The headline changes are that the Helios 4X is 25% more durable and 10% lighter than previous models, but what will excite fly-fishers is its improved accuracy. Orvis claims it is the most accurate fly-rod in the world… and says it can prove it, having measured its tracking against rivals in a laboratory. 

Technical leaps have been made by increasing hoop strength (the ability of the blank to maintain its shape under load) and minimising vibration. These two factors dramatically reduce tip displacement in the vertical and horizontal axis, which normally affects the accuracy of a cast, resulting in a smoother energy transfer and increased precision.  

Similar attention to detail has been applied to the rod’s fittings and finish. There is a choice of D (distance) or F (finesse) actions. D models have a matt-black blank and gloss whippings; F models have subtle matt-olive blanks. The controversial white section of the Helios 3 has been toned down a notch with a light grey portion.  

The range is further specialised into categories such as Small Stream and Tactical Nymphing (finesse) or Saltwater and Big Game (distance), creating a choice of 29 models. This level of performance and specification demands a hefty price, but it comes with a 25-year guarantee and a UK repair service that aims to return rods in under a week. 

Our first cast 

We took 10ft, 6wt freshwater and 9ft, 8wt saltwater D models to the banks of Rutland Water for a first impression. Matched to an Orvis floating fly-line, the 6wt proved smooth to cast and was highly accurate, especially at short to medium range, although the softer action of the F model would be better suited to dry-fly fishing. With reserves of power, both rods achieved ample distance when double-hauled, with the 6wt D more than able to cope with the full range of intermediate and sinking lines used by stillwater anglers. A little extra effort with the more powerful 8wt achieved impressive line speed and distance with little loss of accuracy. Both rods had the ability to pick up impressive lengths of line and re-present flies with a single haul. Overall, is the 4X an improvement on its predecessor? We think it is, if you like the finer things in life and have the means to appreciate them.   

Helios X4

"A true all-rounder with a balance of precision and power"

Orvis Helios 4X fly-rods, Freshwater £1,159, Saltwater £1,259.  

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