For many years, while guiding, I spent most of each day on an elevated poling platform at the back of my skiff, watching angler/clients struggle with ultra high priced, high performance rods that they had purchased in hopes that dollars spent, would enhance casting skills…They had raced in exactly the wrong direction with their credit cards!
The higher the performance design a rod incorporates, the smaller, or narrower, the window in which the line loop is formed. The advanced caster can take advantage of the increased tip speed, within the window provided by a high performance rod. A caster lacking expert skills will benefit from a rod action that provides a longer “window.”
The Mangrove rod family offers the longer “window,” super quick start ups, strong butt section for tough fish fights, and solid, no nonsense components that won’t let you down on some far flung, tropical beach.
This week, Temple Fork Outfitters announced three new fly products to the TFO family: the BC Big Fly, the NTR reel, and the Mangrove Coast. Find out more below, and be sure to check out these new additions at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
BC Big Fly
Introducing the all new BC Big Fly series. Designed by TFO Advisor Blane Chocklett, the BC Big Fly delivers big flies to big predatory fish with ease.
Evolving from the Esox series, the BC Big Fly will feature the our popular Axiom technology in the blank design, while incorporating updated componentry including elongated composite cork handles, extended fighting butt, Black Pearl REC stripping guides, blacked snake guides, laser engraved Game Changer fly logo on the reel seat, and much more.
The BC Big Fly will be offering in a 9’ 8wt, 10wt, and 12wt and will retail for $399. To find out more about specifics and details of the BC Big Fly, click here.
Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check out the BC Big Fly at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
Introducing the all new NTR reel series. This new reel series offers anglers a ‘No Tools Required’ solution in a high-performance, fully sealed and machined aluminum fly reel.
The NTR reels will be available in four sizes, two-color options (Black/Gold & Clear/Gold), and will retail for $139-$169. To find out more about specifics and details of the NTR reel series, click here.
Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check out the NTR reels at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
Introducing the all new Mangrove Coast series. Designed by TFO Advisor Flip Pallot, the Mangrove Coast was built for the hardcore saltwater angler seeking a medium fast action blank. Easy to load and precisely deliver a fly to spooky saltwater fish, the Mangrove Coast delivers all the necessary components to be successful.
This series features full wells grips with an instant rod weight burled cork LINE-ID system, fighting butts on all models, and cleverly machined hook keepers built into each side of the aluminum up-locking reel seat. All rods are topped with saltwater safe FUJI stripping guides and ultra-lightweight chromium-impregnated stainless-steel snake guides.
The moderate-fast action Mangrove Coast will be available in a 9’ 6 weight through 12 weight and will retail starting at $289.95. To find out more about specifics and details of the Mangrove Coast, click here.
Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check out the Mangrove Coast at your local TFO dealer later this summer!
Once again, these new rods will be available later this summer! To see our entire catalog of fly fishing products, click here.
Over many, many years. Lefty and I played a game of hiding small gifts or tokens, for no special reason or occasion, in places where the other would find them. Often in luggage, clothing, the pages of books, in vehicles, or tackle bags. We never exchanged Birthday presents, or the formal giving of presents. It was much better, not to see a gift coming through the woods!!!
On Birthdays, we’d call each other early in the morn, discuss what the day would be, or talk of Birthdays gone by or to come…
In later years, Lefty became enamored of texting. We texted daily…’lots of jokes. I could never come up with one he did not know!
After his death, I continued to text him for a year and a half, until they gave his number to someone else, who didn’t appreciate my texts 😊
I have continued to e-mail him, all along, just in case they’re getting through, somehow.
Today is Lefty’s Birthday…You can bet I’ll be sending a joke and the day’s itinerary so that he’ll be up to date when I catch up with him…..FP
We’d love to share a film put out last year by our friends at The American Museum of Fly Fishing and Flylords honoring Lefty and the memories that still last with fellow TFO Advisors Flip Pallot, Bob Clouser, and Blane Chocklett. Check out TIME below.
