Best Bang for Your Buck... 3 wt Reel


aka Dave Hoover
Pflueger Medalist 1492, a new or old version. Or find an old Martin 62 ($10-15) or Martin MG-3 ($45-50) reel off Ebay. The 62 is a basic, light reel to hold line which is all it'll be doing with a 3wt. The MG-3 is a sweet, very light reel and is often referred to as a Poor Man's Hardy. A Martin LM45 is also a nice older reel to consider...looks like a Orvis CFO.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
I like the Sage 3100, Sage 3200, Orvis BKLA I and II that I've got. Hold the line well. BKLA has a nice drag. Capacity of a line and some backing. Some good deals can be had on the 3100/3200 from time to time on the web via closeouts and the BKLA's pass through the classifieds from time to time too.
Loomis Ventura will work well. Don't spend more than $100 bucks on a line holder. You'll be fishing for smaller fish and probably won't ever get into the backing. Expensive reels with expensive features will be like "teats on a boar."

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I got me a Martin a few years back. Not to sure on the model as the reel is outside and I ain't going out to look at it. But it fits my 3wt rod like a glove. Oh, and I paid $29.95 for it and it also has a drag, but I doubt if I will ever need it on small fish.

I've always been on the cheap side and always look for a bargain if it could be had.


Well-Known Member
Best bang for the buck could be a Ross Colorado size 0. They are discontinued but are often found on Ebay for less than their original price of $100. Light, simple spring and pawl reel, extremely well made, better tolerances than a Hardy Lightweight and half the price. Lower on the scale is the Reddington CT model I think it is. It was their only spring and pawl model that I've seen, also discontinued, but occasionally found on Ebay for around 60 or $70. Tolerances similar to Hardy. Otherwise any cheap small fly reel should do for a 3 wt, but since longevity is part of value, I don't know which ones are good, other than that Pflueger Medalist 1492, but it's clunky IMO.

I bought a Ross Flywater. It's pretty smooth but they do not make it anymore. My best bang came when I bought a Marryat fo $50. Not much drag but then what would you hook on a 4 wt. anyway. Oh, wait a minute. That's the reel I caught my last steelhead on.


Active Member
For a 3wt think simplicity. You likely are not going to be catching fish on it that will make line burning runs, so any well built inexpensive click-pawl should do. Basically all the reel needs to do is hold line. Other things to consider would be cosmetics and weight.