#4-tie Orvis Helios 2 – Tip Flex 9 foot #8 $850.00
In our last 8-weight Shootout, the Helios 2 finished 2nd, right behind the NRX so it is no surprise that it is right up here near the top once again. This is a very good rod and also one of the very lightest rods in our Shootout for both overall weight and swing weight, taking perfect scores in each category. At short to medium distances, this is a wonderful rod with very nice feel and superb accuracy. At long range though we felt that this rod just runs out of gas compared to the best rods. This year our added 100-foot performance category, hurt the Helios 2 more than some of the other rods. If they could beef up the power in the butt and mid-section a little and leave that nice soft tip the same, this would bring it more in line with a rod like the new Meridian. But we’ve learned that throwing long, and doing it well, is essential for 8-weight rods. People will say that they are not interested in casting 100 feet and never will. But when you are trying to cast to a bonefish that is 60 feet away in a 15-knot headwind, you’ll see why this kind of power capability is needed. Orvis has done a great job of giving us a very light rod but I’d trade off a little of this lightweight to get better long distance performance.
I’ve always loved the Orvis craftsmanship, and in all of our shootouts, Orvis has been right at the top in this category. These are beautiful rods with very good-looking reel seats and perfect cork grips. The color of the blank is a deep midnight blue with complimentary blue wraps trimmed in silver. Very classy. The full wells handle is just right and the quality of the cork is as good as it gets. The reel seat is an attractive dark gray anodized aluminum design with a dark blue graphite insert. Good big double locking rings are used with a nice larger diameter fighting butt. The guides are two titanium SiC strippers and the rest the flexible nickel/titanium snake guides. My only gripe is that I’d like to see slightly larger diameter snake guides on this rod. More like the size that G. Loomis uses on their NRX. The finish coatings on the wraps are excellent, with very little excess epoxy like you are apt to find on other less expensive rods. You can tell that a lot of love and care goes into the building of these rods in Vermont.
George’s casting notes:
Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
Excellent in close, but not as light or as crisp as the Meridian. Even though they both had perfect scores for swing weight, I felt that the Meridian was slightly better.
Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
Excellent balance, tracking and accuracy. But both the Meridian and NRX were better.
Performance at 80 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
This is when the Helios 2 starts running out of gas. Both the Meridian and the NRX were WAYbetter at long range.
Performance at 100 feet: 17 points out of 20
To cast this far you are going to have to really work for it and have the wind at your back.
#6 Orvis Helios 2 9’#8 $850 74.5/80
This rod looks amazing and craftsmanship is as good as anything on the market. Not only is it the lightest rod in the shootout in terms of overall weight, it is also the lightest in terms of swing weight. Props to Shawn Combs, (the rod’s head designer) for creating the best in-close saltwater rod ever made.
In years to come, I’d expect to see Orvis to bring a little more power to the table, while still keeping weight down. Their Orvis Recon has already proven to take a step in that direction. Add the same high modulus graphite as the H2, along with the H2’s impressive craftsmanship and components and you already have a winner. We look forward to see what’s around the corner!
Performance at 35 feet: 20 points out of 20 Just as good if not better than every rod in the shootout. Only the Meridian could hang with the H2’s ultra light, smooth feel. At this distance it was certainly one of the more accurate rods. I didn’t want to put this rod down, I could have cast it all day and never got bored of hitting the plate.
Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 points out of 20 Again excellent feel - this rod is simply fun to cast! It has the ability to form exceptionally tight loops. It would have been a perfect 20 but the Meridian, NRX, and Legend Elite had a slight edge in accuracy.
Performance at 80 feet: 18 points out of 20 Due to the H2’s lack of power at distance, finally I can see performance dwindle in comparison to several rods. If you think casting this far is ridiculous to begin with (trust me you’re not alone) then I wouldn’t weight this factor too heavily. If you fish a lot in the wind or like to throw sinking lines then you might look at the Orvis Recon instead.
Hit the Hun? 17 points out of 20. Even with good timing I couldn’t get this rod to go like I wanted it to. The rod easily tails and was frustrating for me. Even in the absence of wind I struggled with this rod.
Capt. Jamie Allen:
#5 Orvis Helios 2
I think this might be the lightest of all the rods tested at 3 ¼ oz. Cosmetically the best looking rod of the bunch. Fun to cast. The tip flex was nice at the closer distances but it struggled a little bit at longer distances. Locking rings were kind of small.
Capt. Skip Zink:
#3 (tie) Orvis Helios 2 58.5/60
Best feeling rod and swing weight, very accurate. I would enjoy fishing it all day. Lacks a little power after 70ft.