Leland fly

For all things fly fishing... and Maybe a Little More

Eel River Steelhead Fishing – Northern California

If you have 12 minutes and have fished for steelhead or want to see what it’s like you’ll enjoy this short film from our friends at California Trout. If you’re new to fly fishing we suggest starting your journey targeting trout, panfish or bass but if you live near steelhead rivers and want to learn more about pursuing these fish just let us know. If your timing is right during the run catching these fish can be quite easy on a fly rod.

noun: steelhead; plural noun: steelheads; noun: steelhead trout; plural noun: steelhead trout
  1. a rainbow trout of a large migratory variety.


Eel River Steelhead – The Eel River is known for it’s big steelhead and emerald green waters surrounded by Redwood Forests.

Eel Steelhead

A Catch & Release Refresher Course

If you’ve been fly fishing for a while you may already know how to handle a trout to safely release it back into the wild. If you’re new to fishing this is info may not always passed on correctly by friends and family that may have gotten you into the sport.  Things such as a landing net, thermometer and a little education will ensure there’s a trout for someone to catch in the future, that someone may be you or maybe your kids. This is especially import during the 2015 drought we’re encountering in the Western States of North America. Here’s a short and informative video on all the events you will encounter once you have hooked a fish.

3 Tips on Fly Fishing During a Drought Period

  1. Fish early and late in the day while the water temps are lower. Our advice, get up while it’s still dark and start fishing at first light. By noon you’ll have already spent a half day on the water and spend the afternoon exploring, maybe sipping a few cold ones or go for a swim and relax.
  2. If the water temp reaches 68 degrees (20* C), it’s time so get off the water and now is maybe the time for a thermometer.
  3. Play fish quickly. You may risk breaking off but that’s okay. It’s earning the fish that counts. Also, use a thicker diameter or higher pond test leader say 4x our personal favorite for a wide range of flies yet you can still fool the fish. A landing net can really speed up the process and ensure a safe release.

Although trout are king in our book, targeting them represents fly fishing to us but you may want to consider going after a new species if the rivers around you are too warm. Bluegill and bass are found throughout North America and a few hours catching panfish may be just what you need. These are what we call warmwater species and are much more resilient to warm water.

Tuesday Tip

No matter what fly line you fish, new / old, sinking / floating this is one tip that won’t ever go out of style. Speaking of style, this guy Steve Edge is something else. If you’ve got a moment check out his other marginally fly fishing related videos here.

A good stretch around a pole, tree, a fishing buddy or just doing it in small increments with your hands will make for better casting and better fishing. Ultimately it’s frustration reducer!

Friday Flick

It’s not all about fly fishing… Enjoy this cool one shot mountain bike film.

DIY Alaska Rainbow Trout Fishing with the Leland Sonoma Starter

Brittany from Oakland, CA just got back from Alaska with her Leland Sonoma Starter 8′ 5-Weight Outfit. Just remember, catching a wild Alaskan Rainbow doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars on gear, lodging and guides. All you need is a fly rod and to be in Alaska of course….

Leland Sonoma Starter Fly Rod

“Choose a Job You Love and You’ll Never Have to Work a Day In Your Life”

Rowing a dory in the Grand Canyon is considered by some as the most coveted job in the world. It can take 20 years of paying your dues to earn a seat on one of these legendary wooden boats. Amber Shannon has been boating the Grand Canyon nine years, trying to work her way from the baggage boat to a dory, while spending as many days possible in current.

What it Takes to be a Trout Fly Reel

trout fly reels

So you want to be a trout fly reel, eh? Here’s ‘s what we think it takes to be one.

A trout fly reels serves a few purposes.

  1. It holds the fly line at the ready and keeps it neatly organized when not fishing
  2. It balances the rods’ weight for easy casting (fly rods are long and lightweight but we need some weight on the back end for proper balance)
  3. It helps control a fish once hooked (internal drag and additional angler control are important for keeping the fish on the line and ultimately into the net)

To be a trout fly reel you have to be durable and ready to take drops onto hard rocks. This is why you should be made of quality machined aluminum and not poured from molten metals which bend and crack easily. Your outer finish should be durable so you look great year after year. We prefer an anodization for this, it basically cures the metal with tough coating.

