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LAS VEGAS – Like most discoveries, the Best of Show at ICAST 2011 came about by accident.

Chemists working on Lord-knows-what decades ago actually stumbled upon Dyneema, the world’s strongest fiber.

“It was by total accident,” Michelle Rose of DSM said about the fiber used to make Berkley’s NanoFil fishing line. “They thought, ‘This is amazing stuff, but we don’t know what to do with it.’”

In came Berkley, and folks like Clay Norris, senior product manager for Pure Fishing’s line division. Working with DSM, Norris and his team developed this new category of Uni-Filament fishing line, a.k.a. NanoFil.

Berkley molecularly links 300 strands of the Dyneema into a 12-pound line that is 0.008 of an inch thick, equal in size to 3- or 4-pound monofilament line.

NanoFil is described as the ultimate spinning reel line for its strength and thinness. Because of that, buyers and outdoor journalists voted it as the most innovative product in the ICAST 2011 new product showcase. It topped the line category and won the overall “Best of Show.”

“This is huge,” Rose said. “As soon as we left the room, texts were being sent all over. This is an enormous victory.”

It’s also their fourth category of line. First came nylon like Berkley’s Trilene, still the largest seller. Then it was fluorocarbon before the super braids, which come in two types, non-fused and fused, like Berkley’s Fireline.

“This just gives anglers another tool,” Norris said. “It’s just that much harder for fish to see. It casts farther, there’s no permanent memory and you still have sensitivity.”

NanoFil’s strength was on display at the Pure Fishing booth -- a NanoFil strand holding up a bowling ball. Rose brought similar examples of Dyneema. She showed a section of 4.5-inch diameter rope that can hold 2.5 million pounds. It’s used to anchor offshore oil rigs.

“One of our key objectives is to replace steel cable with rope,” Rose said.

Other applications displayed were in gloves that can’t be cut, an army helmet and a board that stopped bullets.

A 150-yard spool of NanoFil runs $19.95, similar in cost to Fireline.

For the rest of the Best of Show ICAST 2011, click here