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Not for the faint of heart.  $$$ will knock your socks of if you pay anywhere near retail.  I know a guy...actually three guys...I didn't.

 

I'm not terribly interested in that swirl, or discussing it, I'm just a guy with a fly rod/reel/line who wants to share some info with similarly inclined Micropterus dolomieu fans who can set aside stuff like that for an objective look at gear.  This rod, reel and line combo is not for everyone, I get that, but neither are some of the gear fishing rigs we use.

 

Rod: Orvis Helios 3F, 8 wt.

 

Day One:

8 wt. It's the "F" version.

Not as light as the Temple Forks Axiom II...but not by much.

Balance is a little nose heavy with a Lamson Speedster and Airflo floating line...more reel/line combos to come.

Easy casting to about 70 ft. Really easy casting at 35-40 ft.

Can't speak definitively to the advertised claims about super-accuracy, but it's plenty accurate.

Fit and finish is as expected.

Graphics are indeed NASCAR-ish...but who looks at the rod that often, really? I use reels that look like they fell off a late 90s - early 00s sports coupe anyway...

That's all I've got for now...
 

First impressions, Part Deux*:

I could easily be focusing more, or compensating more than I am aware of, but standing on the deck, then wandering the back yard throwing at various weeds, dark patches of grass and gopher mounds...

This thing's on target, and I don't feel like I'm working at it.

Did the same with the Axiom II, a rod I've fished for weeks already...and I'm not as on target. But...different line, entirely. Not conclusive.

I've fallen for enough shotguns, then found they didn't really work all that great after the bloom was off the rose to get sucked into this being definitive, but so far, so good.
 

*several hours later

 

Day Two

 

Swapped reels and lines around tonight; put the ULA with the Rio Single Handed Spey on the H3, and the Airflo floater on the Axiom II.

H3 is still a little nose heavy even with the heavier line on the ULA.

Pretty much the same deal: The H3 throws straight lines to what I'm looking at, no need to compensate for whatever's going on with the rod.

The Axiom II will throw a little further with the same effort...but how much do I care, really? I'm a 75 ft. caster, most days and that's more than enough for teeth or bass in my neck of the woods.

 

Day Three

 

So here's how she sits right now:

 

H3_ULA_Rios_SHS.jpg

 

Helios H3F + Lamson ULA 3 + Rio Single Handed Spey Floating line.

 

It's set up for bass right now, no allowance for teeth.

 

Had it out for a couple hours today...

 

It is the most natural, see fish, cast to fish rig I've ever thrown, but it's pretty unique to how I do things.  YMMV.

 

Actually, YMWV is probably more apt.

 

We'll see how it it shakes out.

 

It'll put a Mr. Wigley on a lily pad, if you you do your part.  Seriously.

 

Balances OK:

 

IMG_3033.jpg

 

 

Better with line out...

 

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Great review!  That rod has been getting a lot of crazy good reviews.  I'm actually more interested in the line.  I spent a lot of time cursing the castability of my Orvis Hydros Bass line.  I generally like my Recon 8wy casting big flies with the Bankshot sink tip, but the Bass floating line doesn't cast nearly as well, even with super short leaders.  What are you liking as a floating streamer/popper line? Suggestions for something with more grain?

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16 minutes ago, Turkey sandwich said:

What are you liking as a floating streamer/popper line? Suggestions for something with more grain?

Tell you what: That Single Handed Spey blew me out of the water with how easy it casts once you get the hang of it.  You're going to have to double haul if you're not just flipping out a roll cast (I do that about half the time with that line).  As you can see, i've got it rigged with a popper and sits right up on the top, really well.

 

Rio's InTouch Outbound short lines are great as well.

 

I like the Rio Smallimouth and Clouser lines as well, but not as much as the two above.

 

The Airflo floating line I mention above is great, but I'm not sure they make it anymore....but their new stuff gets the job done too.