In this uncertain year that 2020 has been, we check in with TFO National Advisor Flip Pallot down in the deep woods near his home in South Florida.
Flip Pallot has been apart of the TFO family as a National Advisor since 2006.
Flip was born and raised in South Florida. An avid outdoorsman for as long as he could remember, Flip began his career as a banker, for “way too long” according to him. After finding the courage to leave the corporate world, Flip began his second career as a fishing and hunting guide. After 12 years Flip moved to television producing and bringing his life’s fishing travels to the small screen for us to enjoy. He is best known for bringing us the Walkers Cay Chronicles, which aired for 16 seasons on ESPN and as a founder of Hell’s Bay Boatworks.
Flip’s keen sense for storytelling and bringing to life the best part of fishing adventures has continued with teaching instructional classes and writing books on fly fishing.
If you’ve followed TFO’s How to Get Started in Fly Fishing series, you have a rod, reel, fly line and leader from partsI, II, III and IV. Now you need to be able to cast.
You don’t need to be Lefty Krehor Flip Pallot to catch fish, but you do need to be able to cast effectively. Freshwater is more forgiving. If you can cast 20 or 30 feet and maintain good line control, you can catch freshwater species consistently, particularly if you are willing to fish subsurface.
In saltwater, the game is more demanding because of wind and moving fish. The rule of thumb is 50 feet with only a couple false casts. You can catch fish on shorter casts than that, but you’ll also need to be cast farther.
Distance is just one factor. There’s speed, your ability to get the fly to the fish before the window of opportunity closes — and there is accuracy —- the ability to put the fly where it needs to be. Could be on the fish’s nose. Could be a few feet in front. It all depends on the angles involved and the speed of the fish in relation to the angler.
Since I’m not a casting instructor, I won’t go into the mechanics of learning to fly cast. Instead, I’ll wade into a few insights I learned along the way. And I’m still learning. Casting is akin to a good golf swing. It’s never perfect. It’s something that can be honed during a lifetime. You can always make it better. Below are a couple ideas that should help you do that.
Get Some Instruction
You don’t necessarily have to find a certified instructor. The important thing is to find someone you’re comfortable with who can teach. A lot of people can cast. Not everyone can teach. Teaching is a skill. Not everyone has the knowledge and patience to communicate. You don’t need to find the best caster. You need to find the best teacher —- for your needs and personality.
Lefty, who passed away last spring, was a fabulous teacher. So is Ed Jaworowski. Both TFO advisors produced The Complete Cast, an outstanding DVD. However at some point, you might need in-person, one-on-one instruction.
How do you find that? Go to seminars. Go to YouTube. Ask around at the fly shop. Then assess your personality and needs. Not everyone can teach beginners. Not everyone can teach intermediates or advanced casters. So assess yourself and abilities and try to find an instructor to match. It takes time, but it’s worth it.
Ten, 15 years ago video was cost prohibitive for any type of instruction. Now, thanks to technology, it’s not. Grab your cell phone or your point-and-shoot camera. Both devices should have decent video. Get someone to take footage of your casting. Then watch it. You’re probably not doing some things you should be and you’re probably making some mistakes you’re not aware of. The tape won’t lie. And after you look at, get your instructor to do so as well. Now you’ll have an idea of what to correct because you have a visual roadmap.
Casting hinges on timing. Ideally you will be able to feel the rod bend on the back cast, but in the beginning it’s difficult. TFO’s Accelerator can expedite the learning curve. It’s an auditory tool, which allows you to hear when to actually stop on your back cast and forward cast.
You can’t get better without it, and if you don’t practice, your skills will erode. Let’s assume you can’t get out on the water as regularly as you would like. In that case, your yard will do. Set up targets for accuracy. Crosswinds, tailwinds and headwinds are all available. Most back yards are not compatible for distance casting, but work with your available space. You can work on delivering a good back cast or go across your body. And if you’re really ambitious, cast with your non-dominant hand. The main thing is to develop repetition. After you’re done, it’s smart to clean your line. Grass can gunk it up easily, which is why I often use a retired fly line, although I still clean that to make it cast better.
