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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.

Recollections of Lefty and Reflections on his Legacy

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Lefty Kreh. It was nearly 30 years ago. I had just started to fly fish and was mingling with a local glad-hander at a fly-fishing show near Charlottesville, Va.

A weathered looking fellow walked in wearing a pair of khakis, a chamois shirt and a sheepish grin. And in mid-sentence, the local celebrity I was chatting up shot out of his chair toward Lefty like a spring creek brown after a hopper.

Though somewhat startled, Lefty handled the social ambush with a firm handshake and a pat on the back.

I was a relatively young adult, but I learned two things that winter afternoon. People are drawn to Lefty, and there’s a good reason why. He makes everyone, no matter where they are on the social pecking order, feel like a rock star, even though he’s the rock star.

I’m sure others have similar stories that have been shared since Bernard Victor Kreh passed away last week at the age of 93. He is nationally known for his books, lectures, videos and the ability to teach us to throw a fly farther and more accurately than we thought possible. But to those at Temple Fork Outfitters, he is considered one of the initial bedrocks of a proud company.

Lefty joined TFO 15 years ago. As the company’s first advisor, he had a significant say in every single-handed fly rod TFO produced since February of 2003, from the Signature Series to the Axiom II, which was released this fall.

But Lefty was more to TFO than a mere gatekeeper for affordable, quality fly rods. He believed in TFO’s mission and its people. He was the type guy who would rather promote others than himself. He asked there be no funeral. Cremation was more his style. And those close to him made sure those wishes were carried out, along with the request that he spend his last hours wearing his favorite TFO hat and shirt.

How’s that for loyalty?

Below are memories and anecdotes about Lefty from well-known folks in the fly fishing community. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section.

 TFO Chairman Rick Pope on Lefty’s legacy:

“Fly casting is the easy answer. …Affordability would be neck and neck with fly casting. He’s a guy that wore $14 Sears Chinos. As has often been quoted, by the time you spent more than $150 on a rod, it’s often going to outperform the caster. Barrier to entry. He was not flashy. He was a frugal guy. It was a way that he saw to get more people in the sport, which all circles back to our mission statement.”

 TFO advisor Rob Fordyce

“I knew who Lefty was. I had read a lot of his books as a young person, by young I mean 8, 9 years old. Unbeknownst to me, he had written a book, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, which I had. My parents had given this book of Lefty’s to Flip (Pallot). Flip sent it off to Lefty and he wrote a nice note inside the book and actually glued a fly in there and made sure when he sent the book back, to list his phone number, to call him. Lefty Kreh, I mean here is this little kid, who is just eat up with fly fishing, Lefty Kreh was Babe Ruth, the Babe Ruth of fly fishing, so the thought that he … I was scared to even call him. My dad told me that if he put his number in there, he wanted me to call him. And I did, Lefty spent probably 20, 30 minutes on the phone with me. We met later, through Flip, and we became good friends and have been good friends our whole lives.

“The reason I told that story is it fits what I’m going to say about Lefty and the fishing industry. Lefty, to me, was probably the most iconic ambassador of fly fishing. There’s obvious things. He wrote books and did classes all over the world and taught tens of thousands of people how to fly cast. More importantly, Lefty, as a man, when he went somewhere everyone knew who he was, everyone wanted to talk to Lefty. He took the time to talk to these people not with a handshake or a hug, but he took time to hear their story. What was their background? And if that doesn’t say something. … There’s not a lot of people like that on this earth. Lefty, as a whole, was the greatest ambassador for those reasons as much as any of the other things he did.”

  Ross Purnell, editor, Fly Fisherman Magazine

“Lefty Kreh changed fly fishing more than any other person because he was the greatest teacher we’ve ever known. Yes, he knew more about casting, knots, fly-tying, and tackle than the rest of us, but his humble and outgoing personality was his greatest contribution to our sport. Because of that, he became a mentor to an entire generation of guides, writers and instructors. Whether they realize it or not, literally everyone who fly fishes has learned directly or indirectly from Lefty. He’s changed all of us . . . for the better.”

