On March 14th, 2018, Bernard “Lefty” Kreh passed away. He was 93.
And in his 90’s, he was still a fly fisherman, an author, and an ambassador for the sport. His contributions to the development of tackle, the library of angling, and the community of fly fishers was inimitable. This was not a secret to anyone. At fly fishing expo shows and events, including one bearing his name, he was undeniably the biggest “celebrity.”
But you wouldn’t know it from talking to him. If you shook his hand or told him a fishing story, he’d smile, crack a joke, and give you time. This was something that he would do over and over again, with complete strangers and with fishing buddies he’d known for decades.
In the 50-plus years that he was a face of fly fishing, he touched a diverse group of anglers. On the front end of his professional angling career, he was a cutting edge voice for his readers. In recent years, his casting instruction would cause fly fishing shows to come to a screeching halt – every cell phone camera aimed at him. Across that range of time, both via the written and spoken word, he captivated audiences with his mastery of rod, line, and language.
Lefty’s presence will be missed in the fly fishing community. Certainly his smile, casting tips, and world-traveled-wit will be missed. His type of presence will also be missed. Easy going and confident. Approachable and serious. The respect that he held among fly fishers across all demographics was well earned and absolutely appreciated.
There is more that I’ll say about my interactions with Lefty and his impact on fly fishing… but not today.
I suggest spending time reading some of the many obituaries that have been featured in prominent American newspapers and the angling media. And, because it is always a good practice, reading something from Lefty’s voluminous catalog.