The Low Elbow
I’m assuming you know the basics of the grip and have picked up a fly rod once or twice. If you’ve haven’t, that’s OK, here’s the bare-bones version. Grip the rod with the thumb on top of the cork and aligned with the guides. Your back cast should start low near the ground or water and end abruptly near your ear. Pause. Let the line straighten. Start the forward cast ending at roughly eye level before coming to a quick, complete stop, at least to start out.
If you can’t see your rod in your peripheral vision on the back cast, you might need to shorten your stroke. The easiest way to make sure you lock into these positions is to maintain a low elbow. As Lefty says, keep your elbow on a shelf. You keep your right elbow (if you’re right handed) at your side. Don’t raise it. Don’t let it flare. Pretend you can only use your forearm, hand and a bit of wrist. Essentially, you have a short lever. A short lever gives you more control. Why? It’s easier to maintain a straight line for the path of the rod and it’s easier to stop the rod.
Many anglers, once they reach the intermediate level, lengthen their cast for more distance. But, the longer the stroke the more that can go wrong. Think about it. It’s akin to a hitter in baseball. Big cuts can lead to home runs, but they also yield a lot of strikeouts. It’s the same thing with fly casting. You don’t need a big stroke for the majority of your fishing. If you want to win casting competitions, you need a big stroke with hard stops and a straight-line path, which is easier said than done.
None of the above information is rooted in absolutes. There are a lot of ways to cast. There are a lot of ways to learn. Find what works for you.
Keep it simple. It solves a lot of problems.
For more info on fly casting, check out this video from Mad River Outfitters.
Thoughts on fly casting? Struggling with you cast? Feel free to weigh on one of our social media pages.
So says the editorial staff ofFly Fisherman Magazine, which compiled a list of the 50 most influential anglers of the past five decades and placed TFO’s Bernard ‘Lefty’ Krehat the top of the heap.
“Absolutely, he deserves to be No. 1 on that list,” fellow TFO advisorRob Fordyce said. “I never saw Lefty seek (that type of attention). He was a very humble guy. He was Lefty being Lefty enjoying teaching women and children to fly fish for the most part as well as tens of thousands of others. I think it was deserving, but I don’t think he would have (cared) about it.”
Kreh, a long-time TFO advisor until his passing last spring, was followed by Joe Brooks, John Voelker, Tom Rosenbauer, Lee and Joan Wulff, Dave Whitlock, Cathy & Barry Beck, John Randolph, Nick Lyons and Ernest Schwiebert to round out the top ten. However, fly-fishing’s premier ambassador would have bristled at the notion of such a pecking order.
“I think Lefty would have, first of all, resented the list,” said TFO advisorFlip Pallot, who was a close friend of Kreh’s. “It was a silly endeavor. All you had to do was look at that list to know how silly it was. Lefty was the guy who didn’t want to be in the IGFA Hall of Fame, who didn’t want anyone to do anything special for him. I think that list would have gotten a laugh and chuckle out of him, and he would have kept right on going.”
Pallot, for what it’s worth, cracked the list at No. 16. The popular host of Walker’s Cay Chronicles said he found out about the honor from a congratulatory text message.
“I had no idea, so I forgot about it,” Pallot said. “Then someone else said something. I knew there had to be a list somewhere. I proudly followed in Lefty’s footsteps and ignored the list. Lefty was very fond of saying that a piece of paper will sit there and let you write anything you want to on it. It was someone who made a list, and that was that.”
For the record, TFO placed two other anglers on the top 50, fly tyer/guide Blane Chocklett (27), who invented the Game Changerfly; and noted fly-casting author/instructor Ed Jaworowski(39), who teamed up with Kreh to produceThe Complete Cast, now available through TFO. Chocklett and Jaworowski are members of TFO’s national advisory staff.