 Vaughn Cochran, artist and president/owner of Blackfly Outfitter/Lodge/Restaurant

“I recognized what a powerful personality he was many years ago and I wanted to paint him for lots of reasons. Never one to go along with the crowd, I decided to paint Lefty in a ‘Pop Art’ style. I completed the series of nine paintings that were featured in a one-man show at the IGFA gallery several years ago. Every time I saw Lefty at a fishing show he would always say, ‘If you think I look like that, you need glasses.’ We had conversations about all sorts of subjects, but our favorite was all the different portraits I did of him over the years. One of my favorites was the portrait I did of him when we decided to name the rooms at the Blackfly Lodge in the Bahamas after famous fishing personalities. Of course, his name came up first so I came up with this painting. Around the top of the painting is one of Lefty’s more famous quotes, ‘Throwing a crab to a permit is like rolling a wine bottle into a jail cell.’’’

Another painting of Lefty, this one by Vaughn Cochran. Photo courtesy of Vaughn Cochran.

 Lori-Ann Murphy, President of Reel Women Fishing Adventures, former cast member of Buccaneers and Bones

“Lefty has recently written a letter to his fly-fishing friends. It strikes me so funny because he even explains in this letter his (health) condition so everyone can understand what is going on with him! It’s like he is showing us his cast or explaining why he invented a pulley system for his mail from the mailbox. Who does this? Special characters who want to share their life findings. And we thank them! We thank you Lefty! Thank you for taking the time to share you with us.”

 John Randolph, former publisher Fly Fisherman Magazine, as told to FFM.

“Famed British fly-fishing writer John Goddard, whom Lefty called the best trout fisherman he ever saw, told me once of a Lefty encounter on the River Kennett. There was a large brown trout there that no one could catch. It lay in a particularly difficult spot to which it was virtually impossible to present the fly without drag. Goddard pointed out the trout to Lefty, who was his guest on the club water. Goddard explained: ‘Bloody hell, he caught that trout on his first cast! No one else could have made that fly presentation, only Lefty.’’’

Flip Pallot, TFO advisor, as told to Fly Fisherman Magazine

“My house in Homestead, Florida, was totally destroyed (after Hurricane Andrew). There was not a tree left standing, and most homes were reduced to rubble. Miraculously, after a day or two, with Diane and me living in the bed of a pickup truck, Lefty materialized through mountains of debris. We hugged . . . and cried . . . . and Lefty handed me a paper sack. In it was $25,000 that Lefty and his wife Ev had stashed away for an emergency. ‘You and Diane may need this,’ he said. ‘Ev and I will not. Don’t worry about paying it back, we really don’t need it.’ I had thought to have the measure of Lefty. I was short. As it turned out, we had no need for the money either, but Lefty was there for me all the same.”

TFO advisor Blane Chocklett

“Lefty’s been everything to me as far as a lot of things in my career. He’s introduced me to tons of people. He got me hooked up with TFO. Back in the late ‘90s, he got me hooked up with Umpqua with my first patterns. He’s always had a place, definitely, in my career. I owe him a lot.”

TFO advisor Wanda Taylor on her favorite Lefty quote:

“I can teach any woman to fly fish as long as I’m not married to her.”

 TFO advisor Bob Clouser

“I have known and fished with Lefty for over 50 years and his honesty, integrity and loyalty was with him all his life.”

A Note from the Kreh Family

Dear friends,

I am sorry to relay sad information to all of you.

Bernard Victor Kreh “Lefty” passed away today  in the presence of his family. He passed without pain. He told us multiple times during the worsening of his illness how lucky he was to have so many friends. During these last few weeks he was so sick and without energy that he was unable to respond to any emails and the many phone messages left for him. I can say this was a-great comfort to him.

There will be a celebration of his life in the upcoming weeks. We will update you when plans are made. 

Lefty would want us to celebrate life and not mourn him.

Tight Lines, best wishes,

The Kreh Family

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to:
Greater Baltimore Medical Center / Gilchrist hospice in honor of Lefty Kreh

Mail to: GBMC Philanthropy, 6701 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21204
or contribute online at: https://www.gbmc.org/donate (Under “Designation” choose “Other.” Then in the next field, type: “Lefty Kreh Memorial”)
or call: 443-849-3303.