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Reel Review

Okuma Aims high with the Helios Air Baitcaster


Date: 9/21/15
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: Okuma
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 7.60 - BEST VALUE AWARD!

Introduction: So you want to go lighter? Okuma’s top of the line low profile baitcaster, the Helios Air, is designed for anglers seeking a low profile baitcaster that falls into the “ultralight” category. This familiar looking reel is built off the original popular Helios Series but cranks things up by utilizing magnesium to effectively go on a diet. This lightweight reel weighs in at only 5.7 ounces and is designed to be a top notch performer while still remaining surprisingly affordable.


Okuma Helios Air Specifications

Line Capacity - Rated 12/130, 14/95
Line Capacity - Spool Volume 10 cubic centimeters
Retrieve Ratio 7.3:1
Inches Per Turn (IPT) 31.6"
Weight 5.3 oz
Spool Weight 16 grams
Handle Length 85 mm
Bearings 8 + 1
Bearings per Knob 2 bearings
Rated Max Drag 14 lbs
Origin Made in Korea
MSRP $249.99

Okuma's highest end baitcaster the Helios Air

Quality and Construction: There was a time when going ultra-light on a baitcaster meant using magnesium, which is both expensive as well as challenging to manufacture with. Over the last few years many manufacturers have shifted their ultralight offerings from magnesium to carbon composites, which are not only durable but often times more affordable to build with. That said there is still something magical about fishing with a magnesium based baitcaster.

The reel weighed in at only 5.3oz. and makes use of Magnesium not only for the frame construction but both sideplates as well

The spool is aircraft grade aluminum

Okuma is looking to channel that magic with their Helios Air, which features not only a magnesium frame but sideplates as well, helping deliver what they hope is an ideal blend of structural integrity and quality ergonomics. In hand the reel feels light and comfortable to palm. The swept handle is made out of carbon fiber to further minimize weight, and inside rather than using heavy brass gearing Okuma employs aluminum gears and shafts.

A look inside the Helios Air

Overall the materials used throughout the Helios Air are quite good, including the A6061-T6 machined aluminum spool which is anodized for extra corrosion resistance. Though this may be a lightweight reel it is definitely capable of handling superlines, and not only offers enough capacity, but features a heavy duty zirconium line guide insert that is rated for the complete range of braids.

The Air's magnesium sideplate is built to exacting tolerances

The tolerances on the Helios Air are also excellent, and probably the best we have seen from Okuma yet. The company has traveled light years when it comes to how much more refined their latest crop of baitcasters are than available offerings from just five seasons ago. In the lab we observed almost no play in the handle and the frame seemed to do an excellent job eliminating gear slop as a result of body flex under load.

Another way to reduce weight, aluminum gearing

Quality Ratings for Okuma Helios Air

Finish (1-5)
Frame & Sideplate Tolerance (1-5)
Handle Tolerance (1-5)
Knob Tolerance (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Time to put the Helios Air to the test

Real World Tests: Our Okuma Helios Air tests took an entire season and took us from coast to coast, fishing for everything from striped bass in Lake Ouachita in Arkansas to largemouth and smallmouth bass on our home water of the California Delta. While the Helios Air is primarily designed for lighter applications like finesse fishing with thin diameter lines it can be used for pretty much the complete gamut of bass fishing applications.

We paired the Helios Air with a Helios HS-CM-701MH rod for most tests

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