“I think it’s cool,” TFO chairman Rick Pope said. “But, I didn’t need that list to tell me the (TFO) people on the list are more than worthy. All our Advisory Staff share certain personality qualities — humility, a desire to teach and, needless to say, pride in their knowledge and ability with a fly rod. Lefty exhibited the best of these traits, and I’m sure that most all named would feel the same as Flip and Rob.”
Anytime a list is compiled that honors the elite of any profession, someone will be slighted. The most obvious omission: TFO’s Bob Clouser, the inventor of the Clouser Minnow.
“For them to miss Bob Clouser tells you how well vetted (the list) was,” Pope said. “I think the Clouser Minnow is the most widely fished fly in the universe.”
Best-of lists are not always journalistically bulletproof, but one thing’s for sure, they create controversy and, in turn, attention.
Thoughts on Fly Fisherman’s list? Let us know what your opinions on one of our social media pages.
Editor’s Note: Even though summer yields many opportunities to fly fish, we can all use quality instruction. Ohioans need to look no further than Mad River Outfitters, which runs the Midwest Fly Fishing School near Columbus. TFO editor Mike Hodge chatted with Brian Flechsig, who runs the school and the fly shop. Both are big supporters of TFO.
TFO: A few basics: Where do you all conduct the schools? Tell me about the venues.
BF: “We do it in a few different places. We do a lot of the two-hour classes and then we do what we call on-river seminars, which is for the intermediate (anglers). We just did the carp school last weekend. It was on some quarry ponds where we have a lot of carp. On our website there is a tab that lists the locations with a map and everything. We also work at a place called Sunnybrook trout club up near Sandusky. I do a lot of one-day and two-day schools up there. We also do some one-day schools near Columbus at Zanesfield Rod and Gun club. Those are really nice, manicured trout clubs that we have access to. The good thing is people are typically going to catch fish, which is really cool, especially if it’s the first time they’re picking up a fly rod where you get them into a fish and get a picture with is kind of priceless.”
TFO: I know this is kind of a tough thing to nail down (with fluctuating demand), but how many times a year do you have the schools?
BF: “We’re in the ballpark of 15-20 counting the beginner and intermediate-type things.”
TFO: What’s the student-to-instructor ratio?
BF: “One instructor for every four students I would say. It’s pretty straight up.”
TFO: How important is that, the low ratio, of students to instructors?
BF: “That’s really critical. Now the book-learning part, I can teach a group of a hundred in a classroom. When you put a rod in someone’s hand, putting a fly on and trying to catch a fish, (the low ratio) is critical. I rarely go beyond one for four.”
TFO: How long has the school been in existence?
BF: “I’ve been doing this since the early 1990s. It was just that was under the umbrella of Mad River Outfitters. We made it official and branched out and basically just created another name for it. It sounds more official to be the Midwest Fly Fishing School. We did also ramp things up as far as the curriculum. For example, I brought on TFO as a sponsor. They’ve helped out immensely. We brought on Scientific Anglers as a sponsor. Simms is a sponsor. Those are the three corporate sponsors we have right now. We’re in our third season as the Midwest Fly Fishing School. I think that can be deceptive. I’ve been more or less teaching these formats since 1992.”
TFO: How did the relationship with TFO come about? How much has that helped in terms of putting on this school?
BF: “I’ve been working with TFO basically since day one particularly through Lefty’s encouragement. Flip Pallotcame along later. I also runFlip Pallot’swebsite. Flip, of course, is a big ambassador of the (TFO) brand. Basically I needed to update and upgrade our rods and reels that we use. One of our goals for the beginners’ schools is that people don’t have to buy anything. They can sign up for the school. It’s not a sales pitch to sell them a bunch of stuff in order to take the school. They can sign up and they don’t have to make a single purchase. They just sign up for the class and everything is provided. So, it was very simple for me to reach out to our rep. And I’ve known (TFO chairman) Rick (Pope) for many, many years. He’s been a huge supporter of ours. Anything that he’s asked me for he’s always said yes. And basically TFO sent along everything I needed at no charge and they also have an amazing program where I can purchase gear at ridiculous prices. I was really helped out by them sending everything at no charge. I’ve also purchased quite a bit at ridiculously cheap prices. I could put good, quality gear in students’ hands. They could feel the difference between different rods, rod series and rod families and what not. So (the relationship) has been nothing short of fantastic. TFO has been nothing short of supportive. If I had to go out and buy that stuff, the first few schools would have been break even whereas we were able to make money right out of the chute.”
