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Best 3 Weight Fly Rod of 2022 Reviewed and Compared

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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A 3-weight fly rod is one of the most useful and best fly rods in all of freshwater fishing. It’s your go-to and best fly fishing rod for every small river or stream.

I use my 3 weight more than any other rod because I can’t always fly to the Bahamas to catch some bonefish for the weekend but there is always a spring creek not far away that’s worth fishing.

The Best From The Review

Before we head to the full lineup. Here’s a quick look at the best fly rods from the review sorted by category…

Top Pick

Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh Professional Series II

Affordable, durable, and high-performing designed for anglers of every skill level.

Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh Professional Series II

The all-around best 3 weight fly rod is the TFO Lefty Kreh Pro Series II.

This three weight fly rod blows a lot of other far more expensive rods out of the water for a much lower price without compromising quality.

You’re getting a high performance, durable rod that can be used by any level of fly fisher for an absolute bargain – It’s light, perfectly balanced, has medium-fast action,a great feel, and casts like a dream.

Best Value

Redington VICE

Made from a carbon fiber blank that delivers both durability and excellent performance.

Redington VICE

If you’re looking for a deal the best 3 weight fly rod is the Redington Vice.

The Vice is durable, casts beautifully, is the ideal length for dry fly fishing and it’s great for all abilities.

It is a workhorse and with a lifetime warranty, and at a low price, it’s hard to pass up.

Editor’s Choice

Sage ESN Fly Rod

An awesome fly fishing rod for euro-nymphing any kind of water.

Sage ESN Fly Rod

In my eyes the best three weight fly rod is the Sage ESN.

If you really want to perform on the water, you’re going to need a fly fishing rod that keeps up.

The ESN (European Style Nymphing) will help you work a river better than most rods you’ve used before.

The length, action, and build come together to give you a nymphing machine that’ll have you catch stats going off the charts.

Your 4 fish days will easily go into double digits once you master this rod.

Our Best 3 Weight Fly Rods

Top Pick

Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh Professional Series II

Affordable, durable, and high-performing designed for anglers of every skill level.

Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh Professional Series II

Temple Fork Outfitters have earned their reputation for many anglers by creating quality fly rods that are affordable.

Quality

To create this rod, Temple Fork Outfitters got together with fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh to make an all-round superstar.

The fly rod that came out of Temple Fork Outfitters after this meeting was the Pro Series II. It’s affordable, high performing designed for anglers of every skill level and it comes in every weight from a 2 and 4 weight to a 10.

Build

The Pro Series II fly rod is made from a durable graphite blank with anodized aluminum guides and reel seat.

The materials used are a recipe for long-lasting durability and once you have this fly fishing rod in your hand you won’t want to put it down.

Length

The 3 weight below is an ideal length and equally adept for dry fly fishing on small rivers and creeks like the backcountry of yellowstone.

The short length makes it easy to dodge cover on your back-cast and when combined with the medium-fast action, lets you drop a dry fly down without any fish knowing.

Casting

The three weight fly rod casts beautifully and is very forgiving, making it a great choice for a beginner to progress from.

You can really feel the energy move through the fly rod and stay connected throughout.

Warranty

This three weight fly rod comes with Temple Fork Outfitters lifetime manufacturer defect warranty.

It’s a solid guarantee but it doesn’t measure up to other brands like Sage who will replace your rod if it breaks.

This fly rod doesn’t come with a rod tube so you may have to buy one if you don’t have one at home.

Specs

  • Model: TF03764P2
  • Weight: 3 wt
  • Length: 7’6”
  • Line: 3/4 wt
  • Action: Medium-fast
  • Pieces: 4
  • Rod Tube: No

Pros

  • Good length for tight spots and dry flies
  • Forgiving castability ideal for beginners
  • Affordable and durable
  • Quality reel seat and guides
  • Pinpoint casting accuracy
  • Easy to travel with
  • No-fault lifetime warranty

Cons

  • No rod tube included
  • Warranty doesn’t match other brands

Editor’s Choice

Sage ESN Fly Rod

An awesome fly fishing rod for euro-nymphing any kind of water.

Sage ESN Fly Rod

Sage is one of the best manufacturers in fly fishing and their ESN three weight fly rod is designed for one thing, euro-nymphing.

