From Lefty Kreh’s lips to my ears

Words of wisdom from a fly fishing icon (and maker of fine lemonade)

I thought I was about to meet a man jaded by attention. Lefty Kreh is certainly a fly fishing legend, and today he was deep in his realm – an outdoors industry convention. But the person I sat and chatted with was a kid in a candy store, eager to share his insights on more than half a century of throwing fly lines, an economy and industry seemingly in flux, and embracing family.

Lefty Kreh and Michael Gracie

Onward…

Mr. Kreh on the expense of picking up the sport of fly fishing:

Yes, there is a lot of expense regarding fly fishing. In some cases I think it’s just too much, but the industry is adjusting. There was a time when really expensive gear was all there was out there – nowadays you and I can pick up just about any inexpensive combo, go out fishing, and have a good time. In fact, just about anyone can.

Following up on the above, Mr. Kreh on fly rods:

There are no bad fly rods out there for sale anymore. You can pick up a rod at a big box sports retailer that does the job quite well, and without breaking the bank.

And Mr. Kreh on reels:

Like rods, where technology worked its way down to the point where all of them do a good job in the casting and catching departments, fly reels are following. The very best are still built for people with lots of money, but even those people are holding back. Now we are seeing great reels come off the shelf that are both very functional and very affordable.

Mr. Kreh on the economy, and how it will effect the sport:

I lived through the Great Depression. And while it wasn’t the best of times, one thing I found that rang true was that the lack of money brought people closer together. Families in particular, banded together. Even if we see similar bad economic times, that one point will make it seem nowhere near as bad. Fly fishing doesn’t need to be a solitary pursuit – more families participating in the sport of fly fishing, together, would be great for our sport. It’s interesting that when ever there has been a recession in this country, the number of fishing licenses issued goes up. That could be the basis of a whole other discussion, but again I find it interesting.

Mr. Kreh, on why it seems kids would rather play video games than go fly fishing:

I think part of the fascination kids have with video games, and computers and the internet, comes from the fact that parents sometime struggle to make ends meet. So they both work, and kids need an safe outlet when the parents are not around – technology like video games may have given kids some of that. But with our economy taking a dip, I think that there may be less work for those parents, and less money for those video games. At least one of the parents may be around more for their kids, and while I wish the best for families in that situation from the money standpoint, I also think parents and children being together more is a good thing whether they decide to spend that extra time together fishing or not. If the parents decide to take their kids fishing, that’s even better.

Mr. Kreh on the start of the International Sportsmen’s Expo:

I’ve been to a lot of these events in my day. This is the best Thursday I’ve seen in quite a while.

Mr. Kreh on why women make such great fly fishers:

I can teach any women to fly cast, just as long as I’m not married to her [laughter then ensued between both of us, as well as a couple of folks listening in]. Women are more patient that we are (well most of the time..wink wink). There are groups now to bring them together to learn the sport, which is good for fly fishing. And you also see organizations like Casting for Recovery popping up that help women through very difficult times in their lives, through fly fishing. And I think that is great for both the women that participate as well as the sport.

And finally, when asked how he’s kept it all together for so long, and with such enthusiam, he added:

I thank my darling wife.

I could have spent a month with Lefty Kreh, picking his brain about why he tied this or that fly a certain way, or better yet…how to add thirty feet to my casting range. But as he stood up, acknowledging the folks standing by for his next casting demonstration, those things now seemed so trivial. I left thinking there are few lemons in Lefty’s world, while carrying the certainty that fly fishing had something to do with it.

Editor’s note: As if the time I spent with Mr. Kreh at the ISE wasn’t good enough, I also got the chance to sit down and chat with two of the finest guides in Colorado, Pat Dorsey of Blue Quill Angler and Chris Ramos of Anglers Covey. These gentleman have been fly fishing and guiding others all their lives, and their office, classroom and backyard barbecue is situated primarily on Colorado’s famed South Platte River. I’ll have the text of that discussion up ASAP (probably hopefully by midday Friday) – it is equally insightful regarding the passions of some fine folks who live fly fishing day in and day out (and you might get a few secret tips too), but is also a significantly amount of content I have to parse through. Nevertheless, if you can’t wait that long head over to ISE Denver at the Colorado Convention Center tomorrow, Saturday, or Sunday and meet them in person!

Comments

Michael,

Excellent interview! From things I’ve heard about Lefty, he seems like a pretty down-to-earth guy.

That’s great that us regular folks can rub shoulders with the greats of the sport. Of course, that’s just a guess since I have never personally been to those expos myself.

– scott c

Jason says:

Great stuff Michael!!

Thanks guys, but the subject is really where the kudos go. It is no wonder Lefty is so well liked – his enthusiasm and outlook ‘infect’ you the moment you sit down with him. And it does the same to whole crowds when he’s on stage doing casting demos – the gracious showman.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.