Orvis Helios 9-Foot 5-weight Finesse

Chris Beech sharpens up his approach with the forth generation Orvis Helios

I was delighted to receive a new Orvis Helios (4th generation) 9-foot 5-weight F (Finesse) series in time to take on a recent New Zealand trip. Previous F series rods weren’t my cup of tea, with my casting style preferring the crisper D series, so I was looking forward to experiencing the differences.

Matched with an Orvis Mirage LT III and Scientific Anglers MPX floating line, I started my days with a 14-ft leader and oscillated between 14 and 18-ft with typical dry-dropper and double dry rigs. The low swing weight combined with faster recovery and a moderate-fast action was ideal for the larger rivers in central Otago and Southland. 

The Helios F has a softer tip to protect light tippet, yet also allowed for accurate casting. When leaning into a longer cast the mid and butt sections engaged to punch the cast as far as my abilities would allow. The blank was intuitive and responsive, with obvious improvements over the outgoing Helios 3F. As the days wore on and the tally rose, I became attached (to the rod as well as the fish) and didn’t have to think about my cast at all.

Which leads me to the phenomenal accuracy. Orvis have spent a lot of time improving the damping and hoop strength of the new Helios series, which has resulted in an ultra-smooth and accurate feel to the cast. Orvis claim it is four times more accurate than the H3 — I’m not sure about that statistic, but I certainly noticed an uncanny ability to place the fly exactly where I intended. This is achieved by a concerted effort to reduce tip oscillation when casting energy is released. 

The F-series blank is a matt olive and sports ReCoil snake guides and titanium strippers with olive wraps. This is a stealthy rod with minimal reflection. The cork is high quality ahead of a reel seat sporting type III anodising. 

There are eight grip configurations to the new Helios series, featuring a variety of reel seats, with hardwood inserts through to fully anodised in the Distance series. Uplocking for standard rods, down locking for nymph rods, with and without fighting butts. It’s a smorgasbord. D-series also have a composite fore-section to the full wells grips, which prevents thumb nails eating into regular cork.

I’m really looking forward to ordering one of the Distance models to add to my flats rods — which one?  I’ll post a review on the FlyLife forum soon after this edition goes into circulation.