The extra length on this 3 weight rod lets you turn over a long leader so you can target pools and pockets with nymph flies more effectively.

Build

The fly rod is made from a premium graphite blank that includes KonnecticHD Technology.

This makes the premium rod blank recover quickly after it bends to assist with energy transfer when casting or hooking a fish.

It also makes the rod more sensitive to feel subtle bites, helps it absorb shock better, and makes it lighter for fatigue-less fishing.

Casting

Casting nymph flies with this rod is like driving a Ferrari.

It’s tuned up to help you deliver the best presentation possible no matter what distance or type of water you need to cover.

The medium action of this three weight rod lets you feel what’s going on at all times, so you won’t miss a bite in a strong current or throw a miss cast over distance.

Warranty

This is an awesome fly fishing rod for euro-nymphing any kind of water but it is expensive.

It does come with a great lifetime warranty though, so it’s more of an investment than anything.

Specs

  • Model: 3106-4
  • Weight: 3 wt
  • Length: 10’6”
  • Line: 3/4 wt
  • Action: Medium
  • Pieces: 4
  • Rod Tube: Yes

Pros

  • Longer length ideal for euro-nymphing
  • Light for fatigue-less fishing
  • Excellent craftsmanship, quality, and performance
  • Sensitive for feeling the subtlest bites
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Great for traveling with
  • Excellent reel seat and guides

Cons

  • Expensive

Best Value

Redington VICE

Made from a carbon fiber blank that delivers both durability and excellent performance.

Redington VICE

Redington is a part of Sage and is their more affordable fly fishing brand.

Their rods are still solid but it’s more like driving a Toyota than a supercar, and like a Toyota, they are far more affordable.

Build

The Vice fly rod is made from a carbon fiber blank that delivers both durability and excellent performance.

It comes with an anodized machined aluminum reel seat, a rod tube, a lifetime warranty, and it’s very wallet-friendly.

Casting

The three weight rod below is your ideal small water dry fly setup.

The combination of the shorter length and the fast action gives you pinpoint accuracy over short distances to really get that fly where it needs to be without spooking any trout.

Action

You might think the fast action makes it stiff and unyielding but this is not the case.

The Vice is actually pretty forgiving and suits any level of fly fisherman.

The only downside is it is a little heavier than other rods, but it is hard to notice, as all 3 weight fly rods are super-light.

Specs

  • Model: 5-5021T-376-4
  • Weight: 3 wt
  • Length: 7’6”
  • Action: Fast
  • Line: 3/4 wt
  • Pieces: 4
  • Rod Tube: Yes

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Forgiving for beginners
  • Made from a durable, lasting carbon fiber blank
  • Perfect length for dry fly
  • Great reel seat and guides

Cons

  • Heavier than other rods

Orvis Clearwater

On the more affordable side of the spectrum while still maintaining the quality Orvis is known for.

Orvis Clearwater

Orvis is another big fly fishing name and their Clear Water fly rods sit on their more affordable side of the spectrum while still maintaining the quality Orvis is known for.

Design

The Orvis ClearWater 3 weight is made for immaculate presentation on small streams and creeks. 

The combination between the short length and the medium action allows you to feel every moment of the cast and drop your tempting dry fly right where you want it to be.

Build

The Orvis ClearWater fly fishing rod is built from a graphite blank with a composite tip that is a blend of graphite and fiberglass.

This means the rod tip has some fiberglass properties that give it some extra bend, making it much harder to snap.

It was very shrewd of Orvis to make the rod tip from composite as it’s the part of any rod that is most prone to breaking.

Features

The Orvis ClearWater comes with a rod tube, a 25-year guarantee, and is very affordable for the quality you’re getting.

You’ll love fishing with it.

Some people complain it doesn’t have a hook keeper, I put my hook on the rod’s eyes, so I don’t see that as a flaw.

Specs

  • Model: Clearwater 763-4
  • Weight: 3 wt
  • Length: 7’6”
  • Line: 3/4 wt
  • Action: Medium
  • Pieces: 4
  • Rod Tube: Yes

Pros

  • Great length for fishing small streams and creeks
  • Delicate and accurate for tight spots
  • Composite tip for increased durability
  • Awesome price
  • Includes a 25-year guarantee

Cons

  • Comes without a hook keeper

Echo Shadow X

Made from a premium graphite blank that is durable and light. Casts with ease and accurately.

