Best 3 Weight Fly Rod of 2023 -Buyer’s Guide

// By Leonard Schoenberger
// Updated November 15, 2022
Leonard Schoenberger
Latest posts by Leonard Schoenberger (see all)

If you’re interested in fly fishing, the most essential tool at your disposal will be your rod.

Everyone is different when it comes to the feel and preference of their particular fishing rod, so it’s important to choose the right one that works for you. In this article, you can read all about the best 3 weight fly rods on the market, and make an informed decision about which one to purchase!

3 wt fly rods are a great choice in several fly fishing situations. Shorter 3 weight fly rods of 7 to 8 ft are the weapon of choice for small creeks. Longer 3 wt fly fishing rods are perfect for euro nymphing and last but not least there are #3 rods for so called trout spey fishing. For that technique you fish light double-handed rods.

Disclaimer: All products in this guide are independently researched by our team. We only recommend products we believe in and never get paid for the reviews. Learn more about our review process here.

Table of Contents

Important Features in a 3 wt Rod

3 Weight Fly Rods Review

Best 3 Weight Combos

Conclusion

Review of the best 3 wt fly rods
A 3 weight can be great for euro nymphing

What are the Most Important Features of 3 Weight Fly Rods?

Action and Strength of 3 wt Fly Rods

The action of a rod refers to how much it flexes when you cast or when you have a catch on the line. Depending on what the action for a rod is, it can be stiff or flexible. Three weights have a quick or moderately strong action. 

The term “power” refers to the amount of force required to flex and bend the rod. When the power is reduced, less pressure is required. Usually, three-weight rods are low-power and flex quickly with little pressure.

Weight, Size, and Alignment

When used in conjunction with fly rods, the term ‘weight’ relates to the ability or density of the line used on that rod. Three weight rods are intended for use with light flies and can accommodate fly line weights 1-3. 

While the term “weight” does not correspond to the rod’s actual weight, it is worth noting that the majority of 3-weight rods are relatively light. When evaluating the length of your rod, be careful to select a reel that is proportional to the rod’s weight. 

With the reel connected, a properly adjusted rod will rest on your finger while lying one inch below the top of the grip.

Appearance and Usability

Fly fishing is an energetic sport, and if your grip is uncomfortable, you will not enjoy it as much. A strong rod feel may also translate into improved outcomes, as the more receptive rod enables more precision on the water. Prioritize comfort before appearance, as you can always tweak it afterwards to fit your taste!

Cost and Warranty Information

You can locate a rod to meet your demands at nearly any price range, so avoid settling for one you are unsure about. Along with the pricing, be careful to inquire about the rod’s warranty. Numerous businesses provide complete lifetime warranties, which may add an additional layer of protection and assurance to your purchase.

Best 3 weight fly rods review
Best 3 wt fly rods review: a 3 weight fly rod is great for small creeks

The Best 3-Weight Fly Rods

Notice: The Wading List is reader-supported. We take part in the Amazon Associates Program and other affiliate programs and earn a small commission at no extra cost for you if you end up making a purchase. We only recommend products we are convinced of and use ourselves. Thanks!

Echo Carbon XL (7ft6in #3)

Key features:

– Small stream rod

– 4-piece

– Comes with a cordura tube

Why we picked it:

The Echo Carbon XL is an excellent entry level to intermediate fly rod. While its range and precision casting skills seem to be ordinary, the grip is considerably above what is typically found on the market. It’s difficult to describe, but the Echo Carbon XL gives you the impression that you’re a greater caster than you actually are throughout many casts. It’s impressive to achieve this sensation with a product at this price range.

Therefore, who is the Echo Carbon most suited for? The Echo Carbon XL is an excellent choice for the majority of starting fly fishermen. While it is not a real fast-action rod, it is quick enough that you won’t feel as if you had to wait for it to function. 

Furthermore, I found the Echo Carbon XL provides sufficient casting input to assist a fly fisher in determining when the rod is set and suitable to let the line shoot. It seems to occur somewhat quicker than the average medium-fast action rod in this price range. The final result is a very suitable, adaptable rod that can be cast effectively by the majority of anglers. If you’re looking for a high quality 3 wt fly rod without spending a fortune, the Echo Carbon XL is a must-have. At this price, the Carbon XL is a no-brainer.

