3 weight question

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by tyler, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. tyler

    tyler Member

    having grown up fishing the northeast salt, i’m kinda new to the western trout game. been having a blast on the yakima the last year and now have discovered the joys (and solitude) of fishing drys on small water for small native fish.

    i have lust in my heart for a 3 weight, but what length? can anyone offer advice/commentary on the pros and cons of the various lengths? seems like the range is 7’ – 9’. any thoughts? thanks.

  2. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    So-called light line rods are best when fishing for smaller fish. An 8 inch fish can put a serious bend in most 3wt or lighter rods and makes playing the fish more fun. I love 'em for fishing waters where a 12" fish is a trophy.

    The shorter length rods are used mostly to fish small streams where a 30 foot cast is the most you need and/or you may be casting under an overhang of trees or bushes. But if you plan to fish out of a float tube or pontoon, the longer length rods will keep your line from slapping the water on either end of your cast. Most 3wt and lighter rods have a slower action than their heavier weight brothers.

    But lighter rods aren't just for small fish - many guys use them for larger fish as well. Don't believe the myth that playing a large fish on light line rods means you'll be needlessly tiring them. Tippet test rating is the determining factor in whether a fish breaks off or not. Using 3X tippet, you can horse a fish in just as quickly with a 3wt as with a 6wt rod. Likewise, you can break it off just as easily with 7X tippet on either weight rod.

  3. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

    It depends on how small is the "small water" you have in mind. If it's a smaller stream, where you routinely have to check on backcast room, 7 1/2 - 8 1/2' rods are fine. If it's the kind of really small, grown-over stream where you might be better spear-fishing, then a 6' or 6 1/2' rod works better, along with short leaders and a line a size or two heavier than the rod's rating.
  4. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

    If you're interested, I've been trying to sell a St. Croix Avid 7' 3 wght. for $90. I'd sell it to you for $85 and the cost of shipping and insurance. It's in mint condition and is a sweet little dry fly rod. Regularly retails for $160 or $170.
  5. Dan

    Dan Member

    Up until this season, my go to rod for dry fly fishing on the South Platte has been an Orvis TLS 8 foot, 4 inch, 3 weight - at least until the wind comes up. As Kent predicted, it's a little slower action. The rod will handle a 15-16" rainbow without much problem, most of my break offs are related to tippet strength. I'm moving to a 9 foot 4 weight this season, however, to help with the inevitable wind. If I were fishing small streams in New Mexico with lots of overhead cover, I'd be looking at a much shorter rod.
  6. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Dan's exactly right about wind being the bane of light line rods. Nooksack's comment about overlining light rods is also on target. My very favorite plastic rod is a Sage 3wt 8'9" 4-piece. But I like it best when overlined with a SA GPX DT4F. The one and a half weight heavier GPX makes dealing with short casts and wind that much easier while the DT taper makes roll casting or mending a breeze - even for me :-D

  7. tyler

    tyler Member

    good discussion. thanks for the input.

    i'm mostly thinking in terms of some of the spots i've been fishing on the MF Snoq. wading and looking for fish holding in pockets, riffles, pools, etc... so not true "small" water but i think it makes sense to "gear down" up there. been using a 9' 4 weight and so far in most instances back cast room has not been a factor. maybe an 8'6" 3 weight lined up one weight is the answer. i have a WF4F GPX that would probably suffice depending on the rod.

    big tuna, thanks for the offer on the st. croix. i'll let you know.

    thanks again for the insights.

  8. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    I fished the MF last September at several spots between Taylor River and the Dingford Creek bridge using a 1970 Orvis 5'9" bamboo rod with a WF4 Cortland Sylk that had no trouble casting across the river in most spots. My point here is that one doesn't need a 9 foot rod to effectively fish a river the size of the MF.

  9. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    I believe the three weight is the ultimate dry fly trout rod.....minus the bruisers. Fishing lakes/rivers/streams/ the three weight will give you great pleasure on trout 20'' and less...yet handle them well. I too (like Kent) own the 389-4 LL rod. This is the best rod (investment) I have in terms of casting and playing fish with. There are many situational rods out there but for someone attempting the general (over all rod) ....a rod that is great is a rod that is good in every situation (but not necessarily great in every situation) can cast short/medium/long ...feels good..etc.... You have many choices regarding budget.....Sage XP/SLT/VPS....Winston B2X...TFO Pro.... but a light trout rod I loved before my LL came into my life was the St. Croix Imperial ...nice rod....good price. Something worth checking out. (I must add I know little about Scott rods but everyone who has fished with one raves about them) ..many options out there....5 x times what was mentioned here. Albright, Elkhorn, etc. geez we are lucky to have all these opportunities......PS as the great technology advances and many more rods and reels are put out on the market with improvements/prices.....are fishing holes/destinations decline.
  10. Dan

    Dan Member


    I'm with you on a shorter rod length for bamboo. I have a 7 1/2 footer on order - still probably a year out on delivery. It would be interesting to cast an even shorter bamboo rod to see what that would be like.
  11. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?


    Who did you order your 7-1/2 footer from? What taper?

    I've got several shorter rods, all from the 1960s and 70s. I love to share them with other fishers and then watch the expression on their faces when they see how far these little 'tomato stakes' can cast. Shoot me a PM any time you're in the neighborhood . . .

  12. Dan

    Dan Member

    The rod maker is Homer Jennings. He lives here in Colorado Springs, but began rod building in England. He produces about 20 rods a year. I started asking about bamboo at my local fly shop and they pointed me in his direction. Actually, we didn't talk tapers. He had an 8 1/2 foot 5 weight and a 7 1/2 foot 4 weight on hand that he let me cast and I liked the feel of the shorter rod. He watched me cast and we talked about how and where I would use the rod and we went from there. Seems to be a lot to learn.

    Update: I was looking at Len Codella's Sporting Collectibles and a 7' 6" 5 weight rod that Homer built with Tom Moran in England in the late '70's is listed for $3,800. Nice write up on Homer, too.