By Vagabond Fly
Thank you to Stu Harley for the drone footage and epic photographs to compliment this review.
The Southern tip of Africa has seen its fair share of adversities over the past 18-months of which the most significant of these (in our world) has been the crippling drought. The final instalment in this review was planned to be on the Euro-Style fishing prowess of the outfit but as the season kicked off, thankfully, the heavens opened and turned our local streams and rivers into raging torrents. Back to the drawing board… We were off to Lesotho again to fish the Bokong River at Tourette Fishing’s Makhangoa Community Camp so we pinned this as the perfect solution – a high-altitude river with deep pools, furious rapids and blistering glides all make for the perfect Review Lab…until we saw the conditions. The 120mm of rain the week before we arrived did little to raise the water level and though the river was packed with Smallmouth Yellowfish the low and clear conditions called for long lines, dry-flies and stealthy leaders, not conditions to employ Euro-Style nymphing on!
The Perfect All-Round Stream Rod?
Up for the challenge and hell-bent to give the final instalment to the review our all, we decided to focus on the following for our final verdict:
- Balance of the outfit – Orvis® Helios 2 10ft 4-Weight (Tip Flex) paired with the Orvis® Hyrdos SL II Reel
- Capability of the outfit to handle long leaders, thin tippets, puny dries and highly selective fish in skinny conditions
- Versatility of the rod as an all-round medium-large stream rod
Fresh off the water and having spent 3 full days with the outfit fishing the Bokong River we shot the video below. Editor Pieter Taljaard took his time to test the rod in the various scenarios and conditions that a wild backcountry stream throws at you before delivering the final judgement and specifically focused on the review elements mentioned above:
Additional Comments from our review on the Orvis® Helios 2 10ft 4-Weight (Tip Flex) & Hyrdos SL II Reel
With most reviews we step outside our usual base of guides and professionals who assist with the hard testing and review of products and give it to mates and fans of Vagabond Fly to get ‘real world’ feedback and input as well. This time was no exception but unfortunately during one session fighting a sizable Smallmouth Yellowfish on one of our larger local rivers, the reviewer broke the rod on the second-from-the-top section and then proceeded to lose both the top two sections.
With a sheepish letter of apology, we sent the rod back to Orvis® for repairs. Two / 2 / Dos / II / dva / deux / duo (just to weed out any confusion) weeks after Orvis® sent confirmation of receiving the rod we had it back in our hands…remember we are based in Johannesburg, South Africa and that the rod was sent from the USA.
That is beyond incredible service and we relentlessly tip our hat to them for getting us back on the water in zero time whatsoever.
Though we do briefly cover it in the video, the fully-sealed drag of the Orvis® Hyrdos SL II Reel was silky-smooth and reliable throughout the review. The Smallmouth Yellowfish of the Bokong river punch way above their weight class and you almost always end up fighting fish on the reel. This coupled with 6X tippet means that any mechanical or human error will result in the angler and fish parting ways prematurely. The Orvis® Hyrdos SL II Reel instilled us with confidence from the word go and not once did it falter – despite bashing it on rocks, dropping it during the hikes etc. etc. On this specific trip it tamed well over a 100 Smallmouth Yellowfish and is running as true and smoothly as it did straight out of the box.
We having been singing the praise of the longer rods especially in wide-open conditions and in those we faced on this review trip but 10ft rods is not everyone’s cup of tea. You have to be very mindful of the fact that you are fighting fish off a much longer tip and take extra caution to keep a healthy curve in the rod, especially when landing fish.
The Orvis® Helios 2 10ft 4-Weight (Tip Flex) proved over and over again that it is extremely comfortable at close to medium distances be it to deliver flies with pin-point accuracy or chuck heavy nymphs. We even had the opportunity to fish it in heavy winds and though you notice the negligible resistance attributed to the slightly thicker diameter of the butt section it still punched out line with grace and authority. On those really long casts (>25m) it does struggle but in our world a 4wt is not the rod we would select if they were going to be the rule for the day. For the odd 20m+ cast with the Orvis® Helios 2 10ft 4-Weight (Tip Flex) if you focus on your timing and give it a harder punch at the end it most certainly won’t let you down.
As a dynamic duo the Orvis® Helios 2 10ft 4-Weight (Tip Flex) and Orvis® Hyrdos SL II Reel operate with the grace and precision of ballroom dancers and simultaneously make you feel prepared for the fly fishing apocalypse – super selective fish where accuracy is king.
In isolation both are exquisitely made, supported by Orvis®’ warranty and customer satisfaction guarantee and are tools that are made to keep you on the water, comfortable, confident and content. The Orvis® Helios 2 10ft 4-Weight (Tip Flex) and Orvis® Hyrdos SL II Reel is an outfit you will be sure to always find in the Vagabond Fly rod-bag ready to take on our next stream or backcountry river adventure.
RRP (@ December 2016)
Orvis® Helios 2 10ft 4-Weight (Tip Flex) : $ 795.00
Orvis® Hyrdos SL II Reel : $ 198.00