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

Teaching Kids to Fly Fish – 6 Tips for Success

Here at Leland we teach people how to fly fish and surprisingly kids are some of the easiest to teach. If you don’t have years of built up bad habits and you’re willing to listen for a few minutes, fly fishing and fly casting are quite simple. Many folks think kids and fly fishing don’t mix. The gear is too fragile, they don’t have the patience, what if they don’t catch a fish are some of the excuses we hear from existing anglers… We’ve proven them wrong time and time again, and we hope you take a kid fly fishing. After all, it’s simply a gate key to find yourself in beautiful places free from distractions of daily life. Remember that and reinforce that with them. As a kid I hated going on hikes with no purpose. Give me a fly rod and I’ll hike all day.

  1. If you have already taken a youngster fishing. Congratulations. You’re already successful. Today’s youth need a reason to protect the environment. They’re going to have the tools, they’re plenty smart, lets work on building environmental stewards to protect the planet that we destroyed. As we say at Leland, rivers needs friends and fly fishing creates those friends.
  2. Snacks, got to have snacks and beverages. Bring a few adult pops for yourself too.
  3. Hat, Sunscreen, & Polarized sunglasses. Keep them comfortable and safe with these 3 things. Even a inexpensive pair of polarized will do compared to traditional sunglasses or none at all.
  4. Chairs. This might sound strange but when they’re done, they’re done and if you’re out fishing a pond with a muddy bank or wet grass a few packable camp chairs will keep them comfy. Are they still fishing and you’re the one tired out.? Take a seat, take it all in, you’ve done good.
  5. Camera. Likely built into your cell phone but if not take one along to capture those magical moments. Moment not so magical? Give them the camera and let them start shooting what they see at their level. You might be surprised at the quality and diversity of the images you get from what was a “fishing outing”
  6. Last but not least, you’ll want to encourage them to look at casting as the benchmark for the days’ success. Did they get the fly out in play? Fish are fish, they aren’t always interested in taking a fly so control what you can and remember it’s not about the fish.

For more tips on sharing your passion of fly fishing with others check out a past blog entry here.

To get started let Leland be your guide

emerger fly rod outfit success

Teaching Kids to Fly Fish – Make Casting Practice Fun

Fly casting is a necessary component of fly fishing. Duh! However, too often I see adults out there on the stream casting pretty poorly. If only we had the budget at Leland to hire a fly casting police force out there patrolling the rivers and lakes… Back on topic, fly casting practice with your kids. This likely depends on the kid but “practice” is either a dreaded activity or something they look forward to. Likely it depends on the subject. Practicing piano wasn’t high on my list when I was 10 but I sure did enjoy going to soccer practice. Even then, soccer practice wasn’t the real thing and I just wanted to play an actual game. Fly fishing is very similar to this. Don’t we all just want to go fly fishing? However, to become a better piano player and soccer player one must practice. Practice makes perfect they say and we agree. Therefore, lets talk about fly casting practice for a minute.

Here at Leland we teach casting on a lawn. We rarely incorporate water into any casting session. More on our casting technique in the future.. Lucky you or… unlucky you a river isn’t likely in your backyard but I bet you have a greenish lawn or can find one at a nearby park so you’ll be able to practice. Sorry, no excuses. You’ll want about 80 feet of grass to play with to make casts up to 40 feet in either direction, no need to cast further.

  • Rig up your rod, or better yet have the kid rig it up, remember this is practice to make the actual fishing more fun.
  • You should be using a standard leader of 9 to 12 feet. Don’t skimp with a shorty like most casting instructors do. At the end of the leader tie on a tuft of bright yarn that’s easy to see.
  • Now cast a bit and warm up. It always takes a bit to get use to the action of a fly rod.
  • Soon after you’ll want to set up a few hoola-hoops out in front. Three is ideal. If you don’t have them throw out a few jackets, hats, etc. Get creative. What we’re aiming to do is make a goal. Who doesn’t love scoring goal?

I won’t go much further into what you should do here. That’s up to you and your kid but move around, change the targets often, and work on getting the fly into the goal with as little casts as possible. If they’re pretty young say 4-8 years old don’t worry if they overshoot the mark and just drag the fly into the target. If they cheer when it hits the target, you cheer too. If anything, this will help with fly line retrieve for techniques such as fishing streamers, pulling the fly through a fishy zone.