TFO:A lot of shops guide, but they don’t have separate schools, how did you come up with the idea for the schools? What was the catalyst?
BF: “Many years ago, since we started Mad River Outfitters in 1994, we’ve always done classes and schools. Education, I’ve always said, is the cornerstone of our business. That’s what we really what we do. In turn, we also have a retail store, where people can buy stuff. I really view us as educators first and foremost. I studied music and theater in school. I view it as the same thing. When class starts, I’m on stage performing.”
TFO: Tell me about your series of instructional YouTube videos, how they started?
BF: “The idea was you have this captive audience and you’re going to win them over with your personality and your willingness to share. I stayed away from YouTube for a number of years, because I didn’t want to give the information away. It’s turned out to have a reverse impact. Classes are more popular than ever. People see it on YouTube and then they want to see it in person. It’s really had the reverse effect of what I thought it would. It’s been nothing but positive. …You know now have these educated customers. You take the intimidation factor (of fly fishing) away. That’s one of the things that’s always bothered me about this industry. People were intimidated. They had all these misconceptions. They thought it was going to be expensive. They thought it was going to be hard. They thought a fly shop was going to be an elitist place, that they should shop at Cabela’s instead because the guys at the shop would turn their nose up. That’s one of things that we’ve worked to overcome through the Midwest Fly Fishing School. It’s working. Our shop, our guide business, our online business, our travel business is through the roof right now, like I’ve never seen it.”
TFO: Do you think education and teaching have been become a lost art in our sport? If so, why?
BF: “It’s a tough question, but I don’t know why. I think it’s like with anything — it’s a lost art. Part of the problem is YouTube with learning all this stuff. (People) don’t need to come and take a class, because they can learn it on their own time and they can learn it for free. I think we did see that. When the (internet and YouTube) started up 10 years ago, I thought our schools would go down the tube because people will get this for free. I think we saw a bit of that for a few years. Now it’s coming back strong and in a big way. I think part of the problem is that there’s so much stuff out there. It used to be that if I worked in a fly shop, that gave me credentials. I’ve studied with Lefty (Kreh), worked with (Dave) Whitlock and over the years done work with Flip Pallot. That gave me credentials. YouTube came along and any joker with a cell phone can edit and make a video and throw out information that’s almost fake news. It’s just crap information and it’s just wrong. I’m filming stuff on fly casting tonight and that (instruction in the sport overall) is just a disaster. You’ve got people out there telling you how to grip a fly rod. Nobody’s teaching it properly. One person says use your index finger forward. Another says hold the bottom of the grip. It’s not factual information. Here’s what’s happening: People go to YouTube, they get 10 different opinions. They close YouTube, they get on my website and sign up for a class. Now that we’ve been doing this for 30 years our authority now means something, maybe more than it used to. People get frustrated and they say they need us to straighten them out. ..They know to call Mad River Outfitters because we know what we’re talking about.”
Comments, questions? Give us a shout on one of our social media pages.
Father’s Day is almost here. Temple Fork Outfitters has you covered when it comes to gifts for dad —- rods, reels and accessories that are sure to make him smile on his special day. See below for a handful of options.
This is the perfect starter rod for father and son. It’s light (3 ounces) and relatively short — it comes in lengths of 7 and 8 feet — so it’s great for short casts for pond fishing or to stay out of the tree limbs on small trout streams. Comes in a candy-apple red hue in weights 4-6. Cork grip is downsized for smaller hands. The NXT LA reelis the perfect companion to this little rod and reasonably priced at $79.95.
