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Another Tribute to Lefty

Lefty Kreh passed away nearly two years ago, but memories of fly-fishing’s biggest ambassador endure. The American Museum of Fly Fishing has paid tribute to the long-time TFO advisor with a film — Time — which is expected to be released in a few months.

TFO chatted with Alex Ford of the Museum to discuss the project, which got significant contributions from TFO advisors Flip Pallot, Blane Chocklett and Bob Clouser. All were good friends with Lefty.

Below are excerpts of the interview.

TFO: What was your role in the film? Were you the editor, the producer? Did you come up with the idea. …?

AF: “We knew we wanted to do a film this year. I spent a lot of time looking for a great story that would not only highlight the legacy of fly fishing, but also involve the museum and its collection in Manchester, Vermont. … I remember reading a Fly Fisherman Magazine article that Flip wrote about driving up to Maryland to fish smallmouth streams with Lefty. That was the original idea and then we got the FlyLords crew involved. Then we talked to Flip, and Blane came on board as well. …”

TFO: When will the film be out? For people to see?

AF: “If we can get it in the F3T (the Fly Fishing Film Tour), that would be ideal. It will be finished by October 1st. That’s the deadline for that. Hopefully by early September, we will be ready to go.”

TFO: I know you’re in the editing process right now. How long is the film? Fifteen minutes? 20 minutes? An hour?

AF: “The film will be 10 minutes. Then there will be lots of clips around it. We did interviews with Blane, Flip and Bob Clouser. All were an hour each. We’re going to cut some of that into the main film, but of course we’re going to use that for other stuff as well.”

TFO: I know you’re not finished, but how long did it take to do the project?

AF: “From conception to finish, about a year. A lot of that was coordination and fundraising in the beginning. We shot the actual project in early June. It should be done around mid-September.”

TFO: I know you can’t give anything away in terms of content, but can you give us an idea of the narrative of the film, what people can expect?

AF: “It follows the relationship between Flip and Lefty, how unique that was and also Lefty’s influence on a personal level. Blane for instance ties a Game Changer (fly) on Lefty’s old vise and he fishes with some of his old Deceivers (from the Museum), things like that.”

TFO: Anything that you learned about Lefty that you didn’t know before? Everyone, I know, has a perception of him. It seems like everyone has a story about him. … Is there anything interesting about him that you learned from this project?

AF: “Generally how supportive he was of other people. On a more specific level, there’s a strain of anthrax named after him. He worked in a factory for a number of years. There were three guys who contracted anthrax. The way it manifested itself in him was never seen before. It’s rather unique.”

TFO: When there’s a project, there’s things that make it worthwhile. Anything with this film that made it particularly worthwhile?

AF: “With Bob Clouser, we didn’t know he’d be (near where we made the film), but he happened be staying a few minutes from Flip’s house. For me, it was so cool to be at Flip’s house. Here’s Bob Clouser and Blane Chocklett and we’re talking about Lefty Kreh and Flip as well. That was just amazing, seeing all these heroes in the sport all together to commemorate Lefty who’s a hero to them. It was humbling all around.”

TFO: How much did Flip and Blane help you out? What was their role in all of this?

AF: “They were both great. Blane had a story about the Gummy Minnow and how Lefty got him his first fly deal. They were both excited that the Museum was doing a project like this. They could not have been more accommodating. The first day of filming was intense. We went on for 12 hours. Everyone did what they needed to do to get it done. Then there was Flip with his professionalism in front of the camera. It was amazing. It was like watching an episode of Walker’s Cay Chronicles being made.”

TFO: Anything else you would like to add?

AF: “Lefty’s family donated a lot of his materials, a lot of his estate, to the museum. We have his tying desk. His flies. All sorts of books, DVDs. A lot of cool stuff.”

TFO: What’s the name of the film?

AF: “Right now we’re calling it Time. That came from Flip who said, ‘All I have is time.’ We didn’t plan that one out, but it resonated.’’

 

Comments, questions about the film on Lefty? Feel free to visit one of TFO’s social media pages.

Part V: How to Get Started in Fly Casting

If you’ve followed TFO’s How to Get Started in Fly Fishing series, you have a rod, reel, fly line and leader from parts I, II, III and IV. Now you need to be able to cast.

You don’t need to be Lefty Kreh or 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.

Use Video

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.

Practice

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.

How Beginners Can Get Started in Fly Fishing, Part 1: Simplify

Welcome to part one of TFO’s fly fishing for beginners. Starting today, our series will be divided into five weekly segments — an introduction followed by singular posts on rods, reels, lines/leaders and casting.

