The Orvis Helios 2 One-Piece 5-Weight Review

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By Louis Cahill

It’s trout season and if you are looking for a hot new trout stick, I have good news.

The Orvis Helios 2 has proven to be one of my favorite fly rods in every weight I have fished. I own a handful of them in weights from 4 to 11 and fish them all the time. When I reviewed the H-2 One-Piece 9-weight, I said in my review, “I hope Orvis will make this rod in a 5 weight.” They said no, but I guess rod designer Sean Combs just couldn’t help himself.

I knew I was going to love this rod, especially after casting it at IFTD, but it has exceeded even my expectations. While I expected a fast-action casting machine with the smooth action and fast recovery of a one piece, I did not expect this new offering to be the all-around fishing tool it turned out to be. The H-2 One-Piece 5 is as impressive when mending and fighting fish as it is when casting.

There are trade-offs in every choice. Obviously a one-piece rod isn’t right for every angler. They can be tough to travel with, even in a car. Mine hangs in the ceiling of my SUV and gives me no problem, but if I decided to take my wife’s Miata to the mountains, I’d have to take a different rod. That said, if you are an angler of habit and your habits accommodate a one piece rod, there are a lot of advantages. Including being ready to fish as soon as you step out of the truck. I especially enjoy that.



All things being equal, a one-piece rod will always have a smoother action than a multi-piece rod. Simply removing the weight and rigidity of the ferrules make a surprising difference in both feel and performance. While many one-piece rods are extremely fast as a result of the diminished weight, the H-2 5-weight is remarkably accessible. It’s fast, to be sure, and very powerful but it has plenty of tricks up its sleeve beyond the long cast.

The rod loads easily enough for excellent roll casting and single-hand spey casting, which makes it highly effective on small water. It’s just as comfortable presenting a fly in tight cover as it is making an eighty-foot reach cast from the bow of the drift boat. While it excels at

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Tarpon of Cuba: 3 Tips For Success

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By Dan Frasier

I think what surprised me most was that they still looked like fish.

The dark shapes sliding below the surface were intimately familiar despite their legendary status, but the vastness of the flats and channels of Jardines de la Reina off the coast of Cuba seemed to put their size into perspective. The sabalo, Spanish for tarpon, looked natural. Why this surprised me, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the hours of videos I’d watched with monster fish exploding from the water. Or the gallons of ink I’d poured over about the silver king. The grandness of these fish left me anticipating something otherworldly. Where I’d expected to find a tiger in my living room, I’d instead found it in the jungle, where it fits.

From the bow I see the shape quartering toward the boat from 2 o’clock and all of the advice I’d sought in the previous weeks just sloughed away. Eighty feet and moving lazily toward us was simply another cruising fish. One false cast and I shot line to intersect it’s path at 70 feet. A few strips and the fly is in position and very slowly sinking. As the tarpon approached I give it two slow pulls. The calm and lazy shape tenses and snaps its head to the side and all of a sudden I’m holding a live wire and thinking, “Hit him as hard as you can.”

The entire process was strangely familiar to me. Despite having never chased tarpon before, the situations were much like I’d experienced in other saltwater situations and in my carp fishing. See the fish (something that takes training), cast quickly because you may only get one shot, intersect the fish, and don’t make it work too hard or do anything unnatural to eat your fly. Simple, but not easy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still nothing more than a Middle School level tarpon fly fisherman. In the long calls I’d had with real tarpon Phd’s, I’d been given all kinds of tips, information, and strategies on how to address these fish in all of the more difficult situations. This was the kind of information that allows the experts to hook them when you can’t, or hook a higher percentage of his shots than anyone else on the water. Great stuff and extremely helpful when you are trying to take you tarpon game to the next level. But as a rank amateur, I was trying to take my tarpon fishing to ANY level and remembering and implementing these PhD level techniques in the heat of the moment was more than my tiny brain and lack of muscle memory could handle. And yet, I still managed to catch a number of fish, by leaning on what was familiar to me. Here are a few things I learned.

