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Power & Accuracy: Orvis Blends the Impossible

By: Dan Nelson - August 28, 2017

H3 Fresh

A venerable brand that rose to fame during the era of bamboo just unveiled one of the most innovative new rod designs since the introduction of graphite.

In building the Helios 3, Orvis’ designers engineered a rod that damps tip vibrations without affecting the rod’s power and flex. Our real-world tests fully support that claim. During a week of hard fishing in the wild rivers of Idaho’s Clearwater country, our team of testers found the Helios 3F was more accurate and sensitive than any other rod we’ve ever used. At the same time, the rod offered up enough power to push line to the furthest pocket of water we could find without any loss of accuracy.

H3 Rod Tube

Orvis accomplished this leap in accuracy and power by engineering a rod blank with unmatched wall strength, meaning the rod tube stays open and round rather than deflecting into an oval shape during the cast. This limits vibration, allowing the rod tip to track in near-perfect alignment with the casting motion.

In a move to further match the needs of anglers, Orvis developed two versions of the Helios 3. Of the two versions, the H3D — D for distance — features less taper and more stiffness in the blank design. That allows the H3D to retain the intrinsic accuracy of the rod, while enhancing its casting power. The H3D excels on the open water and windy conditions found on salt water outings, whether it's chasing salmon in Puget Sound, or Bonefish in the southern seas.

Orvis H3-8

The H3F — F for feel — features more taper that provides less stiffness to enhance the rod’s accuracy. Slight drop-off in casting distance is more than made up for with supreme accuracy and delicate presentations. Our team used the 3F, and we found we could reach all the water necessary on big western rivers. We were easily able to drop flies 50−60 feet out, and do it with more finesse than we could with any of the other fast-action rods we were testing.

Orvis H3-4

Indeed, the only rod that came close to the H3F’s presentation sensitivity was a classic 7-1/2-foot Orvis 99 Bamboo rod. This 50-year-old split cane rod lacked casting distance, but was a master at placing flies delicately on the water, just where we wanted them. The H3F did the same, but at far greater distances.

Orvis designers stated that “all modern fly rods are powerful. But accuracy is everything — accuracy is the new frontier in fly rod design.”

If so, Orvis just launched a moonshot while leaving the competition in low-earth orbit!

About the Author

Dan Nelson

Dan Nelson

Dan Nelson is the fly fishing editor of Gear He is a veteran outdoor journalist based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow him at Google+.


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