Let’s be honest. Fly Fishing, at least at its advanced levels, is not easy. It can be difficult for the beginner, but it doesn’t have to be. You can fish for tailing bonefish and permit on the gin-clear flats of the Bahamas, or, you can try your hand at bluegill on a farm pond with nothing more than a simple out-of-the box setup and a fistful of poppers.

The choice is entirely up to the angler.

A few thoughts on how the beginner can streamline the process:

Buy a Kit

When a beginner first goes into a fly shop, the array of lines, rods and leaders can be daunting. If you’re patient and persistent, you can go through the tedium of putting together a matching outfit. But why endure that stress?

Better yet, a buy a kit — with a rod, reel, line and leader already assembled. TFO has NXT kits (suggested retail: $199.95-$209.95), which are perfect for a youngster or adult beginner. You get a quality, affordable setup that’s ready to fish.

It’s a low-risk proposition. If you eventually fall in love with the sport, you can upgrade to a better rod and reel. On the other hand, if you simply want to dabble in fly fishing, the NXT kit will serve you well for years — and you won’t blow through a monthly mortgage payment, which is easily doable at your local fly shop.

Take a Class

Most fly shops offer classes. Mad River Outfitters in Columbus, Ohio offers outstanding instruction. Most shops offer free weekend casting lessons, and it’s worth your time to invest a few hours with a knowledgeable teacher.

Internet instruction is an option. The only problem with that approach is that the quality of the information varies. Some is good. Most of it is bad and there’s no gatekeeper to sort through the volume of misguided info.

The next best option is to buy a DVD from a reputable source. TFO’s Lefty Kreh and Ed Jaworowski teamed for The Complete Cast, which is a comprehensive look at fly casting. It’s a little advanced for the pure novice, but a good investment for the intermediate angler.

Hire a Guide

One of the hardest things about learning to fly fish is knowing where the fish are, when they’re going to be there and why. And then you have to be skilled enough to put the fly where it needs to be. A good guide can help you sort through the obstacles. And trust me, there will be plenty.

When I first started fly fishing 30-something years ago, I was immediately hooked. I went out and bought a handmade fly rod for $350, which translates to nearly $800 in today’s economic climate. And, I had no idea how to cast or how to find fish.

Sheer perseverance yielded a few trout, but fortunately I found a friend who was not only skilled but helpful. In retrospect, I should have spent less money on my first rod and invested in a guide. You, as a beginner, should do the same.

 Set Realistic Expectations

I learned to fly fish on a spring creek. Of course, I was seduced by the visions of big brown trout sipping sulphurs at dusk. I eventually bagged my share of browns, but not before I honed my skills on a more forgiving species — the brook trout of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I should have simplified even further — with bass and bluegill on the local farm ponds. You don’t need a guide. You don’t need waders. If you can toss a popper a few feet, you have a good chance of landing a fish or two. From there, your confidence will grow — along with your skill level.

 Enjoy the Journey

When I first started fishing, I used to take a few fish home, not because I was against catch-and-release — actually I was in favor of it —- but because I needed proof. I needed validation that I could actually catch something with a limber rod, a rubbery line and a tuft of fur and feathers. I’m not sure if I was insecure or trying to prove to my wife at the time that I was being productive. Beats doing yardwork, right?

As I’ve grown older, I no longer measure fishing or hunting success by empirical output. If I’m still learning, that’s good enough for me. Fly fishing offers infinite possibilities — saltwater, freshwater, big fish, little fish, stocked fish, wild fish. All can be sampled close to home or abroad. You can tie your own world-class flies ala TFO’s Blane Chocklett. You can row a drift boat or pole a skiff. Or you can simply fish from the bank.

That’s the beauty of fly fishing. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The choice is yours.

Below is a video from Mad River Outfitters that provides additional insight on the simplicity of fly fishing. Additional thoughts or comments on how to make fly fishing more user-friendly for beginners? Feel free to comment on one of our social media pages.

 

 

Lefty Kreh Honored for a Lifetime of Influence

Lefty is No. 1.

So says the editorial staff of Fly Fisherman Magazine, which compiled a list of the 50 most influential anglers of the past five decades and placed TFO’s Bernard ‘Lefty’ Kreh at the top of the heap.

“Absolutely, he deserves to be No. 1 on that list,” fellow TFO advisor Rob 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 advisor Flip 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 Changer fly; and noted fly-casting author/instructor Ed Jaworowski (39), who teamed up with Kreh to produce The 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.

It’s Back to School for Fly Fishermen

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 Pallot came along later. I also run Flip Pallot’s website. 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.