 

With Orvis now owning Scientific ANglers, I expect their lines to get better...the SA Hover is another great line, but it's for going juuuuuust subsurface.  I've also heard good things about the Titan, the Amplitude and Orvis Power Taper lines...

 

...and now I'll wander off the topic a bit: The fly fishing industry has really messed up rod weights, and with it, line weights the last few years.  Overly fast rods, often built to with the obsession for hero-length casts has made it much harder to match up line to rod.  Depending on the rod, and the line, you could easily wind up going one line weight heavy...but what'll screw that up is that some line makers are already compensating for that...and adding weight.

 

Add in that fly rods are pretty individual in terms of what we like and don't like...and we can spend some time figuring out what works for us.  I'm fortunate in that I've got 6 8 wt. reels with different lines on them...and another half dozen lines I can swap in, so figuring out what'll make me smile is easier than a guy who has to buy lines...or drive to a shop that'll let him test them

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52 minutes ago, Turkey sandwich said:

That rod has been getting a lot of crazy good reviews. 

I meant to comment on this...

 

I saw them, and I didn't want to get sucked into the hype from folks who might have a vested interest...and no way I was going to pay retail...

 

...so when the opportunity came up, I reached out to a couple folks I trust who had cast them, got  a decent thumbs up from both, so I grabbed it.

 

I'm still reluctant to buy into the hype, thus my statements above about trying to be objective...but jeez...is this thing accurate.  The TFO Axiom II has some of the same kind of thinking applied to its design, but the H3 seems to have and edge accuracy wise.

 

I need to fish it more (that means get ticked off a couple times when I can't drop the popper in the 6" slot between the lily pad and the branch) to be completely objective, but I'll get there.

 

I was out last night practicing into a mid-teens wind...and as long as I did my part (high back cast, low forward) I was having no problems putting that little hunk of foam close to where I wanted it.

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That's fantastic.  I'd love to get my hands on one.  The H2 was a great rod, so naturally with all of the reviews I'm very curious about the H3.  I also think I'll pick up that single hand spey line.  What's the taper like? I'd imagine it's great to roll casting, but I haven't yet delved into spey or switch.  How is it to haul/shoot? 

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On 6/12/2018 at 5:50 PM, Turkey sandwich said:

That's fantastic.  I'd love to get my hands on one.  The H2 was a great rod, so naturally with all of the reviews I'm very curious about the H3

That's how I was feeling about the H3 as well...then the opportunity presented itself to grab one for a steep discount and I jumped on it.

 

On 6/12/2018 at 5:50 PM, Turkey sandwich said:

I also think I'll pick up that single hand spey line.  What's the taper like?

I've not spent a lot of time learning about taper, probably because I've not really defined for myself what I like for different kinds of fishing.  From the Rio website ( https://www.rioproducts.com/products/floating/intouch-single-handed-spey ) this is how they diagram the taper:

 

line-profile-intouch-single-hand-spey.jp

...tha's for the 5 wt, can't say if it's the same for the 8 wt.  I'd assume, but you know how that works out...

 

The way I'm using it, which is really an overhead cast, even if I do it sideways, is cast out 50' - 60', strip in about 10 ft, pick it up and do it over.  As you can see above, by the time you've got the head, the handling section and the length of the rod...you're at 51 feet, and it's an easy back cast, forward flip...strip, strip, strip, strip, strip, strip...repeat.

 

They also make a version called the "3D" which is for subsurface...works the same.

 

On 6/12/2018 at 5:50 PM, Turkey sandwich said:

I'd imagine it's great to roll casting, but I haven't yet delved into spey or switch.

It'll roll cast on your lawn...not great, but it works.  I tried a switch rod last summer, didn't care for it...felt overly complicated to me when I can cast the same distance and accuracy the way I fish now.

 

On 6/12/2018 at 5:50 PM, Turkey sandwich said:

How is it to haul/shoot?  

