Review by Rodney Wevill, Fluff Chucker & Orvis Saltwater Festival Guide
Just prior to Christmas I received a delivery from Orvis UK, on opening the package I found a brand spanking new Orvis Helios rod, a 9ft 11 weight.
This was very exciting because I knew they were sending me a rod from their new range to trial and review, but didn’t have any idea on which rod I would receive. I had already had the pleasure of casting another rod from this new range on the Itchen - a 9ft 5-Weight which was super light and extremely accurate.
Unboxing this new surprise left me even more excited, with a new colour scheme a little less in your face which was to my liking. I put the rod together, the lining up dots making it an easy process and for a 11-weight rod felt light and nice in the hand. The reel seat and stripping guides were finished in the usual high standard, and the cork handle and extended fighting butt produced from high quality high grade cork. Overall the whole package has been finished to a very high standard.
I went to the drawer and picked out my 9/12 Orvis Hydros Reel which was loaded with an Orvis Bank Shot 11 weight floating line. Once the reel was firmly seated on the rod, which felt very secure on the reel seat, and threaded the line through the guides I hurriedly went out to the field to give it a cast.
Well, I was so very impressed right from the start!
I could put a full line out cast after cast, but the most noticeable thing was the pure accuracy, point the rod and that’s exactly where it shot the leader. Now this is all ok out in the field but what about on the water, with every day a storm with 45mph winds and rain fall of biblical proportions, how and where could I get out on the water?
I didn’t care about the storms, I was going to put this weapon through its paces, so the next day it was off to the Somerset Levels to cast big flies to pike on the biggest drain I could find. I was now on the banks of the Kings Sedgemore drain, the weather was atrocious, squalling gust of winds to 55 mph and hard rainstorms. Fishing was from one bank only which left me facing head on wind or hard right to left gust.
I clipped a 10” fly on and started to cast. Well, no need to worry, this rod just pushed the fly out to wherever I wanted and reaching good distance with a good double haul, on the other hand two false cast saw me putting the fly anywhere within my hunting area with no effort being deployed at all.
I managed several more trips to the levels over the next couple weeks and certainly didn’t enjoy good conditions on any of the trips, but this gave me a chance to cast the rod with an intermediate line and a variety of flies from 15” pike/ musky patterns to small clousers and everything in between.
Where would you choose to use this 11-weight Powerhouse? Well that’s a simple question to answer, it’s a great tool for targeting big pike/musky on the lakes and reservoirs from on or off a boat, also with its strong back bone a great choice for targeting mid-sized Wells cat fish.
Then there’s what it really has been produced for, saltwater fly fishing. It will excel in the UK for big pollock and then find itself really at home on tropical species like off shore medium game fish or medium sized tarpon, in fact, I can’t think of a better sized weapon to use at a tarpon party.
Whilst testing the rod I realised whilst being fast action, it had a lovely tip action and even whilst playing a small river pike it gave me so much feel and feedback right through the blank. It was light enough to cast all day and I wouldn’t think twice about picking it up on those stormy windy days when you wouldn’t normally think about getting out on the water.
If the rest of the new Helios range are at the same level as the 9' 11# and the 9' 5# we are in for a real treat. Already having a few Helios 3 rods in my collection including the 9' 11#, I can say these new rods are not just a simple face lift, they are new and they are the real deal.
I believe Orvis have set the new standard in casting with these rods. 10 out of 10 from me.