Orvis Debuts New Helios Rod

February 7, 2024 By: Spencer Durrant

The Helios 3 was, arguably, the best rod Orvis ever built. Today, they’re releasing the next rod in their flagship series, simply dubbed “Helios” (not Helios 4).

The new Helios is billed as “4 times more accurate than the H3” according to Orvis. Now, if that sounds like standard marketing-speak designed to sell more fly rods, I understand you apprehension at the statement. But Orvis actually dumped significant resources into quantifying this rod’s accuracy. The folks in the rod shop were able to develop new ways to measure how well a rod “tracks.” Tracking refers to how straight the tip stays during the casting stroke. A rod that tracks well has very little side-to-side movement, which results in tighter loops, and therefore more accurate casts.

Orvis Director of Product Development Shawn Combs shared how Orvis was able to measure how well the new Helios tracks.

“We used a high-speed infrared camera that picks up reflected light,” Combs said. “We put a reflector on the tip of the fly rod, and the camera picked up only the tip of the fly rod.”

This allowed Combs and other designers to see exactly how straight the rod would track without any other variables. What they found was pretty impressive. The new Helios tracks left and right less than a half-inch, according to Combs. That’s less than the width of a tip-top guide.

The outgoing H3 in a 9′ 5-weight tracked 1.6 inches, so the improvement in accuracy is noticeable on many levels.

“The Helios keeps up with those higher-paced fishing situations,” Combs said.

In addition to increased accuracy, the new Helios is 25% more durable than the H3, according to Orvis’ testing.

Beyond just bending the rod to see when it would break, Combs and the team at Orvis did a full teardown of the H3 and measured everything about that rod. From that experience, they designed a new blank that more smoothly transfers energy. It also doesn’t concentrate stress in any particular spot of the rod. That translates to a stronger fly rod.

“It’s not about how much bend you can put in a rod before it blows up, it’s about the amount of reserve power and backbone in the butt section,” Combs said.

That reserve power will give anglers more control over the fight – in both fresh and salt water – which means that fish will be released in a less-fatigued state.

The Helios comes in 29 different models, available in both the “Distance” and “Finesse” families that we saw with the H3. You’ll get everything from a small 2-weight, to Euro nymphing specific 11′ 3-weights, to an 8’5″ 14-weight for the biggest fish on the planet.

Helios is available for purchase now directly from Orvis, or your local fly shop.

You can also watch rod designer Shawn Combs walk you through the new Helios in this video.