Echo Shadow X

Echo is a lesser-known brand in the fly fishing world compared to some brands, but they create dedicated brand loyalty in some fly fishermen and their rods are a pleasure to use thanks to their well thought out design process.

Weight

The Echo Shadow X 3 weight fly rod is designed for euro-nymphing thanks to the long length and medium-fast action.

It gives you that extra reach to hit pocket waters with a long leader to trick the lurking trout or grayling that are sitting there.

Build

It’s made from a premium graphite blank that is durable and light for those long days on the river.

The rod casts with ease and accurately but it’s not that forgiving and may take some getting used to for a beginner.

The tip on the Shadow X is delicate, so be careful when pulling your fly out of trees as it can snap under the wrong pressure.

Warranty

The rod does come with a limited manufacturer defect warranty so if the worst should happen you can send it to Echo for repair.

Overall it’s a solid 3 weight fly rod but it is quite expensive.

Specs

  • Model: EX103-4
  • Weight: 3 wt
  • Length: 10’6”
  • Line: 3/4 wt
  • Action: Medium-fast
  • Pieces: 4
  • Rod Tube: Yes

Pros

  • The best length for euro-nymphing
  • Sensitive tip for feeling all the bites
  • Great for casting accurately
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Light for tireless all-day fishing
  • Quality build and overall performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Delicate tip

Thomas and Thomas Paradigm

Designed to present a dry fly perfectly and is a great choice when looking to tempt big trout to slurp whatever is hatching at the time.

Thomas and Thomas Paradigm

The T and T Paradigm is one of the best freshwater rods T&T makes.

It has been designed to present a dry fly perfectly and is a great choice when looking to tempt big trout to slurp whatever is hatching at the time.

Build

It’s made up of a graphite blank with titanium guides and an aluminum reel seat. Some of the most long-lasting and durable materials around.

The short length and medium action make it beautiful to cast shorter distances around 50 ft with pinpoint accuracy, ideal for smaller rivers and spring creeks.

Weight

The rod is light overall and you’re never going to get tired of casting it.

You can keep turning over your dry fly all day long without any fatigue whatsoever.

Overall it’s a great dry fly rod but it is very expensive and only worth considering if you’re going to use it 60 days a year or more.

Specs

  • Model: 823-4
  • Weight: 3 wt
  • Length: 8’2”
  • Line: 3/4 wt
  • Action: Medium
  • Pieces: 4
  • Rod Tube: Yes

Pros

  • Designed for dry fly fishing
  • Casts with immaculate presentation
  • Light for all-day fishing
  • Durable titanium guides
  • High-performance quality graphite blank
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • Expensive

What Does the Weight of a Fly Rod Correspond To?

Casting a Fly Rod
Casting a Fly Rod

Fly rods are given a weight rating that is akin to a power rating for spinning rods.

It defines how thick, strong, and therefore how powerful the rod is.

The more powerful the rod, the larger the catch it can handle.

Range

Fly rods weights run from 1 to 16.

One of the best fly rods is a 1-weight rod, that is thin, delicate, and used for tiny fish such as brook trout.

A 16-weight rod is thick, powerful, heavy, and used for catching giants like marlin and Bluefin tuna.

Fly Line

The weight a fly rod is given also dictates the weight fly line that can be used with it.

You have to match a 3 weight fly rod with a 3 wt line for it to work properly.

You can also go up to a 4 weight line if you want a heavier line for punching a greater distance.

What Is A 3 Weight Good For?

Brown Trout and Fly Rod on Mossy Stone
Brown Trout and Fly Rod on Mossy Stone

Type & Performance

There are two types of 3 weight fly rods to choose from, the difference between them is the length.

Short

Shorter 3 weight fly rods, between 7-8.5 feet, are made for fishing dry flies and provide you with some incredible presentation when casting to the spookiest of fish that has seen a few fly fishers in its day.

This is because they are light, thin, and focus more on presentation than power, unlike heavier rods such as a 5 or 8 rod weight. Speaking of 8wt rods, if you’re looking for one, here’s my review of the top 8wt fly rods of 2022.

