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, or anything else that would catch my line.

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 we’re going to 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 it can benefit you when targeting smaller fish.

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When To Use a 3wt Fly Line

Firstly, you’ll always use your 3wt fly line with your 3 weight fly reel and 3 weight fly rod. That’s the only way to ensure you have a balanced set-up.

When fly fishing for trout on those 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.

catching a fish with 3wt fly line

Also, when hiking in these tight quarters you won’t want to use a 9′ 5wt anyways. Something shorter and lighter is going to be much better.

you’ll also find that fish size will tend to match the size of the stream that 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 purchase. Each has its own pros and cons, so below we’re going to 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 will be thicker and heavier while the remainder of the line is a level taper. This helps get your cast out and shoots the line forward.

fly angler holding a euro 3 weight nymphing rod

Double Taper (DT)

The DT would make an excellent fly line taper for fishing small streams. Its specialty is delicate presentations. So a slow unwinding of the fly and placing it softly in or on top of the water so as not to spook those mountain trout.

Level Taper (LT)

The level taper is the cheapest fly line out in the market. It has no taper to it so it is the same diameter throughout the whole piece of line. Not ideal for casting, but since you won’t be casting long distances this 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 will not 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 is going to help you in different ways. Some will be great and some won’t.

How To Fly Fish For Bass With a 3 weight

So, below we cover a few different features so that you can be more informed when hitting up your fly shop.

Floating, Sinking, or Sink Tip

The floating line is going to be your bread and butter. The best floating 3wt fly line will allow you to throw dries, nymphs, and strip streamers with it. If you’re going to 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 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.

Sink Rate

If you do decide on using a sinking line then you should keep in mind what the sink rate of the line is. If you want to set 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 the 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.

Different Types of Fly Fishing Lines on Reels

If you do choose to use a sinking line then pick something that is darker. Dark green, blue, or black will work well. That way the bright colors don’t spook off any of the fish.


Is that a word? If not, it is now. Many people enjoy using longer and lightweight rods for efficient nymphing. These are typically used on larger rivers where a 10′ rod is needed to get out further and lighter line is needed for finesse.

So, we all know how important it is to mend, and 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 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 Fly Line

Orvis Clearwater is a great fly line for a beginner and in my opinion, this is the absolute best 3 weight fly fishing line on this list. It is built a half-size heavy so that it helps 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 your brand new or you’ve been fishing for years this would be a great fly line to have strapped up to a 3wt.



MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Line

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 piece of equipment is going to 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. Allowing you to cast and mend with ease, as well as welded loops to help make setting up your fly reel easier.



Scientific Anglers Frequency

This is a great all-around fly line. Present just about any type of fly in any condition with this line. With this line, you’ll be able to sand a dry fly delicately or quickly roll cast a nymph into a run.

The price won’t break the bank either. Coming in at under $50 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. 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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