Review: Okuma Helios Rod and Low Profile Baitcasting ReelReview: Okuma Helios Rod and Low Profile Baitcasting Reel How does this combination compare to the competition? Take a look to find out!
By Kent Smith
We last reviewed Okuma products here: http://www.bassresource.com/fishing_lures/Okuma-rod-review.html
This review kicks it up a notch with what I consider a great value for this rod & reel based on its pricing point. The rod is a Okuma Helios Mini Guide System, HS-CM-701MH http://www.okumafishing.com/product/view/rods/tournament-bass/helios-1 (MSRP $179.99) matched to a Helios Low Profile 7.3:1 baitcasting reel: http://www.okumafishing.com/product/view/reels/baitcast-reels-low-profile/helios-4 (MSRP $199.99) The total package comes in at a total weight of 9.9 ounces!
The rod is rated for lures ¼-oz to 1-oz, making this a very versatile rod for a variety of techniques. The Mini Guide System improves casting distance and marks this rod a favorite for fishing swim jigs and paddle tail swim baits. I think most anglers will find this combination suitable for jigs and soft plastics, too.
However, I dedicated the rig to spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. My reasoning revolves around the extremely light weight that reduces fatigue when fishing fast-moving lures.
The blank is crisp and responsive, the EVA grips are comfortable and secure giving you the feel of complete control. Both casting and retrieve seem effortless with this well balanced pairing. ALPS Mini Guides are fitted with ziconium inserts which means braided lines are of no concern. I fish the rod with a mainline and leader and have had no issues using an Alberto connecting knot.
The Okuma Helios is well designed and quite handsome, flat black with forest green trim which is also the compliment to the silver and black rod. There are no external adjustments on the left side of the reel giving it a sleek and compact look. After my initial adjustments I have not made any additional tweeks. Simply set it and forget it.
Although I own several baitcasters that have larger frames, I have developed a strong preference for smaller profiles. Casting distance is exceptional and I have yet to experience a terrible over-run. If line capacity is of any concern to you let me suggest trying the new Gliss for your mainline. I have spooled over 150 yards plus leader on the Helios.
The icing on the cake is a 3-year warranty that probably will not come into play, but it is still nice to know there is the added security in case it is needed.
So, how does this combination compare to something I have to share with you? Let's start with "Strong, smooth, silent and reliable," a phrase generally associated with Shimano. It will take some time on the water to see if the rig is reliable. So far, the Okuma Helios is on par with my favorite Curado 50 E7. The HS-CM-701MH is more difficult for me to compare because it is split grip and so light, something you might expect in a ML rod of the same length. In terms of performance I think the closest comparison I can make is to the St. Croix Legend Elite series, specifically the LEC70MHF.
I have this rod saddled with a Calais for the same niche, spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. I am afraid the weight of this combination is no longer acceptable and the new Helios combination will replace it in my line-up permanently.
If you are willing to try something new, Okuma might just be the ticket. This is number three for me and I am impressed.
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