Orvis is running their semi-annual special where if you buy a Helios, Hydros or TLS rod you can get any Battenkill reel (BBS, Mid-Arbor or Large-Arbor) for free. I have been thinking about getting a new 4wt rod for small to medium streams and have been thinking about the Hydros 9' 4wt with a free LA-II reel.
I have read all the reviews between the Helios and Hydros, and they all basically say the same things - The Hydros is almost $300 cheaper than the Helios ($495 vs $775), with the same basic blank (not exactly, but very close), slightly cheaper hardware (but still very good), and the Hydros is slightly stiffer than the Helios which makes it cast better at longer distances while it is still "almost" as good as the Helios at short distances.
Unfortunately almost all the articles and online reviews seem to also state that they could not get the exact same rod (different weight, different flex, etc.) when they tested them, so you really have to go try one out for yourself. Now I definitely plan on personally testing a Hydros before buying (anyone who does not do so with that kind of cost is crazy!), but I have a coupe of basic questions:
1) I have not seen any of the rod shootout articles where they have included either the Helios or the Hydros - why do writers test 6-to-10 rods but not include the Orvis rods claimed to be the lightest (or 2nd lightest) in the market? Is this due to an anti-Orvis bias based on past weak rods? Or is there a concern that the Orvis rods will a) be lots better than everything else, or b) be shown to be poor performers and not worth the top end dollars?
Yes - I realize that is a lot more than 2 questions - but really.....it is just one basic question.
2) Secondly, if the Hydros rod is a bit stiffer than the Helios, will the Hydros 4wt rod flex/throw more like a 4.5wt rod? if so then would one want to overline it with a 5wt line? or would a line-and-a-half fly-line like the SA GPX or Rio Grand be best for a Hydros 4wt? I guess I am trying to understand iof the Hydros 4wt will be stiffer than any other brand 4wt (Helios, Sage, etc.) and thus be a split between a 4wt and a 5wt - which by the way might be exactly what I am looking for to use on small/medium streams for 10"-18" rainbows and browns (with a possibility of browns up to 22"-24").
Anybody have any thoughts or recommendations on the Hydros 9' 4wt ?
Go demo the rods your thinking about. I never put too much stock in what others say about rods. If I'm interested I try them out. If I like em I buy em. If I don't I don't. Your the one that is going to fish with it so your opinion is all that matters.
Yeah - as I stated in my post - I definitely plan on trying out the rod myself before laying out those kind of $$ for a fly rod.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, none of the shootouts ever test the Orvis Helios or Hydros rods, so there is little research for comparison. I will test the Hydros 4wt against the rod I am currently using, but my current rod is not in the same level of premium rods.
What I am looking for is if anyone has already tried the Hydros in a 4wt and can compare it to either a Helios or another premium rod (Sage, Winston, etc.). The recurrent comments that the Hydros is a "bit" stiffer than a Helios makes me wonder if it is in the category of a 4.5wt (or a "strong" 4wt)? My opinion is the one that will make the choice and the final decision, but I may learn something from someone else's experience in trying/using a Hyrdos 4wt (e.g. they might have tried overlining with a 5wt line and also tried using a SA GPX line and can compare/describe which line they preferred and why).
I have the 4 wt mid flex Helios and have cast a 5 wt Hydros in tip flex. Although not a direct comparison in wt or flex design I would they both cast true to their wt ratings and did not feel there was any significant difference when casting. The tip flex liked a little more line out to cast well as would be expected. All in all the Hydros seems a VERY smart buy as the quality is outstanding, it is light in the hand and performed admirably,
I was in Orvis today with a buddy who was spending his birthday money, he picked up the hydros 8wt, with the LA Reel. Also, he got them to give him a free line as well, since he commented that when he put his order together online, it included the free line.
