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First impression

First of all, big thanks to Kilwell Sports  the NZ distributor of Orvis and Scientific Anglers products for sponsoring this year’s community casting lessons. We had amazing sessions and many anglers of all ages, genders and skill levels attended the lessons, and had a chance to play with some of the top fly fishing gears on offer. Well… I certainly enjoyed playing with some of the gears on offer, and here is the breakdown analysis of the Helios rod. In a process of keep this review simple, I used two Orvis Helios 3, in D (distance) and F (finesse) models, both in #5, with Scientific Angler’s Amplitude Smooth Infinity Camo Line. For those that is interested in checking out the products, Check the product links on the bottom.

One of the most controversial and talked about detail of Orvis H3 is the strikingly white label tag, just above the grip. Wether you like it or hate it, it stands out from the rest of the fly rods, Orvis marketing team has done a great job distinguishing their products from the rest, and with the increasing demand they now have Blue and Olive tags options to please those that  are little more conservative. Apart from the label tags, the rod looks like every bit of a premier rod with slick looking matt black finish blank, good quality snake guides, reel seats with good quality cork grip in half-well shape, and the rod comes with equally striking white rod tube.

H3 rod has a very interesting action. On the first impression, I thought of it was more of the modern parabolic action (stiffer middle 2 pieces and has a forgiving top and bottom piece) A little bit like their next models down Recon and Clear water series.  These parabolic action rods have been in the trend for nearly 10 years in the fly fishing world, I guess parabolic action rods caters better for casting big flies and indicators easier for beginner to intermediate anglers. Despite the initial feel on the hand, this rod casts more like progressive taper (whole rod bends accordingly to the casting pressure applied from the tip down).  I shall call this a hybrid of Progressive and Parabolic taper, so what this translate to for anglers is; the rod can produce heaps of power and tight loops at the same time without taxing a huge effort of the angler. It carries the best of both actions, yet the power transitions throughout the blank is so smooth, unlike most parabolic action rods which have an obvious tension release point.

Characteristics of the both models are:
H3-D is in more tippier Fast action taper;  which translates to;  it can generate more line speed and carry bigger reserve power, it is more suitable for casting bigger flies and indicators, it also is handy for where repetitive long casts are required, or casting into the wind.

H3-F is more of a Medium-Fast action taper with more through out curve, so it is better suited for casting  dries, nymphs in a more technically demanding fishing situation,  but it has power to cast a long way as well. In a word, it is a presentation style rod with extra line speed built in. It is also a better model for those struggles with the timing of the casting, F model is definitely more forgiving model for the anglers..

My recommendation model for fishing South Island of New Zealand with are;

  • H3-F #6
  • H3-D #5
  • H3-F #5

Both H3-D and H3-F are suited to be paired up with half a weight heavier weight fly lines. In Scientific anglers range, Infinity, MPX and Frequency Boost models are the ones to pair these rods with.

A bit of key hack for getting the best out of those rods are;  if you are not a big cater and your fishing requires a repetitive heavy rig casting, or you do a lot of sinking line fishing, Instead of buying the light weight rod in H3-D buy the one weight higher model in H3-F model, which will produce more energy, and make it a lot easier casting without increasing anglers energy input. If you are wandering if H3-F has enough reserve power, it has! It can cast as far as H3D just the rod flexes a bit slower and easier.

Initial impression of the H3s are light but not the lightest on hand, and when you wiggle the rod it doesn’t give you the most “wow” feeling, however end result of this clever taper design is the tightness of the loop and accuracy of the casting, as well as having an ability to cast the long distance but most importantly gives anglers hand lots of feedback, so the angler knows what’s happening with your casting without looking at the loops all the time. Even on H3-D model I was hitting the target every time between 20ft – 60ft mark with the 15ft+ long leader. When you hook a fish up, it bends more like progressive taper rods, so it is pleasurable to fight the fish with, and the feedback you get from the blank will give you a lots of control and confidence in fighting fish. 

Often some of the best rods are like this, and for any anglers, particularly for a beginners, it really is important to be able to cast the rod and get a feel before you purchase the rod.  As a guideI often see the clients with a nice rod but they are struggling to use them.  I certainly do not recommend buying any rod online, unless you know the rods well for that reason. Go and ask your nearest retailer that has the rod and test cast it before you make your mind up!!!

It is in the top end of the premium carbon rods market.
$949 USD or $1,699 NZD

Knowing R&D went into the technology, quality finishing of the rods, as well as what Orvis gives back to the industry, it is understandable the price is in premier ranges. H3s performance certainly match their price tag.

Things to improve on:
If I may point a one criticism of the rod, H3 has reel seat with the a single up-locker ring on the reel seat.  The ring has a rubber ring attached to the top side of the locking ring to stop the slip, It may not be a problem using more modern lighter weight reels, however I personally would like to use a little bigger/ heavier reel than the normal reel in its weight class. I’ve noticed a couple of times the ring was loosening and I had to tighten the ring up over the course of the day. Let’s hope Orvis development team takes that into the consideration for the future.

Over all I was very impressed and certainly enjoyed playing with the products. It certainly performed as good as you read or hear in any reviews, once you fish with it, you’d get the impression of the Orvis development team has good designers, engineers, and field testers put them through it’s pace before they released the product to ensure it is a great fishing tools as well as they are a top casting sticks. If I may stress one characteristic that stood out during the field testing is the accuracy, between 20 – 60ft range, accuracy of the casts were impeccable. Of-cause it will vary a little with the different style of fishing, external influences as well as anglers ability. However directional stability and speed of the loop definitely was top notch. These are amazing rods and I am sure if you are interested in buying them, you will get the performance worth every dollar you spend on it, and I am sure you will enjoy it for a long time. If you are thinking of upgrading to a premium rod,  it is worth giving H3 a thought, I am sure you won’t regret it.
If you have any questions, regarding the products, just drop us a line. I am happy to answer with my honest opinion.


Tight Loops, and may the river talk to you!


Links :
Kilwell Sports:   https://www.kilwell.co.nz/

Orvis Helios:   https://fishing.kilwell.co.nz/product-category/brands/orvis/orvis-fly-rods/

Scientific Anglers lines:   https://fishing.kilwell.co.nz/product-category/fishing-lines/flyline-floating/

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