PROS:

  • Great value for money
  • Has the feel of a more pricey product
  • Classic design

CONS:

  • Lacks a bit of stamina on longer casts

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT TRIDENT FLY FISHING

Fenwick Aetos

Key features:

– Ideal for small waters at 7ft

– Fast action with anodised aluminum reel seat

– Limited lifetime warranty

Why we picked it:

Fenwick’s entry-level all-purpose freshwater fly rod is the Aetos. The Fenwick Aetos is accommodating, caster-friendly, and very adaptable for different casting styles. Fenwick has created a rod that performs much above its price range. 

We found the Fenwick Aetos to be very precise up to a range of 60 feet. The AETOS blank is optimized for anglers with a quick casting motion. The rod’s rapid action design provides enough reserve power and enhanced line speeds. 

The Fenwick Aetos blank has a smooth tip for superior quality over short distances and still performs decently at longer distances. The Aetos is an excellent choice if you are just getting started and live in a place where you’ll mostly be fishing small streams – tight quarters with limited room to cast is where this rod shines.

PROS:

  • Enough power to cast even smaller streamers
  • Very elegant and subtle due to the dark color scheme
  • Limited lifetime warranty

CONS:

  • This is a specialty rod only made for small streams and creeks

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT TRIDENT FLY FISHING

Redington Classic Trout

Key features:

– Traditional look and feel with rosewood reel seat

– Moderate action for precise casts

– Lifetime warranty for original owner

Why we picked it:

The Redington Classic Trout is an economically priced moderate action 3 weight fly rod for trout. It is ideal for spring creeks and tiny streams, and maybe even some drift boat fishing in bigger tail water areas. 

The Redington Classic Trout‘s medium action makes precise presentations at close distance a delight, and the CT’s utilitarian components elevate it to the top of the dry fly rod market. We found everything on the rod to feel more like a mid-range rod than a low-budget rod – which it is considering the price tag. The rod promotes a more deliberate casting stroke and is equipped with real mid-flex technology. 

The mild blank action preserves delicate tippets and assists with carefully landing tiny flies in front of rising fish. The blank is finished in a rich clay brown that complements both the rod tube and the reel seat. If you’re a beginner dry fly fisherman seeking to step up your game, the Redington Classic Trout is one of the better 3 weight fly rod options available at this price point.

PROS:

  • An entry level rod (price wise) that you can fish for years to come
  • Lifetime warranty is a place for this price range
  • Classic design that never goes out of style

CONS:

  • Medium action requires a bit more skill than the Fenwick or Echo

GET IT AT TRIDENT FLY FISHING

GET IT ON AMAZON

Orvis Superfine Glass (3wt 7ft6in)

Orvis Superfine Glass (3wt 7ft6in) - One of the best fly rods 3 wt
Orvis Superfine Glass (3wt 7ft6in) – One of the best fly rods 3 wt

Key features:

– 3 piece glass fly rod

– Beautiful, minimalistic reel seat

– Highend look and feel with aluminum rod tube

Why we picked it:

The Orvis Superfine Glass was designed for primitive woodlands and cold mountain streams, for little streams and indigenous brook trout. The glass rod has a slow action and flexes all the way to the grip. This makes it a good choice if you want to fish light tippets as the flexibility of the glass provides an extra bit of buffer when playing big fish.

The Orvis Superfine Glass‘ incredibly accommodating nature and speed combine to create a delicate little rod. However, be aware that glass feels completely different than fibreglass rods. It has a slower action (like a bamboo) rod that needs some time to master. But once you’ve adapted to the slower speed of the blank, a fibreglass fly rod can be a delight to cast and play fish on.

PROS:

  • A rod for the individualist who is looking for something special
  • Works well with fine tippets
  • Excellent dry fly rod for smaller streams

CONS:

  • Needs some getting used to in terms of timing – not for beginners

GET IT AT ORVIS

GET IT AT TRIDENT

Redington Butter Stick

Key features:

– 4 piece glass fly rod

– Modern design and feel

– Great dry fly rod for small streams

Why we picked it:

With seven weight classes to choose from, the Redington Butter Stick offers a great way to explore fiberglass fly rods no matter what species you’re after.

You can fish tiny streams and rivers using the #1 – #3. The #4, #5 and #6 of the Redington Butter Stick make for excellent trout rods and the #8 enables you to target bigger species such as pike or bass for example.