If you start walking into your kids room and see this, congrats! Speaking of rooms, if you want to play around inside consider an indoor practice rod

kids fly fishing leland


10 Fly Fishing photography Tips from Val Atkinson

Val Atkinson is a good friend of ours and is responsible for many great images showcasing Leland Rod Co. in the field. He’s been in the game a long time and here are his top ten tips photography tips. I asked Val for just 3 but he sent me this collection of photos from a 2011 Fly Rod & Reel Magazine. Hey, no need to re-invent the wheel right? Plus, you get 7 more expert tips!

I’ll add 3 more to this list coming from a complete amateur photographer.

  1. If you want to capture memorable images don’t plan on fishing and shooting at the same time. I’ve tried and tried and rarely is it a fun and worthwhile experience. Plan on doing one or the other… shooting or fishing. Both are equally satisfying on their own.
  2. Fishing today? Own an iphone 5 or 6? Invest in a waterproof Lifeproof case and you have an excellent waterproof point and shoot camera ready to go. It’s also got built in editing, slow-mo function, etc. Added tip, on the iphone 6 in the preset photo modes try the black & white Noir mode. This makes a standard scenic image more dramatic. That one’s from Val.
  3. “Don’t leave your camera in the car” – Leland’s Greg Valitchka

Click each photo to zoom in and read the article.

Val Atkinson Photos Tips 1 Val Atkinson Photo Tips 2

View More Slideshows of Val’s Images Below

New Zealand

Kamchatka, Russia

South America

3 Things you Need to Know About Dry Fly Floatant

1. If you’re just starting out fly fishing forget this stuff. Fish your dry flies as is, straight from the fly box. When the fly gets wet and starts to sink either from turbulent water or the slime from a fishes mouth let it air dry or change flies. You’ll learn knot skills faster and you’ll have saved some money at the start of this journey. You should consider bigger dry flies and flies tied with foam when you’re starting out so it’s one less thing to worry about. A foam dry fly floats nice and high in the water and is easy to see.

2. Liquid / Gel Floatants: Buy this an apply it to the fly right after you tie it on the leader. This will keep it floating longer when it hits turbulent water or if it sinks it will likely pop back to the surface.

3. Desiccant’s / Powder Floatants: Over the course of fishing lets say 10-20 minutes worth even a fly treated with Liquid / Gel Floatants may sink. When it does don’t re-apply this liquid mentioned in tip number 2. It will actually trap water in the fibers of the fly and it will sink quicker than before. It took me years to figure this out so now you know! At this step you’ll want to either change flies to a drier one or use a Desiccant / Powder Floatant as mentioned in the video to pull the water from the fly to dry it out. After you dunk it in the powder and dry it you’re left with a fly just like new. Blow off the powdery residue and simply re-apply the Liquid / Gel Floatant and you’re good to go.

Remember, floatant isn’t necessary for beginners but it will help your fly float higher as you progress. As you fish more and more the little annoyances from the learning phase will disappear and you’ll be left with more time to treat your flies with Floatants.

Pictured Below, left to right – top to bottom

dry fly floatant


Sonoma, California Attractions – Not just for Wino’s Anymore

The movie Bottle Shock is a must see… “Can we get a barrel tasting for this french wine snob” Pretty much sums it up. Everyone will enjoy the flick so check it out.
  • Fly Casting: Of course, you’ll visit us on our thirteen acre Leland Ranch for a relaxing and fun experience. We built it just for you. We’re unlike anything you’ve encountered in fly fishing. We take it slow and responsibly expose people to the true essence of fly fishing. Our bocce court and horse shoes just round out the fun.
  • Wine Tasting: The iconic, rolling, oak-dotted hills of California’s Sonoma valley cradle the special earth that allows our numerous vineyards to craft some of the world’s finest wines. You can sample these great wines when you visit any of the three hundred plus wineries that call Sonoma home. Just a short drive North on Hwy 12 in Kenwood you’ll find Palooza Gastropub and Wine Bar serving our very own Tight Lines Pinot Noir. Pay close attention to the wall art here.
  • Beer: Many say, “It takes a lot of beer to make great wine” and the breweries where listening. Our favorite beer is Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and we love visiting Lagunita’s Brewery. More locally just a short drive down the road from the ranch we visit Carneros Brewing and Sonoma Springs Brewery.
  • Dining: Obviously, nothing pairs better with fine wines than gourmet dining and Sonoma has a stable of culinary options for you foodies. You might even want to up your gourmet game with a cooking class or two. Yes, Sonoma offers world-class culinary instruction. Oh, and book early, as these classes have waiting lists.
  • Boutique Shopping: If browsing unique items is on your list, the quaint and inviting Sonoma town square is a must. Conveniently gathered in the center of Sonoma is a wonderful offering of small shops and casual eateries that will make for an enjoyable afternoon for the whole family.
  • Shooting Sports: Just down the winding road from our Leland Ranch lies Wing and Barrel. World-class hunting, shooting and wine collide in this unique destination, which is sure to put a smile on any outdoor-oriented gentleman’s face.
  • Motor Sports: Within a four mile drive from our Ranch sits Sonoma Raceway. Indy, NASCAR, NHRA and Classic cars compete on this challenging course. You can even sign up for a performance driving class, should the desire arise.
  • Salons and Spas: Sonoma is famous for its spa services. If anyone on your list enjoys the pampered lifestyle, they’ll be pleased to know the list is long. Relax and enjoy the good life in Sonoma.
  • Art Galleries: If you’re an art lover, you’ll find a grand selection of unique galleries, offering regionally inspired works from local artists.
  • Kid’s Stuff: Train Town. It’s aptly named. Imagine a small town built around four miles of quarter-scale railroad tracks. Add to this, a petting zoo and six other amusement rides and you’ve got the idea. It’s a wonderland for any kid…big or small.
  • Accommodations: From luxurious lodging to quaint bed and breakfast options, you can find your restful match in Sonoma.