How to Use the Inverted Loop Cast for Those Heavy Flies

Editor’s Note: This is a story by TFO Advisor Bob Clouser. It was first published in the 2014-15 edition of the Loop Newsletter. To see Bob’s story in its original form as well as gather a wealth of other fly-casting info, you can access the Journal of Fly Casting Professionals at the Fly Fishers International website by clicking on the following link: https://www.flyfishersinternational.org/Casting/TheLoopNewsletter/tabid/208/Default.aspx

 

You don’t need to throw a wide loop when fishing weighted flies and lines. In fact, you’re more efficient if you don’t. Lefty Kreh and I developed a casting stroke that, when properly executed, delivers weighted flies and lines with a tighter loop and less work.  I call it the Inverted Loop Cast.

Begin the cast after you’ve already retrieved the fly from deeper water, so the line is near the surface of the water.

Step 1

Without breaking your wrist, begin your back cast by rotating your hips and shoulders in the direction of the back cast with the rod traveling to reach a 45-degree angle by the end of the back cast. The line travels below the rod tip to create an inverted loop. After your hand passes your left shoulder, speed up and stop the rod to send the weighted line and fly rearward. The inverted loop will unroll and send the weighted fly in an upward trajectory at the end of the back cast (instead of the downward direction with the standard cast).

Step 2

Without pausing, elevate the angle of the rod from 45 degrees to approximately 60-75 degrees (closer to upright/vertical) without lifting your hand or elbow. This keeps constant tension on the line and avoids shocking the line when you begin the forward cast.

Step 3

As the casting hand changes the rod angle to 90 degrees, simultaneously begin rotating your body for the forward cast. Once the casting hand and shoulder passes the plane of the opposing shoulder, accelerate and stop the tip of the rod in the direction of the target to complete the cast.

Remember to apply constant tension on the rod through the entire cast. It is almost like pulling the weighted line and fly through the entire back and forward casting motion. Don’t pause between the back and forward cast; merely change the plane of the rod from 45 degrees to 90 degrees as the body begins forward rotation. For better accuracy, pull the line directly away from the target on the back cast before speeding up and stopping the rod.

Tips for Casting Weighted Lines and Flies

  • Learning how to fish with weighted flies and lines will improve your catch rate for sure.
  • Keep constant tension on the fly rod through the entire casting stroke.
  • Use your body. Bring your casting-hand shoulder back with the motion of the back cast. When making the front cast, bring the casting shoulder forward until it passes the non-casting shoulder. Then apply the same forward speed-up-and-stop by pushing the palm of the hand forward. This kind of like throwing a dart, baseball, or hitting a golf ball. Use no-up-and-down wrist movement.

Very important, never use the wrist and arm where it moves in an up and downward motion.

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3

 

A Primer on TFO Rods: What Makes Us Different

Editor’s Note: TFO Bass Category Manager Collins Illich discusses TFO rods and a little bit about what we do and how we do it. Enjoy. …

Talking fishing rods should be fun. Sadly, we all get caught up in industry jargon and techno-babble that can be at best, confusing and, more likely, misleading. TFO wants it to be fun and easy for our anglers.  When we talk rods, we want our anglers to understand why the rod was made. Keeping it fun means we don’t spend a lot of time talking about the modulus of the material, flag patterns, resins or mandrels.  What we do talk about is what a rod does. We want our anglers to be armed with the correct tool for the specific job.

If you want to talk about the specs of an individual rod or why it was made the way it is made, our support staff in Dallas is always around to help. But, you won’t see this information in our catalogs or on our website. What you will see is why a rod was made the way it is.

TFO has unique capabilities based on having their own factory. It provides TFO the opportunity to work with materials our designers demand, control quality and consistency and to experiment with cutting- edge materials before they hit the market.

TFO has had the same factory from inception. It has made all our rods for our 21 years in the industry. Industry icons and TFO designers Gary Loomis and the late Lefty Kreh both acknowledged that our engineer, B.J. Im, is “the finest rod engineer they ever worked with.” B.J.’s production and design oversight is crucial to our success. Working closely with TFO’s worldwide design team, B.J. oversees daily operations, controls and most exciting, development.

Consistency from our factory means defects are minimized. Every rod is loaded and specs are confirmed before it is prepped for delivery. The few defects that make it down our production line are tossed and don’t get into our anglers’ hands.

Consistency is everything when it comes to warranty, too. Damaged rods are turned around within 48 hours. Our team inspects every section, replaces damaged sections and finally assembles the entire rod and puts it under load.  Each rod is thoroughly tested and inspected before being boxed up and shipped out.  Ferrules are ground to 1/10,000 of-an-inch tolerances. That consistency allows for a simple swap of a damaged section with a new one.