The perfect rod-and-reel setup for the novice adult angler, but it can also serve as a backup rod for the veteran angler. This outfit comes with fly line and leader, so you’re ready to hit the water instantly. The NXT Kit comes with anNXT LA reel spooled with weight-forward line, backing and leader. The rod case is a bonus, making it easier to store and travel.
Arguably one of the best fly rods that TFO has made. What sets it apart is its versatility and the ability to accommodate a broad range of casting strokes and styles. Usually the angler has to adjust to the rod. Not so with the Axiom II. It tracks well with a nice feel. But fishing is more than just casting, and the A2 delivers with a degree of sturdiness that can withstand the pull of the fiercest fish. As for a reel, there’s no better option for dad than TFO’sPower($399.95-$499.95) reel, a good-light weight, durable complement to this fine rod.
Designed by the late Lefty Kreh and Flip Pallot, the BVK is light weight, but offers loads of power and strength. Both of TFO’s Advisors got it right in this TFO classic, which features a slick of olive finish and carbon-fiber reel seats. If you need a reel to go with this rod, look no further than the aptly named BVK reel. It’s machined aluminum, highly ported and has a stainless steel drag system, all for a good value ($159.95-$299.95).
New Zealand Strike Indicator Kit
Suggested retail: $16.95
Tis the time for nymph fishing in the heat of summer when the trout are stacked in the riffles. In this situation, you’ll want a strike indicator that rides high in the foam. And the New Zealand Strike Indicator fits that need. It’s easy to rig, adjust and it’s light enough to cast efficiently. And most important, it stays on the leader securely.
These are just a few items that TFO offers for dad. Any suggestions or questions, let us know.
So you want to buy a fly line. Should be a snap, right?
Not exactly. Not anymore.
When I bought my first fly rod in the late 1980s, I found an affordable weight-forward, 5-weight fly line, bought it and began fishing. I didn’t know how to cast or even how to fly fish, but the setup worked just fine.
Those days are long gone. Fly lines are heavier than ever, and a 5-weight line is no longer a true 5-weight line, more like a 5.5, or even heavier.
Forgive me for the technical explanation that’s about to follow, but background is needed for proper context. Historically, fly lines have been measured by grain weight (otherwise known as grainage) in the first 30 feet of line. An 8-weight is supposed to weigh in the neighborhood of 210 grains, a 9-weight 230 and so on.
The system was developed by the late Myron Gregory, an ardent pistol shooter and competitive fly caster, who decided in the late 1950s, early 1960s that fly lines needed a reliable, standardized system of measurement.
Prior to Gregory’s work, fly lines were designated by letters, apparently with little rhyme or reason. Consumer chaos ensued because aspiring anglers had little idea what they were buying. Nearly 60 years later, chaos rules once again.
I looked at 8-weight lines from four different fly line companies — Scientific Anglers, Orvis, Rio and Cortland. Lines were consistently one weight higher than Gregory’s standard, which is used by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, known as AFFTA. Sometimes weights were right on the money. Sometimes they were two lines too heavy, meaning an 8-weight was closer to a 10.
“We don’t know what anything is anymore,” TFO advisorFlip Pallotsaid. “If you go into a shop to buy a fly line, one thing you can be sure of is it’s going to be much, much heavier in grain weight than what a 7-weight line should be, according to the adopted (grain-weight) system. That’s where we stand again. We got so smart that we completely got ourselves lost in the woods again.”
Full disclosure: Flip told me about this issue a few weeks ago. I thought he might be exaggerating. He wasn’t. So I reached out to others in the industry.
“It’s horrible,” TFO chairman Rick Pope said. “And it’s getting worse, not better.”
And fly shop owners have noticed the trend as well.