Long

Longer 3 weight fly rods, between 10-11 feet are designed for euro-nymphing or tight line nymphing which is using long leaders on long a rod hovers nymph flies through pools without barely any fly line touching the water.

NOTE

It lets you keep your fly in the target zone for longer without scaring the fish by showing them your fly line.

Effect

The extra length allows you to cast a longer leader further and fish nymph flies far more effectively than with a shorter rod.

They are also much more sensitive to subtle bites thanks to the longer, thinner, fast action tip.

TIP

You can also use them for dry fly fishing too, but you will have to be careful with your backcast.

Species

3 weight fly rods are light and delicate.

Three weight rods are made for smaller species like trout and grayling that require delicate presentation and are found in areas where casting accuracy is more important than casting distance like in small streams and creeks.

They are some of the best fly fishing rods for fishing tight areas for smaller species.

Environment

Fisherman Releasing Brown Trout
Fisherman Releasing Brown Trout

3 weight fly rods are some of the best fly rods for fishing around cover.

They are perfect for casting in tight spots where you have to avoid obstacles behind you and get your fly in front of spooky fish without them knowing.

They are not made for fishing big water, where distance is important like a 5 weight or an 8 weight, as they are too light to push a line over 50ft easily.

Who Should Own A 3 Weight Fly Rod?

Every single trout or grayling fisherman should own at least one 3 weight rod, if not two – One for nymphing and one for dry-fly fishing.

Nymphing

If you want to take your catch statistics to the next level, owning a long 3 wt euro-nymphing rod is imperative.

With a long 3 wt nymphing rod, you’ll be able to nymph pocket water with more success than ever, and see your nymphing improve almost overnight.

Dry Fly Fishing

Shorter 3 weights are great for dry fly fishing with the subtlest accuracy.

You won’t get a long casting distance with one but you will be able to lay a fly where you want it on a small stream without scaring a wily trout.

TIP

You don’t have to use a 3wt for this, a 4/5 weight is also an option – You’ll get some extra distance but you’ll lose some of the delicate presentation.

What To Consider When Looking For A Good 3 Weight Fly Rod

Fish and Fly Rod Placed on Shallow Water
Fish and Fly Rod Placed on Shallow Water

Target Species

3 weight fly rods are made for small species like trout, grayling, or crappies.

They are made to fish delicately with, offers better tippet protection, and aren’t made for larger predators like bass or pike, as they don’t have the strength.

Material

Fly rods can be made from materials including graphite, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and bamboo.

The most common materials are graphite and carbon fiber, which all of the rods in the review are made of.

Graphite & Carbon Fiber

These two materials are quite similar and you’ll find rods are only made from one or the other.

As materials they are both durable, strong, light, and provide the best performance out of them all although carbon fiber has the edge over graphite in terms of strength but it is more expensive.

Graphite & carbon fiber rods are light and stiff, you can cast over 100ft with them and with pinpoint accuracy.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a much heavier material than graphite or carbon fiber, but it is also a lot bendier.

A fiberglass fly rod is almost unbreakable and can bend in half.

While this is handy for durability and fighting stubborn fish, it does make them hard to cast with due to the slow action.

You’ll most likely get a bit of an arm ache if you’re not used to a fiberglass rod.

Bamboo

Bamboo rods are more of a specialist rod for pros.

Owning a bamboo fly rod is about challenging yourself or having a nice rod that sits on your wall.

Can I catch this big tarpon with a bamboo rod? I know I can with my normal graphite/carbon fiber rod? If you want to catch tarpons, check out these tarpon fly rods.

Bamboo rods are heavy, tricky to use, and very expensive.

Budget

Fly Rod Placed on a Dock
Fly Rod Placed on a Dock

Good 3 weight fly rods can vary with a price range from $150 to $900, depending on what you’re looking for.

As the price increases so do: the performance of the rod, the materials used, and the warranty you get with it.

Low End

If you love to fly fish but only do it now and then, or don’t really mind having a top-performing rod, then you can stick with a rod that is under $200.

You’ll still get a great rod that’ll get the job done.

High End

If you’re after the top-performing rod out there to take your fly fishing to new heights, then you’re going to be in the $500-$1000 range.

