Gear Review: Helios 3 Blackout 11′ 3-Wt.


There’s no denying that tightline/Euronymphing is an incredibly effective method of putting trout in your net. It’s almost hard to believe until you see for yourself just how effective it is.

People aren’t exaggerating when they talk about how their catch rate tripled after learning this technique. Fly patterns that never caught fish for me before suddenly started catching 20 a day!

It should be noted that I was using this technique for a little while with a standard 9′ 5-wt. rod and having lots of success. However, getting the job done is much easier and turns out better with the right tools. I recently purchased an Orvis Helios Blackout 11′ 3-wt. as the tool for getting the job done on the river. I wanted to quickly share my thoughts on it, seeing as how there are actually very few reviews on this particular model to be found online. In short: IT’S FANTASTIC!

The Blackout series was released in 2021 in three specialty rod models; a 9’5″ 5-wt., an 8’5″ 8-wt. and an 11′ 3-wt. Each model was designed to be a specific tool with a specific purpose. The 5-wt. is designed to be an ideal boat rod for lakes and ponds, the 8-wt. is designed as a predator rod, and the 3-wt. is a Euronymphing specific rod. Orvis already offered the Helios 3F in a 10’6″ 3-wt., but with the Blackout series, they sought to improve upon their high-end Euro model even more.

One of the features that this rod offers is the extra length. Those anglers who are familiar with tightline techniques know that an added 6″ in rod length adds quite a bit of distance to your cast. This is really crucial to me as I fish many different places that often have complicated current seams. Being able to reach out a few more feet and maintain a controlled drift at a distance often means the difference in catching or not catching fish.

This becomes even more possible when using a micro leader system or a mono rig. This rod can cast out 30 feet if needed and has the delicacy and power to cast small, lighter nymphs long distances with ease. I found this rod has the perfect amount of pliability in the tip not only for casting, but also for protecting 6x-7x tippet, while not being too whippy or slow as many other Euro models are.

That being said, I’ve landed four- to five-pound trout on this rod without the slightest concern of breaking off! The tip design really keeps things nice and buttoned up when fighting a fish. The bottom section of the rod has the power and feel of my Helios 7-wt. while remaining extremely light in hand. I also appreciate the fighting butt, which really does come in handy when playing large trout.

At $999 this is definitely an expensive rod. It’s certainly not the most expensive out there, but it’s for sure sitting in the upper echelon. However, you get what you pay for. This saying rings true in every profession and hobby. Fly fishing is no different. Sure you can catch trout on inexpensive equipment. We all have.

But for those of us who are truly devoted to a lifestyle on the water, low end gear just won’t cut it. Rods like the Blackout are technique-specific tools that allow anglers to do what they do as effective as they can possibly do it.

If tightline nymphing isn’t something you plan on jumping headfirst into, then I wouldn’t recommend paying this much money for a rod that is so specific to this style of fishing. There are plenty of lower price point products that will put fish on the line and allow you to use this effective method. However, I would highly recommend the Blackout to serious anglers who want to maximize their time on the water with the best tools possible.

I was already a huge Orvis fan, but they’ve really outdone themselves with this one!


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2 thoughts on “Gear Review: Helios 3 Blackout 11′ 3-Wt.

  1. Just wondering if you ever cast a contact 2 from T&T?? They have a much better selection of euro specific rods in all kinds of flavors!! I think you might change your mind for 100 bucks less. And T&T stand behind there rods 150%!! Iv broken a few and back in weeks, not months. I figured if your into euro you should try them out. You won’t be disappointed.


  2. Great review ive had this blackout for2 seasons now and it’s a fish catching machine…. I absolutely agree with everything ya said.. its a great rod!

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