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Reel Review

The Bear brings the Heat, Okuma's Helios Baitcaster (continued)

Retrieving: The Helios Series is comprised of a single offering, a 6.2:1 retrieve ratio right handed reel. This reel is capable of pulling in 26.8 inches of line per handle turn and is designed to be a multi-purpose baitcaster with a higher emphasis on refinement, making it an attractive option for finesse fishing.

To access the cast controls press down on the sideplate

In the field I didn’t find the Helios all that much smoother than the Serrano but noticeably more refined. Anglers will feel more connected to the bait with extremely tight tolerances and the use of both an aluminum frame and handle side sideplate anglers will find that winding power translates very well through this small framed reel. At Clear Lake when fishing alongside the tule pockets I found hooksets were immediate thanks to the reel’s outstanding anti-reverse roller bearing. The Helios exhibits almost no backplay in the handle at all, even less so than many competing reels at the same or even higher price points.

Rotating the dial enables more brakes to deploy

Drag: In the lab our Helios test reel delivered 13.4lbs of drag pressure, which is close to published specification of 14lbs., and is over 2lbs more than what we observed with the Serrano. At the Delta we caught a number of decent fish in the 4-5lb class while pitching plastics in our “Creature Fever” tests. One of the things that really impressed me with the Helios was the upgraded Carbonite drag multi-disc drag system which sandwiches carbon based washers between stainless steel washers. This system delivers superb stopping power but is also very smooth. Line flows out of the reel consistently and even with strong surges from fish the system never shudders.

The non-handle sideplate is made out of graphite

The range of adjustment delivered by utilizing multiple washers of different materials is also impressive. I was able to make very fine adjustments with the clicking drag star and it takes only 5 rotations of the drag star to go from completely free to full lockdown pressure, so when fighting fish anglers need only extend their index finger and push downwards to increase pressure roughly 15-20% instantly, or use their thumb to make the same reduction of pressure.  

The Helios delivers a very connected feel

Durability: I was concerned that the aluminum gearing and drive shaft would not hold up to heavy plastics fishing which requires lots of starts and stops delivering a great deal of torque to the master gearing. After nearly a season of use we opened the reel up and examined the gearing and shaft and found that it has indeed held up.

The drag clicks, the spool tension knob does now

The gear teeth have maintained the edges and the gearing continues to mesh well. During our testing the Helios has landed bass up to 7lbs. and continues to perform well in all respects. Later this year we plan to really stress this reel by seeing if the aluminum gears can hold up to the power of Amazon Peacocks. For anglers that primarily pursue largemouth the reel’s aluminum gearing delivers a surprisingly good balance of both light overall weight and power.

The center of the reel features a lighter color

To protect the Helios Okuma has applied their corrosion resistant coating (CRC) process which adds an extra layer of protection from the elements. The reel is capable of pulling light duty inshore work and the key components like the spool are machined out of A6061-T6 aluminum and anodized, which not only makes the reel more attractive but also helps prevent corrosion. The carbon fiber handle also adds a sporty look to the reel but functions well delivering rigidity and the ability to stand up to the most brackish or saltwater conditions.

Though small access to the spool is generous

Next Section: The best Okuma baitcaster yet?










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