3 Weight Fly Rods (Overall, Budget & Combo) [Top 7, 2021]

Published February 2, 2021

Our “Best 3 Weight Fly Fishing Rods” guide below will walk you through the simple steps of choosing your new rod and help ensure you are getting the best 3 weight fly rod for your budget and application.

Fly rods are expensive—take a bit of extra time now to help ensure you will get the most out of your investment.

5 reasons to get a 3 weight

  • Increased sensitivity for detecting strikes
  • Sensitive rod tip protects tippet
  • Great for small streams
  •  Light weight (good for hours of high-sticking)
  • Killer nymphing rod!

Let’s Go!

In this guide you’ll learn

  • Best overall 3 weight
  • Best 3 wt fly rods (for the money)
  • Best 3 weight fly rod combos // outfits
  • Uses and application 
  • Conclusion//Reeling it in.

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Introduction

chuck trout summer seasonDue to the increased interest in euro-nymphing the 3 wt fly rod is the most popular rod on the market right now. AND top fly fioshing companies are investing time, energy and resources to make this specific weight of rod better.

The 3 weight fly rod is 100% my favorite rod in my arsenal.

3 weight rods are perfect for a number of uses, and can make catching the smallest fish a thrill. 3 wts make the perfect addition to any fishing in close quarters, needing a delicate presentation, and targeting medium to small fish. 

3 weight rods, like other rods come in a variety of lengths and actions. Also like other rods there can be a stark difference in price. We’ve highlighted the best 3 weight fly rods based on a variety need and budget. 

1. Sage ESN 3 Wt. Fly Rod 

Sage has come out with a great 3 weight rod specifically designed for euro-nymphing. The ESN (European Style Nymphing) rod comes in a variety of sizes, but we felt their 3 weight 10 foot takes the cake as one of the best overall 3 weight fly rods. 

The blank features KonneticHD technology which increases the recovery of each cast and adds unparalleled sensitivity, perfect for tight line nymphing. The rod is a medium action and although intended for nymphs, the soft casting presentation would work great for medium to small dry flies. 

Features/Specs
  • 10 foot
  • Medium action
  • Quick recovery
  • Soft presentation
  • Extra sensitive rod tip
  • Anodized aluminum reel seat
  • Chrome snake guides

The reel seat is snub-nosed, and made from anodized aluminum and features a down locking, chrome snake guides. The handle is a made from high quality half-wells cork 

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2. Thomas & Thomas Avantt Series Fly Rod 

Next up on our best 3 weight fly rods is the Avantt from Thomas and Thomas. These guys have been a powerhouse in the fly fishing industry for years. The amount of dedication and care they put into each rod is remarkable. The Avantt series 3 weight is a 8’6” rod. The rod is intended for a variety of fishing applications but excels at close quarter fishing in smaller creeks.

The rods boasts an incredibly fast recovery time and extreme accuracy, making this a great dry fly rod. However, at further distances this rod can still pack a punch creating powerful casts and tight loops.

Features/Specs
  • 8’6”
  • Fast action
  • StratoTherm resin blanks
  • Accurate fly placement
  • Great for small rivers and close quarters
  • Black Ash burl up locking reel seat
  • Premium cork handle

The Avantt by T & T comes in a matte blue blank with titanium frame stripping guides. They use a StratoTherm resin technology to decrease vibrations and improve accuracy. The reel seats are made from a black ash burl up-locking reel seat with a premium cork handle. 

The Avantt by T & T comes in a matte blue blank with titanium frame stripping guides. They use a StratoTherm resin technology to decrease vibrations and improve accuracy. The reel seats are made from a black ash burl up-locking reel seat with a premium cork handle. 

View on Amazon →

3. Orvis Recon 3 Wt. Fly Rod

It’s impossible to have any list of best rods regardless of weight without mentioning Orvis. For the best 3 weight category we felt the Orvis Recon 10’ rod exemplified everything one needs in a rod. 

This is another rod that has an intended purpose of Euro-nymphing with the length of the rod and soft tip, making it easier to notice those subtle takes from a trout. The Recon features a lot of similarities and much of the design of the recon was based off of their higher end model the Helios 3D, but at about half the price. 

Features/Specs
  • 10’
  • Fast action
  • Lightweight
  • Great for Euro-nymphing
  • Sensitive rod tip
  • Improved accuracy
  • Anodized aluminum reel seat
  • 25 year warranty

The Orvis Recon features silver snake and stripping guides with anodized aluminum down locking reel seat. The rod is light and perfectly balanced, allowing for better accuracy while minimizing fatigue often associated with longer rods. Orvis also makes the Recon in a 3 weight 9 foot model better suited for dry fly fishing. 

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4. Douglas DXF 3 Wt. fly rod

The Douglas DXF has made a name for itself in their 5 and 6 weight models, winning awards for best mid-priced rod. The 3 weight model is also worthy of reverence as this rod meets the need for every angler whether you’re stalking trout or panfish. 

The DXF uses Xmatrix carbon technology in the blanks to add strength and precision to your casts. A great thing about this rod is the sensitivity, allowing the angler to notice the smallest strikes from a fish. 

The 4-piece rod is a beautiful matte grey/green finish with chrome stripper and snake guides. Furthermore, the Douglas DXF has burled wood and anodized reel seat, with premium AAA cork handle. The model we chose is the 3 weight 9 foot but this rod also comes in longer sizes depending on your fishing applications. 

