_What is it? _
Spectra® fiber is a form of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE, UHMW), also known as high-modulus polyethylene, (HMPE), or high-performance polyethylene (HPPE).
Unless you are already an expert, you are probably saying "huh?". A little UHMWPE history is a good place to start.
_A short history of UHMWPE fiber _
UHMWPE was first commercialized in the 1950's but its use in fiber form, was not perfected until the 1970's, when both DSM, a Dutch company and the U.S. company Honeywell, began producing UHMWPE fiber through a process called gel spinning. The two most widely known brands of UHMWPE fiber were born, DSM's Dyneema® and Honeywell's Spectra®.
_What does all this have to do with spearfishing? _
- Pound for pound, UHMWPE is 10 times stronger than steel.
- It is as much as 15 times more resistant to abrasion than carbon steel.
- It has the highest impact rating of any thermoplastic currently made.
- It has good UV resistance.
- It is highly resistant to corrosive chemicals, like saltwater for instance.
If it seems like the perfect spearfishing line in every way, well, it almost is. There is however, one downside to this otherwise ideal spearfishing line fiber. UHMWPE fiber has an extremely low coefficient of friction. In other words, its very slippery. This means that knots which would normally be secure with other fibers like Kevlar®, will "creep" when used with Spectra®. In fact, under sufficient tension, most simple knots will creep right on down the line until there is no more line upon which to creep. As you might have guessed, in that we do sell spearfishing line made from Spectra®, the problem of "knot creep" can be overcome by using certain knots and termination techniques which we cover on the Tie Spectra page in the How to... section of the Knowledge Base .
_Spectra® vs. Dyneema® _
A question we hear from time to time is, "What is the difference between Spectra and Dyneema?" or "Which is better?". The simple answer is that chemically they are identical. The primary differentiation between one UHMWPE line and another is in the braid and not the brand of the fiber. Our choice of Spectra® for our products is more a case of sourcing close to home, than any perceived difference in the two products. Not only is Honeywell a U.S. corporation, it manufactures Spectra® fiber in Colonial Heights, Virginia, USA.
If a Spearit Line is labeled Spectra®, its all Spectra®, We don't blend with other fibers. Period!