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Orvis Helios 2… Is It Really “The Second Coming?”

by Kirk Deeter

Helios 2 Fly RodThere’s already plenty of buzz surrounding Orvis and its launch of a new high-end rod line dubbed the “Helios 2.”  Truth be told, I got a prototype 5-weight to play around with several weeks ago, and I noticed it had “The Second Coming” playfully inscribed just above the reel seat.

So let’s call it like it is.  The last five years have seen greater advances in fly rod design, among many manufacturers, than we’ve seen in the past 30 years.   A lot of that has to do with space age materials, nano-silica polymers, and so forth.  Rod companies are using better components  to make better rods, no doubt.  And it seems that every company has its own twist on creating a value pitch.

I will say, for the record, that Orvis changed the paradigm with the introduction of Helios.  Lighter, faster, stronger, purer… it lived up to its billing.  Helios changed the way we all thought about fly rods.

So after a number of companies caught up (or exceeded) Helios with their own designs (a very good thing for the average consumer), I had to wonder if “H2” was a reaction or an action.  I was a cynic.  Then I took the prototype to the lake by my house, unfurled a full fly line, and met my backing knot for the first time in years.  Does that distance translate to good fishing?  Of course not.  The real appeal is accuracy and control in that vital 25-45-foot range.

I then found a handful of guides and shop owners who aren’t affiliated with Orvis, had them cast the rod, and listened to what they had to say.  The consensus was, “Wow, I’ve never cast a rod quite like this.”

In other words, yes, Helios 2 is all it’s cracked up to be.  I’ve fished it with dries, streamers and nymph rigs, and it’s easily one of the best pure-casting (and fish fighting) all-around, do anything rods I’ve ever handled.

While some of you non-Orvis dealers might think that’s bad news, I think it’s good news, because the bar just got lifted that much higher.  To me, Orvis had the taper all along, at least from the original Helios.  And now the company has plowed all the latest technology into enhancing that taper. Retail is $725.

MidCurrent Fly Fishing
Kirk Deeter is the editor of TROUT, the national publication of Trout Unlimited, and a frequent contributor to MidCurrent.
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  • Wayne

    First I’ve heard of the new Helios. I own 2 of the Helios rods (a5wt tip flex and a 3wt full flex, love both of them. Will look forward to trying a new one.

  • M Mikita

    I own a number of Helios sticks at the upper end (8, 11 and 12 weight) due primarily to the lightness and in the case of the 8 weight lightness and casting performance. I am rarely very constructive on Orvis products but the heios thing felt like a significant breakthrough. Something like when IMX first came out. So if Helios 2 moves the needle in any clearly noticeable way, they are putting on the full court press and now leading instead of following. I will be anxious to try one.

  • superfinehelios

    I own 3 helios rods (4, 5, 7). Would be nice to have a tip flex 6wt in my stable. I’m assuming that $725 price is for a mid flex lighter wt? Since my 7wt tip flex and 5wt mid flex each cost $795. Odd that the starting price for Helios ZG is $750 and the price for the H2 is $25 less. I was hoping they’d come out with a full flex in the Helios line, but I’m assuming that’s why they have their Superfine Touch (got one of those too). Love my Helios rods.

  • superfinehelios

    I’ve not heard or read anything about the weight of the new H2s. 20% stronger is a nice addition, but will they be lighter? I think that would be hard to achieve. They’re already so light. As always, thanks!

  • flyfisher

    I can’t comment on the new Helios 2, but I disagree that Orvis “had the taper all along.” The Helios taper is fine for medium-weight rods, but for light trout rods, the relative lack of feel in the tip is a step back. It isn’t just Orvis–all the manufacturers seem to be doing this. Yes, the rods are lighter, cast easier, and store more energy. I’m not quite sure why these are incompatible with retaining the feel in the tip.

  • The problem with the original Helios, wasn’t that it wasn’t a good casting rod, it was that it had dismal quality control. I had at least five rods of different sizes that the finish literally fell off of, and another one that had cork that looked like it should have been on a $19.99 Walmart special….. hopefully the second coming equates to better quality.

  • Jon

    I fished a prototype back in June. Amazing accuracy. I’ve put a deposit down on the first 8.5ft 4wt my local dealer can get. I’ve never put money down on a rod 6 months before it’s supposed to be available. I have a Helios “1” in a 5wt, the accuracy the Helios prototype is seriously better than anything I’ve ever cast before.

  • My Helios broke right in the middle after about 7 days of fishing. The best rod is no good if it breaks. I returned the previous one because of a giant bulge on the tip. I can’t believe Orvis let it out of the factory. I am not impressed with the new technology because I think it is too fragile. I have broken 5 Orvis rods in the last 7 years. My older rods fish great and don’t break.

    • Urban

      Was it Helios 2 or 1 that broke. I owned a Helios 1 and it broke during false casting…

      • Jammmmen

        These rods will not break during casting unless they have been damaged first. No way. You gotta ask yourself: What’s more probable…

    • the problem is probably you

      honestly, i would look at yourself before putting the blame on orvis… As an unaffiliated guide I have clients fish these rods 100+ days, dinging them putting them through all sorts of conditions and not one problem. Also haven’t put a dent in my first addition helios that i fish. Ive found people are usually doing something wrong and thats why they broke.

  • Celio Kelab

    I own 2 H2, a 8wt. and a 10wt, and both are awesome. I’ll be picking up the third soon, a 11 or 12WT.