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Best 3 Weight Fly Rod: Our Top 5 Choices and Buying Guide

Our editors at Finn’s Fishing Tips independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you make purchase decisions. You can learn more about our review process here. We sometimes get a commission through purchases made via our links.

Fly rods are designed to excel at what heavier rods can’t do. This includes a delicate presentation with lightweight flies without startling the fish. 

And finding the best 3 weight fly rod will be your chance to target smaller and slightly bigger fish successfully in the river and still water as you can customize your cast and have more control. However, because your primary purpose is to trick the fish, you need to invest in the right rod and have the necessary skills to achieve your goals as a fly angler.

Luckily, you’ve come here as we’ve searched the market to come up with a list of the best 3 weight fly rods that you can buy. Keep on reading to learn more about choosing your next fly rod. 

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

The Best 3 Weight Fly Rods

3 weight fly rods are considered ultra-lightweight, which means that they can only be used to catch fish in smaller streams and rivers. Where there are many obstacles like vegetation, casting at a long distance can be impossible, and a lightweight rod will allow you to use a bow and arrow cast, roll cast, or any other suitable casting method to present the fly to your fish. 

Fishing in these challenging situations can be a struggle, but a lightweight rod will be your best choice. Here are our top choices. 

Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series

The combination of high-quality construction and stunning details makes this fly rod an excellent choice for every angler. It’s made of medium-action graphite and high-quality AAA cork grip to give you more control, while the reel seat is double-locking and dyed to show the elegant wood graining of the rod. 

This is a lightweight fly rod for backpackers and explorers, featuring copper anodized hardware for durability without adding much weight to your gear. The 4-piece construction makes it portable and easy to store. It measures 7’6”, so it’s easy to hold and control. 

To guarantee maximum satisfaction, the rod comes with an extra rod tip, so you can always have a handy replacement. Moreover, it comes with a durable rod tube that is made of hard canvas and is embroidered to add elegance and protect your rod from dirt, mud, water, and impact. 

Whether you’re a beginner or an avid angler, this 3 weight fly rod will work for you because it’s a medium-action rod that allows for effortless casting with a delicate presentation. Moreover, it’s quite affordable, although it delivers high-quality performance that resembles that of more expensive rods. 

However, in the beginning, you might feel that the rod is a bit stiff, but if you can get the hang of it, you’ll be impressed with its power. 

What We Like

  • Affordable rod.
  • Made of high-quality materials. 
  • Made of 4 pieces for backpackers. 
  • Extra tip included. 

What We Don’t Like

  • Can feel a little stiff. 

Sage Fly Fishing – PULSE Fly Rod

Although this 3 weight fly rod comes with a hefty price tag, it’s favored by most seasoned anglers because it’s handcrafted to deliver exceptional performance in all fishing conditions. The Graphite IIIe technology and the high-quality materials guarantee that this rod will look extraordinary on the outside while delivering outstanding performance every time you go fishing. 

With the rosewood insert and an anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat, this fly rod is specifically designed for nymphing because it measures 10 feet, which is longer than other typical rods. Nevertheless, it’s still lightweight and feels good in your hand, giving you the needed power without the extra weight that affects your accuracy. 

The fast action design is versatile because it’s sensitive enough for smaller fish and can handle larger catches with no issues. You won’t face a problem with casting because this rod is exceptionally balanced.

It features smooth Fuji ceramic stripper guides, which are elegant and won’t wear down the fly line while you’re casting. The anodized aluminum seat is corrosion-resistant and durable enough to withstand saltwater fishing. It also comes with a nylon rod tube with a divided liner to keep the 4 pieces of the rod when you’re traveling from one spot to another. 

However, this rod is quite expensive, so it won’t work for you if you’re on a tight budget. It’s quite responsive, so it will work for a beginner, but it can be too expensive if you don’t plan on using it regularly. 

What We Like

  • Elegant design with outstanding details. 
  • Responsive design for beginners. 
  • Exceptional performance in all waters.
  • Durable materials.

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive rod. 


As a beginner angler, you need to invest in a reliable fly rod that can handle your mistakes and miscasts, and this fly rod will be the perfect choice for you. It’s quite durable to withstand the inexperienced action of a first-time angler, yet it’s still fast with middle-to-tip rod action to cast at the desired distance. 

