Expert Review: Orvis Helio 3D Fly Rod

This review is my honest opinion of the fly rod, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.

A man fishing with the Orvis Helio 3D Fly Rod.

Streamer fishing for hungry browns. All photos courtesy of Jacob Jesionek

Published on

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the fly rod, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.

My take

The Orvis Helios™ 3D fly rod is for the serious angler looking for peak performance in a fly fishing rod. This rod comes packed with power, and its fast action allows accurate presentations at the furthest distances.

A Orvis Helio 3D Fly Rod lying on the ground as someone holds up a fish.

About the rod I own

  • Model: Orvis Helios 3D
  • Rod Length: 9ft
  • Rod Weight: 6wt
  • Rod Pieces: 4pc
  • Rod Material: The reel seat is type III anodized aluminum midnight black with matte midnight carbon insert. The rod is made of graphite

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Nymphing, dry fly, streamers
  • Experience: 15+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this rod: May 2021
  • Reel paired with rod: Orvis Mirage LT
  • Line paired with rod: Orvis Pro Textured Floating WF6
  • Days tested: 40+
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Rivers and lakes in Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and other states
  • Species targeted with rod: Steelhead, brown trout, rainbow trout

How it performs

Casting Ease

What I was looking for

When I made the move from Ohio to Colorado, I knew that I wanted to really commit to having a top-of-the-line fly fishing setup to be my go to for the big browns and rainbows that the state is known for. I wanted a premium rod that would fish streamers as well as dry flies with ease and be super light for backpacking.

Why I chose this gear

I went with the Orvis Helios 3D for a few reasons. First, it's known for its incredible accuracy with both tiny dry flies and heavy streamers. Second, it's a fast-action rod made for punching out far distances across the river. Finally, it's super light and built to be ultra strong, which is perfect for long hiking trips in the mountains. I didn't look at many other options; mainly I was looking between the 3F and the 3D. I ultimately decided upon the 3D because I wanted a faster-action rod and the 3F is more moderate.

A man standing in a river with a fly fishing rod.

What I love about it

  • Quality: The rod is built by the Orvis team in the USA, and you can tell how well it is put together. The reel seat is incredibly solid and the rod eyes are seamlessly attached to the rod.
  • Use Case: I am typically fishing this rod as a streamer rod for big brown trout here in Colorado. It gets those streamers as far across the river as possible and allows me to accurately cast near undercut banks and other premium trout habitat.
  • Action:
    • Ease of casting: Extremely snappy casting with tight loops and great distance. Not the best for the beginner; it is not very forgiving, and it’s necessary to be able to false cast to maximize distance.
    • Recover rate: Fast recovering designed for snappy casting and pushing distance.
    • Power: The 3D is all about power. It's designed to punch through wind and hurl big flies as far and accurately as needed.
    • Line speed: With the snappy casting of the 3D, I can expect high line speed to increase casting distance.
    • Ideal casting distance: The Helios 3D maximizes casting distance. It's great for swinging streamers across rivers or presenting dry flies way up stream to spooky fish.
    • Accuracy: Even though the focus of the 3D is power, it still provides great accuracy as long as I have a seasoned false cast.
    • Delicacy of presentation: With the fast line speed, powerful casting, and maximizing distance, it takes a seasoned angler to delicately drop flies with this rod. For those comfortable with distance casting, setting down flies delicately is cake with the Helios 3D.
  • Weight: I am fishing the 6wt, which is perfect for bigger browns and rainbows that are eating jointed streamers. I can also use the 6wt to fish for steelhead, which says something good about the backbone of this rod.
  • Literal Weight: This rod weighs less than 4oz, making it ultralight and easy to carry for a full day on the river.
  • Length: I enjoy fishing a 9ft rod; it's short enough to have heavy backbone but long enough to maximize casting distance.
  • Sensitivity: The rod is very sensitive for how stout it is. However it's made for power so that sacrifices the sensitivity a little bit.
  • Grip: The cork on the handle of the reel is comfortable and fits nicely in my hand. The 6wt also comes with a fighting butt that is nice for fighting fish that eat a streamer when I have a ton of line out.
  • Build: The build quality is excellent and gives me the confidence to fish it all day without worry of it breaking. It is made in the USA by expert rod craftsmen, and they back it with an excellent warranty.
  • Aesthetics: The blue and black version that I purchased is very sleek and stands out to other, lighter-colored rods on the market.
  • Warranty: Orvis provides a 26-year warranty with quick turn around and a small $60 charge to repair.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Versatility: As I mentioned above, I can fish both tiny dries and heavy streamers with this rod. However, the 6wt that I purchased is exactly that: a 6wt. It feels much too heavy for certain smaller-stream circumstances, so by buying a heavier rod I am limiting myself to larger stream and river uses.
  • Sensitivity: This rod is very sensitive for how stout it is. However it's made for power, so that sacrifices the sensitivity a little bit.
Shaft of the Orvis Helio 3D Fly Rod.

Favorite moment with this gear

Even though I bought this rod for Colorado browns and bows, I have brought it back for a few Ohio Steelhead adventures. The first time I fished with this rod in Ohio, I was out with my buddies and the day started off pretty slow. I moved upstream above them and made a drift with some egg flies through a slow patch of water. Then, before I knew it I was hooked up! After going back and forth with the fish for a few minutes, I got a beautiful chromed-up buck to the net and set my reel and rod in the water next to the fish for a few glamor shots. It was a pleasure to watch that one swim away with my buddies filming the moment.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Helios 3D is one of the smoothest and most accurate casting rods I have used. It will add distance to anyone’s cast and has plenty of backbone to catch a trophy on the river. At this price range are quality rods from most other companies such as the Sage X, but it's important to do the research and find a rod that fits one’s style of fishing. In the end, the 3D was the rod for me over other expensive rods because of the focus on power and distance casting.

Final verdict

This rod really opened up my eyes to what it's like fishing with the best of the best. Smooth casting, accurate presentations, and the power to fish in any condition will likely have me buying another Helios 3D down the road.

Selling Orvis on
Orvis Helios™ 3D Fly Rod
Meet the author
Fly Fishing Expert Jacob Jesionek
Jacob Jesionek
Fly Fishing Expert
Like this article?
Share it with your network

Written By
Jacob Jesionek
Jacob Jesionek
Fly Fishing Expert
Throughout my life, I have been driven by my love for nature and exploration. At the center of all of my adventures is fishing, the biggest constant in my life. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the country chasing countless species and learning from every trip. Hit me up and let me he...
View profile

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Read Next

New and Noteworthy