Ultralight fly fishing is becoming more popular. More and more of us are looking to add the best 3-weight fly rod to our collection. So whether you’re looking to buy your first three weight or you’re an ultralight pro, we’ve reviewed the best fly rods out there on the market.
After years on the river, and many late-night discussions with the team we have agreed that the Best 3 Weight Fly Rod is the Orvis Clearwater. I have personally fished the 3 Wt Orvis Clearwater and can say that it performs as good if not better than a lot of the $1000 rods that I have tested.
Below, we’ll have a look at some of the best premium and affordable three weight fly rods available. I’ll also share my ideas on what is most important when buying an ultralight 3 weight, covering topics such as after-sales service, intended purpose, and budget.
|Best OverallOrvis Clearwater||Check Today's Price|
|Best GripMoonshine Rod Co. Drifter||Check Today's Price|
|Best ValueEcho Base||Check Today's Price|
|Best AccuracyRedington Vice||Check Today's Price|
|Best BudgetMaxcatch Premier IM8||Check Today's Price|
Detailed 3 Wt Fly Rod Reviews
Here are our recommendations of the best rods around right now, from budget options to well-known fly fishing brands.
Orvis Clearwater 3 Weight
Check Trident Fly Fishing Price
- Affordable, good all-rounder
- High quality craftsmanship
- Easy to detect strikes
- Comes with sturdy case
- 25 Years Warranty
- Too Stiff as per some anglers
- Not a high end piece of kit
With a complete overhaul of the design of the Clearwater Series, Orvis definitely raised the bar when it comes to 3 wt rods. They have specifically tailored the action of each weight to perfection, and this one is both versatile and easy to get the hang of.
You’ll find that Orvis have managed to get the balance just right between power and precision with this rod. And if anything does ever happen to it, Orvis will either replace or repair it thanks to their impressive, 25-year warranty!
Moonshine Rod Co. Drifter 3 Weight
- Able to cast with precision
- Constructed from top materials
- Grade AAA cork grips
- Lifetime Warranty
- Can feel a little stiff
The three wt from Moonshine Rod Co.’s Drifter series is an amazing ultralight flyrod, suitable for everyone from beginners to pros.
Constructed with care from high-quality materials including graphite, copper anodized hardware, hand turned burl and excellent cork grips, this rod is a joy to fish with.
It’s an attractive piece of kit with a sleek design, but even more importantly, you can perfect your casting and presentation with the three-weight Drifter.
You’ll be impressed by the consistently good performance you’ll get from this medium action beast. In fact, I’d be surprised if it didn’t become your go-to rod for tight spaces!
You can check out our full Moonshine fly rod reviews here.
Echo Base 3 wt
Check Trident Fly Fishing Price
- Great affordable price
- One of top rods for under $100
- Good for beginners
- Lifetime warranty included
- Reel seat aren’t the best quality
- Can’t compete with high end rods
If you’re interested in branching out and trying some ultralight fishing but you’ve got a tight budget to stick to, the Echo Base 3 Wt is the solution!
It also makes the perfect backup tool in case of breakages or to lend to a friend for a day out on the river together. Coming in at under $100, it’s a steal, and definitely the one of the nicest you’ll find in this price range. You might be tricked into thinking that this rod can’t be worth buying at that price, but you’ll be wrong!
The performance is reliably good and it’s easy to cast, even for beginners. You’ll get the best results when you team it with a good line.
Although the cork isn’t of the highest quality, the Echo Base will still get the job done. It’s both remarkably sensitive and effective – you won’t regret spending the money on this versatile budget piece of kit.
Redington Vice 3 Wt.
Check Trident Fly Fishing Price
- High level of accuracy & control
- Suited to all fly anglers
- Can cast a good long distance
- Natural dry presentation
- Lifetime warranty
- Not the most attractive design
- Alignment dots can be tricky to see
At under $200 dollars, the Redington Vice 3 weight will hardly make a dent in your bank account, but it’s sure to revolutionize your experience.
You can take your casting and presentation to the next level with the Redington Vice. You won’t believe how well it casts and performs, with plenty of power behind it. But this doesn’t take away from the amazing accuracy of the casts you’ll make with this one. I’m just surprised it’s not more popular!
The Redington Vice is sure to exceed your expectations. While it isn’t made with the top materials around, it’s sturdy and durable. And as it comes with a lifetime warranty, if it does happen to get damaged, the company will repair or replace it for you.
If you’re still looking for fly rods under $200, you can see our post here on the best budget fly rods for more selection.
Maxcatch Premier IM8
- Attractive design
- High-quality materials
- Gives you distance and accuracy
- Easy to cast
- Lifetime repair warranty
- Handle and reel seat feel low quality
Maxcatch’s aim with the Premier IM8 was to create a budget rod that would feel, look, and perform like a much more expensive one – and we think they’ve exceeded that goal!
Maxcatch has created a superior rod with an attractive design and an excellent performance. The Maxcatch 3 Weight Premier is a four-piece that comes with its own case that’s sturdy enough to stand up to frequent travel.
It’s clear that no detail has been overlooked here, from the precise alignment dots to the smooth stripping guides and the feel of the cork. No one will know that you’re fishing with a ‘budget rod’ when you arrive at the lake with this beauty.
You’ll love the slow action feel of this one, and your casts will be smooth and accurate with a natural presentation. For this price, you simply can’t beat the Maxcatch Premier IM8. It’s definitely a strong contender if you’re on a budget although don’t expect award winning performance!
Why You Should Try Out a 3 Weight Fly Rod
If you haven’t tried a light rod before or you’re not feeling confident about using different fishing rods, we think you’re missing out. When it comes to using the right weights to fish with, you want to consider where you’ll be fishing, and what you’re hoping to catch.
3 weight fly rods are perfect for ultralight fly fishing and are accurate at a shorter casting distance, but they’re also lightweight and pack down for easy travelling. If you like fishing on smaller rivers and streams, slower action rods or using tiny dry flies, it just makes sense to have a good piece of kit to take out with you.
In recent years, manufacturers have really upped their game and designed some stellar rods that are much more impressive than those of previous decades.
You’ll be pleased to hear that there are lots of great ones that can be bought on a budget. You don’t have to spend $500 or more to get a decent rod – many come in at around $100-200 or less without losing out (too much) on the performance.
If you’re still not convinced about going for a lighter wt, check out this lively comparison on 3wt vs. 5wt rods! Although 5 weight rods can be great workhorses, in some situations they just can’t compare to a lighter feel. You’ll be impressed by how much more exciting smaller fish can be with your ultralight gear.
Looking for more advice on getting set up for your needs? This useful discussion between experienced anglers should be helpful.
The Wrap Up
So there you have our recommendations for our favourite 3 weight rods on the market. They manage to combine precision and accuracy with power and control. Other important factors are the ease of casting and the durability, craftsmanship, and materials used to make the rod.
Whether you’re looking for a budget rod to get started with ultralight fishing or you’re looking to upgrade your current rod you won’t go wrong with any of the rods listed here.
So pick one up, most of our recommendations wont break the budget. Check out one of these awesome rods, and hit the river for some epic fishing!
2 thoughts on “Best 3 Weight Fly Rods of 2023”
I use a sage esn 10’6” 3wt best rod I ever fished.
Thanks for this list! I grew up fly fishing but haven’t tried for more than a decade. I was delighted to see these economical 3 weight rods that will allow me to get lots of practice on my small backyard creek before I go anywhere. Besides, I’ve always enjoyed finessing small streams, it just looks like the equipment to do it is better now.