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A New Fly Rod Worth Wanting

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This past spring, Orvis sent me a fly rod with a note: “Try this, send it back and don’t tell a soul about it until late July.” I felt like James Bond getting some new rad, top-secret gadget from Q to play with. I did as asked. The rod the company sent—a 9’ 5” 5-weight trout rod—was part of a trio new rods known as the Helios 3 Blackout (the other two in the series: an 11’ 3-weight for nymphing and an 8’ 5” 8-weight for saltwater).

The first thing I noticed was the rod’s aesthetics—matte black with a smidge of grey—which give off a stealthy vibe. This is useful when fishing for trout: If you feel stealthy, there’s probably a better chance you’ll act that way, too. The rod is light, a delight in the hand, and its casts as smoothly as any rod I’ve ever fished. I first took it out on a small, bush-lined stream. The extra length of the rod (five inches longer than the usual 5-weight) was extremely useful in keeping my fly out of those bushes—I could fling it above them when needed, or roll cast with ease if that wasn’t possible.

photo: Orvis

The rod was equally as useful on the big, wide-open river I fished a few weeks later, where I waded up to my belly and cast my fly to some sipping trout that I would have had a hard time reaching without the extra rod length. I test new rods every year. Most have very small, incremental advances and, like a car, aren’t really worth checking out unless you need a new one.

The Helios 3 Blackout, however, seems to have made a bigger leap than usual. It’s thoroughly in the “want” category for me. $998; orvis.com

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