Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod ReviewApril 9, 2018
- Good casting distance
- Very accurate casting
- Good fit and balanced casting
- Good versatility
- Made in the USA
- Unattractive graphics on rod base
- Not the lightest rod
The Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod (aka 908-4) configuration earned top honors this season, claiming the Best in Class status in specialty rods. That gives the Helios family of rods back to back wins, as this rod’s lighter weight cousin, the 5-wt Helios 3F — dominated the trout rod category.
Orvis built the Helios rods using new, proprietary composites, and the design takes advantage of Orvis’ exhaustive research into the very nature of rod dynamics. Using high-speed cameras, computer modeling, and extensive data processing, Orvis engineers identified new design methodologies that minimize side-to-side rod vibrations, allowing the rod to track forward and back with little or no side oscillations. That creates powerful casting strokes with pinpoint accuracy.
Whether casting small surface-action poppers or heavy bottom-skipping crab patterns, the Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod was a cannon, capable of getting those flies out into into the salt flats where skittish fish thrive.
Weight, balance & general feel
The Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod fits snuggly in hand, with a comfortable fighting butt that allows a little extra leverage when fighting powerful fish in moving water. The rod is nicely balanced, allowing easy casting without having to exert much grip-pressure. That means staying out all day, casting a variety of fly types, can be accomplished without excessive arm fatigue. Even as the trade winds started to blast the Hawaiian locales, we could power flies out over the reefs to feeding fish without exhausting ourselves.
Orvis offers all their Helios 3 weights in two models: the 3F and the 3D. Both are very accurate, and both offer exceptional casting power. But the “F” references a design focused more on finesse and accuracy while the “D” stands for distance. And in the salt game, distance with accuracy is key. The Helios 3D slung flies further and with greater accuracy than any other 8-weight we’ve tested — and not just this year: at any time. The rod’s incredible tracking helps push the line forward, with minimal — if any — loss of momentum to due to counterproductive rod vibrations.
While “D” in the Helios 3D accentuates the casting distance of this new rod design, the rod also sports the wonderful accuracy of the Helios family. The very noticeable reduction in rod vibration during casting helps achieve remarkable accuracy, even on long, powerful casts. And when sight-fishing to finning bonefish, or surface-feeding reef-fish, accuracy is nearly as important as distance. With the 3D, we found we could place flies where we wanted more often than we could with any other rod in the test.
The tip sensitivity of the 8-wt Helios 3D was refined enough to provide excellent feedback during strikes, letting us know when fish were merely bumping the fly, and when they were truly ‘taking’ it. Once hooked and set, the fish could be controlled easily thanks to the powerful butt and sensitive spine. Even when horsing obstinate steelhead out of deep river holes, the Helios proved effective, thanks to a rare blend of power and sensitivity.
The Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod proved an exceptionally versatile rod, tackling everything from mahi mahi to inland carp. We threw streamers, heavy deep-salt crabs, surface poppers and more, and had no real trouble with any of them. The rod is ideally suited for steelhead and bonefish, we found, but it was also effective for every situation we applied it to. It even earned praise from some of our Montana testers who dubbed it a perfect pike rod!
Dan Nelson- Managing Editor & Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's Managing Editor & fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.