1. They are still fish and it’s still flats fishing.

I had built the idea of chasing tarpon up so much in my head that it felt like I was attempting to do the impossible. Go catch one of the baddest ass fish in the world on a fly rod with no prior experience and in a limited number of days. I’d put so much pressure on myself to convert on this opportunity that I’d nearly psyched myself out. I called everyone I knew with insight into tarpon fishing, talked to people about fishing Cuba (like it was fishing on Mars or in zero gravity), and read and studied like a madman.

All of this preparation was good. It helped in a lot of ways, but

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Sunday Classic / Drift Boat And Car Renting Tips Abroad

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When you’re traveling abroad on a fly fishing trip that you’ve meticulously planned out for months in advance, the last thing you want to deal with is equipment problems. That was exactly the case Louis and I ran into several years ago heading out to Wyoming for a week long fly fishing trip with our good friend Bruce Wayne, a.k.a “Batman”.

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Saturday Shoutout / 4 Is Enough

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Brian O’Keefe has something on his mind and it isn’t how many steelhead he can catch.

This article from Wild Steelheaders United might just be the birth of a movement. At a meeting of folks interested in steelhead conservation, Brian stood up and declared, “Four is enough!” What the hell is he talking about? I thought. Once I found out I though it was pretty cool.


Four Is Enough

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Graphite VS Fiberglass With Tim Rajeff: Video

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What’s the difference between graphite and fiberglass fly rods?

Most fly rods, these days, are made of carbon fiber but a generation ago fiberglass was king. Today glass rods are making a strong resurgence, and with good reason. There are some benefits to fishing a fiberglass fly rod but how do you know if it’s the right tool for you?

In this video Tim Rajeff explains the different actions and the pluses and minuses to each. He tells you why he fishes mostly fiberglass rods and demonstrates a crazy feat of casting skill by casting a graphite rod and fiberglass rod together in one hand.


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Echo Bad Ass Glass: Review

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I saw this fly rod and I knew I had to have it.

I have a problem. I openly admit that. I am a fly rod junkie and I’m in way too deep to stop now. Once you reach the point in the addiction when you start fishing glass in saltwater, there is no going back.

Two thing about this fly rod stole my heart as soon as I saw it. It’s fiberglass and it’s bright blue. That is messed up on every level, I admit it. What is it that draws me, and many other anglers, to fiberglass fly rods? My good friend Michael White says that’s the proof that fly fishing is not a sport. He sites that in no other sport do athletes embrace old technology, which could arguably reduce their performance. I think that’s a brilliant insight, and I, and many other anglers, make that choice more and more. We choose what is arguably a less efficient tool. A fiberglass fly rod. Why?

I can only answer for myself. I like glass because, for what ever reason, it enhances my experience. It’s simply more fun.

I’m fortunate to call Tim Rajeff my friend. Tim is a brilliant individual outside of fly fishing, and when it comes to fly fishing he is almost unmatched. When I told Tim I wanted to take his new Bad Ass Glass rod to the the Bahamas for bonefish, I got a look. I knew that I was putting this fly rod to the ultimate test. While I’ve heard anglers raving about this rod for tossing bass poppers and streamers, taking a fiberglass rod out on the flats is defiantly the next level and I couldn’t resist.

I caught my first saltwater fish on fly with a glass rod. It was a long time ago but I still remember it. I guess I thought it might bring back those memories for me, but when I got the BAG out on the flats, I found it was a completely different animal.

It was a windy week on South Andros and I put off fishing the glass for a couple of days. Eventually I figured there was no time like the present. I expected to get pummeled but I quickly discovered this rod had more backbone than I gave it credit for. I could actually

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Fly Fishing, No Pain No Gain

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Have you ever felt like this when you got back to the truck after a long day of fishing?
Giving it my all on the water is a trait I strongly believe in for my fishing and guiding. I always try to make a point to explain to all my clients, that as long as they give it their all on the water, that’s all that really matters. There’s no reason for them to be disappointed about having a slow day on the water or get upset when a big fish fails to eat, so long as they took the time to approach their holes with stealth, made their best presentations, and fine-tuned their rig and pattern choice. After all, that’s why it’s called fishing not catching, right? We can only do so much as anglers, and even when we bring our best, there still will be times when we won’t be able to persuade certain fish to take our flies.

