Yep..I have always had trouble with a normal 3 w especially off the deck, so I went with a 17 deg 4 w for some distance and 7 and 9 woods..
Love my 9 wood by the way..Hits high and lands soft..but not always LOL.
it may depend on your swing speed, players with lower swing speeds very often times have trouble getting the ball airborne with lower lofted clubs. high swing speeds can impart more spin on the ball, thus making it easier to get the ball up in the air and stay in the air for longer a lot easier.
i carry a taylormade r9 17* 4 wood as my only fairway wood. i used to carry a 3 wood and 5 wood but never really found myself needing to differentiate between the two so i just simplified and split the difference. it's not very realistic for me to worry about specific yardages since i'm not planning on hitting fairway woods accurate enough to put it on the green. i tee off with it if my driver isn't cooperating or on short par 4's and use it for second shots on long par 5's. i've cut down to 12 clubs so my setup goes 10.5* driver, 17* 4 wood, 22* hybrid then 5 iron and down. works pretty well for me.
I went from a 3W + (5W or 19* TM Raylor) to a 4W + 7W (Tour Edge Exotics XRail).
I had trouble with the 3W off the turf getting the ball up. And, I only connected with about half the shots off the turf (too many 140-yard dumpers into first cut of rough).
4W much more reliable, and pairs well with 7W. In second half of summer, I hit and held several greens from 210 + out with a 4W. (And some I missed, but we won't talk about those).
I've been carrying a driver, four and seven for some time now and have no intention to change in the foreseeable future. I hit the four much more consistently off the fairway than a three, and I don't think I give up much distance. To be honest, however, I use the seven much more often than the four, but that is a function of the courses I play.