ONE OF A KIND
THE FISHING WORLD LOST A BELOVED PIONEER WITH THE PASSING OF LEFTY KREH, A MASTER WITH THE FLY ROD
Lefty Kreh is remembered as a beloved pioneer who was one of the most influential figures in modern fly-fishing. By GARY REICH
Bernard “Lefty” Victor Kreh — one of the most influential figures in fishing during the past 70 years — was an author, journalist, photographer and tackle innovator who taught thousands of people how to cast a fly. He died March 14, 2018, in his Cockeysville, Maryland, home after a brief illness. He was 93.
Kreh not only reinvented the way fly anglers cast, but he also created some of the most successful modern salt- and freshwater fly patterns, and collaborated in the design of numerous pieces of gear. He caught 126 species on every continent except for Antarctica, and fished with four U.S. presidents, Ernest Hemingway, Fidel Castro,
Ted Williams, Jimmy Dean, Tom Brokaw, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, Flip Pallot, Bob Clouser, Bob Popovics and many others. A beloved figure, Kreh was widely considered the master of fly-fishing.
Kreh was born Feb. 26, 1925, in Frederick, Maryland. His father, Christian “Whitey” Kreh, was a bricklayer. His mother, Helen, was a homemaker. He had three siblings: Eileen, Dick and Ted.
Kreh was 6 years old when his father was killed in a freak basketball accident, leaving him as the de facto man of the family. The family ended up on welfare. During high school, Kreh trapped and fished around the Monocacy River to support his family. “We were so poor we couldn’t afford to buy a mosquito underpants,” he said as an adult.
He graduated from high school in 1942 and, a week later, was called up by the U.S. Army. He was installed in the 69th Infantry and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was among the soldiers present when the U.S. and Soviet forces met at the Elbe River. After the war, looking for shift work that
Jay Fleming took this portrait of Lefty in August 2017.