New Product Spotlight: Orvis Helios 3

Photo by Orvis. Visit Orvis.com for more information on the Helios 3.

Orvis recently announced the September 2017 launch of their newest fly rod, the Helios 3. Last week I had the privilege of casting the new line up of Helios 3 fly rods. While it is titled a “Helios 3″, this rod is really in a different class than the two previous “Helios” models.

The Helios 3 is a different design than the Helios 2. The Helios 3 is not only lighter in terms of swing weight, but it’s also stronger than the Helios 2. How light the Helios 3 felt in hand was one of the first things I noticed when I picked up the 9ft 5wt 3D for the first time.

The Helios 3 will be available in two different actions, 3D and 3F. The 3D stands for distance, and the 3F is for feel. In more traditional rod terminology, I think of the 3D as a tip flex and the 3F as a mid flex. Whether you will prefer a 3D or 3F will depend on personal casting preferences, and how you wish to use the rod.

The appearance of the Helios 3 is bold. The large white label stands out against the matte midnight blank and hardware. The Helios 3 will be easy to identify and hard to mistake. Some anglers are throwing a fit over this new, nontraditional look from Orvis. Personally, I like it. Maybe it’s my youth, but I appreciate the more modern, sharp design. Setting the controversy over the appearance aside, it’s hard to argue with how the Helios 3 performs.

Orvis is staking the claim for the Helios 3 based on “unmatched accuracy”. Instead of just saying that the H3 is more accurate than over fly rods, Orvis is using the science to back up the claim. If you read what they explain when discussing an increased hoop strength in the Helios 3, it makes sense. From a rod in hand perspective, I think it’s easy to see feel how effortlessly and true the H3 casts.

Another feature of the Helios 3 that I was impressed with was the reel seat. It’s also a sleek matte finish, but it was functionally built out of type III aluminum with a carbon insert. The piece that slides onto the reel foot is built on a groove that makes it super easy to attach. It does not look like reels will come and loose fall off the H3.

Regardless of how you felt about the Helios 2, you need give the Helios 3 a chance. It’s safe to say that I 100% favor the Helios 3 over the Helios 2. The hype with this new rod from Orvis is real. Go cast a Helios 3 when you get the chance this fall.

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Visit Orvis.com for more information about the new Helios 3 fly rods.

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Gear Review: Orvis Recon – 9ft 6wt

A Coffin Fly perched on an Orvis Recon 9ft 6wt.

Over the last 15 months, the 9ft 6wt Orvis Recon became one of my favorite all around trout rods to date for the larger water that I fish. Yes, this rod was released in 2015, but I like to thoroughly fish a rod at least full season before drawing any conclusions.

Orvis released the Recon in the mid price category with a retail price of $425 for the freshwater models and $450 for the saltwater models. It seems that over the last year or so, fly fishing companies are putting more emphasis on offering quality products at the mid price level. While priced in the mid level category, the Orvis Recon is anything but.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect when purchasing a mid priced fly rod because I frequently do so. Over the last 15 months my Recon saw much more than a fair share of water time. Some of my other fly rods are actually feeling neglected. For trout fishing on the larger pieces of water I frequently fish, I can’t put the 9ft 6wt Recon down. Why? It’s simple. I love the way it feels in hand, and love the way it casts.

Although physical weight might make the Recon heavier than some other rods, it’s almost impossible to tell that with the rod in hand. The Recon feels so light in hand, and to me that’s what really matters. The Recon’s progressive action also makes it super smooth and easy to cast. Be aware, this rod is faster than you may think. Yet another reason I dig it.

Whether it’s a long cast with a dry fly, roll casting a heavy nymph rig, or putting the fight to a large fish in heavy water, the 9ft 6wt Orvis Recon will do so effortlessly. This rod is a great tool for wade fishing, but also for float fishing. When it comes to all around trout fishing on larger waters I feel right at home with the 9ft 6wt Orvis Recon.

The only application that I would shy away from the Recon is serious streamer fishing. In my experience, the Recon is not quite as stiff as desired for throwing sinking lines or big, heavy streamers.

If you are in the market for a mid priced all around trout rod, I’m sure it will be hard to find one better than the Recon. At the price point, I almost think that Orvis did too good of a job with this one. Go cast a Recon, see what you think.

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New Product Spotlight: Orvis Helios 2 One-Piece 8’10” 5wt

Orvis recently introduced several new models (5wt, 6wt, & 7wt) to the Orvis Helios 2 One-Piece lineup. Intrigued at the thought of a 8’10” 5wt One-Piece Helios 2, so I decided to add one to my rod quiver for 2017. After spending some time with this rod, I wanted to share my initial thoughts. I have a feeling these new lower weight models of the Helios 2 One-Piece will be well received.

Growing up in the era where four piece or two piece rods are the norm, I had previously never casted a one-piece 5wt rod. While casting I could instantly tell that this Helios 2 One-Piece 8’10” 5wt was much smoother than other four or two piece models. There really is a noticeable difference in how much smoother the energy transfers through a one-piece rod without ferrules.

Being that this 8’10” rod is two inches shorter than a standard 9ft 5wt, it does recover faster and cast a little quicker. The one-piece design feels very easy to cast due to a smoother action that feels a little more progressive than the four or two piece Helios 2 models.

Initially I think that this rod will be great for fishing dry flies, or out of a boat. I’m sure it will more than handle nymph rigs, but it does feel a little more delicate than I expected for a 5wt. Only time will tell.

The one piece design will not likely match well with anglers that travel by air, but I do not think that it will be too cumbersome for normal day to day fishing. Only time will tell for that as well.

I plan to do a full gear review after I’ve had the chance to put the Orvis Helios 2 One-Piece 8’10” 5wt through the paces. Go cast one, I think you’ll enjoy it.

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Gear Review: Orvis Helios 2 – 10 ft 3 wt

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?

Casting.

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.

Fighting Fish.

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

For more information on a Orvis Helios 2 visit their website by clicking HERE.