Earlier this year, I sold some of my fly rods and fly reels that I was no longer using, and bought some newer gear.
I got some pretty nice new gear! Among the purchases were a Douglas Sky fly rod (excellent rod, seems to do EVERYTHING very well!), a couple Allen Kraken fly reels, and an Allen Alluvion fly rod (very impressed with this rod...has great feel and its just SO FUN to fish with!).
But I admit with all the great reviews I've read over the past few years in regards to the Orvis Helios 2 Tip Flex rod, I knew I really wanted one in a 9' 6wt, But apparently I'm not comfortable outlaying the kind of money it would take to buy one brand new. I've been watching for used ones on eBay, placed bids on a couple, that quickly went beyond my mental limit.
And then a used one showed up on a message board. I felt the asking price was reasonable. I bought it. It was delivered to my house on Saturday. I unpacked it, assembled the rod, marveled at its lightness and balance. It was in immaculate condition, I didn't see a speck of dirt or even a single scratch on it. For all intents and purposes....brand new! I then attached a reel and lined up the rod....and took it fishing.
Oh my. I'm in love. I started it off with the toughest challenge I usually put my rods through...casting blockhead poppers for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Now...there was no wind that evening, but I will say it threw that popper extremely well. I realize this rod has a lot of hype associated with it...but after fishing it, I realize in this case there is NO hype....its real. It lives up to everything ever said about it. It is accurate at both short, mid, and long ranges. And it can actually hit those long ranges!
I caught maybe 8 bass from 12"-16.5", and some big Hybrid Sunfish around the 9" range. All excellent fighters, and the rod handled them as you would hope and expect. Perfectly.
I'm very pleased with my purchase. At the moment, I couldn't honestly tell you whether the Douglas Sky or the Orvis Helios 2 is better...they are BOTH extremely capable rods and top choices for any serious fly angler. I would have no problem recommending each of them. One thing I had read regarding rods of this caliber, and I would like to paraphrase here, is: If you don't have one already, you owe it to yourself to GET one.