TFO is already gearing up for ICAST in July and the 2019 consumer show circuit. Check our schedule online or follow us on Facebook for updates. Drop by one of our shows or better yet, drop in on one of our dealers to check out the lineup. Our gear line covers everything from ultra-light trout to 50-pound class with bass, walleye and inshore in between. TFO’s fly lineup has the right tool for you, from bluegill to tuna.

Want to know more about our rods or have a question, then let us know with a comment on below or on one of our social media pages.

A Few Father’s Day Gift Ideas from TFO

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.

Bug Launcher

Suggested retail: $89.95-$159.95

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 reel is the perfect companion to this little rod and reasonably priced at $79.95.

NXT Kit

Suggested retail: $199.95-$209.95

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 an NXT LA reel spooled with weight-forward line, backing and leader. The rod case is a bonus, making it easier to store and travel.

Axiom II

Suggested retail: $339.95-$359.95

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’s Power ($399.95-$499.95) reel, a good-light weight, durable complement to this fine rod.

BVK

Suggested retail: $249.95-$295.95

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.

Another Perspective on Lefty by Rick Pope

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 know Ed 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 Loomis to 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 Cast DVD 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.

Five Tips for Beach Snook

It’s almost May. It’s Florida, and it’s about get hot as spring is preparing to yield to summer’s swelter. It’s a little too early for tarpon and too late for redfish. Nevertheless, inshore fishermen have a viable option — snook on the beach.

From early May through late August, snook roam the surf on both coasts of the Sunshine State, providing anglers an excellent opportunity for sight fishing. It’s not as exciting as bonefish in the Bahamas, but it’s an affordable, fun way to spend summer mornings.

Below are a few tips to help you get started.

Geography

Beach snook is largely a Florida affair. The linesider can be found on both coasts of the state in the spring and summer as the sporting fish leaves the passes in search of baitfish along the beach. Buyer beware: You won’t find many sight-fishing opportunities on the beach north of Tampa or Fort Pierce.

Snook need warm water. Anglers need calm, flat surf. Both are available in the southern parts of Florida. Top spots on the gulf coast are Honeymoon Island and Fort DeSoto (Tampa/St. Petersburg), Casey Key (Sarasota) and Sanibel (Fort Myers area). On the Atlantic side, Hobe Sound and Bathtub Beach near Stuart are worth the trip to the Treasure Coast.

The Right Conditions

As with any form of sight fishing, the sun, wind and surf all have to work in concert for prime visibility. You want the sun at your back. That means an early start on the west coast; and a later start on the east coast. I start around 8:30 or so in Tampa and around 11 in Jupiter and Stuart. You can fish later, but may have to dodge afternoon thunderstorms.

With the wind, you want an east wind on the gulf side; and a west wind on the atlantic. Both scenarios help flatten the surf and make casting a little easier. Ideally, I like the wind 10 miles an hour less.

Even more important is the height of the surf. Waves of a foot or less make it easier to see the fish. Waves of 1-2 feet are manageable. Anything bigger than that leads to a lot of bind casting. Surfline is one of the best sources to evaluate these conditions.

Positioning

Beach snook fishing requires a lot of walking but little wading. Stay on the sand as much as possible. You’ll scare fewer fish.

Scan the surf. Look where the secondary waves form and break. Fish use the waves for cover, or they merely wait for the wave to break and try to pin the bait — mullet and pinfish — along the trough. Most of the fish will be in mere inches of water —- ankle to knee deep.

To ensure better visibility, wear a hat with a wide brim with a quality pair of polarized sunglasses.

Flies

I like to keep things simple. I use two main flies — Lefty Kreh’s Deceiver and Norm Zeigler’s Schminnow — and have caught scads of fish on sizes 1, 2 and 4. The Schminnow is easy to tie. The Deceiver is more time consuming at the vise, but a classic that almost always produces in darker colors. It is one of my all-time favorites.

 Equipment

I use two different rods —- an 8-weight on the gulf coast and a 10-weight on the east coast. The reason? Atlantic snook are bigger and it’s not unusual to run into a tarpon on the beach on that side of the state. My favorite TFO rod is the Axiom II. It’s sturdy yet smooth. The same could said for the Power Reel, which is sexy but very serviceable under difficult saltwater conditions.

Wind and waves constantly tug at your fly line. A stripping basket is a must.

You can either use a floating line or an intermediate line. If the surf is a tad high, I use the intermediate. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Leaders are simple — 5 feet of 40-pound mono attached with a blood knot to 4 feet of 20 or 30-pound fluorocarbon.

For conventional gear, I like the 7-foot GIS Inshore, an ideal rod for blind casting when conditions don’t allow for sight fishing. Regardless of your weapon of choice, beach snook are a blast.

 

Thoughts? If you have additional tips, feel free to comment below or drop us a line on social media.