Built on Redington’s Heritage Taper, the Redington Butter Stick is a great modern glass rod with a slow action and deep flex. Comes with the excellent Redington lifetime warranty.

PROS:

  • A lot of weight classes to chose from
  • Modern take on a vintage material
  • Lifetime warranty

CONS:

  • Like the Orvis, the Butterstick is a specialty rod for enthusiasts

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT ON AMAZON

Moonshine Rod Co. The Epiphany Series

Key features:

– 5 piece rod – great for traveling

– Comes with a fighting butt

– Ideal rod for euro nymphing

Why we picked it:

Moonshine has successfully garnered a large following that has made them a favorite with anglers. The Epiphany series was first released in 2017. Since then the nymphing rod has been redesigned to become even better than before. 

The nymph fly rod is perfectly balanced and is very sensitive. We found the 10’6″ to be a little short in case you need a little reach. On the flip side that means you can use it for streamer fishing as well. This increases the versatility. Moonshine have been able to reduce the weight significantly by making the blank lighter. By using a titanium frame stripping guide, the line sag is reduced. Comes with a lifetime warranty.

PROS:

  • Alignment dots make it easy to rig
  • Versatile rod for nymphing and streamer fishing
  • Comes with an extra tip section in case you break one

CONS:

  • On the shorter end if you’re looking for a rod specifically for euro nymphing

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT MOONSHINE RODS

Hardy Ultralite

Key features:

– 8ft 3weight 4pcs

– Ultimate lightweight design feature the best components in the market

– Comes with an aluminum rod tube

Why we picked it:

Hardy has been in the game for 150 years and still makes some of the best fly rods on the planet. Their Hardy Ultralite is no exception to this rule and a great choice if you are looking for a premium rod to fish small streams and creeks. We got our hands on the #3 which measures only 8ft, making it the right choice for tight quarters.

As the successor the brand’s hugely popular Zephrus series, the Hardy Ultralite features the Sintrix NSX technology making it one of the lightest 3 wt fly rods on the market. Everything on this rod is top notch and the lifetime warranty is the icing on the cake.

PROS:

  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Beautiful, classic green blank design
  • Lifetime warranty for the original owner

CONS:

  • Only an experienced angler will be able to take advantage of the rod’s full potential

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT ON AMAZON

Douglas Upstream (3 wt fly rod 8ft 6pc)

Key features:

– 6-piece rod for traveling

– Aluminum rod tube for ultimate protection

– Full cork grip

Why we picked it:

The Douglas Upstream is a small water and small fish rod. The unusual cane-shaped blank and complete cork reel seat provide an old-fashioned feel to this product. Yet, under its exterior shell is cutting-edge graphite technology that elevates the Upstream to the top of the small water fly rods. 

The Douglas Upstream is very accurate at short distances (perfect for small creeks) and is excellent for protecting light tippets. On shallow streams, little dry flies turn smoothly and softly to trick cautious fish with the Upstream.

Although the rod resembles traditional cane rods, the graphite rod blank is highly efficient on the water. The blank has a somewhat slow action, which protects delicate tippets and maximizes performance within 30 feet. This is a true little water rod designed for the most deft presentations. If you’re in the market for a new slow-action short-range dry fly rod, the Upstream is a great option.

PROS:

  • Highly packable
  • Delicate presentations
  • Original owner lifetime warranty

CONS:

  • Medium-slow action will take some getting used to if you make the switch from a fast action rod

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT ON AMAZON

Sage Trout Spey G5 3 weight (11ft)

Key features:

– Two handed rod for trout spey style fishing

– A lot power and backbone to cast even bigger streamers or intruder flies

– Fuji stripping guides for utmost line shooting performance

Why we picked it:

The Sage Trout Spey is designed to be used for a variety of spey applications on wider trout streams. Whether you’re trying to swing soft hackles on floating lines throughout evening hour hatches or trying to cast streamers on Skagit heads, the G5 can do it all. I’ve become a big fan of the trout spey fishing and use it to pursue steelhead or big rainbows on wider rivers.

Being headquartered in Burbank Island, Washington, Sage has some experience building spey rods. They’ve done a good job with the G5 as it has enough backbone to make long casts and yet delivers feedback to the experienced fly angler. I am a big fan of the more traditional blank design with brown and olive colouring. The G5 is the right choice if you are looking for a rod that will deliver effortless casts for all-day fishing in colder conditions.