Keep this in mind next time you go out to wet a line. Don’t lose sight of the big picture, which is to always enjoy your time on the water. And don’t fish lazy, try to

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The Atlanta Fly Fishing Show

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By Justin Pickett


I’m a little behind, but there’s never really a bad time to talk fly fishing. With crazy schedules forcing us to divide and conquer, Louis attended on the 3rd, and I the 4th. With other bigger, successful, annual shows preceding Atlanta, this event would surely be compared to the others that came before it. In the weeks prior, the Fly Fishing Show had already stopped in Denver, as well as Somerset, which boast big names and big crowds. Louis and I both wondered if Atlanta would be able to stack up to the other show stops, and, in the end, I think we were both happy with the results.

Walking onto the showroom floor, I was pleased to be greeted with the immediate, loud chatter that I often associate with large, indoor shows such as this. The large crowd was scattered amongst the aisles, and there was a group of anglers at every booth, jib-jabbing about fly fishing. I made my way around the perimeter booths first, running into a few old friends, as well as some new friends. Stopping to speak with Oliver White for a bit, I was able to see Lefty doing a demonstration on the casting pond with folks, like Flip Pallot, watching eagerly. No one can resist watching Lefty do a casting demonstration. Making my way around the block, I was pleased to see a great presence by the local fly shops, outfitters, and guides. Many were there to promote their fisheries, some of the Southeast’s most diverse. Other local Georgians were repping for some of the bigger names, such as tarpon maniac Joel Dickey (Thomas & Thomas). Dotted amongst the local establishments, were the lodges from both near and far promoting their fisheries as well.

Along the left wall of the show was one of my favorite stops

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3 Bad Habits That Lose Big Fish

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By Louis Cahill

Tired of hooking big fish just to lose them in the fight?

This came up the other day when I was fishing with a buddy. Like too many anglers, he’d been losing big fish, one after the next, over the same simple mistakes. It was a ‘face-palm’ moment when I pointed it out. In part because he actually knew better than to do any of these three things, and did them any way.

I’m not ragging on my buddy. I’ve seen plenty of anglers make these same mistakes and suffer the consequences. Simple habits you can get away with on the average fish become huge disasters when you hook a trophy. Have a look at this list and make sure you you’re not making the same mistakes.


Ignoring wind knots

How many times have you felt a wind knot in your leader and thought, I’ll fix it next time? Maybe the fishing was hot and you didn’t want to miss any action. How many times did ignoring that wind knot result in breaking off a nice fish? The only time to fix wind knots is NOW. As soon as you find them, and it’s a good idea to check your leader often. If you find wind knots, chafing, nicks, or anything other than a perfect leader, fix it right away. You never know if the next fish to eat your fly will be a trophy.

A sloppy reel

Ever look down at your reel and see a sloppy mess of fly line poorly stacked on the reel? I know I have. Maybe things got hectic fighting the last fish or you just spooled up a bunch of slack line in a hurry when you saw a fish rising in the next pool. That sloppy reel is an invitation for disaster. Poorly spooled line can easily bind or knot when a strong fish starts ripping it off of the reel. When you see a bird’s nest in the making, stop, strip it all off of the reel and stack it neatly. It’s time well spent.

The statuesque angler

Like Fred McDowell said, “When the lord gets ready, you got to move.”

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Sunday Classic / Fight The Good Fight, in Saltwater or Fresh

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In essence that is true and Kirk’s point is doubly true. Anyone who’s tried both can attest to that, but some of that equipment looks more similar than it is.

Reels, lines, leaders, hooks, tying materials are all different but there is likely no piece of equipment more different than the rod. There are a lot of differences between freshwater and saltwater rods and in several ways their use is quite different. This became readily apparent while giving a good friend, who guides for trout, a quick lesson before is first bonefish trip. He’s a great fisherman and caster but I could see from the look on his face that the eight weight I was lending him was strikingly unfamiliar.

We’ve talked a good bit about saltwater casting, the double haul and line speed but for those who are making the switch from trout to saltwater fly fishing, I’d like to offer some pointers on the techniques that I feel are the least intuitive. The fighting of fish.

When it comes to the fight, the trout rod and the saltwater rod are truly two different tools and they require different techniques. The divergence of those techniques starts with a fundamental element, the fish. It is the difference in the fish that dictates both the design of the rod and the tactics employed in its use.

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