Fly fishing gear

The Orvis Helios 3D is almost the perfect fly rod

With impressive precision, insane power and a savage ability to fire like a cannon, the Orvis Helios 3D is a real banana.

Hook keepers. The Helios range does not. That’s it. That’s my only complaint about this rod. Everything else about it – other than it being budget possible at $998 – is near perfect.

It’s a minor but silly detail to rule out. Repeated fly snagging on the bottom stripper guide can cause wear of the interior protective finish. Digging a caddis out of the cork on a $1,000 rod…it just doesn’t happen.

As someone who builds fishing rods and has many fly rods on my bench right now, I’m stunned by the exclusion of a part that literally costs pennies.

And with that, the negatives stop. The rest of the words you’re about to read are brilliant.

Short: The Orvis Helios 3D is easily one of the best fly fishing rods on the market.

Orvis Helios 3D Review


The Orvis Helios 3D (H3D) is specifically designed for casting long distances. An increase in hoop strength is one of the main reasons for this ability to go further. Reduced vibration allows casting energy to be transferred more efficiently from the rod to the line.

The upper itself is a sleek matte black, with the option of white or blue toe detailing. The wraps are black on black, leaving a clean and simple look. SiC/Titanium strip guides provide both maximum strength and smooth line movement. Recoil snake guides are light and strong, and they should outlast you.

Cork grip varies with rod weight, starting with a modified Full Wells at the 4wt end and working up to a Full Wells with a Fighting Butt at the top end where needed. It is offered as a 9ft rod from 4wt to 12wt, with a singular 10ft option at the 7wt mark.

Made in the USA. A 25 year guarantee. Comes with a cool stem tube.

Alright…enough with the boring facts. How does he fish?

A fly rod with power and distance

(Photo/Rachelle Schrute)

Whore. I’ve always been a little self-deprecating when it comes to my fly casting. Kidding aside, I just don’t have an effective cast. This defect is completely corrected with this rod. It has a level of punch that not only overcame my flaws as a fly fisherman, but it also fought off the spring wind from western Montana without hesitation.

I like to compare rods from opposite ends of the spectrum to really get a good idea of ​​what the rod is capable of no matter what hands it’s in. With a $99 kit rod I keep in my truck, I was able to cast mid-river. With the H3D, same length, same weight, I was able to snag willows on the opposite bank in areas I had just come to know were out of reach.

In the hands of a true professional, this thing will fly to the moon. In the hands of a novice, it will allow them to feel the load of the rod and understand the cast better than any other I have had in their hands.

With the combination of this power and the fine tuning of energy transfer to the line, you get reach that fly anglers of the past simply didn’t have.

Orvis claimed that the Helios rods were all about distance. This rod delivers.

The H3D is precise

Orvis H3D
(Photo/Rachelle Schute)

The accuracy of a fly rod is difficult to measure. There are so many possibilities for operator error. It really takes someone who knows their cast to master the accuracy of a rod. As a bow hunter, I look at it in the same light that I look at my bow. Am I hitting where I’m aiming? Why or why not?

I’ve had rods that no matter what I do can be pretty much where I’m trying to land that fly, but each cast just has a mind of its own. This seems to be more common the further down the price scale you go.

As a rod builder, I know that a big part of this precision is ensuring a straight, flawless blank with perfectly aligned spine and maximum reduction of vibration and line wobble.

The H3D nails it all. It’s built with an attention to construction detail that got me on the verge of wanting to set it up on paper. If the tip-top guide is pointed at a spot on the water, that’s where the fly lands.

Is it worth the price?

If you’re a hardcore fly fisherman, guide, or just someone who’s out on the water a lot, yes. If you have the money, it’s well spent on this setup.

The only application where I think I could choose another rod could be a small mountain stream. It’s perfectly capable of getting the job done, but it packs so much punch that I don’t see it practical.

Otherwise, from the open rivers of Montana chasing rainbow trout in the PNW, to wading through the salt pans chasing monsters, there’s a rod in the H3D range for the job.

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