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Rod Review


A Classic Vintage in the Making? Kistler's '21 Helium


Date: 3/8/21
Tackle Type: Rod
Manufacturer: Kistler Custom Rods
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.92 - GOOD

Not every manufacturer has one, but most of the successful, long standing companies do. A product line that, when mentioned by name alone, instantly invokes the name of that manufacturer in the consumer's mind: GLX, Legend Elite, Destroyer, Kaleido, Stella, Zillion, Revo. Consumers wanting to experience what an established manufacturer is all about need only look to these signature series to get that sense.


2021 brings us a new vintage in Kistler's Helium


The first time Zander set eyes on a Kistler Helium was in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. My first experience with a Helium rod came in 2003 - before joining the TackleTour team, but after reading Zander's original review of the legendary He69APC. While there are other product lines above and below this one, in my mind, Helium is still the series that defines Kistler Custom Rods. We recently caught wind of some changes within the company surrounding their source for blanks, so we acquired a stick from the current Helium series to check out. Here's our look at the 2021 Kistler Custom Rods Helium.


Kistler 2021 Helium HE701ML Specifications

Material Kistler KC9 Blank (Toray Carbon Fiber)
Length 7'-0"
Line Wt. 6-10lbs
Lure Wt. 1/16-3/8oz
Pieces 1
Guides 9+tip (Fuji SS/Alconite)
Rear Handle Length 9.5"
Power Rating Medium Light
Taper Fast
Rod Weight 3.1
Origin Assembled in USA
MSRP $400


Impressions: Call it a force of habit or maybe just wishful thinking but the first thing I do every time I hold a new Helium in my hand is check the color of the guide inserts. Gone are the days of the Helium's original blue, Zirconium inserts. Instead, Kistler has long since transitioned to an arguably more durable insert of the more widely accepted manufacturer Fuji. Of course, I'm referring to the company's workhorse stainless steel framed Alconite guides. What Kistler has done, in an effort to re-capture some of the series' original appeal is to use blue, semi-translucent, thread wraps for a very refined looking wrap. Still, I miss the blue inserts.


I will forever miss the blue insert guides on the original Helium sticks, but the 2021 vintage comes equipped with Fuji Alconites


The next thing to check, at least with this incarnation of Helium is that blank. After a roughly ten year relationship with North Fork Composites that started with the use of their blanks in Kistler's original custom order ZBone line and saw it, at one point, expand to every single series the manufacturer offered, Kistler has chosen to transition the series to a different source. There was no single reason or cause for the move, and as far as we know, Kistler and North Fork Composites remain on good terms. Rather, the move arose out of Trey Kistler's continued search for lighter, more responsive blanks.

The split rear cork grip is clean, but certainly not free from imperfections

There's little question the pedigree of an NFC blank, so the thought there could be something lighter and more responsive will be inconceivable to many. However, that's why we're here - to acquire the product and test things out for ourselves. I was happy to discover, out of the shipping tube, this new Helium's blank definitely has the feel and sound of a high end product.

The new vintage carries on a familiar motif

Real World Tests: Of course, it's one thing to impress out of the shipping tube or off the tackle store shelf, it's another to meet those expectations out on the water. To change things up from our usual tests of all purpose, medium-heavy powered sticks, I acquired the medium-light rated new Helium to give some love to a growing movement - fishing light line techniques on a casting rod. That's right, growth of the movement may be as slow as that suspicious mole on your neck and perhaps, just as embarrassing to reveal, but similar to that mole, the bait finesse (BFS) initiative is real. Even better, it poses no real threat to your physical health - only the health of your tackle budget.

The HE701MLF in particular is a nice candidate for bait finesse (BFS) applications matched here with my Conquest BFS

Next Section: Casting with the new Helium...









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