As long as you recognize that you will need to double haul, it's amazing.  and at 300 grains, with enough speed (from your forward haul) it'll cut into the wind really well...but make sure you've got a leader that'll flip the big fly.

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What are you using for leaders?  Short 3-4' leaders with 40lb butt sections?

 

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7 hours ago, Turkey sandwich said:

What are you using for leaders?  Short 3-4' leaders with 40lb butt sections?

Most often about 4 ft. of 50# Maxima with about 2 ft. of 30# wire. 

 

Right now, that rod has 4 ft. of 16# fluoro to 2 ft. of 8# copoly.

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I don't use wire leaders at all.  Granted, I also don't have the pike waters you have/don't really target them often enough to justify it.    Still, I'll likely be looking into that single hand spey line.  

 

It's kinda madness to me how complicated rod and line matching has become.  I've kinda noticed the same thing.  I feel like manufacturers need to just start posting grain weights and using that to standardize things.  There's way too much guessing and with line costing $75-$150 it's pretty ridiculous that they just expect consumers to just buy using trial and error. 

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1 hour ago, Turkey sandwich said:

I don't use wire leaders at all.  Granted, I also don't have the pike waters you have/don't really target them often enough to justify it.    Still, I'll likely be looking into that single hand spey line.  

Yeah, for now (at least until the weekend 😉) I'll leave the H3 set up for bass.

 

I'm usually OK with topwater not getting bit off, but anything that runs even slightly subsurface is at risk around here...and since I target them a bunch...that weighs in a lot, too.

 

I really like both of the Single Handed Spey lines.

1 hour ago, Turkey sandwich said:

I feel like manufacturers need to just start posting grain weights and using that to standardize things.

Nailed it.  And the rod manufacturers need to communicate what grain weights their rods are designed to work best with.

 

I know that if you call St. Croix, you can get that information, but you may have to work your way through a couple people.  The customer Service folks will typically tell you, "It's for an 8 wt. line."

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St. Croix is generally the positive exception, though, when it comes to all things customer service.  When I can justify picking up another 8 wt, I've been considering the Bank Robber.  I feel like with all the gripes about streamer rods, it's pretty awesome that St. Croix just said to hell with it and brought in Kelly Galloup to help build a rod for chucking meat.  Have you fished it, by chance?

 

I'm also digging your positive review of the TFO stuff.  I haven't cast any of their rods, but it seems like they're doing a great job in terms of building quality sticks that don't break the bank, and doing similar things bringing in Lefty and Bob Clouser.

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20 hours ago, Turkey sandwich said:

St. Croix is generally the positive exception, though, when it comes to all things customer service.  When I can justify picking up another 8 wt, I've been considering the Bank Robber.  I feel like with all the gripes about streamer rods, it's pretty awesome that St. Croix just said to hell with it and brought in Kelly Galloup to help build a rod for chucking meat.  Have you fished it, by chance?

I've had a 7 wt. Bank Robber for years...love it!  Bought it when I thought I wanted to chase big trout with streamers...until I realized Wisconsin's just not set up to take advantage of that kind of streamer fishing in very many places...

 

...so I switched it to a bass rod.  Sometimes it's got an SA Hover line on it, sometimes a floating line, works great with both.

 

20 hours ago, Turkey sandwich said:

I'm also digging your positive review of the TFO stuff.  I haven't cast any of their rods, but it seems like they're doing a great job in terms of building quality sticks that don't break the bank, and doing similar things bringing in Lefty and Bob Clouser.

I'm a big TFO fan, and not just of their fly rods...I have tons of their gear rods as well, I probably fish them more than any others.

 

I find TFO, particularly on the fly side, to be an amazing value.  Do I give up a little of the fit and finish of high end stuff?  You bet.  But I save more than enough to drive on fishing trips all year...

 

...and they work just fine.  The Axiom II is really something else, it's actually lighter than the H3 by a nudge and it'll throw anything from a sinking line to a floating line well...once you adjust your casting like you should.

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