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Features/Specs
  • 9 foot
  • 4-piece
  • Fast action
  • Xmatrix Carbon blanks
  • Precision accuracy
  • Lightweight and powerful
  • Burled wood reel seat
  • Anodized aluminum reel seat hardware
  • Lifetime warranty
 

Best 3 weight fly rods for the money 

1. Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon 3 Wt Fly Rod

If you’re looking for a great 3 weight fly rod at an affordable price, the TFO blue ribbon has you covered. Temple Fork Outfitters have been a staple in the fly fishing industry with the collaboration of fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh. The blue ribbon fly rod is an 8 foot rod perfect for those smaller streams or targeting trout or panfish with dries.

Features/Specs
  • 8 foot
  • 4-piece
  • Medium-fast action
  • Effortless casting
  • Delicate fly placement
  • Modulus Carbon Fiber material
  • Aluminum up-locking reel seat
  • Great for beginners
  • Affordable price<

This medium-fast action rod is also great for beginners wanting to learn the sport, as the casting is forgiving and the shorter length is easier to maneuver. The blue ribbon prides itself on the ability to load easily with minimal backcast and effort. Resulting in quick and accurate casts.

The rod blank is made from modulus carbon fiber material and finished with a warm chestnut color. The reel seat is made from aluminum and locks upward into the AAA cork handle. Just looks alone this rod looks like it costs more than it actually does. 

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2. Redington VICE 3 Wt. Fly Rod

Next up on our list of best 3 wt fly rods for the money is the Redington Vice. This is a solid all around 3 wt rod. Redington uses carbon fiber blanks that have surprising cast recovery times. 

The vice is a fast action rod with decent accuracy and casting control. This is a shorter rod at 8’6” it excels at short range casts and tossing smaller dries. However, the sensitive tip makes for easier detection of subsurface strikes. 

There are black anodized snake guides and laser etched reel seat with uplocking reel seat. When it comes to price and quality its hard to find a better rod at this price. 

View on Amazon →

Features/Specs
  • 8’6”
  • 4-piece
  • Fast action 
  • Decent recovery time
  • Sensitive rod rip
  • Accurate at short distances
  • Laser etched reel seat
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Affordable price
trout-caught-on-3wty-fly-rod

The Best 3 Weight Fly Rod Combo/Outfit For the Money

If you’re wanting an easier rod and reel setup, it might be worthwhile to purchase a full rod and reel combo, otherwise known as an outfit. This will allows the angler to virtually hit the river immediately after purchase.

We wanted to highlight the one 3 wt rod and reel combo that we feel is the best for the money. 

1. Orvis Clearwater 3 Wt. Fly Rod Outfit

There’s a reason the Orvis Clearwater continues to show up as one of the best rods currently on the market. It’s respected, productive, efficient, and affordable. 

The 3 wt 10 foot was designed intentionally for euro nymphing and other tight line nymphing methods. The added length grants the ability to cover larger areas of water with less movement. It’s also easier to keep your line out of the water. If tightline nymphing isn’t your thing, you can also use this rod with an indicator or dry-dropper setup. It can even handle some very small streamers from panfish. 

The rod blank is made from forgiving carbon fibers with black finish and white highlights. The reel seat is made from black nickel aluminum with a cork handle. This outfit includes the Orvis Clearwater II reel with 5 wt clearwater fly line, and dacron backing, and tapered leader- all assembled, just add a fly and you’re good to go!

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Features of the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod:
  • 10’ 
  • 4 – piece
  • Medium action rod
  • Great for nymphing
  • Nickel aluminum reel seat
  • Chrome snake guides
  • 25 year warranty
Features of the Orvis Clearwater II Reel:
  • Large arbor reel
  • Die cast aluminum material
  • Click drag knob
Features of the Orvis Clearwater line:
  • Great all around line
  • Front welded loop
  • 90’ long

Uses For 3 weight Rods

There are several different practical and fun uses for a 3 wt rod. The general rule for most trout fishing setups is to use a 5 weight rod. What many anglers don’t know is that going smaller in rod weight will still safely catch trout up to 20 inches. Much of this has to do with the reel’s drag and tippet strength. There are other more specific uses for 3 weight rods below:

Small streams –  As mentioned above 3 weight rods can catch larger trout, however the biggest thrill of using a 3 weight rod is to catch smaller fish. Which will feel much larger on this lighter rig. Small streams will most often hold higher populations of smaller fish because of the limited food availability and space. 

Smaller streams will also require some different fishing tactics such as roll casts, high sticking or tight line nymphing. A 3 weight rod is going to prove more successful and productive than a larger bulkier setup.

Tight line nymphing – Also referred to as Euro-nymphing or Czech nymphing, tight line nymphing relies on “feel” to notice subtle bites over a strike indicator or sight fishing. 3 weight rods are much more sensitive and therefore easier to feel those minor takes. 3 Weight rods also come in a variety of lengths, some of them over 10 feet — making for a great setup when tight line nymphing. 

eric-carterspurio-euro-nymph

Backpacking – When hiking into remote lakes or streams, having a lighter rig can add convenience and efficiency while your traveling. When backpacking with a full pack, including fishing gear, even a few ounces can make a difference. 

Fish species – We mentioned above that even small fish can feel like a trophy when using a 3 weight. This lends itself well to other fish species that are naturally small, such as panfish. The majority of us probably got our start to fishing for these tiny colorful fish probably off the end of a dock somewhere. 

As exciting as these fish were to catch as kids, the luster eventually wore off. However, using a lighter more delicate 3 weight brings that thrill and excitement back. Because of how easy panfish are to catch, a 3 weight is great for beginner anglers wanting to get practice catching these little guys before graduating to larger more wily trout. 

Conclusion

Overall 3 weight fly rods offer a ton of applications and advantages over other more mainstream fishing weights. We hope this article was helpful in increasing your knowledge of these light rods and our reviews provided you with insights into your next 3 weight rod purchase. 

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