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Saltwater Rods

Orvis Helios D 8-foot 5-inch 7-weight Fly Rod

The new Helios in saltwater: quirky size, killer versatility.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
April 22, 2024
Orvis | Helios D 8-foot 5-inch 7-weight Fly Rod
product description
“Available in both Distance and Finesse actions, Helios is the most advanced fly rod ever conceived, and the culmination of nearly two decades of constant progression. Pushing accuracy into the realm of total intuition, it represents the industry’s biggest leap forward to date.” – Orvis
company ethos
“We live to develop and share our equipment, apparel and expertise to outfit deeper connections and authentic experiences in the outdoors for a more inspired life.” – Orvis

I liked the freshwater, 9-foot 5-weight “finesse” version of the new Helios series fly rods for trout fishing, but was most curious to get a counterpart version in the saltwater. So, I took an 8-foot 5-inch, 7-weight “D” (for distance) model on a recent Carolina play date with Spanish mackerel and bluefish (slightly offshore, on a wreck) and redfish (inshore), and was deeply impressed by the rod’s versatility. Long shots, short, quick opportunistic casts, tricky shots that demand accuracy into small pockets–I was impressed on all accounts.

The 8-foot 5-inch length is, admittedly, a bit quirky (why not just 8-½ feet?), but I feel like this taper is just right for a 7-weight, so, I’m not going to argue. It’s a light rod, but it punches above its weight class–in hand, it feels like a 6-weight, but casts like an 8-weight.

And I put some serious bend in the rod, steering fish and such, and don’t feel like I came close to breaking it. Helios is definitely in its own league when it comes to breakage (and the company is replacing/fixing rods when that does happen).

The real trick is matching the right line for the right situation to get the most out of the rod. I started by fishing a RIO Tropical Redfish line, which was great for a casting range between 30-and-70 feet, but I had a harder time loading and dropping quick shots at targets in close. For those situations, I switched to one of the new Scientific Anglers Magnitude Grand Slam Clear Tip lines (which is weighted ¾ heavier than standard, with a short, mass-forward head). That was great for everything inside 50-feet, but for lacing super long casts, the loop tends to collapse unless you really juice up the line speed. Both are totally do-able, all-around fly lines for any day on the water, especially in the hands of a good caster, but knowing what the majority of your shots will look like before you hit the water can help you zero in on the right line to get the absolute best out of this rod.  

That’s a compliment to this fly rod: It can play many roles, and I can see this being my favorite rod for chasing carp, big streamers for trout (particularly on windy days), smallmouth fishing, and certainly bonefish on the flats.

Pros

Accuracy. It’s a legitimately “more accurate casting” rod. The rod tracks better, more consistently than most.

Versatility. The 8-foot 5-inch, 7-weight, in particular, is the belle of the ball in the Helios lineup, offering more versatility than any other rod model. I’d fish it in the jungle, mousing in Alaska and any saltwater flat, streamer river or carp lake in between.

Durability. Lab tests show it’s harder to break, and if you still manage to break it, Orvis stands apart by way of warranty fulfillment, and it isn’t close. 

Cons

Do you really deserve, and really want to spend $1200 for a fly rod?

Most casters will have to use over-weighted (maybe just by a half or three-quarters) lines for any “D” version of Helios, and all the saltwater Helios rods are D (for distance).

I’d kill for a version that didn’t have the gaudy white band above the cork handle.

Pricing

I almost choke on the notion of recommending a fly rod that costs over a grand. There are many great fly rods–including a bunch offered by The Orvis Company–that will get you on fish and provide a literal lifetime of enjoyment, for a fraction of this cost.  

But I will say this: If you’re “that good” and you can feel your cast and you want to take things to another level, Helios is the equivalent of what professional golfers play when it comes to choosing the clubs in their bags. 

Craftsmanship

High-end components and attention to detail, with a distinctly modern, industrial design. We don't completely love the overt marketing aesthetic (on the rod), but maybe some will. 

Durability

Helios is remarkably less prone to flex breakage than any other rod the company has built.

  • Price: $1198
  • Dimensions: 8-foot 5-inch 7-weight, 4-piece fly rod (D series)
  • Weight: 3.77 ounces
  • Swing Weight: 10% reduction in levered swing weight equals a crisp and balanced feel. What is swing weight? The weight spread evenly throughout the length of the fly rod. When balanced, it requires less force to swing it smoothly and feels more responsive 
  • Construction/Materials: Carbon fiber with dramatically increased hoop strength, minimized vibration along the blank
  • Guides: Titanium stripping guides, REC recoil (crushable) titanium snake guides
  • Rod action: Fast
  • Rod tracking: Straight 
  • Rod recovery: Fast
  • Warranty information: Orvis warranty program

Orvis Helios overview–a lot of cliches, and remarkably light on detail.

Orvis Helios origin story: explaining “numerical claims about accuracy.”

Orvis rod repair warranty.

“The Orvis 25-Year Guarantee means we’ll fix your broken fly rod, and if we can’t fix it, we’ll replace it, no questions asked. Purchase an Orvis Helios™ 3, Recon® Superfine®, Clearwater®, or Mission rod from Orvis or an authorized Orvis dealer and we will repair or replace it for a quarter of a century. If we can’t repair it, we’ll choose a newer model rod of at least equal value to replace it. Your investment is assured for a nominal handling charge.”

Likely buyers

You have to be a good caster to get the most out of this rod, but you don’t have to be an expert to see some measurable performance value.

Conclusion

This isn’t a “novelty” rod. Despite the rather unorthodox length, I wouldn’t hesitate making this a go-to stick for bonefish, smaller redfish, stripers, etc., because it can be used for so many different situations. If you’re really worried about casting in the wind, go ahead and upsize to an 8 or 9-weight, but this 7-weight, with this taper, is pretty light and mighty.

Orvis Helios 4 Lifestyle shot
Orvis Helios 4 Lifestyle shot
Orvis Helios 4 Lifestyle shot
Orvis Helios 4 Lifestyle shot
Orvis Helios 4 Lifestyle shot
Orvis Helios 4 Lifestyle shot
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