Review: Orvis Helios 3D Blackout 9 ‘5 “5 Weight Fly Rod | Hatch Magazine


The new H3D Blackout rods, the latest evolution in the Orvis Helios 3 family of fly rods, are tools specially designed to meet three specific and common fishing needs identified by Orvis and his team of field testers. The design of one of these new rods, the 5-weight 9’5 “model, was prompted by feedback from guides who spend the majority of their time fishing on drift boats. According to Orvis, the” secret sauce “What makes this new rod special is the extra five inch length that Orvis says gives it the reach and superb long-range repair capabilities of a 10ft while casting. like a 9ft. And, like the rest of the Helios 3 range, Orvis also qualifies this new offering as “extremely precise”.

Despite Orvis’ track record of excellence, especially with the Helios 3 family, I was still somewhat skeptical after reading the promotional material for the new H3 Blackout models. After years of working in marketing, the better part of a decade examining fly rods, and much of the time spent writing advertising copy for new products, it’s hard not to being. The company’s claims about the new fly rods aren’t much different, are still grandiose, and in most cases the rods are far from their supposed size, with a few exceptions.

I left with the H3 Blackout hoping it would live up to or close to its billing. From the Green River in Utah to the Kenai and Russian Rivers in Alaska, I have fished the new Orvis Helios 3 Blackout in a variety of situations. But, given that this latest Helios 3 is billed as a specially designed rod, I made sure to fish it under the conditions it was made for: from a drifting boat, throwing long nymph daggerboards and throwing scope extended to rising trout.

What works

Additional scope

As I walked in I was concerned that the odd length of the rod would spoil its performance. I have only fished a few 9’6 “rods in my life, but they were all either too heavy on the swing or their tip was so light that accuracy suffered at longer distances.

This is not a problem with the 9’5 “Blackout. When I fished for nymphs through deep holes on the Green River from a drifting boat, I was surprised at how point five inches makes a difference. The same goes for rainbow fishing on the Russian River in Alaska. Every little riptide, slack water feature or small seam is all the easier to find. access with this rod, allowing you to catch more fish.


The most notable feature of the Blackout 9’5 “5wt is its repair ability. As I mentioned earlier, the rod is quite stiff throughout its length. While you sacrifice some feel for that, you get in. back a fantastic repair product. Even with 60 feet of forward weight line I had no trouble repairing several current seams. The cane has the backbone to pick up and place the line with little effort – even the fine running line behind the short heads on most weight lines forward these days.

Honestly, using this rod to mend line on long daggerboards reminds me of mending with an old bamboo rod and double cone line, minus the outrageous weight of those three piece behemoths.

Image credit: Orvis


As claimed, the 9’5 “H3 Blackout casts almost exactly like a regular 9ft. It’s a hair slower than I expected, but it’s still a fast-acting rod. Sometimes. , it looks more like an H3F than an H3D.

If someone handed me this spinning rod and I didn’t take a close look at it, I don’t think I would notice the extra length when casting. You only really feel it when you’re in tight spaces, surrounded by trees and snags (which is not the fishing situation for which this rod was designed).

The 9’5 “5wt Blackout follows well and generates good line speed. The swing weight resembles that of the H3F 9’6” 6wt that I fished a few years ago; it’s there, but it’s not very visible.


Orvis really went out of his way to sell this rod as a precision tool. Dubbing it “superbly accurate” gives the rod a lot to do, and for the most part, that’s exactly what it does.

The high line speed contributes to driving precision, as does the responsive tip section. While the tip flexes a lot to protect the lighter tips, it’s not as soft as I expected. By keeping the tip stiffer, Orvis was able to maintain the laser-like levels of precision in the original H3 series, and maybe even improve it a bit.

Unless I was fishing in a stiff headwind or throwing flies that you really shouldn’t on a 5wt (six inch long triple joint streamers) I had no issues with the placement of the flies. I pointed to the point where my flies needed to go, threw a few casts and they came to the right place.

Of course, accuracy depends a lot more on the fisherman than on the rod. However, a good fisherman working with a high performance rod can cast better casts than with a lower quality product. The 9’5 “5wt Blackout is a rod that rewards the fundamentals of casting.


It should go without saying these days, but it’s worth mentioning as this rod is not your usual 9 ‘5wt. The H3 Blackout is noticeably light in the hand. What does not work

What does not work

No hook

I’ll keep coming back to Orvis on this, but I’m frustrated that there aren’t any more hook keepers on their rods. I know a lot of people prefer to hang their flies on the first stripping guide. Just like many love a hook. In all my fly fishing years, I never looked at a hook and thought well it must go.

But this is a design move that Orvis is sticking to because they believe this is the direction the market is heading. They might be right. I may be completely wrong. But I still want my hook to stay.

Unique locking ring

Usually I don’t like the double locking rings on the reel seats for 5wt and lighter rods. It’s overkill, looks awkward, and unbalances the rod.

But Orvis makes their locking rings from ultralight anodized aluminum, so bulk and weight aren’t an issue. But with this rod specially designed as a boat route, I think people will fish it with a bigger reel. A double locking ring would help keep bigger, heavier coils safer, especially if you are using it on something like sockeye, dolly varden, or extra large trout.

Last word

The 9’5 “5wt Orvis H3 Blackout is Orvis’ latest success story. It’s light, precise, easy to launch and repairs like an absolute dream. The addition of five inches wasn’t just a marketing gimmick, the extra length makes a functional and practical difference – far more than I expected – significantly increasing your ability to effectively mend and get through today’s intricate seams. After a few months of fishing this latest addition to the Helios 3 family I’m pretty impressed Orvis has yet another home run in his lineup.



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