Your internal drag should be able to handle a wide range of temperatures and perform well wet or dry with little maintenance over time. For trout fishing there is nothing like a click and pawl style fly reel. This means the drag tension is controlled by a flat spring that makes contact with a pivoting “pawl” a triangular piece of metal and the point of the triangle comes into contact with a gear attached the spool. See below. This is how fly reels where made decades ago and you still see them working flawlessly today.

trout fly reels-7 trout fly reels-8 trout fly reels-9

To be a trout fly reel you should be ready for anything. This means quickly releasing line off the reel in preparation for casting, yet not to easily so that the line overruns and makes a birds nest around your reel. When a fish is hooked you should be able to control the fight providing some resistance yet allowing the angler to instantly control the pressure with their hand on the spools’ edge. This is called palming. As a fish runs the angler can use their other hand to provide the exact amount of pressure so that stay in contact with the fish but don’t break their fly off.

Arbor is a term for the width of the reel where the line rests. We called a small arbor a “standard arbor” and a large arbor, well a large arbor as it has a larger diameter. What should you be? Read more here. If you don’t want to read more, we like a standard arbor for trout fishing. It’s timeless, versatile, and efficient.

Your last task as a trout fly fishing reel is your aesthetic, your look… Fly fishing is an activity that takes you to beautiful places in nature, it’s not high tech and in fact using high tech equipment in nature can be a turn off to some. We like a fly reel to celebrate this historical sport and keep the tradition alive for years to come with some classic, that just says trout. Is this you?

trout fly reels-10


3 Large Arbor Reels

trout fly reels-2

3 Standard Arbor Reels

trout fly reels-3

Large vs. Standard Arbor Reel (notice the line sits at the same height on each)

trout fly reels-4

Large vs. Standard Arbor Reel (notice the diameter of the inner hub, this is the arbor and where you start winding on backing and then ultimately a 90-100′ fly line)

trout fly reels-5 trout fly reels-6


Large Arbor vs. Standard Arbor Fly Reels

trout fly reels-5

Think of a fly fishing reel as a wheel on a car, bike, skateboard, etc. Varying sizes and distance gained per revolution. Lets first start with drag, then go into retrieve. These are two important process fly reels perform.

Drag function – The larger the wheel the more consistent and smooth the drag pressure will be. This is why a large arbor reel is important in saltwater or any situation where a fish will take considerable line off the reel at a high rate of speed. As the line leaves the wheel/reel the diameter of the wheel gets smaller and smaller. As it gets smaller say on a click/pawl standard arbor reel it actually increases the drag pressure as it takes more force to turn that smaller and smaller wheel. In saltwater once you set your drag you don’t necessarily want it self tightening when the fish is 150+ yards away. You may break off due to the added pressure. However, in a trout reel we actually see some benefits to this as it’s almost self tightening for you as a fish runs and takes more line off the reel. Once again the wheel gets smaller and harder to turn. A larger arbor reel will stay more consistent regardless of the breaking material whether it’s a cork disk, synthetic disc or click/pawl but we like the look, versatility and timeless traditional a click/pawl reel provides when fly fishing for trout.

Incoming retrieve – Similar but different to drag. Incoming retrieve per revolution of the handle is generally greater on a large arbor vs standard arbor reel until you have most of the line on the reel in which click pawl vs. large arbor they are near the same. Remember, when the fly line is sitting on the rigged reel it’s on the outer edge nearing the frames diameter and performance remains pretty much the same both on retrieve and outgoing drag. The noticeable changes only start to change as more and more line leaves each reel at a high of speed and distance.

One final note. If you’re new to fly fishing you may not have a great sense of how much drag tension is needed to control a fish. A large arbor reel is great in the right hands, but too often a new angler will set the drag too loose or too tight resulting in lost fish, tangles and frustration. A click/pawl reel solves this by keeping the drag at a nice medium pressure that rarely will need to be adjusted. Last but not least, price… a standard arbor reel is often half or a third of the price of a larger arbor premium fly reel with a disc drag.

trout fly reels

Pictured Above from left to right

  1. Red Truck Premium 5/6 Large Arbor Reel w/ Cork Disk Drag (loaded with fly line)
  2. Hatch Finatic 4 Plus Larger Arbor Reel w/ Sealed Disk Drag
  3. Loop Classic 4/6 Mid Arbor Reel w/ Click & Pawl Drag
  4. Leland Classic Trout 5/6 Standard Arbor Reel w/ Adjustable Click & Pawl Drag
  5. Abel TR 1 Standard Arbor Reel w/ Click & Pawl  Drag
  6. Loop Opti Creek 3/4 Large Arbor Fly Reel w/ Sealed Disc Drag
  7. Leland Classic Trout 5/6 Standard Arbor Reel w/ Adjustable Click & Pawl Drag (loaded with fly line)
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