In this post, I’ll list the best 3wt fly line available today.
As an avid brook trout angler, I always think that the 3wt is the best fly fishing line. It allows me to make casts in the tight quarters of mountain streams by avoiding branches, boulders, and anything else that might catch my line.
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So, if you’re looking for some more information on small stream fishing or using a lighter line for smaller fish, then look no further. Below I’ll cover the basics of how to get started.
First, let’s take a look at when you should be using a 3 wt line and how it can benefit you when targeting smaller fish.
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When to Use a 3wt Fly Line
When fly fishing for trout on narrow streams, you typically won’t be using any type of cast that requires a backcast. You’ll be doing a lot of roll casting and bow and arrow casts, which a smaller line is more efficient at.
Also, when hiking in tight quarters, you won’t want to use a 9′ 5wt anyway. Something shorter and lighter will be much better.
You’ll also find that fish size will tend to match the size of the stream where they live. So, a large rod and line weight won’t be as much fun. Catching a 10″ brookie on a 3wt fly line can feel like a 20″ rainbow on your 5wt fly rod.
Understanding Fly Line Tapers
As with all fly lines, there are many different types of taper you can purchase. Each has its own pros and cons, so below I’ll cover some of the more popular tapers and go over how they work.
Weight Forward Taper (WF)
The WF taper is the quintessential fly line taper. The first 10 feet are thicker and heavier, while the remainder of the line is a level taper. This helps get your cast out and shoots the line forward.
Double Taper (DT)
The DT is an excellent fly line taper for fishing small streams. Its specialty is delicate presentations. It makes for a slow unwinding of the fly, placing it softly in or on top of the water to not spook mountain trout.
Level Taper (LT)
The level taper is the cheapest fly line on the market. It has no taper to it, so it’s the same diameter throughout the entire length of line. It’s not ideal for casting, but since you won’t be casting long distances, it might be a good option.
Shooting Taper (ST)
Using a shooting taper on a 3wt line seems counterproductive. Chances are if you’re using a 3wt you won’t be casting far. You’ll be nymphing or throwing flies in tight spaces. Never say never, but this will most likely not be needed for a 3wt.
Features of the Best 3wt Fly Fishing Lines
When selecting the best 3wt fly line, you’ll notice that there are several different features. Each of these will help you in different ways. Some are great, and some aren’t.
So, below I’ll cover a few different features, so you can be more informed when hitting up your fly shop.
Floating, Sinking, or Sink Tip
A floating line will be your bread and butter. The best floating 3wt fly line will allow you to throw dries and nymphs, and you can strip streamers with it. If you’ll be using a 3 wt rod and line, then floating should be the one you use 90% of the time.
The best sinking 3wt fly line (or the best sinking tip 3wt fly line) will allow you to effectively fish plunge pools or in ponds where the fish might be deeper than your leader will allow.
If you do decide on using a sinking line, then you should consider the sink rate of the line. If you want to get down deep fast, then you’ll want something with a very high sink rate.
Typically, though, you won’t need to get down deep fast. You’ll just need something to keep your fly in the strike zone as long as possible without messing up the depth.
Fly Line Color
Since you’ll primarily be using a floating line, you won’t have to worry about any bright colors spooking the fish. If anything, a bright color will help you detect strikes better while straight-line nymphing.
If you do choose to use a sinking line, then pick something that’s darker. Dark green, blue, or black will work well. That way the bright colors won’t spook any of the fish.
Is that a word? If not, it is now. Many people enjoy using longer and more lightweight rods for efficient nymphing. They’re typically used on larger rivers where a 10′ rod is needed to get out farther, and lighter line is needed for finesse.
So, we all know how important it is to mend. If you’re getting a bad drift on nymph and you can’t mend properly, then you’ll have a long day on the water. Look for something with a long head that will let you mend with ease.
The Best 3wt Fly Lines on the Market
Here it goes. After much trial and error, here are my favorite 3-weight fly lines on the market today, including budget lines and some top-end lines for the more serious angler.
Orvis Clearwater is a great fly line for a beginner. In my opinion, it’s the absolute best 3 weight fly fishing line on this list.
It’s built a half-size heavy to help load the rod, and it also features a compact head that helps with leader turnover. This can help with getting your fly out to where the fish are.
This a solid fly line that comes in at a good price. Whether you’re brand new or you’ve been fishing for years, this is a great fly line to have strapped up to a 3wt.
Maxcatch fly line has a superior coating on it, allowing for dependable floatation as well as durability. You won’t have to worry about whether this line will remain floating high on the water.
In a similar vein as the Orvis Clearwater, this line features a long head that will give you superior line control. This will allow you to cast and mend with ease. It also has welded loops to help make setting up your fly reel easier.
The Scientific Anglers Frequency is a great all-around fly line. You can present just about any type of fly in any condition with this line. With this line, you’ll be able to land a dry fly delicately or quickly roll cast a nymph into a run.
The price won’t break the bank either. It comes in at under $50, and you’ll be getting a solid line that you can use anywhere.
In my opinion, the best 3-weight fly fishing line on the market today is the Orvis Clearwater Trout Series WF.
3wt fly lines can be very versatile and can allow you to catch many different types of fish. You can catch small pond fish, roll cast for brook trout, or Euro nymph for browns and ‘bows.
Hopefully, the information above has provided you with enough information to find the best fly line for a 3wt. So head on out to your local fly shop and pick some up yourself!
Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.
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