Lefty Kreh Leaves Us With a Vast Inheritance – We Stand on His Shoulders

| March 15, 2018

We Stand on Lefty Kreh’s Shoulders.

The news trickled in to me as I was working on some springtime fly projects. Bernard Victor Kreh, our hero, our Ted Williams, our Michael Jordan … gone from us at 93-years-old.

At first I thought I would not have anything to say, and in fact, I had to put this machine away and sleep on the news.

Every time I was around Lefty I could count on at least two things, 1) he was an old-school nice guy, always a gentleman and aware of the value and power of his words (and jokes), and, 2) he was going to flirt with my wife, and everyone else’s wife or girlfriend. I am old enough now to say confidently – he just had a way about him.

I’ve lost count of the number of books he has authored, or coauthored – enough to fill one of our shelves in our fly tying nooks. And then there are the videos and TV appearances, the latter of which showed just how many famous people believed Lefty was THE MAN when it came to someone to be seen fly fishing with anywhere in the world. The videos were capped off, at the right time and the right way with “The Complete Cast,” a coda on the revolutionary casting techniques he developed, and I call the “Kreh Cast.” That video — similar in presentation in part, to a suggestion I made to a friend at the company that produced that video — relied heavily on the participation of Lefty’s from his friend Ed Jaworowski. Thank God everyone involved with that project saw it thought to the finish.

I was lucky enough to be on the set and do a tiny bit of that recording, and during a break in the processes, I took the stage to show Lefty how bad I was, and find the problem I was having. He immediately saw the problem (causing severe elbow pain) and fixed me – permanently. That was a great visit. He also shared information with me about a camera I had that he also used – and we both had the same problems with – which he had found a work-around that solved the problem. We talked cameras, photography techniques (ask me about his flash technique for photographing fish), his time at KODAK … it was just a rolling conversation.


Some things stick in my mind when it comes to the rich, vast history of Lefty Kreh, and they’re not fly fishing related. Lefty was nineteen when he fought at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 – January 1945, and still had the sting of frostbite on occasion. Try and imagine your nineteen-year-old in that battle. Lefty’s blood (blood-DNA) is stored by the US Government because he was exposed to anthrax, and as we see, it had no lasting effects on him.

His ultimate gift to fly fishing – his casting techniques – is a scientific breakdown and rebuilding of the old tenants of fly rod casting. It caused a huge amount of controversy, and it created divisions in the tweed-wearing community. The new techniques were the breaking down of the wall of exclusivity and elitist secrecy that had gripped the fly fishing community forever. Lefty did nothing less than bring fly fishing to the masses by simplifying, refining and methodically breaking down the new cast into more attainable techniques based on an individual’s abilities. I think Lefty saw that the old-school-clock casting methods were not matched to the modern fly rod. His techniques were matched to modern fly rod building, like the company Temple Fork Outfitters was building and bringing to the masses – creating a whole new market and attitude toward lower-end fly rod manufacturing. It was a match made in heaven – a cast for the masses and a rod for the masses. It worked.

Lefty Kreh on Set The Complete Cast

That’s where I crossed through Lefty’s orbit – learning his cast about ten years ago, and turning a small flame of obsessive-frustration into a raging fire. Once I figured out what he was selling, I bought in and the “Kreh Cast” rescued my attitude. The “Kreh Cast” allowed me to get good enough that I no longer had to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about casting: A gift that keeps on giving.

The very next cast you make, say out loud, “This one’s for you Lefty Kreh.” I find that fitting, don’t you?

Years ago, when my working situation was much different, I made a pact with a ( no longer) friend to attend Lefty’s funereal. I figured I’d just be one among thousands, jets overhead, lying in state at the US Capital … you know, a funereal recognized by the entire country. But, I don’t know what the family’s reality will be, and I am pretty sure the government won’t be doing any fly-overs. That’s too bad, and the fact I find myself unable to attend (if allowed) is a pretty painful ding in my cork.

Now, we say farewell to another of the Greatest Generation. His contributions to our sport – the greatest, sacrifices for our Country, his living and thriving through the most fantastic era in the US economy — never to be duplicated or repeated. Thank you Bernard Victor Kreh. (02/26/1925 – 03/14/2018).

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Category: Body-Mind-Soul, Casting, Complimentary Reading

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live. Visit professional photography website at https://shannondrawe.com today!

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  1. Cynthia says:

    What a amazing tribute to a amazing man.I am from Frederick,Maryland.My dad fished many times with him in wading boots up to the arse 🙂

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