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Features of the Freshwater Helios Fly Rod
The advantages of switch rods
Switch rods are a new type of fly rod that are lighter and shorter than traditional two-handed rods, and thus can be used in places where delicacy and accuracy are paramount, while still employing the advantages of two-handed rods. They can be used with a traditional overhead casting style with one hand, where their length allows longer casts and much greater line control on the water, yet can also be used with Spey casting styles where lack of back cast room, wind, or just a tired angler makes two-handed casting more desirable.
Switch rods are excellent for nymph fishing with or without an indicator, long-line dry-fly fishing, stillwater fishing, and salmon and steelhead fishing during low water conditions. Some fly fishers even use them in the surf to get long casts over the last wave without false casts.
How Helios technology has improved switch rods
The main drawback to conventional switch rods are that they are heavy, and when constantly mending line or high-stick nymphing the caster’s arm can get very tired holding a rod that weighs almost 6 ounces high above the water all day long. With Helios technology, our exclusive aerospace-derived graphite resin systems allow us to build switch rods lighter than any other.
Here is a comparison of 11-foot, 7-weight switch rods:
Here is the current lineup of Orvis Switch rods. You can be assured that you’ll be using the lightest switch rod in the world and will have more fun fishing with Helios rods than any other. And for those of you who are technically inclined, here are the grain weights for each of the new models:
Guides and testers comment on the new Helios Switch Rods
I think anyone will be a better caster with this rod and a little time on the water.
In all my 27 years of fly fishing, no other fly rod has offered the versatility and performance of the Orvis Helios Switch Rods. In a league of their own, the Helios Switch Rods emerge as a true one or two handed fly rod. Its superior lightweight design allows me to cast single handed to rising rainbows during a stonefly hatch. After the hatch is over and the fish go back down, I use Spey casting to launch streamers to the other side of the river. When I use them to teach casting lessons, my students prove...not all rods are created equal. They learn faster and perform better. Thanks Orvis for making my job easier.
This rod is going to be incredible for those who want to use switch rods for trout. They can have the best of both worlds and have an awesome high stick or indicator rod or swing flies with two hands.
I think it is exceptional, my clients are going to love the rod because it won't intimidate them. When I put a longer and heavier rod in their hands many clients don't like the idea of learning to Spey cast. This Helios can be fished one handed and still provide the advantages of an 11 foot length.
The rod just loves to mend line, never have I mended with such a sweet stick.
WOW! Those rods are unbelievable.
What a great Nymphing rod! And the really good thing was, at the end of the day, my tendonitis in my right arm was not flaring up...
By Tom Rosenbauer
Two years ago, we set out to make the lightest fly rod in the industry. Part of the problem was that graphite fiber technology, at least the fiber that can be used in a premium fly rod, just has not changed much in the past few years.
But we have a number of new rod designers in our rod shop, young guys who look at things differently than older, more traditional designers. They knew that all the action in composite design is not in fiber technology but in the prepreg and scrim technology—in other words, the stuff that holds the graphite fibers together and the material that gives a finished rod hoop strength, or resistance to crushing. If you can lessen the amount of graphite fiber you need by using improved resin systems, and if you can use a lighter scrim and less of it, you can design a fly rod with less weight.
And this is exactly what they did. Now scrim is pretty un-sexy stuff. All it does is to keep the hollow graphite tube used to construct a rod from collapsing under the pressure of a long cast or a big fish. Unidirectional graphite fiber can’t do that by itself. In ordinary graphite fly rods the scrim is made from fiberglass, which is heavier, less expensive, and not as stiff as graphite. In Zero Gravity fly rods, the fiberglass scrim was replaced by graphite scrim with an epoxy binder, which allowed us to use less material and thus make a much lighter rod.
New Technology from the Space Satellite Industry
Building upon our Zero Gravity’s exclusive thermoplastic resin technology, which is stronger and lighter than the epoxy resins used to make traditional fly rods, the designers found an exciting new scrim in the space satellite industry. This unidirectional graphite scrim with a thermoplastic binder gives us the same strength in our rods, but uses much less material. We reduced the weight on our new Heliosblanks by 25% less than our already lightweight Zero Gravity blanks. Then the rod team designed, from scratch, new reel seats that would keep the 25% weight reduction throughout the entire rod.
So, they came up with the lightest rod we’ve ever designed. I was pretty excited. Lighter rods are more fun and less tiring, but could this really make someone cast better or put a fly someplace they never could before?
New Design Coupled with New Technology
Then I got a chance to cast one of these rods. “Whoa,” I thought. “This is an amazingly light rod and it wiggles nice, but this thing feels really different.” And it wasn’t just the weight. When I asked Andy Stone and Frank Hoard, the new designers, and Jim Logan, VP and head engineer in our rod shop, I found out why. The new material had given them the opportunity to take advantage of a new taper, a steeper and faster taper that was not stiffer, just more responsive and powerful.
Accuracy and Control for Freshwater Casting
So these Helios rods were fun on the casting pond. What would they feel like in real fishing conditions? I took a 4-weight to the Delaware River for trout fishing and tried it over some of the snottiest brown trout I’ve ever tangled with. That rod would put the fly just where I wanted it to go, almost like ESP. I took a 9-foot, 5-weight to Idaho’s South Fork, and the most amazing aspect of the rod’s performance was that I could switch from pounding the banks with size 8 Chernobyl Ants and then switch to tossing PMDs over finicky cutthroats on 6X with the same rod—and it still maintained the same control and accuracy in both cases.
Power for Casting Large Flies for Saltwater
Then I took a 10-weight striper fishing for big June fish on Cape Cod. It handled big stripers and big poppers in the wind like nothing I’d ever used, and after 10 hours of casting, my arm was not the slightest bit tired. The 10-weight then came along with me to Rhode Island in search of small bluefin tuna in August. The bluefins were not around, but the rod helped me make some quick, precise long casts into the wind for some nice bonito that were blowing up the surface but only gave you a few seconds to make a presentation before they steamed away.
Our testers have had the rods on trout all over the world, tarpon, snook, bonefish, redfish, and many other species. The universal reaction is that for hardcore anglers who fish on the edge and demand the most out of their equipment, Helios sets the standard for the next generation of graphite fly rods. Personally, I think they’ll make plain old backyard trout fishing a lot more fun as well.