PROS:

  • Excellent backbone to deliver even the longest casts
  • Traditional, subtle design
  • Hard-chromed snake guides for ultimate line shooting performance

CONS:

  • Only for experienced fly anglers

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT AT VAIL VALLEY ANGLERS

OPST Micro Skagit Trout Spey 9’9” 3wt

Key features:

– Short trout spey rod

– Powerful rod with great feedback capa

Why we picked it:

The OPST Micro Skagit two-handed rods have been designed to work with single-handed casts and double-handed casts as well. Whether you are on foot, finding your way through small and medium rivers, or fishing off a boat, the hybrid rod should be a part of your arsenal. The rod took five years to develop and is proof of Ed Ward’s vision. 

The handles of the OPST Micro Skagit Trout Spey are cigar-styled and offer a good grip on the rod. Its shorter length makes it perfect for overhead casting as well. This allows you to swing with a Skagit head, or opt for a dry fly line. The medium-fast action trout spey rod is perfect for trout and even smaller fish. Make sure to read our in depth review of this fantastic rod. Works beautifully with the OPST integrated shooting heads.

PROS:

  • Highly versatile rod different casting styles
  • Shorter length helps in tight quarters
  • Works beautifully with the OPST integrated shooting heads

CONS:

  • Compared to the Sage G5, the OPST has a bit more difficult delivering the longest cast because of its shorter length

GET IT TRIDENT

GET IT AT TROUTS FLY FISHING

Best 3 wt Fly Rod Combos

In the second part of this review we’ll take a look at the best fly rod combos in the 3 weight range. A combo is a good idea if you are fairly new to fly fishing or want to make sure that the entire equipment works well together and don’t have a fishing friend to ask for advice.

Orvis Clearwater 763-4 Outfit (7’6″ 3wt)

Key features:

– Set includes rod, reel, fly line and backing

– Cordura rod tube for increased protection

Why we picked it:

The Orvis Clearwater 763-4 Outfit is a great setup if you want to get into fly fishing and want to make sure your combo works together well. The clearwater rod and reel are ideal for beginners but you will equally have fun fishing these rods for years to come. This fly rod set also makes for a great fly fishing gift.

The black aluminum reel seat on the Orvis Clearwater 763-4 Outfit gives the rod a high end look and feel. All you need to do is put the rod, reel, backing and fly line together, add a tippet and a fly and you’re ready to make your first casts. At a length of only 7’6″, this rod is made for small streams and creeks.

PROS:

  • Great value for money
  • 25 year Orvis guarantee
  • Setup is well balanced

CONS:

  • A tippet and some flies wound round off this great fly rod combo

GET IT AT ORVIS

GET IT ON AMAZON

Redington Crux 376-4 Combo

Key features:

– Includes rod, reel, backing, fly line and leader

– Set comes ready to use

– Cordura rod tube for extra protection

Why we picked it:

The Redington Crux is another great set if you want to make sure everything is well balanced out of the box. The fast action rod is ideal for beginners and intermediates. When testing it out on a small stream we were surprised by the punch it delivers. It’s no problem casting even bigger streamers with this rod. The set is complemented by the Redington Rise II reel, a CNC machined #3/4 reel made from titanium.

Great thing about the Redington Crux 3 weight fly rod combo is the fact that it comes with a Rio Premier Gold fly line. We found it to be a fly line that is a great allrounder but shines at delicate presentations thanks to its long head. The set is rounded off by Dacron backing and a RIO tapered leader – all you have to do is pick your favourite fly, tie it on and catch your first fish.

PROS:

  • Well-balanced set
  • Great all-around trout fly line included

CONS:

  • A few flies would be a nice addition to this set

GET IT AT REELFLYROD

Conclusion on the Best 3 Weight Fly Rods

Well there you have it, a comprehensive rundown of all of the best 3 weight fly fishing rods on the market today. As you can probably already tell, there are rods available for various price points, ranging from expensive to affordable, so you will definitely find something that suits your needs, no matter what your skill level is! So what are you waiting for? Choose your favorite rod from the bunch and bring home a catch!

Notice: The Wading List is reader-supported. We take part in the Amazon Associates Program and earn a small commission at no extra cost for you if you end up making a purchase. We only recommend products we are convinced of and use ourselves. Thanks!