Last Wednesday, March 14th, 2018, the fly fishing community was deeply saddened by the loss of the most influential angler of our time, Bernard Victor “Lefty” Kreh.
In a recent tribute published prior to his passing, legendary angler, Flip Pallot, wrote of his close friend; “You and I shall never see his likes again.” I think he’s right.
Like many anglers, I’ve been fortunate on multiple occasions to shake Lefty’s hand, and even swap a couple of stories along the way. That is not a testament to myself in any way, but rather speaks to his unending propensity to give each and everyone he met the time of day. Had our paths crossed once more, he would have had no reason to remember my name, but yet I’m not entirely sure he wouldn’t anyway.
In 2014, while hosting the film crew for the T.V. show, Buccaneers and Bones, at Andros South, one of our guides showed up to the dock early in hopes to shake Lefty’s hand, having had met him nearly 20 years before during his rookie season as a guide on North Andros Island. I watched the two exchange pleasantries as polite strangers often do until Lefty paused and pointed a finger; “Sparkles?” He asked, calling the guide by his nickname. “Yessir,” Sparkles confirmed. They laughed as they hugged and Lefty pulled back to ask about the well being of other guides from the lodge, calling each by name. At 89 years old, having fished over twenty different countries, and having met arguably more anglers and guides than anyone else on the planet, Lefty was still able to recall the face of a rookie guide he met nearly twenty years prior. That level of genuine interest in and empathy for others has always stuck with me.
Lefty’s accomplishments are immeasurable. From his writings and photographs, to innovative fly patterns, to rod and reel design, to his redefining philosophy on fly casting, Lefty has undoubtedly contributed more to fly fishing as we know it today than any other.
However, his impact on the world of fly fishing goes beyond his words or innovations. He was pivotal in re-branding fly fishing as a past-time for all, not just the elite. He inspired thousands of men, women, and children alike to give fly fishing a try for the first time, many of whom have become stewards of our industry today. He set the bar high for future guides, instructors, and ambassadors of our sport by illustrating that the opportunity to share knowledge with others is the greatest opportunity of all. Fly fishing is better because of Lefty Kreh.
Lefty, you blazed the trail I’ve followed to the happiest moments of my life. Thank you.