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ICAST 2011 Coverage

First Look at Okuma's new lightweight Helios and C3-40X rods


Date: 7/15/11
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Admission: Buyers & Press only
Manufacturer: Okuma
Reviewer: Zander

Okuma's new baitcasters looked even better in person than the original product photos we obtained pre ICAST. To match up with these new reels Okuma is introducing two new rod lines, the Helios and C3-40X series, both of which feature forward thinking designs and an emphasis on light overall total weight.


Okuma's highest end freshwater rod is the new Helios series


A perfect pair, Helios and Helios: The new Helios reels look great and I personally like the styling of the reels, which follow the Serrano footprint, better than the more angular looking Cedros and Komodo. At 6.3oz. the lightweight Helios feels very light in hand and it was only appropriate that Okuma introduce a new rod series to match their new reel.


The Helios rods are designed to pair with Okuma's new Helios baitcaster...


...which features the Serrano body and numerous performance upgrades including a superior bearing count and weight reduction


The Helios rods are positioned above both the previous and new C3 series rods and feature 40 ton carbon blank construction for improved sensitivity. These rods are extremely light and the lightest 7'0" rod weighs in at only 3.6oz. while the XH power 7'6" rod weighs only 5oz., which is still very light for a rod capable of tossing 2oz. lures.


The Helios rods feature the Pac Bay MINIMA reel seats which provide plenty of access to the blank


The rods feature an attractive dark silver blank which is finished with green highlights that match the Helios reel. The rods are designed with the ALPS mini guide system and have Zirconium inserts to deal with braided line.


The rods feature ALPS mini guides


A zero foregrip design not only provides extra access to the blank but was taken into consideration when balancing out with the matching reel. One very nice touch is the reel seat thread which is machined out of aluminum and finished with a Fuji hood. The grips are all EVA and in true enthusiast fashion Okuma ditches any fixed hook keeper and instead ships each rod with a Fuji moveable hook keeper which can be adjusted into any position to match angler requirements.


The Helios rods feature machined aluminum reel seat threads


In all there will be five Helios casting rods available at time of launch, which will be in the latter part of this year. The rods range in length from 7 to 7'6" in length and are designed to address lures from 1/4-2oz. in weight and have power ratings from medium to extra heavy. I really like the way these new Helios rods look, and at least from the brief look at the show floor seem to be the best feeling (and looking) Okuma bass rods to date. All the new Helios rods retail for $174.99 each and for ultimate peace of mind Okuma rods come backed with a limited lifetime warranty.


The C3-40X features even more aggressive styling than the previous version


C3 gets an upgrade: The original C3 rods elevated Okuma’s freshwater fishing rod game in a major way and gave anglers a high-quality rod to pair with the popular Serrano. One of the things that made the original rods so recognizable was the carbon grips. These were not some dipped or painted simulated carbon, this was real carbon that was sanded to create a unique soft touch feel. Those handles are back on the new C3-40X upgraded rods which replace the original.


The C3-40X rods feature a Pac Bay MINIMA real seat on both casting and spinning models. The reel seat is painted black, and yes those are green flakes


The C3-40X rods feature the instantly recognizable green blanks paired with the soft touch carbon handle grips and a new Pac Bay MINIMA reel seat that is painted black with green flakes. The blanks are 40 ton carbon and is loaded with ALPS titanium guide frames and loaded with zirconium inserts. Like the Helios rods Okuma decided not to use a fixed hook hanger and instead give anglers complete flexibility by bundling each rod with a Fuji moveable hook hanger.


The rods ship with a Fuji moveable hook keeper


The series includes a total of 24 rods including 10 spinning rods, 12 casting rods, and 2 casting swimbait rods, the most powerful of which is an XH 7’11” rod with a lure rating of 2-8oz. The rods are also very light and the shortest 6’6” M casting and spinning rods both weigh in at a very wispy 3.4oz., paired with a new Komodo reel the entire casting combo weighs in at only 9.9oz., and balances out well.


John Bretza shows us the latest freshwater rods from Okuma, and they pair nicely with the new reels


Conclusion: I really like the direction that Okuma is moving this season and the new baitcasters look fantastic, both on paper and in hand. The company has always delivered quality product at a reasonable price, but with offerings like the new Helios reel and rod the brand will be further associated with performance and style, and in very short few seasons Okuma has gone from being primarily known as a “spinning reel company” that dabbles in the baitcasting market, to a company that has a complete offering for serious bass anglers.









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