#6  Orvis Helios 2- Tip Flex    9 foot #5    $795

Orvis H2

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Orvis H2

 George's Comments

The Orvis Helios 2 in the tip-flex version has performed very well in our last three 5-weight shootouts.  And for good reason.  This is a nice light rod that performs especially well at short to medium distances, the ones that anglers fish most of the time.  Dry fly anglers will love this rod.  It is one of the very lightest rods in overall weight and also in swing weight.  The NRX and Zephrus were a tad lighter in swing weight.  Although Orvis designates this as tip-flex, it is not nearly as fast in action as the NRX LP or the Radian.  It also doesn’t have the same kind of power at long range as the top rods.  

This is a great looking rod in handsome sparkling dark blue. The craftsmanship is typical Orvis – meaning close to perfect.  They use a comfortable Western style grip with excellent cork, with a very nice looking aluminum skeleton reel seat with a burled wood insert that compliments the blue color of the rod. I like the guide set up - one big SiC stripper with the rest the flexible nickel/titanium snake guides.  


George’s Casting Notes:   The perfect line: S. A.  MPX in WF-5-F.

Performance at 25 feet:  19.5 points out of 20

One of the best rods at short range.  Lots of feel and good accuracy.  Not quite as good as the NRX LP, but equal to the Radian and Tom Morgan. 

Performance at 45 feet:  19 points out of 20

Solid, and gave decent accuracy.  But several other rods were notably better, like the NRX LP, Tom Morgan, Wraith and Radian.

Performance at 70 feet:  18.5 points out of 20

At long distance the Helios 2 seems to run out of steam compared to the best rods.  And the lack of power and loop control hurts accuracy. 



#4 - Orvis Helios 2 9’#5   $795.00   -56.5/60

Orvis H2

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James' Comments

The Orvis Helios 2 tip-flex is without a doubt the best rod I have ever cast from Orvis.  It is very similar in both flex and feel to the G. Loomis NRX and Scott Radian, with excellent attention to detail and superb craftsmanship. 

The Orvis H2 is surely a top of the line rod and will be difficult to beat.  The fact that it finished this far back only goes to show how amazing all the rods have become.  The subtle differences between the best rods in the world are getting more and more difficult to feel much less describe on paper.


Jamie’s Casting Notes with a Scientific Angler MPX WF-5-F line.

Performance at 25 feet:  18.5 points out of 20

This rod is light, smooth, and easy to cast.  It’s also very easy to get used to but for some reason I can’t get it to track as well as the rods that scored higher.

Performance at 45 feet:  19.5 points out of 20

Again an impressive performance but again the top rods had that extra edge that is hard to describe why they got 20’s.  I think it may be the swing weight or slightly stiffer tip than the others, making the H2 feel a hair heavier in hand despite it’s high modulus graphite construction.  When I cast the H2 by itself with out a side-by-side comparison and it would be a 20 every time.

Performance at 70 feet:  18.5 points out of 20

Both the NRX LP and H2 feel similar at this distance, which is to say a good caster with perfect timing can make perfect loops.  That’s a lot easier said than done however and in the wind I found myself throwing the occasional tailing loop.  It didn’t help that I was comparing it head to head with the Hardy Wraith.

Cast the whole line? 

Not easy – but yes.  


3.     Orvis Helios 2 -Tip Flex

Orvis Helios II - Tip Flex

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Logan's Comments

The Orvis Helios 2 -tip flex is a great all around rod.  The blank color is pleasing to the eye and the reel seat is nice.  What I really liked about this rod however was the feel in the tip.  It wasn’t very soft but had a nice flex that proved to really increase its performance in close and would be an excellent dry fly rod.  Craftsmanship and quality were both top notch.

Logan's casting notes: 58.5 out of 60 

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5 points out of 20

The Orvis Helios 2 -tip flex was near perfect in close.  I would really like this rod fishing dry flies from a boat.

Performance at 45 feet: 19.5 points out of 20

The Orvis Helios 2 -tip flex was really consistent at 45 feet.  The tracking wasn’t nearly as consistent as it was at 25 feet, but I don’t think this would be an issue while fishing. 

Performance at 70 feet: 19.5 points out of 20

At this distance the Orvis Helios 2 -tip flex wasn’t as accurate as others.  It did have a good backbone though, and it didn’t struggle getting it there.  I would probably not be doing this distance very often.


5. Orvis Helios 2 -57.5

Orvis H2

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Josh's Comments

I was not a fan of the Helios 2 when we did our 2013 5-weight shootout, however it seems that there were some in house changes because the last two years the Helios 2 has been a go to favorite of mine.  It seems like it is a stiffer version of the Hardy Zephrus.  It was not as light as the Hardy Zephrus in hand however and certainly not as good in close, but it really shined for me at 45’ and 70’.


Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 points out of 20  

Due to the heavier, stiffer tip made it more difficult to get precise, delicate presentations than with the other top rods tested.  Accuracy was good but not great at 25’, I could feel the rod wanting to send more line.

Performance at 45 feet: 19.5 points out of 20 

Much better, this rod is built for an angler that likes a very fast casting stroke. It will cast 45’ with the slight flick of the wrist.  Tight Loops and tracked really well allowing good line control.

Performance at 70 feet: 19.5 points out of 20 

At this distance the Helios 2 feels great, this is one of my top picks for hitting the 70’ mark.  The power of the stiffer tip comes into play and I was getting tight loops that tracked extremely well.


#10. Orvis Helios II  - 53.5

Orvis H2

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JG's Comments

The Helios II by Orvis is a really attractive rod.  It’s really light and feels pretty good in the hand. I just wasn’t super stoked on the grip shape.  If it were a little narrower in the middle and wider at the top I think I would feel more connected with the rod. 

Performance at 25 feet:   18 points out of 20

Despite an off feeling with the grip 25 foot casts were good.  The rod is really light and very sensitive even at close ranges, its just a little stiff for the close game.  If the tip were softer you’d get a lot more flex out of the rod and probably a lot better performance. 

Performance at 45 feet:   18.5 points out of 20

At 45 feet the Helios II was a great rod.  I liked it most at the middle ranges and found that the rod felt really balanced.  The rod just works at this distance, I even forgot about the odd grip.

Performance at 70 feet:   17 points out of 20

I really didn’t like this rod at the 45-50 foot mark.  My accuracy really fell off and I just couldn’t get the rod to do what I wanted.  It had strange timing for me and seemed like I had to put way much energy into the rod.