Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine was invited to conduct a field test of the new-for-2019 Okuma Helios SX Low Profile Baitcast Reel.
Now, just so everybody understands, we do not treat the responsibilities of field testing lightly in any way, shape, or form. It is serious business. Manufacturers deserve an honest and fair evaluation of products tested, and we suspect that our findings and recommendations will carry weight with our readers and have potential to influence buying decisions.
So, to provide an extensive and honest evaluation of the Helios SX’s performance and durability, we set out to run a trial of 30 actual fishing days spread across a two-month time frame. Recognizing that practically every reel will run like a champ right out of the box, we wanted to dig much deeper. Plus, we wanted to learn how well the reel would continue to perform after the corrosive demons that live in salt water had ample time to wreak havoc.
Good friend and fishing guide, Capt. Jeff Larson, agreed to conduct the test. As much as any member of our team would have leaped at the chance to take the reel fishing for 30-days in two months, such is simply not possible. We also suspected that the rigors of charter fishing would deliver a more severe test than an average angler might be inclined to place upon their tackle.
Jeff offers a variety of charter services that range from wading and drifting with live bait and lures in Port O’Connor bays and back lakes for trout, slot-reds and black drum, as well as trips to the Matagorda Ship Channel where he targets bull reds and jack crevalle. The bull reds and jacks, we thought, would test the drag system of the Helios SX far greater than any of the bay species. We are sure you will agree if you’ve ever hooked into a 20-pound jackfish on this class of tackle.
Field Test Guidelines
- Put the product in charter client’s hands for at least 30 full days of fishing.
- Respool with fresh braided line as necessary to fairly evaluate casting performance.
- No maintenance should be performed other than occasional rinsing and wiping of external services with Real Magic (or similar).
- No cleaning or lubing of internal mechanisms.
- Don’t baby the reel but do not purposely abuse it.
What we learned
Jeff’s report on the Helios SX can be summarized as highly favorable overall and he gave it very high marks for casting performance throughout the 30-day no-maintenance trial period. Which says much about the reel’s basic durability. The thumb bar exhibited no stickiness and he encountered no difficulty with the casting brake system. He did mention that the brake tabs are quite small, which some users might find tricky to engage or disengage.
While certainly not a performance negative; casting brake adjustment requires complete removal of the left side plate. A side plate hinge would be a great improvement toward eliminating the probability of dropping the side plate while making casting brake adjustments.
The drag system on the Helios SX also earned high marks. Advertised to be capable of delivering 18-pounds of stripping resistance, Jeff reported silky-smooth line payout, even when almost fully-locked against the hard runs of bull reds and jack crevalle.
Corrosion resistance on the SX’s external surfaces was also seen to be very good – no blistering or flaking – the reel looked brand new after the testing was completed. Okuma has obviously done their homework in this area.
Post Field Test Internal Examination and Summary
Curious for a look inside the SX, after the field testing was completed, we took it to local reel repairman, Andy Westling, for a full strip-down inspection. We found no salt buildup in any of the mechanisms and, of special note, there was still ample evidence of factory lube remaining in all critical areas. These included the anti-reverse bearing, drag tensioning system and drag plates, levelwind, and thumb bar.
In summary, the Helios SX passed our field testing with flying colors and we feel confident anglers who purchase this reel could expect it to perform likewise. Kudos to Okuma for producing a tough reel that is available at an attractive price point!
Helios SX Low Profile Baitcast Reel (2019 NEW)
Okuma Helios SX low profile baitcast reels feature new internal velocity control system, the friction free disengaging spool shaft design, and a new, larger handle design with 100mm of throw for the ultimate in cranking power and feel. The Helios SX is built with rigid diecast aluminum frame and side plates as well as a machined aluminum spool for unlimited strength.
- ALC: Rigid diecast aluminum frame and sideplates
- CRC: Corrosion Resistant Coating process
- Machined aluminum, ported spool for reduced weight
- Aluminum gears for tournament feel and reduced weight
- Multi-disc Carbonite drag system for power and smoothness
- Micro-click static drag star for Precision drag settings
- Friction free shaft system allows for longer casts
- 10BB + 1RB stainless steel bearings for ultimate smoothness
- Precision Japanese ABEC-5 spool bearings, maximize freespool
- Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing
- New generation 12-point adjustable Velocity Control System
- Oversized carbon fiber 100mm length handle for max cranking power
- Weight 6.3 ounces
- Max Drag Force 18 pounds
- MSRP: $219.99