Late Fall weather in the Bay Area can be pretty amazing. Even though we're in mid November, the temperatures have held in the mid 60's with bluebird skies. It's far and away my favorite time of year. In an attempt to take advantage of the great weather and get a fly fishing fix, a buddy and I decided to drive up to Sonoma to visit the Leland Ranch Fly Shop. I've been wanting to visit this spot for quite some time now. It's always fun to visit a new fly shop right? Leland started in the heart of San Francisco back in 1985 and has since moved to a much more spacious location just 40 minutes north of the city, in the heart of wine country.
Upon arrival, we realized this was much, much more than just your typical fly shop. The ranch has a beautiful plot of land hosting two small bass ponds, a horse shoe pit, bocce ball court, and a perfect back patio for having a drink and taking in the view. They also host fly casting lessons and design their own line of rods, reels, and lines. Casey, one of Leland's casting instructors, gave us a tour of the shop and grounds. He walked us through the rods and reels they've been producing and took us to the back of the property just as a biplane was taking off from the airport next door.
We spent the rest of the afternoon, working through their different rods and trading fishing stories on the back lawn. From classic glass, to high performance graphite, and spey rods, they pretty much do it all. Although we brought our own rods to cast, we never took them out of the rod tubes. Casey, brought out their classic graphite trout rods and gave us both some really helpful tips using three simple principles (remove slack, pull line, and come to a stop). By focusing on those three techniques, we were able to improve accuracy and keep our loops tight.
After throwing some line on their high performance rods, we broke out their glass rods. The slow action was a ton of fun to cast and I was really impressed with the classic styling they put into the line of rods and reels. Although the rods had no problem shooting line, in my mind, they're perfect for the small streams of the Sierras. They even have a six piece model that would be perfect for backpacking.
With the sun setting, it was time to head back to the city. It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Improving our casting, getting to meet the great Leland staff, and testing out some really nice rods. This is the perfect place to bring a friend that's looking for some great fly casting instruction. Better yet, if your significant other is looking for some good instruction (we all know how tough it can be to teach your loved one a new hobby) this is the place to come. Wine tasting, followed by a fly casting lesson and a killer sunset? Yep, this one's on my list of places to come back and visit!
For more on the Leland Ranch Fly Shop, check out their website.