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Rod Review

Kistler’s Helium 3 Series Rods Channel the Previous Generation


Date: 12/13/15
Tackle Type: Rod
Manufacturer: Kistler
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.74 - GREAT

Introduction: It is hard to believe that it has already been 12 years since I last reviewed a Kistler Helium rod, going all the way back to when I wrote about the very first Helium ever introduced. Since then Kistler has come a long way, and so has the industry. Back then TackleTour was only three years into our existence and the internet was just becoming a burgeoning resource for anglers. This time around Kistler once again partners up with Gary Loomis and North Fork Composites to leverage their proprietary Hybrid High-Intermediate Modulus blanks to deliver the latest generation Helium 3 Series. Does it recapture some of the “Lighter Than Air” magic of the original?

Kistler Helium 3 He3-LMH-70F Specifications

Material Gary Loomis's North Fork Composite Next Generation 98% Carbon Fiber High Strain Modulus
Length 7'0"
Line Wt. 10-14lb
Lure Wt. 3/16 - 7/8 oz
Pieces one
Guides Fuji MACRO sized (larger than micro, smaller than conventional guides) 316 Stainless steel "K" tangle free, Alconite rings
Rear Handle Length 9.5" inches
Power Rating Light/Medium-Heavy
Taper Fast
Rod Weight 4.1oz
MSRP $249.99

Is the third time the charm? The Kistler Helium 3 has big shoes to fill

Impressions and Lab Tests: Twelve years ago when I first fished the Kistler LTA rod it literally blew my mind. Let me frame it all up. At the time G.Loomis, St. Croix, and Lamiglas pretty much dominated the domestic rod market but one small rod manufacturer led by Trey Kistler out of Magnolia Texas was aggressively trying to make inroads by providing the general angling public fishing rods with designs and aesthetics that were up until now typically reserved for custom built rods.

The Helium 3 features a split grip design

Do you remember the first time you saw a bass rod with no foregrip? Custom rod builders had been recommending this for years, but on a production rod? The angling public at the time was much more conservative in nature, so even something as benign as removing unneeded material on a fishing rod was somewhat revolutionary, and polarizing, at the time.

One of our test rods had a full handle so the specs were above the fore-grip, both rods pretty much fished the same as they made use of the same blank

Kistler’s Helium LTA (Lighter Than Air) rods featured these bold styling elements including no foregrip, striking blue zirconia inserts, and even unconventional graphics, all of which were considered avant-garde at the time. Once I got past the physical dissimilarities what really got me was just how light and crisp that first LTA rod felt, not only when I was casting them but that light overall weight seemed to add to the rod’s sensitivity. While these original rods did not seem as powerful as other rods, even those in Kistler’s own lineup at the time, they proved to be plenty durable and an absolute blast to fish.

Turn back the clock. Fishing the original Helium LTA over twelve years ago. This rod literally blew my mind

The original rods took home our very first Innovation Award and the last sentence in the conclusion pretty much summed things up:

“While it isn’t always a good idea to build from the ground up the Kistler Helium proves that when done right the result is nothing short of breathtaking. If you are lucky enough to find one of these rare custom rods definitely consider treating yourself to a unique new fishing experience. Use of pioneering new materials, designing in more comfort, reduced weight, and increased sensitivity make the Kistler Helium a worthy recipient of TackleTour’s Innovation Award.” – Excerpt from TackleTour Kistler Helium LTA (He69APC) review published 3/3/03

The rod has a Smart Grip II EVA foregrip for added comfort and reel tightening ease

Based on the Helium's success it was quite a high bar to aspire to this time around and Kistler’s not so secret weapon is their partnership with Gary Loomis’s North Fork Composites. Originally used on the company’s ultra-high end custom Z-Bone Series the NFC’s blanks are now used in many of the Kistler’s other rods including the popular KLX line. With the Helium 3 rods Kistler took everything they learned about rod building over the last decade, and use of NFC’s proprietary materials and processes, to refresh the series.

Our two test rods have different handles but the same North Fork Composites blank

When I first received the new Helium 3 rods in January 2014 I obtained both split grip and full grip variations based on the same He3-LMH-70F blank. Today Kistler’s Helium 3 lineup is more focused on the split grip as that is apparently what most anglers want, but I personally still have a soft spot for the full grip design, Nonetheless both rods fished basically the same aside from minor differences in balance and ergonomics.

He3-LMH-70F FH: 10" Rear Handle : 9 + Tip Fuji SS/Alconite Kseries Micro: Made in USA : Fast Taper : Medium Heavy Power : 3/16 -7/8 oz: 10-14 lb

Lab Results for Kistler Helium 3 He3-LMH-70F


Avg RoD (2-32oz)


Measured Weight (oz)

Balance Point (inches)

Balancing Torque (ftlbs)

He3-LMH-70F / FH






MBR783C GLX2000






TSFO 26 Rod Average






Next Section: Channeling the original LTA









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