“What happened was the line companies didn’t say this line is really an 8.5,” said Vaughn Cochran, a former Keys guide who owns the Blackfly Lodgein the Bahamas and Blackfly Outfittersin Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
Why fly-line makers strayed from the accepted standard likely stems from a number of reasons. Opinions vary, but many in the industry agree that rods got faster. Novices and inexperienced anglers didn’t have the skill to cast the quicker sticks. To compensate, newcomers bought lines that were one size heavier than the recommended size. Soon after line makers started doing it for them.
“My answer: The industry was trying to make it easier to fish,” TFO Bass Category Manager Collins Illich said.
Others are a bit more blunt as to what happened and why.
“Somebody needs to take responsibility,” Pallot said. “We had a perfect situation. We shouldn’t design things for goons; we should design things the way they should be. Goons should be able to aspire to use it. If they choose to put a 10-weight line on an 8-weight rod, that’s their decision. They can do that. But you should be able to go into the store and buy and 8-weight rod and line. You can’t do that.
“Someone has to step up. Either rod manufacturers have to build rods that conform to the traditional, established grain weight scale…or… line designations and grain weights need to be readjusted (and standardized) according to current, higher performing rods. In a perfect world, both of the above would take place. The industry OWES THIS TO THE CONSUMER and to itself.”
So what’s a consumer to do? Shop around.
“It’s really important and you want to test it on the rod that you’re going to use,” Cochran said. “It’s kind of like when you used to go buy a shirt, you buy a large. Now you buy a shirt and large is not always the same as a large in another company. There’s no consistency. You have to try on a couple shirts to get the right size. If you want to find the right fly line, you have to put it on your rod and try it.”
There’s only one flaw with the trial-and-error method. The wrong tool often gets the blame.
“It’s more difficult for the rod maker, when everyone questions the rod, but not the line,” Pope said. “No one really knows what the line weighs. We have 8-weights that range from 210 grains to as much as 350 grains. The difference in an 8-weight lines is totally random. The 8-weight rod maker like us struggles. Everyone questions the rod first, not the line.”
Interestingly, Pope says anglers who use two-handed rods are the opposite. They often will evaluate the line first. Each two-handed TFO rod, it should be noted, lists grain-windows for the appropriate line weight. Traditional fly rods only list suggested line weights.
Should one-handed rods list a grain window for anglers to match the ideal fly line? If it were only that easy. The truth is there is no easy answer to this predicament.
“It’s like in golf,” Pope said. “A 6-iron used to be for 165 yards; now people hit it 190 yards. Did the clubs change or the ball change? I’m not sure who’s chasing who. The reality is it’s the industry’s fault.”
I met Lefty Kreh back in the mid-80s on a hosted trip to Turneff Island in Belize to learn more about bonefish and fly fishing in saltwater. Flip Pallot and Mark Sosin joined us in a week of the absolute worst bonefishing trip ever — but one that I’ll never forget. I met Flip first – as Lefty suggested Flip as a guide on my first trip to Florida in the early ‘80s. Like all who met Lefty, he was and has been a friend since.
A career change and my entry into the fishing business in 1995 meant that I would see much more of Lefty and, like all of us, I clung to every piece of fishing advice that he so generously dispensed. He honored me with acclaim for TFO’s entry into rods that were “affordable” – as he lived a frugal life and he believed affordability would allow more folks to enjoy the sport.
Our friendship grew along with our opportunities to spend time together at various fly-fishing events around the country. Lefty’s personality, people skills, humility and candor began to impress me even more than his casting skills. His interest in TFO’s affordable concept also grew, and ultimately, I decided to write him a letter and beg him to join us and help design our rods. That was in late 2002. Unfortunately, he suffered a “minor” stroke just before Thanksgiving, so I delayed my pitch. Then between Christmas and New Year’s Day, he suffered his first heart attack. Not wanting to add to his stress so again, I delayed.