Plan Your Trip: Choose any or all of the memorable experiences that await you in Sonoma…just make sure that a memorable fly fishing experience at our ranch is on the list. We look forward to meeting you and are happy to assist you with any questions.

What the fly fishing industry refers to as “The Movie” aka “A River Runs Through It”

The Movie changed it all. It was 1992 and fly fishing was just another form of fishing that old rich guys did in places like Montana, or the Catskills. They wore tweed, smoked pipes and drank bourbon. Little was known about it and many assumed fly fishing utilized real flies and the goal was to keep them in the air, over the water in hopes a fish would jump up and grab your fly mid-air. Hey, that’s what I thought when I was young. Then the movie “A River Runs Through It” was released starring the young and handsome Brad Pitt. The perfect date movie for both the old and young. Turns out did a pretty good job representing fly fishing…

Soon, after its release fly shops where busy, I mean lines out the door busy. The industry was booming and many new brands where started during this time, casting clubs popped up to share information and those once secret rivers had well worn trails on the banks in no time. Men where given an excuse to get outside and become Brad Pitt. Sorry ladies, not many of us knew that you could do it too, we later found that women are great anglers… Meanwhile the men tried. Some succeeded and continued to fly fish but many hung up the rod and waders shortly after starting never to fly fish again.

What happened? We asked ourselves this stating, “Man we need another Movie” as sales dwindled from the hay day of the mid to late 90’s. Over the years there have been ups and downs in the fly industry but there has been one constant since then… Not many people can properly cast a fly rod. What we mean by this is that it’s a rarity to see an angler on the river correctly using a fly rod to it’s fullest potential. We define proper fly casting with words like efficiency and control. Fly Casting is not hard but somehow we made it so darn confusing. The industry is to blame. We are to blame. If you cannot cast a fly rod, if you can’t get the fly out and into the water, trust me, you won’t enjoy fly fishing for long.  But fear not… now is the time to learn again.

It took us as a fly fishing company almost 30 years to learn from our mistakes and it’s only now that we have a clear understanding what fly fishing is and how to teach it effectively for success. Fly fishing is simple, attainable and fun and you can do it. Let us guide you with just the right amount of equipment and knowledge. We’ve thought long and hard about this, after all it’s our lively hood and our passion. We’ve proven our method works from the folks we’ve been teaching over the past few years and the equipment we have designed is so well balanced and efficient it has even surprised us. If you want to learn more and are ready to get started give us a call or stop by the Leland Ranch in Sonoma, California. We’ll take good care of you no matter your level of experience.

What is Fly Fishing?

What is fly fishing, how does one classify it… Is it a sport, an activity, a lifestyle? This is a question you have likely been asked before if you are an existing angler… do you remember what you said when asked? At one time I bet you asked someone, “what is fly fishing?” Their answer must have intrigued you. Maybe, for some of you that time is right now. Well, our answer to this sometimes loaded question is simple but it’s took us almost 30 years to really summarize it as follows. Fly fishing is a “gate key.” It’s an excuse to find yourself in wonderfully beautiful places with a reason to be there.

We love fly fishing because it doesn’t care who you are, old or young, rich or poor, everyone is welcome. You can participate alone or with others. We love it because fly fishing is a journey that never ends. Have you thought about what is fly fishing to you?