For this, you get to fish with the best rods out there

You’ll also get a lifetime warranty which means you are buying a rod for life.

Number Of Pieces

All fly rods come in a certain number of pieces, ranging from 1-6 pieces. 2 and 4 piece rods are the most common.

The number of pieces affects two things, performance, and portability.

The more pieces a fly rod comes in, the easier it is to travel with and store.

Portability

I don’t know about you, but everywhere I fish requires some kind of travel.

Whether it’s a 30-minute drive away or a 12-hour flight.

I always choose a 4 piece, because 4 piece rods fit in my bag and are easy to carry in any situation.

Performance

The fewer pieces a rod is made from, the better it performs.

A one-piece rod will load better than a 2 piece, and a 2 piece better than a 3 piece, and so on.

This is because the fewer connections you have, the better the energy transfer, therefore the better the performance.

Is this noticeable?

Fly Rod at a Coast
Fly Rod at a Coast

I’ve been fly fishing for 30 years, and I do notice the difference between a one-piece and a 4 piece, however all my rods are 4 piece rods.

Why?

The difference in performance is negligible to catching fish. It’s more important to have a rod that you can travel with.

Length

The length of the three weight rods you choose is incredibly important.

As the length will govern the fishing style that you can use the rod for.

Dry Fly Fishing Length

If you’re looking for a dry fly rod, then you will want a length between 7.5 and 8.5 feet.

The shorter length will let you cast accurately with immaculate presentation over short distances.

Nymphing Length

If you’re looking for a nymphing rod, then you need to go a little longer and pick a rod between 10-11 feet.

The extra length will let you cast further and with a longer leader, covering nymphing water far more effectively.

Action

The action of a fly rod describes where along its length the rod will bend.

Slow action rods bend near the butt of the rod and fast action rods bend near the tip.

The right action for your 3 wt fly rod depends on whether you’re going for a dry fly or nymphing rod.

Here’s an informative video about Fly Rod Action…

Fly Rod Action | Getting Started In Fly Fishing – Episode 4

Dry Fly

For a dry fly rod, you’re looking for a medium to medium-fast action fly rod.

The fly rod will bend in the middle and give you the feel you need to present a dry fly delicately.

Here’s a video to

Nymphing

A 3 weight nymphing rod needs fast action.

This will make the rod tip more sensitive to every little bite and give you the stiffness you need to turn over a long leader with a short cast.

Weight

Generally, the lighter the fly rod the better, as you’ll be able to fish longer without getting tired.

All 3 weight fly rods are already incredibly light, so it’s not so much of a factor when looking at them.

But, you do still have the option to always choose the lightest fly rod if you want to.

NOTE

Even a little bit less weight will make a difference when you’re casting all day.

Winding Up

Every 3 weight fly rod in this lineup is awesome and if you’re struggling to decide which one to get, I don’t blame you.

Rest assured, no matter which one you choose, you’re going to love it.

If you need a bit more help deciding, here is how I would lay them out.

Top Pick

For those that simply don’t want to spend a huge amount but still want an awesome rod to use often, then the TFO Pro Series II is the best rod for you.

You’re getting similar, but a lesser build quality and performance than the Sage but for ⅕ of the price.

Editor’s Choice

If you’re going to use the rod a lot it’s worth spending some extra cash, and if it was me I’d buy the Sage ESN.

Yes, it is expensive but it’s going to give you the most back in terms of success and keep that fishy smile on your face. It is the best performing rod in the review and worth every penny.

Best Value

If budget is the driving factor or you only plan to go fishing a few weekends a year, then the Redington Vice is probably the best fit.

There is no need to spend a lot for a new rod if you’re not going to use it that often and with the Vice, you’re still getting a durable rod that is awesome at casting and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Feel Free To Share

Which is your favorite rod among the bunch? Whatever rod you choose, enjoy fishing with it and I wish you the best of luck in hunting down some big trout with it.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it helped you find the best 3 weight fly rod for you.

Please share it with your buddies if you think it was helpful so they can find the right and the best 3wt for them too. And don’t forget to check the site for more fishing product reviews and guides, like this review of the best streamer fly rod or this buyer’s guide on the top 9wt fly rod.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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