The Orvis Helios 2 One-Piece 5-Weight Review

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

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.

What makes the H-2 One-Piece 5 so sweet?


h2All 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 delicately presenting a dry fly, it’s equally as good a tool when conditions call for a streamer or heavy nymph setup. I’ve honestly tried pretty hard to find something this rod does not do well. No luck, so far.


A one-piece rod will also always be stronger than a multi-piece rod. Meaning, it gives you more authority fighting big fish, more power for throwing heavy flies or sinking lines, and it’s far less likely to break under stress. One limitation worth pointing out is that a one-piece rod is more likely to be broken in transport, if like me you carry it rigged and not in the tube, and the one piece rods are only covered under warrantee for 3 years.


The H-2 is already one of the lightest fly rods ever made. With the ferrules removed and the blank two inches shorter than the standard nine footer, this rod is remarkably light. If there has ever been a lighter fly rod, I am not aware of it. The weight pays off in a couple of ways. The H-2 One-Piece is like casting air, which means fatigue is never an issue. A lighter rod also means a faster recovery time. This means that when the rod is loaded, it unloads more quickly and recoils less after the stop of the casting stroke.

Let’s look more closely at what that means. A rod which unloads quickly has, by nature, a faster action without adding stiffness to the blank. This means the rod is easier to load and cast than a rod which is equally fast action, but heavier. Less recoil means the rod springs back less after the stop. Recoil introduces shock waves into the loop which, in turn, decreases accuracy and efficiency. A low recoil rod casts farther and more accurately with less effort.

Grip and components 

One of the hallmarks of the Orvis H-2 in any of its variations is the high-quality cork and components. The one-piece rods are no exception but this rod does have a few special features. The carbon fiber reel seat insert is red on all of the one-piece rods for easy identification. If you own several H-2s, as I do, that’s handy. It also features Orvis’s new grip profile which has a smaller front swell in the Wells grip. I really like this grip and feel like it contributes to better energy transfer and more control.

The Helios 2 One-Piece 5 has quickly become my trout rod of choice. If you are an angler who appreciates the benefits a one-piece rod offers, get out to your local Orvis retailer and cast one for your self. I fell in love with it pretty quickly. I’ll bet you do as well.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “The Orvis Helios 2 One-Piece 5-Weight Review

  1. Louis, thanks for the temptation, um, review. Just a quick good news bad news note. Pretty sure the new Orvis catalog says the one piece H2 is a 5 year warranty rather than the 3 year you mentioned; that’s the good and bad news in that the rod is expensive but doesn’t come with the same piece of mind as the 4 piece.

    Put another way, haven’t we been told that the $800 and up fly rod is $800 because it has a lifetime warranty (muddied waters these days with shipping and handling fees starting at $50, long wait times for repairs and that kind of a warranty offering from G. Loomis not to mention all rods come with some sort of warranty these days). Anyway, I definitely digress.

    Thanks for everything, love the site.


    • Along with that shortened warranty time span, if one reads the fine print, there is also an increased warranty fee of 125$. I was strongly considering purchasing the 8 weight one piece back when it was released, but between these two factors, I decided to back off. There is just too much possibility of breakage for a one piece rod to only offer a very limited warranty, expecially without cuts to the original price.

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