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TT Exclusive: Okuma Unveils Upcoming Helios Spinning Reel at El Salto


Date: 6/3/12
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Okuma
Reviewer: Team TackleTour

It has been less than 24 hours since Zander and Cal have returned from El Salto Mexico where Okuma held an event where they unveiled prototypes of their brand new Helios spinning reel. We take a closer look at this exciting new reel which makes use of carbon fiber construction to achieve a lighter overall weight and improved corrosion resistance.




Okuma has continued to expand both their baitcasting and spinning lineup and we suspected that the company was going to making some tweaks to their baitcasting lineup, but what we didn’t expect was the introduction of a new carbon based spinning reel bearing the Helios name. In preparation for ICAST the team at Okuma held an event at El Salto where we were invited to check out some of the new products they are working on finalizing in the next few weeks. This included brand new baits from the Savage Gear lineup as well as a few new reel and rod offerings, most exciting of which was this fresh spinning reel which will represent the flagship offering in their spinning lineup.


Brandon Cotton of Okuma shows us the new prototype Helios spinning reel


While all the details of the new Helios series have not yet been finalized the prototypes were very mature, certainly fishable and representative of what final production will look like. The aggressive El Salto bass population provided the perfect opportunity to see just what the new reel was capable of, and we were able to spend three days on the water tossing everything from soft bodied swimbaits to topwater walk the dog lures to see just how well the new reel handled.


The new spinning reel makes use of carbon fiber construction for the frame and rotor


Each reel will make use of elongated carbon fibers which Helios calls C40X to provide a lightweight yet very rigid construction for both the frame and rotor. In low light the reel looks plain black but in the sunlight you can clearly see the actual interwoven carbon fibers throughout the reel.


A look at the front


To reinforce the carbon theme there are sporty traditional carbon fiber elements throughout the reel including on the sideplates and on top of the spool, and similar to some other competing lightweight reels the handle makes use of carbon fiber tubes versus aluminum. An EVA handle knob and green highlights make the reel instantly recognizable as a “Helios” family reel.


Brandon casts the new Helios spinning reel


The Helios spinning reel will be available with a range of sizes and will feature a 5.0:1 or 6.0:1 gear ratio, depending on size and model, and and are designed to handle everything from mono to braided line and makes use of a machined aluminum spool that is double anodized and ported for extra weight reduction.  The detail in design on this reel is impressive and everything is either constructed out of carbon or aluminum, no cheap plastic caps here.


The prototypes look and feel ready for primetime


Final weights will be unveiled at ICAST but in hand we felt like the reels were both lightweight and compact. In terms of availability four sizes of Helios spinning reels should be available in the early Fall timeframe. As you might expect these reels are designed to pair with Okuma Helios rods and the company is also creating a new spinning rod lineup which further expands upon the existing rod design. Visually these rods tie perfectly with the new reel and will make use of EVA split grips, a fully exposed reel seat, a spinning micro guide system and come with a Fuji hook keeper.


A carbon fiber handle completes the new reel


On the water the prototype reels held up nicely while fishing with braid and we felt like they were both powerful and lightweight. The bail mechanism feels very solid and the retrieve was also smooth and friction free. The drag also felt smooth and was able to help keep fish pinned on during the tug of war to keep them out of the El Salto submerged timber. We couldn’t tell what the actual drag system was comprised out of but were guessing that it is a multi-disk felt drag washer system, similar to what the company has deployed on their other high end reels.


El Salto provided the perfect backdrop for this preview and we look forward to seeing the final reels at ICAST


Depending on what pricing ends up being on these new Helios reels these may be a very compelling offering for anglers looking for either a finesse reel or a lightweight inshore spinning reel that will not corrode. While we will wait for the final production reel, and a breakdown in the lab, for final judgment, what we have seen and experienced so far with the new Helios spinning reel is very promising. This new spinning reel delivers a lot of what we like in a high end spinning reel, plenty of power, light overall weight, a smooth retrieve and a smooth and consistent drag that helps preserve light line for finesse fishing. Final details will be unveiled at ICAST but it certainly looks like Okuma has managed to bottle some of the magic from their popular Helios line and translated it into this upcoming new spinning reel.


Update: Okuma has confirmed that there will be a total of four reels at time of launch with sizes 25, 30, 35 and 40. The 25 and 40 sizes will be high speed models with the 6.0:1 ratio.  









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