If you want to read more about fly fishing and what makes it unique amongst other forms of fishing along with how we separate “fishing” from the defining attribute of the sport which is “fly casting” click here

women fly fisherswomen fly fishingupper sac fallsfly fishing in a canoe

Fly Fishing Northern California – North Fork Yuba River

The North Fork of the Yuba River is a beginner’s paradise but a seasoned angler will have a wonderful time here as well. The North Fork of the Yuba River fishes best in the summer months after the snow melt has occurred. Snow melt depending on the year is generally finished up by June. The North Fork of the Yuba River is over 60 miles long, most of which is paralleled by highway 49 so access is easy by any type of vehicle, even motorcycles.  The hot summer days allow anglers to fish without waders which is a huge plus for beginning fly fishers who may not have waders. We prefer to wet wade as the water is clean and clear. It also makes a quick swim to cool of that much easier. What could be better than sticking a few fish then swimming in the same hole.

The best stretch of the North Fork of the Yuba River is the stretch between Downieville and Sierra City. There are literally hundreds of pull outs for anglers to park and walk down to the North Fork of the Yuba River. In my experience your best bet is to fish the pocket water and make only a few casts in each spot before moving to the next rock. This is where you can hone your wading skills by casting while walking to cover wader quickly. If you’re unsure, please exercise caution and stop fishing to move to the next spot. The creeks entering the river offer smaller water but tighter casting quarters. We love these creeks in the mid summer as they offer shade and maybe even a brook trout!

Fishing the famous pocket water on the North Fork of the Yuba River:

Pocket water is a section of water with many boulders protruding from it. These boulders create a buffer for the fish to hold behind, in front of, and along side. I like to fish my way upstream casting my flies all around the rocks targeting the soft glassy water. Start by fishing the water closest to you and then work your way out. The beginning angler should cast a big bushy dry fly. If you have cast your flies all around the rock and don’t get a grab move to the next boulder. There are hundreds of eager rainbow trout in every stretch of the river. Be persistent and you will catch fish. In mid summer fish early and late in the day. For spring fishing you’ll want to start fishing around noon to just after the warmest part of the day.

Lodging and camping on the North Fork of the Yuba River

  • There are many campgrounds on the North Fork of the Yuba. We like the Loganville campground a few miles short of Sierra City. You can reserve a campsite here by calling 1-877-444-6777.
  • There are equally as many cabins to rent on the North Fork of the Yuba River. I prefer The Sierra Streamside Cabins  with guiding services from Jim the owner.

Fly rod outfits for the North Fork

  • A seasoned anglers who already owns a general trout outfit will love our Leland Sierra Nevada Backpacker Outfit. It just feels at home in the Sierra where this stream resides and the length and weight combination is perfect for making accurate casts to small feisty trout.
  • If you’re new to fly fishing and making your first trip and plan to fish other waters around the state and beyond we suggest the Leland Sonoma Starter, at $199 this 8 foot 5-weight fly rod outfit is the best rod to learn on and grow with for years.

Other essentials

  • Polarized Sunglasses – To help you see into the water and spot fish. They also make wading safer. We like any polarized lens that is bronze in color.
  • Fly Fishing Flies – This a dry fly fisherman’s paradise. Big bushy and easy to see dry flies are the what we all dream of. You’ll want Stimulators, Royal Wulffs, Hoppers, and Humpys.
  • Nippers and Forceps – Nippers cut the tag end of the leader when you tie on your fly and make changing flies quick and easy. Don’t use your teeth. Just ask Keith here. Forceps are nice for safely removing hooks from a fishes mouth and you can also use them to grasp the fly when tying it on.
  • Although it’s not a necessity a landing net will help you land fish quicker and easier, and will also allow you to enjoy your catch longer before releasing it back into the stream

A few extra tips

  • Cell service is poor around here. If you go alone make sure you tell somewhere where you’re at and when you plan to return to better cell service. In Downieville you can sometimes get WiFi near the community theatre
  • There is an amazing mexican restaurant in Downieville as well. Highly recommended
  • There are many feeder streams that enter the Yuba. Fish these!
  • Herrington’s Resort and Restaurant in Sierra City is a classy joint. They also have a trout pond with huge rainbow trout you can feed and even purchase to eat there or take with you. Please practice catch and release in the Yuba to preserve the fishery. Especially the wild trout. However, they do stock fish around some of the campgrounds near Downieville.

A final note, if you have any questions just give us a call at (866) 672-1959

camp yuba 3 camp yuba 2 camp yuba  yuba 13 yuba 12 yuba 11 yuba 10 yuba 9 yuba 8 yuba 7 yuba 6 yuba 5 yuba 4 yuba 3 yuba 2 yuba 1 yuba fishing 2 yuba fishing Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 11.03.23 AM


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