Orvis Helios 3D 4 Weight Fly Rod Review
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
Around a year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Orvis Helios 3D in a 5-weight size. While I typically like to keep our reviews mixed and don't bother testing more than one fly rod from a single series, I made an exception this time. I recently bought a Helios 3D 4-weight for myself and figured it might be interesting to write this rod up to let readers know about any performance differences. Although only one line size separates it from the previous H3 tester, rods of differing line weights can and do vary in performance within the same series. Would that be the case here?
Line Weight: 4
Measured Weight: Approx 2.91 ounces
Stripping Guide: Titanium frame/SiC insert
Snake Guides: REC snake guides
Reel Seat: Type III anodized aluminum with carbon insert
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
Between our previous 5-weight tester and this rod, there's no differences in construction or components, so the following text is about a 90% cut and paste from the past review.....
Touted as "the most accurate fly rods ever built," these had some big shoes to fill as Orvis' premium graphite offerings. Compared to the previous Helios 2 series, Helios 3 (H3) rods deliver even more tech for performance at a new level. Stealing from my own past writings of the H3 at the 2017 IFTD show, this passage briefly summarizes the advancements that go into these rods:
"Orvis has engineered Helios 3 rods with a big focus on accuracy and strength. Thanks to a precision design that includes strategically reinforced blanks, these rods are said to have a lighter swing weight while delivering excellent tracking, fast damping, and increased hoop strength. Speaking of the latter, these rods can handle up to an 85" deflection before breaking as compared to 72" for the Helios 2. In a nutshell, this means they are much stronger since they can bend much more deeply under load."
I love that Orvis uses the snub-nosed half-wells grips on the lighter line weight 3D rods. It has been my preferred grip for a few years now and is just really comfortable and pleasing to hold. The cork used here is of very high quality!
The most polarizing aspect of this rod is definitely the big white logo. I personally think it's kind of cool and very unique, but I've definitely read and heard some comments that are, well, not quite so nice. One thing is for sure—if you have an H3 in your hand, everyone around will know it. Of note, there is unfortunately no hook keeper to be found here.
The reel seat is Type III anodized aluminum that has two cutouts revealing "Matte Midnight carbon" inserts. There's a wide up-locking ring that offers good grip/texture along with a uniquely angular slide band. Rather than being fully recessed, the reel seat hood sticks out from the bottom of the cork handle a bit with a similar angular design. It all works well and fits my reel very snug.
This rod boasts flexible REC snake guides for extreme durability and a single stripping guide with a lightweight titanium frame and SiC insert. Gloss black wraps affix the guides to the matte-black blank, and easy-to-see white alignment dots are found at the ferrules. It's a very subdued appearance for such a high-dollar fly rod. The craftsmanship on this stick is flawless.
Tested line was Orvis' PRO Trout WF4F textured fly line which has a 30-foot grain weight of 120-grains meaning it's right on target per AFFTA 4-weight line standards.
Sorry Orvis, but I paired up the Helios 3 with a Ross Colorado LT reel in the 3/4 size. At an advertised weight of just 2.91 ounces (which coincidentally is EXACTLY what I measured the rod weight at), it makes for a combo that is crazy lightweight! While this rod definitely feels light in hand, strangely it weighed five hundredths of an ounce heavier on my scale than the previous 5-weight we tested. An imperceptible difference for sure, but surprising.
The Orvis PRO Trout WF4F line feels phenomenal on this stick. Some fast rods do better with an over-weighted line, but as far as I'm concerned this line is a perfect match.
I'm very pleased with the feel at close range. For a fast-action rod I'd say it's above average here, but if you fish a lot of short distance stuff then the Helios 3F with its softer action might be the ultimate choice for feel and delicacy. Still, this rod has a good, soft tip that offers plenty of feedback in tight.
At average fishing distances the performance is top notch. The light weight makes it a real joy to cast and the blank has a solid pop to it for cutting through a breeze. Part of the fun here had to also do with the performance of the line, as the textured surface combined with the AST Plus additive reduces friction and allows it to shoot out of the guides extremely well. Just pick up, make a false cast or two, and this combo gets it done with ultimate ease. Most folks likely won't be trying to do many long bombs with a 4-weight rod, but this stick is totally capable of good distance. I haven't tried to totally max it out, but 70 or 80 feet isn't too much.
In addition to the rod, accuracy also heavily relies on angler skill. I don't claim to be super talented when it comes to pinpoint placement of my fly at all times, but a rod that feels crisp and precise absolutely helps the effort. The Helios 3D 4-weight definitely exudes these traits and then some, all of which basically means it won't hold you back whatsoever.
Orvis is absolutely crushing it these days. From the more affordable offerings to the most premium, all of their recent products we've tested here at Demystifly have been very impressive. Speaking of premium, the bad news here is that this rod currently costs $898.00. That's a serious price, but this rod surely doesn't under-perform. Most anglers searching for a new 4-weight are likely going to be using it for trout fishing, and this would make an outstanding lighter option for dries, nymphs, and smaller streamers. This is an amazing rod that I feel fortunate to have on my rack!
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