Okuma Helios Review

Today I leave for Grand Bahama.  I don’t know if I’ll be posting reports while I’m there, or if I’ll wait until I get back.  I will, however, schedule some reports to post while I’m gone so that my goal of a post a day is met.

A couple years ago I picked up an Okuma reel at my local fly shop, Off the Hook.  I had never had an Okuma before, but the reel looked good and I needed a new reel for my 7 weight.  The price was right too… about $173.

I recently wrote a review of the Okuma Helios for the Off the Hook fly shop… here is my review, as found on the Off the Hook website.

A couple years back I picked up an Okuma Helios for my 7 wt. I planned to use the Okuma for heavy trout (Lower Sacramento, primarily) as well as whatever other trouble I could get into with my 7 wt… shad, light steelhead, bass and even bonefish.


Nice looking bit of gear

My first impression of the Helios was that it was relatively light weight with a good drag system, an attractive design and good durability.  Okuma touts the Helios as “nearly maintenance free,” which is a bonus for me as I am unusually harsh on equipment.  The waterproof drag makes it a good solution for me for saltwater applications like bonefish or jack crevalle.  The weight balances well with both the St. Croix Legend Ultra and Sage RPL that I’ve fished it on.  I’ll be putting it on a TFO Axiom 7  wt. for my upcoming trip.

Before I could take the reel to the Lower Sacramento, it went with me on a trip to catch my first bonefish in Grand Bahama in the winter of 2008.  I was unsure how a reel at this price point would deal with the famously strong fish.  At $173, the Okuma is about $100 less than comparable Ross Reels and well over $300 less than the heavy weights like Tibor or Able.  In bonefishing the reel is a lot more important than the rod, unlike most of the trout fishing I’ve done in my lifetime.

My Helios was put to the ultimate test when I hooked into a 7.5 pound bonefish on the East End of Grand Bahama.  I was in my backing in maybe 2 seconds.  The drag was smooth, no jerking, no hesitation.  The large arbor design helped me pick up line quickly.

Since then the Helios has landed shad on the American River and 20”+ bows on the Lower Sacramento .  The reel is still in mint condition and will be making another trip with me to the Bahamas .  I trust it with the fiercest of gamefish.

** for the record, I purchased this reel at full market value ***

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  1. Bjorn,

    I use an Okuma Infusion (i know, not the best thing ever) as a back up. My main rig is a Pflueger Trion. It’s a pretty nice rig for the price. But I’ve never had problems with the Okuma….

  2. Man, you see one of the rods I’m bringing is an Albright GP… an $80-$60 rod, depending on when you buy it. I believe in cheap and have to remind people that the old timers used to do this with bamboo and cat gut. Love that Okuma though. Looking forward to seeing how that TFO Large Arbor feels though.

  3. I have a Okuma SLV on a 7 wt I have been using for myself and loaning to my clients for big Bones in Puerto Rico. I can’t say enough good things about the reel and of course the price is right. Super smooth drag, large enough arbor for a decent retrieval rate. Top notch for an inexpensive reel.

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