If you are looking for a high-performance fly rod that excels not only at casting accuracy, but also is built for power and distance, the Orvis Helios 3D is your rod. Designed and constructed to Orvis’s industry-leading standards, the 3D rod can be used in a versatile range of conditions.
The hallmark of the Helios 3D is the level of casting accuracy it enables, at the same time as it was built for distance. This is remarkable in light of the fact that for most fly rods, there’s a strong tradeoff between distance and accuracy.
Orvis has cultivated a legacy reputation for quality fly fishing gear. There is no doubt that their rods are valued around the globe for their design and construction. And, you can count on getting what you expect when you purchase an Orvis rod.
Given that Orvis delivers what they promise, the main task at hand is determining which rod is right for you, and whether the price tag that can come with Orvis quality for this type of rod is the right investment for you.
With that objective, this detailed review of the Helios 3D covers a rod designed for strength and power coupled with accuracy. The Helios 3D is a long-distance casting fly rod, with a cast action that will handle many challenging situations. These include windy conditions, fast and strong currents, demanding longer casts, saltwater fishing, and of course playing and landing large fish. In this class of fishing, this Orvis rod is one of only several of the best fly rods you can get.
Average trout and panfish – YES – lighter-weight models, otherwise overkill
Larger trout, bass and smaller salmon (silvers, sockeye) YES
Large salmon and steelhead – YES
Pike, muskie – YES
Fly rod for saltwater – YES
Differences Between Orvis Helios Models:
If you are wondering what the differences are between the Orvis Helios rods, namely the Orvis 3D and its counterpart the Helios 3F are, here you go.
Think D for distance, versus F for feel. The 3D Helios rod is a fast-action rod with more power, but still targeting casting accuracy. Line weights for the 3D range from 4- to 12-weight, which at the upper end necessitate a stronger and stiffer rod.
In contrast, the 3F is a moderate action rod, with more give and take that really focuses on accurate casts with finesse. Orvis touts the strength of the 3F, of which it has some (the degree to which we think is a tad over stated), but it is at the same time more of a finesse rod. This is evident in the line weights available, ranging from 3- to 8-weight.
We’re talking fine differences here if you compare the same weight and length 3D to 3F Helios Fly rods. That said, they are important distinctions if you want to choose the best Helios fly rod for your needs.
3. Specifications And Features
Shopping online is convenient, but when we review fly rods, we also want you to know exactly what you’re getting before you make a purchase. Here are the design specifications and features of the Sage Foundation fly rod:
If you are thinking about upgrading your casting skills, consider purchasing the 3D. Just remember, not unlike a new baseball bat or set of golf clubs, there’s a lot up to you not just the equipment.
Advantages of the Helios 3F
The rod helps you cast the farther distances (over 50 feet) with less effort and more touch and accuracy than its counterparts
The farther casting ability helps put a larger number of fish within your casting range, without having to move closer to them
For its strength, this rod is relatively lightweight compared to other rods in its class
The graphite is high tensile, which means it’ll take more to break this rod than most
The list of models & line weights you can choose from is huge – from 4-weight to 12-weight!
Ultra high quality stripping and snake guides, that not only reduce friction on many types of lines, but also bend in a way when crushed to flex back into shape and even avoid damage to the rod
A 25 years manufacturer’s guarantee, a quarter century of trust
Like most rods designed for distance, there is a compromises with feel and finesse, however, less so with this rod
A price to match the quality design and construction
Models, Weights, and Lengths
As versatile as any rod we’ve reviewed, Orvis rods included, the Orvis Helios 3D has a wide range of models and line weights. Each size and model combination has its own targeted fishing condition and target species for you to consider, from small trout to trophy game fish. The chart below provides all the sizes and the models of Helios 3D:
Price and Value
The incredible performance of this Orvis fly rod is the primary consideration, as just the rod, not to mention everything else needed (if you don’t already have it) can strike hard on your bank account.
The Helios 3D is a versatile rod, that supports an elite fishing experience. The high quality quality demands a considerable price, so if you’re in the market for a more economical rod, this one is not your lowest hanging fruit to pick.
For these reasons, the 3D has earned a spot in our rating system of High End. While the quality does justify the price, which for many other makers it doesn’t, the rod is not inexpensive.
Design and Construction
Orvis constructed the Helios 3d to be strong, almost invincibly-so. The proprietary high-tensile graphite not only provides the rod with the strength it needs, but also is more durable and break-resistant than other rods in its class.
More specifically, the rod is designed and manufactured for heavy-duty, working in big water, and to handle strong and heavy fish. The Helios 3 series brings considerable improvements to the prior Helios 2.
For the heavy work this rod is expected to perform, is relatively lightweight. Since pursuing trophy fish usually entails long days of fishing, the weight of this rod helps take the edge of hours of casting. This is true even when using large and heavy flies, thanks to its fast action and lower flex.
