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Rod Review


A Classic Vintage in the Making? Kistler's '21 Helium (continued)

Design & Ergonomics: Depending where you fall in the spectrum of dealing with change, the refreshed Helium will either delight or disappoint you. If you're a fan of consistency, you'll be delighted with the look of the new Helium because Kistler has not deviated from the previous generation's overall design. If you were hoping for something new like a different grip configuration or material, you will be disappointed. What I was hoping to see is a return to the series's original design with the full rear grip and no foregrip. I could also go for a slightly higher grade of cork, but understanding this material, is becoming increasingly scarce - especially at the higher grades, I'm not as critical of the small pits and gaps as I once was.

Lab Results for Kistler 2021 Helium HE701ML

Avg RoD
Measured Weight (oz)
Balance Point (inches)
Balancing Torque (ft lbs)
Kistler 2021 Helium HE701ML
What the Finesse Avg
Medium Pwr Avg

On the more critical issue of weight and balance, the HE701ML scores very nicely with an overall weight of just over three ounces and a balance point of seven and a half inches above the reel seat. These numbers are all in line with, or better than our averages for rods above and below this stick in power rating (Reference Lab Results Table above).

The HE701MLF makes a nice moving bait rod too

Price & Applications: The one area of serious disappointment with the new Helium? Well, that'd be the listed price point. With the new year and new blank, Kistler has raised the price on rods in their Helium series to a cool four hundred dollars ($400). By comparison, this is just under G.Loomis GLX and St. Croix Legend Elite, and $100 more than Megabass Orochi XX. I point this out because all three of these series have higher-end guide-trains than this generation Helium rods.

A closed loop hook hangar for the '21 Helium

Specifically, the G.Loomis MBR842C GLX is equipped with stainless steel framed, SiCs at $470. St. Croix's 7' medium powered rod retails for $420 and comes with a titanium framed, Torzite guide train, and save for two or three models, Megabass's entire Orochi XX lineup comes equipped with stainless steel framed SiC guides at $300. G.Loomis and St. Croix, like Kistler builds these two lines in the US while Megabass sources their rods from China. Bottom line, $400 is a lot for a stick built with Alconite guides. G.Loomis's MBR842C IMX has the same guide-train and retails for $355. Even that seems high.

Retail price for the HE701MLF is now $400

All of that aside, the HE701ML is a very worthy stick if you're looking for a rod with which to begin your bait finesse journey. It served me well in its role presenting both drop shot and ned rig bait combos, and after switching out reels, I even managed some time chucking Z-Man and Evergreens' new Jack Hammer Stealth Bladed Chatterbait with this rod. I wouldn't hesitate to use it with some other, small moving baits like Evergreen's Piccolo or similar micro-cranks that are making their way into the market either.


Kistler 2021 Helium HE701ML Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Nice, clean build 9
Performance Blank feels like an upgrade from the He3 from several years ago... excellent sensitivity 9
Price Cost of ownership is on the high side considering the competition 6
Features Blank is different, but components and handle materials remain the same. Solid overall 7.5
Design (Ergonomics) Same look but an enhanced feel thanks to the new blank. 8
Application An excellent BFS or micro-cranking rod option 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:


+ Crisp, responsive blank - Cost of ownership is on the high side with current component spec
+ Very good sensitivity  
+ Light overall build  
+ Performance on point with the Helium brand  


Conclusion: Complacency is not an adjective one can use to easily describe the mindset over at Kistler Custom Rods. From the first incarnation of their popular Helium fishing rods, to the difficulties experienced during the second generation of that line, to the recovery during the third, Kistler's Helium story reads like a science fiction trilogy.


If Helium were a Pinot Noir and 2021 were a vintage, this series would definitely be on my recommended buy list as a good pairing to your favorite technique


With a new source for blanks, 2021 sees another new beginning for Helium as well as Kistler Custom Rods. Thing is, this new blank does not fish similar to any of the previous generations. It is a lot more lively with a resonance I normally equate to something high-end. It's as if Helium were a fine wine and this 2021 model were a vintage. In this case, Helium would definitely be on my recommended buy list as a good pairing to your favorite technique.


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