Orvis H2 14 Weight Review


Atlantic tarpon are in my opinion, the strongest saltwater fish. They’re capable of blistering speeds around 35 miles an hour but what’s more impressive is their stamina. Even when the fight is over you can get a surprise final burst that will peel line off the strongest drags. Targeting them on shallow flats stacks the odds in the angler’s favour but in deep water, there may be no more even odds in fishing. This is flyfishing at its most extreme.

Typically a 12 weight rod is preferred for taming tarpon of all sizes but when the water gets deeper than 10 metres, a 14 weight is best. Costa Rica’s Rio Colorado is a haven for big tarpon thanks to its nutrient rich freshwater and abundance of food. Casting a 14 weight outfit 8 hours a day isn’t feasible and so the majority of fishing here is done blind, drifting in a boat with the fly fished in a jerking manner rather than a full retrieve. It’s not glamorous but it works. Often an hour will go by without a touch but then all of a sudden the line is ripped from your hand. There are some subtle things you can do to improve your hook-up rate but the real challenge is landing these leviathans once hooked. Big tarpon need to be shown who’s boss early in the fight and maximum pressure has to be applied at all times. If you’re resting, so is the fish and so if you don’t want to be locked into a stalemate then you have to fight dirty. Everything is tested when you duel with giant tarpon.


Many bluewater fly rods on the market are built for one thing and one thing only – fighting fish. They resemble conventional game fishing rods that are tweaked to give them a fly rod appearance. The H2 is different. It has the balls of the others but you can actually cast it. It loads and delivers big flies without compromising on fish fighting grunt. Start looking at 14 weight rods and you’ll soon realise there is a trend toward three-piece designs. The H2 is four piece and while some might argue that fewer joins is stronger, these rods need to pack to a reasonable size if they’re going to be travelled with. Many rods bend with flat spots where the joins are and this is a sign of weakness. If you see it you should be concerned. As you’ll see from the images, the H2 bends deep with a perfect curve that efficiently applies maximum pressure to the fish. The componentry is top notch but if the rod could be improved in any area it would be the reel seat. Tightening those little rings is difficult and they do come loose if you don’t keep an eye on them. Other than that minor problem, I love this rod and I wouldn’t consider chasing tarpon or billfish without one.


Sure, not many flyfishing applications call for a 14 weight, but when they do, you better hope you have an Orvis Helios 2 in your hands.