Standing 10 foot tall and weighing in at only 2.5 ounces, the 3 weight Helios 2 by Orvis is in a superior class of it’s own. There is no other 3 weight rod that can compare to the Helios 2 in terms of performance in both casting and fishing ability. For tight line nymphing purposes, which refers to nymph fishing that uses “feel” with the flies to detect strikes, the 10 foot 3 weight Helios 2 is by far the best rod of it’s weight class.
What exactly is a tight line nymphing rod?
Before specifically discussing the Helios 2, lets discuss some basic principles of how nymphing rods of this kind are designed. This type of rod is usually built in lengths ranging from 9.5-11 feet in order to allow the angler to reach farther away with the rod tip. The longer the rod, the easier it becomes to maintain drag-free drifts at farther distances. In order to effectively gain drag-free drifts at maximum distances, most anglers choose to “high-stick”(which refers to drifting with the rod tip high in the air). As the rod increases in length it will also increases in weight. The heavier the rod, the faster fatigue sets in the on arms and shoulders of anglers. Along with decreasing fatigue as a factor while fishing, a lighter rod also improves sensitivity. Having improved sensitivity is very beneficial while depending on “feel” to detect strikes. A longer rod in most cases tends not to cast as well as a shorter rod because the longer the rod, the longer it takes the rod to recover between casting strokes. Rods of this type often consist of a little slower, softer actions that are offer tippet protection. Tippet protection allows anglers to fish small tippets in order to sink small bugs faster (due to faster sink rates of smaller diameters of tippet), get cleaner drifts (due to smaller diameters of tippet), and to help fool spooky fish in technical water. These slower, softer actions also prevent anglers from “bouncing off” and losing small fish. The problem with these slower, softer action is that it makes casting accuracy and fighting fish a real challenge. Now that the characteristics of tight line nymphing rods are understood, we can effectively answer the real question of the matter.
How does the Orvis 10 foot 3 weight Helios 2 out perform all other predecessors of tight line nymphing rods?
The Helios 2 outperforms all other 3wt tight line nymphing rods in the casting department due to it’s tip flex action. The Helios 2 recovers very quickly in between casting strokes for it being a rod that is 10 feet long and merely a 3 weight. This rod’s tip flex action has the ability cast long-line nymphing style rigs with ease and pinpoint accuracy. It was impressive to see how well it was able to throw these rigs into the wind, which is not a characteristic that would normally be prevalent in a 3 weight. A lot of tight line nymphing rods either have slower actions that to fail to cast well, fail to fight small fish well, or fail to offer tippet protection. In terms of casting performance, there is no comparison, the Helios 2 10ft 3wt has set the standard very high for casting ability in tight line nymphing rods.
The Helios 2 is the only 3 weight nymphing rod I’ve fished that has enough back bone to efficiently fight fish in swift currents. It is also the only nymphing rod I’ve fished that is capable performing these tasks while maintaining a soft enough tip to keep from bouncing small fish off during the set of the hook. This soft tip also provides ample tippet protection, allowing anglers the option of fishing small tippet diameters. The Helios 2 is the best of both worlds in having enough backbone while still maintaining a soft sensitive tip, giving it the ability to fight fish better than any other rod of it’s kind.
Overall the Helios 2 10ft 3wt is the best tight line nymphing rod in it’s class. The first time this rod touches your hand will be the last time you ever look to another 3 weight tight line nymphing rod. It excels in casting and fighting fish, which are the two categories that most tight line nymphing rods perform the worst in. Aside from this, it is a premium product from Orvis that was manufactured with the highest quality components and hardware. Orvis refers to this rod as a “feather light war club” and they are completely right. According to Orvis, This rod is 20% light in the hand, 20% stronger, and has a 100% increase in tip-impact strength when compared to the original Helios. Orvis also labels the Helios 2 with a “fine tuned taper for unrivaled tracking, accuracy, and lifting power”, which is a major contributor to its outstanding performance in casting and fish fighting ability. While I would recommend the Orvis Helios 2 10ft 3wt to anglers that fish tight line nymphing methods, this rod is more suited to smaller streams, light flies and tippet, or medium to smaller sized trout. If you fish a lot of heavy flies, larger rivers, or for larger trout, you may want to consider a 4 weight.
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