This rod is made of 5 layers of carbon, including a reinforced muscle carbon layer that increases the strength while decreasing the weight of the rod for more control. The rod is engineered for high-efficiency loading and long-distance casting and features stainless steel snake guides and an oversized tip loop for long casting. 

The contoured handle cork allows for a comfortable grip, while the high-density machined aluminum reel seat helps you to cast better. The rod features two up-locking rings with a k-carbon woven graphite spacer to fix the reel foot. These components are suitable for saltwater fishing, and the rod measures 8’4”, so it works for various fishing setups. 

Because it’s divided into 4 pieces, carrying and traveling with this rod won’t be an issue. It comes with an elegant Cordura tube, and you can even take it on a plane. However, compared to other rods, the cork and the reel seat feel a little flimsy, so we don’t recommend this for a seasoned angler. However, if you’re going fly fishing for the first time, this should work for you. 

What We Like

  • Lightweight yet durable carbon rod. 
  • Long-distance casting. 
  • 4-piece design.
  • Budget-friendly fly rod. 

What We Don’t Like

  • The cork and reel seat feel a little flimsy. 
  • Not suitable for experienced anglers. 

TFO 3 wt. 9′-13’6″ 6 pc. Drift Rod

This well-balanced rod is made of high modulus carbon fiber with a down-locking reel seat and removable weighted fighting butt to offer durability without adding weight to your fishing rod. In addition, it allows you to fine-tune the balance with 3/8th inch ID washers, depending on the weight of your reel for maximum accuracy while you’re casting. 

Thanks to the ultra-sensitive tip, you’ll be able to distinguish between a subtle take and a bottom tick, which allows you to remain invisible and undetectable while sustaining a drift. Moreover, you can adjust the length of this rod from 9’4” to 12’3” to fish in different environments and using different applications, including various nymphing techniques. 

This rod is made of 6 different pieces, so it’s an excellent choice for a frequent traveler. It’s easy to carry around and comes with a sturdy metal case that protects it from impact, dust, and water, guaranteeing that it will last for a long time. In addition, it features a plastic handle for easy carrying. However, if you don’t want to shorten or extend the rod during the same day, you can definitely carry it without the case.

With the ability to adjust the length of the rod without removing the line and leader, you can go across the rod if you want to cast heavier flies or an indicator. This makes it an interesting and versatile rod for every situation on the river, including dry droppers. The only problem is that the guide wraps might be a bit sloppy for some users. However, if you’re looking for a versatile and practical rod that you can customize based on your fishing needs, this will definitely be the one for you. 

What We Like

  • High modulus carbon fiber rod.
  • Reel seat and removable weighted fighting butt. 
  • Extendable 6-piece rod for every fishing situation. 
  • Maximum accuracy while handling. 

What We Don’t Like

  • The guide wraps can be a little sloppy. 

St. Croix Rods Imperial Salt Fly Fishing Rod

If you’re looking for a fly rod to use in the most challenging setups, you should go with this 3 weight fly rod, as it allows for maximum control and maneuverability while casting in heavy cover and among obstacles. This is the right fly rod for a serious angler who demands high performance and durability without the added weight. 

This 7-foot rod is made of SCIV graphite and premium quality SCII graphite to offer the needed sensitivity and a premium-grade cork handle, so you can maintain a strong grip. It features slim-profile 3D stripper guides with aluminum-oxide rings and black frames, in addition to an uplocking machined aluminum reel seat with a wood insert. The rod is covered with two coats of flex-coat slow-cure finish for protection. 

Thanks to its level of responsiveness, this rod will work for you whether you want to wade the rivers or cast from the shore. Because it’s a fast-action and ultralightweight rod, it flexes almost near the tip to allow for better casting at shorter distances. It comes in 4 pieces for easy transportation. 

Because it’s lighter and shorter than other rods of the same weight, learning how to use this one can be a little tricky for a beginner. However, if you’re looking for a reliable 3 weight fly rod for delicate presentation, you should stick to this one. 

What We Like

  • High-quality graphite body for durability without affecting the weight. 
  • Shorter rod for more control. 
  • Responsive fast-action fly rod. 
  • 3D stripper guides. 

What We Don’t Like

  • It takes time to learn how to use this fly rod. 

Redington VICE Fly Fishing Rod

Although fly rods are known to be more expensive than other fishing gear, this budget-friendly rod will impress you with its high-quality construction and performance. It’s an easy-casting fast-action rod that works in all water conditions with an anodized aluminum reel seat for more durability without affecting the rod’s weight. 

