could over the span of 24 months (one year to use up his existing supply of mono, and a second year to reap the cost benefits of braid) partake in a business trend that would put an end to tackle manufacturers as we now know them.
How? If you weren’t aware, the biggest margin in all tackle items belongs to nylon fishing lines. Even the most magical formulas featuring knot-strength, abrasion resistance, low stretch or tooth-pulling expedience, can be extruded for pennies on the mile. And because of that, and because every avid angler needs thousands of yards of it every year, the tackle/line manufacturers knew they could count on a certain amount of revenue annually.
But look what braid is doing. It’s changing consumer habits. They’re buying main line they don’t have to replace and less than one percent of the new fluoro or mono that they used to purchase. In five years, if this continues, it would be the equivalent of those two dolls for every kid. Fishermen will no longer buy fishing line—of any kind.
In order to compensate, manufacturers will have to charge 20 percent more for rods and reels, lures and plastic worms. What seemed like a great advancement in fishing will further compress the fishing industry, forcing extruders out of fishing and into the weed trimmer business--impacting another entire industry!
The thought grieves me. Should I join the ranks of high-tech fishermen, learn the double-uni knot, and go to my grave with enough leader material to wrap around the Earth three times?
Or should I continue to change line every trip or two, dragging it behind the boat to stretch and straighten? Should I be the one to stand as a beacon for nylon line extruders and the thousands of bass I have thusly yanked?
I’ll listen to any offers.
Bass columnist George Kramer, who thinks many industry cash flow issues could be solved with a “dollar menu,” can be reached by email at email@example.com.