In 1982, Orvis rod designers Jim West and Howard Steere brought us the Orvis Superfine 2-weight, then the Orvis Superfine 1-weight. With those two rods fly fishing truly became ultralight.

A few years later, rod designer Jerry Siem moved us ever farther into ultralight fly fishing over the past 12 years by designing three revolutionary families of truly unrivaled ultralight fly rods. First the SPLs, then the SLTs, and finally the Sage TXL family of fly rods featuring the - the only Ought-weight thru Triple-ought weight rods.

Now we have a new milestone from Jim West and Orvis. The first fly rod to break the 1 ounce weight barrier -- the Orvis zg Helios ION one ounce 602-4 mid flex rod. At only 6 feet in length and being a 4 section rod it is LIGHT and packs down VERY small. Don't let its diminutive size fool you. It packs light power!

Why fish these very light rods?

Stealth:. In the right circumstances being able to cast such a fine diameter line can make the difference in catching spooky fish or not. I have fired a three weight line over fish in clear water and watched them scatter. I test cast over other schools of fish in that same water with an ought weight line and the fish didn't even notice.

Sensitivity: With these rods you can detect even the lightest pickup, tick, line movement, and fly suck in to gently react for hookset.

Orthopedic relief: After fishing this rod hard for an hour and a half in wind, landing and releasing 75 fish -- my right shoulder felt fine.

Less biofeedback to the fish: When a fish sucks in your fly, pecks your fly, takes your fly in its mouth to check it out, he gets no sensation of drag from your light line gliding thru the water. Your line will serve as a strike indicator. If you don't see a line twitch, you'll feel it. If your line just stops, raise your rod.

More biofeedback to your hand:You can feel even the most subtle takes, pick ups, suck ins. At the slightest feeling that something is different, raise your rod. These low mass rods conduct every little movement. Sensitivity is very important in many fishing situations.

I took a new Orvis 6 foot Helios 7/8ths ounce rod to the water on a stunning "winter" day with water temps from 49F to 51.7F. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was interested in finding out. Air temperature was at 56F and I was comfortable.

First, I fished the Helios rigged with Orvis 2 weight fly line with a green #14 sponge body spider. After several casts in 49 water I had caught several surprisingly active fish for this time of year with these water temps.

I decided that a consistently performing fly of mine, a size-14 nymph imitation would be the ticket subsurface. My biggest question was how readily this new Helios ION 2-weight would cast the fly, and then pluck that leggy, water holding nymph from the water to cast it.

I tied on my nymph, made a 25 foot cast with ease, and immediately had a subtle strike and caught a fish on my first cast. As I continued to probe more and more water there was much more action subsurface.

The big surprise was how strong the Helios Ion 2-weight is and how crisply it casts for its weight.

I continued to fish every fish holding spot I could find and continued to catch fish. I wondered how the Helios Ion 2-weight would perform under a bigger load. So I continued to probe the chilly waters in search of something with more size and a bad attitude. Fortunately I found it!

This is the profile of the Helios Ion 2-weight when loaded very well by a fat fish. I applied maximum pressure on the bass by keeping a low rod angle, and by fighting him on the mid and lower sections of the rod.

In just a few minutes the work paid off and my test was complete.

I coaxed the bass to the surface and lipped him with my boga grip, removed my fly, and slid him back and forth in the water to revive him. It didn't take much reviving. With the strength of the Helios Ion 2-weight I landed the three pound bass quickly. He eased off to fight another day.

My questions were answered. The Orvis Helios Ion 2-weight is a VERY physically light fly rod. It will pack down very small. It will handle a 1 or 2 weight fly line for absolute stealth. It has plenty of speed and strength to handle most species up to 3 or 4 pounds. It is a rush to fish.

For more information on Orvis' new Helios Ion 2-weight rod, or to cast one in person, please drop by or call Orvis Atlanta, GA. at 404-841-0093 and ask for Shannon Ward, fly fishing manager, or any of his staff. Shannon has the new Helios Ion 2-weight in stock NOW. You can order by phone. Shannon, himself an avid ultralighter, knows and fishes Orvis rods, lines, leaders, and tippets on true ultralights.

For full information click on Orvis Helios ION 2-weight.


-- Bill Byrd.