We wiggled many many rods and had lots of conversation. The Orvis shop in NYC is downtown so it is pretty hard to cast anything. The Hydros rod felt very similar to the Helios... it uses the same blanks. The sales guy said that the differences were in the materials used to save weight, more titanium, higher quality metals... that sort of thing. Also, the line guides, on the helios, are springy. You can literally flatten them against the rod and they spring right back into place. I tried it, its cool. All being said, the TLS power matrix still seems an attractive rod. The sales guy said that one of the differences was how the two rods flexed, in that the Hydros, while being stiffer, sent more energy from your casting motion to the line than the TLS. Also, the Orvis guy reminded us that if my buddy didn't like the rod (or preferred the 6.5 flex to the 9.5 flex) they'd take back the one he bought and trade it.
So if you are going to spend the money, you have nothing to loose.
Unfortunately I cannot find an Orvis Hydros in the local fly shops to try out. Both local shops that carry Orvis don't have any Hydros 4wt or 5wt rods in stock. I don't like buying a rod (especially for those kind of $$) when I have not had a chance to test it out. One of the shops hopes to have the Hydros 4wt in stock in a couple of weeks; so I will continue to wait!
I think there are shoot outs once in a blue, but they are rare. Yellow stone angler has done it in the past with an Orvis rod. I hope they do this again with newer models. I imagine well done shootouts like these take a great deal of work. As far as the over lining of the rod, I always chalk that up to personal preference for the most part and you simply have to see what works for you, taking into account many variables, such as the type of line, the casting style, etc. I am the buddy that dmort has mentioned above, but I have not really taken my 8wt out for a ride. I will report out what I think as soon as I can- hopefully this weekend. The special is hard to beat with the free LA IV reel, and it seems like the time to buy, especially with the $25 off coupon.
I was lucky and had another $200 gift certificate, so I could not pass on this set-up with free line and backing for a little over $300 Good luck with with the shopping. Hope it works out.
Last week I went with my buddy to test out the Hydros and Helios 9 1/2 6wt. Comparing the same rods he preffered the Hydros. At $300 cheaper I am not really sure why a person would go with the Helios unless they just want to say they have the top of line Orvis rod.
My buddy talked to a couple of people who tested both and most preferred the Hydros.
For the money the Hydros seems like a better deal. JMHO
I finally took the 8 wt tip flex Hydros for a short spin this weekend. It was matched with the Battenkill big water LA IV reel. The line I was using was not what I intended to use. I have a Rio bone fish line for it, but I did not have that line with me at the time. I took the rod to an open section of freshwater. It was very windy. I happen to have a shoulder injury. Though this injury did not really take a toll on me while fishing an Albright 5 wt with an Battenkill mid arbor reel on smaller waters, the weight of the LA reel seemed to make a difference. The reel felt too heavy for me on the Hydros, but then again, I was fishing an 8 wt after 6 hours of fishing with the 5 wt on a much lighter reel. I am new to tip flex rods as well, and it will take me a little bit to get used to the timing of this rod. I also did not use this rod for very long as it was the end of the day, so I will have to revisit this one day when I have the proper line on it (which may need to be overlined), when the shoulder is better, and when I have more time and a fresh start. I'm sorry I could not give better feedback on this rod, but the next chance I get, I will fish this rod first, set it up with the intended line, and compare it to two other 8 wt rods that I have (another Albright and one that I built myself). Bum shoulder or not, it will be worthy of talking about it then in more detail. In the end, there is still much tweaking to get done, so I can't just yet give a truly fair assessment on what I think about this rod. I have always been of the school of thought that technique is 90% of the game anyway. Given my bum shoulder and this being a new flex for me, with the afore mentioned limitations, I can only say the rod performed adequately for "ME," under my current conditions. I hope to come back soon saying "Wow! This is an amazing rod." But that will have to wait until after memorial day weekend.
I have two Hydros rods and two Helios rods. All are excellent. Comparing them I would have to say, they are very similar. Similar in that they feel great and cast well. Hell, I can't tell a difference. But, I'm not one of those guys that can tell you after casting that a rod has this quality or that quality. I'm one of the lucky few. Although I don't consider myself an expert by any means I know that I can pretty much cast any action of rod I ever pick up after a few strokes. I guess I just adjust to the rod. These are two of the nicest models of rods I've ever casted. I've been pretty much a died in the wool Sage & G.Loomis man for years. Having provided all that blather I would say, if I were choosing between the Hydros and the Helios and were only paying retail, I would buy the Hydros.