Differences Between Helical Or Offset Vanes: Which One Is Right For You
Helical vanes, also known as helical fletching, are vanes that are twisted around the arrow shaft in a spiral fashion. When viewed from the back of the arrow, helical vanes twist either to the left or to the right. The degree of helical twist can vary, but typically it ranges from 2 to 5 degrees.
One of the main advantages of helical vanes is that they provide greater stability and accuracy than straight vanes when applied to the correct arrow build. The spiral twist of the vanes causes the arrow to further spin in flight, which helps to counteract any inherent wobble or imperfections in the arrow's straightness. This spin also helps to stabilize the arrow's trajectory, making it more accurate.
Another advantage of helical vanes is that they create more drag than straight vanes, which slows down the arrow's rotation and stabilizes its flight. This can be especially beneficial when shooting broadhead arrows, which can be prone to erratic flight due to their weight and shape. However, this also present a problem with velocity or speed deprivation.
There are some drawbacks to helical vanes. For one, they can decrease the arrow's speed, as the increased drag that they create can slow down the arrow's rotation. The longer the arrow spends in flight the more time wind has to make an impact on the point of aim vs the point of impact. Also, there is a point where your arrow shafts are rotating too fast and can create problems. Additionally, helical vanes can be more difficult to install than straight vanes, as they require a specialized jig to ensure that they are twisted around the shaft evenly and consistently. This is problem is exaggerated on smaller diameter arrow shafts.
Offset vanes are vanes that are positioned at an angle to the arrow shaft, rather than perpendicular to it like straight vanes. The angle at which the vanes are offset can vary, but it typically ranges from 1 to 5 degrees. From all of our testing with high speed cameras, radars, and shooting machines, there are diminished returns with offset vane configurations over 3 degrees. Offset vanes can be oriented to the left or the right, depending on the archer's preference.
One of the main advantages of offset vanes is that they provide greater stability and accuracy than straight vanes, but without the decrease in speed that can be caused by helical vanes. The offset angle of the vanes causes the arrow to rotate faster in flight, which helps to counteract any inherent wobble or imperfections in the arrow's straightness like helicals. This again, helps to stabilize the arrow's trajectory, allowing it to recover faster, and making it more accurate.
Another advantage of offset vanes is that they are easier to install than helical vanes, as they do not require a specialized jig. This makes them a more accessible option for archers who prefer to fletch their own arrows.
However, there are some drawbacks to offset vanes. For one, they may not provide as much stability and accuracy as helical vanes, particularly when shooting large broadheads on your hunting arrows.
Which One is Right for You?
Ultimately, the decision to use helical or offset vanes on your hunting arrows depends on your personal preference and the type of hunting you plan to do. To really know which configuration you prefer, you need to shoot and tinker. First hand experience is the way to educate yourself and find the best solution for your hunting setup.
One thing to keep in mind regardless of your helical or offset choice is the direction you choose. A left helical or offset will likely match the clocking of your bow however, this causes points to loosen or unthread upon impact. A right helical or offset solves that problem but will likely be opposite of the natural arrow clocking off your bow. Neither is wrong just a personal preference.
If you are a serious hunter who is looking for the highest level of accuracy and stability, particularly when shooting extra wide fixed broadhead arrows, helical vanes may be the best choice for you. The spiral twist of the vanes helps to counteract any inherent flight characteristics of the larger broadheads, which can be particularly important when shooting at long distances or in windy conditions. If you're shooting a broadhead with a normal profile, fixed or mechanical, offset vanes are likely the better option.
The general rule of thumb is this:
Helical configurations provide more stability but slower speeds. If your broadheads are catching air and planning, you need more drag.
Offset configurations provide slightly less stability but less speed deprivation. If you are shooting a normal sized broadhead and wanting a faster rate of revolution on your arrow, offset configurations are a good place to start.
Like with everything in the bowhunting world, the best way to learn is to consume content and tinker with your setup. Vanes are relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things and having the correct vane configuration can make your point of aim vs point of impact better. So why not tinker?
Author: Chad Sylvester, Exodus Co-Founder/Owner