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               Orvis Helios Field Test

I recently had a chance to test an Orvis Helios, 9’ 5 wt., 6.5 Mid Flex on a trip in Patagonia. Let me start by saying that I’m an Orvis fan; I have a closet full of their rods, reels, lines and paraphernalia, and they were the first brand I ever purchased when I started fly fishing 20+ years ago. I’ve read a ton of gushing reviews by people who own this rod; but honestly, the Helios isn’t my cup of tea. I’ll skip all the technical make-up and engineering, and give you my personal impressions of the rod from a field test perspective.  


First, the good stuff; like almost every other Orvis product I’ve ever seen, this rod is precision-made, and beautiful to look at. Deep olive coloring set off with gold and maroon trim, and nice details like recoil guides and a high quality stripping guide. The cork handle was plain in looks, but comfortable. The Graphite and gold anodized reel seat, although more Art-Deco in design than I like, is still pleasing to the eye. The weight of the rod is almost scary-light, which at first blush seemed liked it would make for effortless long days casting at the shore as you cover 15 kilometers of fast moving river in a day. And with reel attached, Orvis’s claims of a balanced feel are right on target. For equipment-coveting goons like me, the gorgeous woven graphite rod tube was worth whatever they are charging.  


I had a chance to test out the Helios on the Caleufu River in northern Patagonia, which is normally windy, but it was mostly calm during the time I had this rod in my hands. In the wind, it’s easy for a person with very average casting skills (like me) to lose some of the feel in the rod; but even in calm conditions, this rod felt numb in my hands, I honestly couldn't sense anything it was trying to tell me. I was able to make it cast nice tight loops and actually put the fly where I wanted it; but not without great levels of mental concentration and physical input. With high input, it loads well, and fires line out with high speed. 


A number of other reviews tell about booming casts and incredible accuracy, and I suppose if I was concentrating more on the actual “cast” itself, I could have achieved exactly the same results. But I’m a Fisherman, not a fanatical caster; and I need my rod to be something that performs so effortlessly in my hands that I forget about it. When I'm floating a fast moving river, I need to stay target-focused on holes that I’m going to pass by in 2 seconds and have only one shot at. Using this rod took away from my ability to concentrate on fishing. Perhaps a different combination of flex and weight would bring a new experience, and make me fall in love with the Helios. Or maybe it’s just one of those things that requires a lot more time to become best friends; but for the time being, I won’t be trading my beautifully field-worn Orvis Trident TLS Tip Flex for a new Helios. 


If the extraordinary light weight of the Helios is what you want; you can buy it directly from Orvis at this link:Orvis Helios


Memo Stephens 

*Memo Stephens is an Adventure Photo-Journalist who resides in Argentina, and is available for journalism and photography assignments for both commercial and private parties. For more information, please email to:  




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