The Helios 3D has recoil snake guides, which can practically rise from the dead. This is because the guides can can recover their shape, even if they get crushed (to a degree).
Orvis has incorporated a recognizable white-colored brand tag on the matte finish rod. Some like this, while others feel it’s too flashy or gaudy even. Only you can be the judge on that one! Not only the branding, but the entire design is striking to the eye.
The company did what some feel is an evil deed, by eliminating the hook keeper as is the trend these days. Since there are other places to temporarily store your fly while walking or otherwise transporting your rod, such as on the reel seat (not the cork) or the first guide, we’re not too concerned about it.
Of course, to avoid incidental breakage, a designer-graphic aluminum tube is provided with the rod.
It is a fast action fly fishing rod, with a lower flex in the rod than you are probably accustomed to. Despite being a fast action rod, the accuracy level it enables is remarkable, and it is super smooth to use.
The amazing construction also makes it a great opponent to heavy wind and strong current fishing considitions. While compared to its peers that target similar fishing conditions, the does have a little less power, but we feel this is overshadowed by its lighter weight and higher touch & feel and accuracy.
Recognizing we’ve discussed versatility a bit above, consider that Orvis made the Helios 3D to be among the most versatile fly rods you can find, period. You won’t actually appreciate it till you cast the rod, but just think in terms of having more tricks up your sleeve, or arrows in your quiver, than any other rod. With respect to versatility, our take is this is the best fly rod in its class, hands down.
Consider not just the many types of fish you can pursue and conditions you can fish in, but also the range of flies and lines you can pull from – a huge range. This rod will do its job very well with every type of fly, and the titanium stripping guides allow you to match the rod up with any line you prefer.
The versatility pays off in terms of how many fish you can pursue. Whether you are looking for the best trout fly rods or best salmon fly rods doesn’t matter, a medium-heavy weight 3D will do the job well for both.
Calling it a lightweight rod isn’t really accurate, or even fair. It is certainly heavier than rods that are designed to be ultra lightweight. We would prefer to call it a relatively lightweight rod, that is to say, it is lightweight for the job it is targeted to perform. If not gravity defying, it certainly takes the edge off while you are casting even heavy flies, for long hours.
To characterize this clearly, if you are looking for one of the the best fly rods for trout, this one works if you are targeting larger trout in “bigger” fishing conditions – windy, strong current, etc. If you instead consider the best fly rod for trout to be more flexible, shorter and lighter for smaller streams, then there are other rods that would meet your needs better.
If you were to pay top dollar for your rod, without a reasonable guarantee or warranty in return, might be a purchase down a sink-hole. As anyone who has broken a rod knows, buying expensive has its downfall, as you can lose a bunch of hard-earned money in literally a second.
Orvis overcomes with with a 25-year guarantee against manufacturer defects, coupled with a low-cost repair/replacement fee for accidental breakage. So, your heart doesn’t need to pound after you receive your purchase in the mail. You are getting a quarter-century guarantee with your rod.
Other Comparable Models
Consider the Orvis Recon Saltwater, Redington Predator, Echo EPR, and Sage Salt. For more information on these rods, check out our article about the best fly rod for salmon, which concurrently covers some of the best saltwater fly rods:
Usually we refrain from showing the manufacturer’s videos, which are usually promotional and don’t give you the full story we want you to have. In this case, we are providing an Orvis video, because we feel it constructively discusses differences between their 3F and 3D designs for Helios. In so doing, you get a good feeling for both rods, and in our opinion, a reasonably objective way without as much marketing hype as usual:
Purchasing a Helios 3D is a choice that you will probably never regret, in that the rod will add to your experience and help improve your casting like few other rods are able to. The 3D comes with it high-end quality, for a comparable price you get a versatile fly rod designed for power and distance at the same time as casting accuracy.
Its hallmarks are a fast action drawing from break resistant, high tensile graphite. The rod was designed to mitigate variables that affect casting precision. It excels in the 40-60 foot casting range, but won’t hold you back at longer distances either.
It is not a rod that you want to purchase for routine small-medium trout and panfish angling. However, if you’re looking to raise your casting range, accuracy, and proficiency, this rod will be a strong addition to your gear. As we noted above, the versatility of this rod pays off, in that with one rod you get one of the best trout rods at the same time as one of the best salmon rods.
Before you come to a conclusion from this Orvis fly rod review, consider also the Orvis Helios 3D combo, which if you need a reel and line to go with the rod, are a great way to add value to your purchase.
If you have comments on this Orvis review, please let us know by submitting comments . When we review Orvis (or Sage rods or Redington rods or any other brand for that matter), we want to be aware of your thoughts and comments, so we can include them in future updates to provide the best Orvis rod review we can. This is a top of the line Orvis fly rod, not just one of their average Orvis fly rods. We will write many future Orvis reviews, to bring you the latest about the best Orvis fly rods, so tell us what you think! We hope you’ve thoroughly enjoyed this Orvis Helios 3F review.