It’s made of carbon fiber to offer increased levels of recovery with greater accuracy and control and has anodized snake guides for more control, in addition to the laser-etched reel seat for quick rod identification. 

This 7’6” rod is a great choice for fresh and saltwater fishing as all the components are corrosion-resistant. It also comes with a durable Cordura tube with built-in rod dividers to protect your fly rod from dust, water, and shock. 

If you happen to travel a lot, this rod will work for you because the 4-piece design is portable and easy to store. However, the rod doesn’t look that attractive, so it might not appeal to a pro angler. 

Moreover, the alignment dots can be a little difficult to see. Nevertheless, if you’re a beginner and need a sturdy yet lightweight and functional 3 weight fly rod, you should definitely give it a try. 

What We Like

  • Budget-friendly rod.
  • Carbon fiber construction for durability. 
  • 4-piece design for easier transportation and storage. 
  • Suitable for fresh and saltwater fishing. 

What We Don’t Like

  • The design isn’t that attractive compared to other rods. 
  • Some anglers can see the alignment dots easily. 

How to Choose the Best 3 Weight Fly Rod

fly fishing rod

Before thinking about all the fly fishing accessories that you need to buy, you should focus on choosing the right 3 weight fly rod for the mission. Here are a few factors to take into consideration. 


Since 3 weight fly rods are designed for delicate presentations, adding extra length to the rod can affect its maneuverability. As a rule of thumb, as an angler, you should choose the rod length based on the size of the water, so the bigger the water, the longer the rod. 

Shorter rods are easier to control, but they can’t handle bigger fish. However, the truth is that it’s unlikely that you’ll catch a 30+ pound fish while fishing in a small stream, and in this case, a shorter fly rod that measures 7 or 8 feet should be more realistic. 

A short rod is easier to cast among vegetation and easier to carry. It’s also suitable for beginners because it’ll be more accurate. A longer rod should work for you if you’re a seasoned angler who would like to cast at a longer distance. 


When you’re shopping for a 3 weight fly rod, you should choose either a medium-action or fast-action rod. This refers to where the rod flexes, allowing you to cast accurately. 

A medium-action fly rod works in situations where you need to slow down the line speed for short casting situations. A fast-action rod has less flex because it’s stiffer, which works for a seasoned angler. It’s ideal when you’re fishing in windy conditions or when you’re targeting bigger fish. 


Graphite is an excellent material because it’s durable and lightweight, but you need to invest in a rod that looks as natural as possible so it doesn’t startle the fish. In addition, the handle should be made of high-quality cork to allow for a comfortable grip. 

Aluminum is a good choice for the other metallic part, but copper can also be used in less expensive models. The stripping guides should be as simple as possible to allow for minimum wear. 

fly fishing in a river


  1. When to go for fly fishing?

Fly fishing is your go-to method when you’re fishing in rivers. This fishing method works best for still water, as you can get into the water or fish from the river bank. It can still be used for fishing in moving waters, but other fishing methods like spinning will yield better results. 

  1. What are the pros and cons of fly fishing?

Using a fly rod allows you to cast a lightweight fly for a longer distance without startling the fish because you won’t cause noise or a splash. However, you need to have enough room to cast your fly, so it doesn’t work if you’re fishing in a crowded spot. At the same time, this method doesn’t work in all fishing situations. For example, it’s not the best choice if you want to fish deep, and it takes skill and practice until you’re able to master this fishing technique. 

  1. What does the fly rod weight indicate?

The fly rod weight is denoted by weight or w and refers to the overall strength of the fly rod or its size. A smaller number means that the rod is lighter and weaker. 

The weight of the fly rod is directly related to the fish species that you can target. For example, a 3 weight fly rod works for targeting trout and panfish, while an 8 weight fly rod works for big trout, steelhead, and inshore saltwater fish.

  1. Is fly fishing more expensive than spin fishing?

Buying a fly is cheaper than buying a lure for spin fishing. But the equipment you need for fly fishing is more expensive.

Wrap Up

A 3 weight fly rod isn’t just able to handle smaller fish, but with the right fly and setup, you can easily target bigger species. We chose the Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series as our top choice because it’s durable and balanced.

If you need a longer rod, we recommend that you go for the Sage Fly Fishing – PULSE Fly Rod. It’s a highly responsive rod that works for both beginner and experienced anglers. 

Happy Hunting!


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