I got a report in mid-January where Lefty performed at the Denver ISE show that he was in fine form. He even shared with everyone the story of both the stroke and heart attack. So I sent the letter. He replied with a phone call “I can’t say yes, but I’m not ready to say no. Can we talk about this for a while?” What was essentially an interview with Lefty lasted almost a month and consisted of much more than rod design and concept discussions. Life stories, family, relationships and business philosophy dominated the many conversations we had. Not one mention of money was made. Ultimately, he called me in late February and confirmed that he made the decision to leave his rod company of 20 years and would enjoy helping us with rod design. The press release was written February 25, 2003 – the day before his 78th birthday – and TFO’s business world changed dramatically.
By that point, we had established a good consumer following – although many dealers and certain rod companies threw stones at us for being Korean made and “too cheap.” I even had advice, or a threat, from one dealer that we needed to raise our price, that the rods are too good for their price. Even more upsetting were the complaints levied against Lefty for working with a cheap rod importer. Our exclusive Korean factory was (and still is) owned by a brilliant engineer who both Lefty and even Gary Loomis claimed is one of the best they’ve ever worked with.
With the benefit of hindsight, splitting design from engineering proved to be very beneficial. Lefty could see transition issues in a rod by analyzing loop and shock wave issues in the fly line. He could quite accurately predict where within the blank such issues exist – and how much line weight or fly resistance caused them to appear. To this day, I’ve never seen another with such an intuitive understanding of rod dynamics.
His first trip to Dallas was in March of 2003 and involved three days of evaluating every rod we had while we took detailed notes on action, performance, power and finish out. Changes and modifications were made while he took over the design of our prototype TICR series that, after six different 8-weight prototypes, we were able to introduce the family at IFTD in September.
Lefty proved to be more than the “pied piper” with consumers following him as he would call and ask, “Do you knowEd Jaworowski… then Nick Curcione, then Bob Clouser,Jake Jordan and Flip Pallot? They might be interested in working with us and each has excellent insight into rod design.” Through the 15 years and one month Lefty worked with us, we prototyped over 2,000 rods and he gladly accepted final responsibility for every one we’ve introduced. We became a true family, with epic sales meetings, dinners, stories and jokes – all because of Lefty.
Our incredible family of Advisory Staff members – four of whom are inductees into the IGFA Hall of Fame – have ideas and solutions to enhance rod performance and fishing enjoyment. Lefty always enjoyed the group discussions whether small or all inclusive. From talking knots with Cliff Pace and Larry Dahlberg to rod design with Flip Pallot and Gary Loomisto casting with Ed Jaworowski, he learned, taught and made us all better people. Ed, as one of his closest friends, convinced him to join us on an epic three-year production of The Complete CastDVD set and watching its evolution remains as one of my life’s highlights.
He loved women and always seemed to pick one out of the crowd when on stage while claiming he could “teach any woman he wasn’t going with or married to” how to fly cast unlike “hardheaded guys who don’t listen well.” Lefty even coached a Catholic girls’ basketball team for a while after his return from WWII. He always claimed, however, that his greatest catch was Evelyn – his wife and best friend for 65 years. Ev Kreh passed away November 25, 2011 after several years of declining health that caused Lefty to limit the length of his travels as he didn’t want to be away from her for more than two nights. With her passing, he came to Dallas the following weekend for an event with our major dealer, and we met a couple with a lodge on Ascension Bay that offered great permit fishing. We booked for the spring of 2012 and I caught my first (and only) two permit the same day with Lefty as my boat partner. After that, we always kept a couple of trips planned and enjoyed many until his health and lack of stamina began to slow him down.
Over the past few years, I came to realize that Lefty was much more than one of the best fly casters, teachers and rod designers in the world. His humility, people skills, passion and insights proved to be incredibly valuable to me as well as all who were fortunate enough to know him well. I regret that I never begged him to write the Lessons on Life book. I was blessed to work with him for the past 15 years and I pledge that his teachings on life will eternally remain part of our corporate ethic as his rod design influence will continue to exist in every TFO rod we make. May he rest in peace.