By Captain Andrew Derr
Birth of a Winner
I had the pleasure of being introduced to Tom Rosenbauer at the Fly Fishing Show in New Jersey this past March. We really enjoyed talking about a myriad of subjects finally settling in to discuss the success of the Helios 3 fly rods. All of the Orvis guys are super proud of this rod without coming across as cocky or over confident. They simply love their baby, and with good reason. Building on the massive success of the Helios 2, the Helios 3 has a new look with its trademark white label above the grip. The striking white label is reminiscent of the instantly recognizable bright white Taylor Made drivers or the Odyssey Two Ball White Heat putter. There is no question which rod it is from afar and that is surely by design. The rod is built and assembled with care in the United States in Orvis’ US factory in Vermont. It is a winner. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw copycat aesthetics next year on rods from other companies.
Marketed as the “most accurate fly rod,” the Helios 3 has a ton to offer, including accuracy and power. Under mechanical engineer/trout bum/ski designer Shawn Combs’ (not Puffy) direction, Orvis has spent close to a half a million dollars to design new machines to cut carbon fiber more accurately and wrap, sand, and paint the sections of the Helios 3. Further, they hired an outside engineering lab to test and measure the oscillation and dampening components of the Helios rod tips. Orvis also bought the license to a resin that cooks at a higher temperature, a process usually reserved for state of the art helicopter blades. All of this combines to create a technically advanced casting and fish fighting tool. More of this technology is explained in the video following this review.
Fishing the Helios 3D
I have fished the 9-weight Helios 3D for the past several months, starting with a windy day in the Bahamas in March and then frequently on the flats of Long Island this Spring. The 3D is nothing short of a state of the art casting and fish fighting tool. Properly lined with a 9-weight Rio Direct Core Flats Pro line, the lightweight stick packs power and accuracy. It stands at the top of the heap with some of the industry’s finest fly rods to date. Sage X and Scott Meridian, we are looking at you. With extensive testing thus far, I have found the Helios 3D to be an absolute pleasure to cast and to lift and move fish with. I have no problems loading the rod for close shots and have yet to run out of power for longer shots. As far as Orvis’ claim that it is 20% stronger than it’s predecessor, I do not doubt it for two reasons. Orvis has taken a scientific approach to the design of the Helios 3. They use machines and computers to take some of the guesswork out of their strategy and design. Also, I have lifted, moved and fought cumbersome stripers, bluefish and bonefish with the rod, leading me to believe their claims that the new design, resins and building techniques do, in fact, equate to a stronger, lighter more accurate fly rod.
If you are in the market for a state of the art, top of the line, fast action fly fishing rod, you owe it to yourself to go cast the Helios 3. You should cast other rods as well for comparison. You may find one more suited to your casting style than others. For sure, you will want to experience this extremely fine fly fishing tool before making your decision and laying down what most people consider a tidy sum. Another nice perk is that when you test cast the Helios 3 at your closest Orvis dealer, you will receive a pretty sweet Helios 3 trucker hat (while supplies last).