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Rod Review

Kistler’s Helium 3 Series Rods Channel the Previous Generation (continued)

Price & Applications: Back when I reviewed the original Helium LTA Series the new rod was a monumental leap from the vast majority of bass rods on the market at the time. When it came to premium American Made rods G.Loomis and St. Croix were already firmly established but there were few others outside the custom rod building community that really offered anything truly different. The delta between competing rod designs and quality was greater over a decade ago, which only helped the original Helium LTA really stand apart from the masses.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Kistler Helium 3 He3-LMH-70F

Grip (1-5)
Colors / Graphics (1-5)
Balance (1-5)
Weight (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Load up! The rod can sling any small to mid sized lures with ease

All of this doesn’t mean that the new Helium 3 is any less of a rod than its predecessors, quite the opposite in fact, this is a great rod but the competition now has plenty of great rods too. By leveraging NFC blanks Kistler is able to focus on building excellent rods with some of the most advanced materials available. Unfortunately sourcing blanks from a third party that also sells to other manufacturers also typically reduces some of the ability to differentiate. But in an age when the majority rod manufacturers have their products built overseas to minimize production costs and maximize profit margins, Kistler Custom Rods is once again bucking the trend.

Though I usually don't like blending too much EVA with Cork in the handles I have to admit the foregrip was comfortable

With the introduction of their Z-Bone series roughly three years ago, followed by KLX last year, Kistler has slowly been moving production of their rods back to the United States, and thanks to the strategic partnership with North Fork Composites, Kistler is able to offer rods assembled domestically on a blank manufactured in the US. The result is not only a rod that you can really call “Made in America,” but a rod that is also built exceptionally well thanks to local quality control on raw materials and final rod assembly. The blue threading for example is some of the best we have seen, and any gaps between cork and components is non-existent.

Quality Ratings for Kistler Helium 3 He3-LMH-70F

Finish (1-5)
Grip (1-5)
Epoxy (1-5)
Blank (1-2)
Guides (1-2)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

A smallie taken on a jig with the Helium 3

The original Helium LTA series debuted with a price tag of $220 - $250, depending on the model. The Helium 3 Series is comprised of a plethora of spinning and casting models, all retailing for $250 - $290, which make the new rods a great overall value when you consider that they are almost the same price as what the original LTAs debuted for so long ago.

Bass Rod Application Ratings for Kistler Helium 3 He3-LMH-70F

Rip/Jerk (1-5)

Drag (1-5)

Twitch (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)







Kistler Helium 3 He3-LMH-70F Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Excellent overall quality in the blank and he construction. Being picky the only thing we could fine were some blemishes in the cork but even the Kistler cork looks better than many of the competitor's cork which makes use of a lot of filler 9.47
Performance Excellent performance in all the areas that the rod was intended for pitching but it does just about everything else very well. Feels both lightweight and crisp but has the backbone to pull big fish when you need it 9.2
Price A reasonable price, especially when you consider that this rod is made in the U.S.A. form an American made NFC blank 8.0
Features Simple and clean design, the split grip is the current default option from Kistler. Good use of Fuji and Kigan components on a great blank 8.0
Design (Ergonomics) While I like the benefits that cork and EVA have to offer I'm not the biggest fan of combining the two together on various parts of the grip. The soft touch foregrip feels great but the rod would have a more stealthy overall look if it employed another black grip or even EVA throughout. At the end of the day the cork and EVA do pay homage to the original LTA though. Overall the Helium 3 feels light and crisp and is a pleasure to fish all day 9.0
Application As versatile as it is light 8.8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Much better than the last generation Helium 2 rods - Doesn't push the envelope or have as much personality as the original LTA (though it is a better rod)
+ Makes use of an excellent blank, the NFC blanks are the real deal - No lifetime warranty (comes with Kistler 3 year VIP Pro warranty)
+ Channels the original with the cosmetics and the light and crisp feel  
+ A very versatile rod, a great choice for the Search for One  
+ Plenty of backbone when you need it  
+ A reasonable price, especially when you consider the rod is made in the U.S.A. from an American blank  


Conclusion: The He3-LMH-70F rods we tested proved to be multi-talented performers and much like our “Search for One” if you only could have one rod in the boat this would be a great option. The Helium 3 rods feel great, fish very well, and this series is considerably better than the last iteration, and more what we expected from the “Helium Series.” The company’s Z-Bone rods are definitely the top of the Kistler food chain and the Helium 3 fishes very similar to the company’s KLX rods. The partnership with North Fork Composites has yielded a quality rod in the Helium 3 Series, and it is great that the rods are built right here in the U.S.A. on an American made blank.


The Helium 3 channels the original and delivers

It's interesting how many of us once took for granted where our fishing tackle was manufactured. With fishing rods especially it seems more and more rods are being made somewhere overseas. But a handful of manufacturers are making the effort to keep it domestic, to keep jobs here, to boost the local economy, to take ownership of quality control. G.Loomis, Lamiglas, St. Croix, and Edge Rods by North Fork Composites, have never taken that for granted but each of these manufacturers have the luxury of producing their own blanks. Kistler Custom Rods, is going through the added expense of sourcing domestic blanks and building the rods here, all while keeping the retail price of these Helium 3 rods reasonable.

What makes the rod so great really comes down to the excellent blank itself

Though I have no issue recommending the Helium 3 Series for anyone looking for a quality rod I also wish that Kister took a few more chances to capture some that innovation and aggressive personality of the original LTAs. In the past Kistler has never been afraid to push the envelope when it comes to rod design and while the Helium Series is what the company is probably best known for it is perhaps an update to another series that is going to once again break the mold once again.

As versatile as it is light in weight, while the Helium 3 does not break as much ground as the original LTA it is a worthy successor

Kistler has just begun the introduction of their new more affordable Magnesium 2 Series. The Magnesium 2 Series basically takes everything we discussed in this article a step further by bringing together what Trey believes are the best components available in the industry including Gary Loomis's North Fork Composites Gen2 SM Superior Modulus Graphite blanks, American Tackle Microwave guides, Kigan’s Tip Top design to help eliminate line wrap, and a custom chartreuse Winn Grip handle design provides a "sticky" grip in all weather conditions and will match the chartreuse thread wrapping which immediately identifies this is a Magnesium Series rod.

Looking to get aggressive and push the envelope once again Kistler is introducing the Magnesium 2

Like the Helium 3 series the new Magnesium 2 rods will also be made in the U.S.A, which is all the more impressive considering these rods will be between $189-$199 dollars. These rods are an official 2016 release so if you are a high-end angler looking for a quality rod with a proven design and updated materials the current Helium 3 will not disappoint, but if you’re looking for a more aggressively styled mid-range rod with the complete spectrum of new components (and personally like chartreuse), then you might want to check out the new Magnesium 2 Series. Either way Kistler has you covered with a Made in the U.S.A. rod option.

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