Swedish version

Lefty Kreh, Joe Brooks, Bud Rowland, McCloud Frampton


By Walter (Joe Guide) Dinkins 2016
OWAA Outdoor writer

  Several miles from the nearest bonefish, red fish or tarpon, a gentleman stands out from the crowd that is gathering. He wears a white floppy hat, and lifts a shiny nine-foot fly rod. A bright, blue, fly line slices through the air- in a series of two, or sometimes three- tight loops, its flight somewhat illuminated by a wispy, cheerful sun peeking out of vibrant fluffy clouds in the sky.

  One fellow, not part of that class walked by, stopped, and watched attentively as the line flew across the manicured grass that served as a casting area. A pretty woman wearing flip-flops and khaki shorts stopped, pulled her blond hair into a pony-tail and smiled to the crowd that appeared to be staring at her. She was wearing a shiny pair of Ray Bans. “I don’t want to hold up any beautiful women,” the caster said, a gap-toothed grin that brightens his face.

  The onlookers laughed. Lefty Kreh was holding court. The lessons taught that afternoon were on the “art of casting.”

  He is the man with a fly rod in his hand. All eyes were on him- the teacher. Everyone gathered around him had a fly rod that afternoon; although, one or two of the anglers may be missing a hand or a leg. You may not know that Lefty has a special place in his heart for wounded warriors. He served in the Army during the Second World War. Shakespeare long ago said, “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and yet, some gentlemen have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”

  It is hard for those who have not served in the U.S. Armed Forces, to understand certain things that many people in our nation take for granted. “Can you lend me a hand?” asked a young wounded warrior to his buddy in the crowd. You see his friend had two good hands, albeit scarred.

  It was a quite surreal day in Lefty Kreh’s neighborhood. There are lessons learned, and stories told, as well as friendships made during days such as that. Teaching is what Lefty does best. Good teachers are like that. Everyone would learn a thing or two at his classes to become better fly-fishermen. People of all ages- men, women children flock to this pied piper of ageless wisdom. They come desiring to learn from the master fly caster whenever he teaches and his lectures can draw large crowds.

  Bernard Lefty Kreh is a writer, photographer, television personality, and fly fishing pioneer who helped popularize saltwater fly-fishing from Sea to Shing Sea; Mr. Kreh has been the face of this sport for several generations. He’s been flyfishing since 1947, when Mr. Joe Brooks, a editor for Outdoor Life Magazine taught him the intricacies of fly fishing for Smallmouth, Striped Bass, Salmon, Bonefish, Trout…all kinds of fish that ply in God’s waters. Joe was very instrumental in Lefty Kreh’s life, as a teacher, and becoming a better fly-fisherman.

   Lefty has introduced hundreds of thousands of people to fly-fishing throughout his lifetime, more so than any other angler or outdoorsman. From angling techniques to equipment and fly line development, he continues to be, a positive ambassador for the fishing community.

  “I think Lefty has done more to influence fly fishing, than any other living person today” said nine- time Saltwater Fly Fishing World Record holder- Carl “Bud” Rowland of McAllen, Texas who designed the ‘Numero Uno’ fly.” Bud continued, “I personally think that Lefty took Saltwater Fly Fishing to a greater World Wide audience than any other person. I first met him in Corpus Christi, TX in late 1970’s when he gave my wife, and two sons casting lessons.”

  Lefty Kreh, is the distinguished fellow in that distinctive floppy fishing cap, will soon turn 91, and yet keeps a quite hectic schedule- traveling to fly-fishing clinics, talking on radio and TV, writing books, and fishing from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He is still going strong! Maryland may be his home state, however he cut his teeth saltwater flyfishing in Florida- when he was introduced to it by a number of fly fisherman who were more familiar in those flats and backcountry area and bay’s – Mr. Joe Brooks was to him, the greatest of these teachers.

  Joe Brooks was to many, a guiding light to the fly fishing community, lightening up a world of fishing that he had never really contemplated previously. Lefty explained: “Joe took me under his wing, was mighty nice, kind and helpful to me throughout all the years of his life.” In the old days, Al Pflueger, Whitey Harold, George Hommel, Stu Apte and Joe and I use to fish Biscayne Bay and the Key’s quite a bit in the 1950’s.”

  Lefty might be- the most photographed saltwater fly angler in the world. He had been down in the Bahamas fly-fishing this past fall. He is a man for all seasons, this gentle man of the flats who also happens to be a U.S. Army Veteran of World War II.

  When I asked him years ago, if he could only fish one species one day- before he died, where would he go? He replied, “I’d like to go flyfishing for Bonefish in the Bahamas, and I’d go way out in the backcountry.” His greatest gift he has giving all of us might be his introduction of men, women, and children of all ages, to learn to fly-cast.

  What kind of teacher is Lefty? He does not yell, and always has a smile and a kind word for each of his students. Lefty is the gentle giant of his sport of Flyfishing, the sage, or even I might say, the Yoda of the flats. The sport of fly fishing is- at its most graceful element, when one is casting a fly rod while sight fishing a tailing fish- such as a Bonefish, Redfish, or even Permit. It can be something really of an art form.

  I’m a Saltwater fly fisherman, living here in the lowcounry, but I started out fly fishing for Bream and Largemouth Bass in the ponds and lakes of South Carolina. I started chasing Redfish in the Spartina grass flats around Charleston, S.C. One day after church, the Reverend Dr. McCloud Frampton, BA, M.Div., D.D. took the time to teach me how to fly fish when I was just a little fellow during the long, hot summer of 1968. “Jesus was a fisherman at heart, not necessarily a good one, but he loved the water, and he was always teaching those fishermen a thing or two about casting,” said Frampton. So you see, boy you are in good company.”

  We learn from positive examples, nurtured by individuals who we respect and admire. What do you see when you are fishing? Fly anglers tend to see much more than simply- the fish that we fought and lost; rather than simply those that we caught and released. Joe Brooks and Bud Rowland are also great teachers. Joe wrote many books on fishing that still reach out and touch your heart. Bud teaches a great number of Texans a great number of things about fly fishing his beloved Lower Laguna Madre’.

  Lefty knows the lessons that I am talking about, perhaps you readers do too.

  Most of my women readers might remember when thinking of fly-fishing- of Brad Pitt’s graceful fly-casting for Rainbow Trout one afternoon during a unique scene in Robert Redford’s Fly-fishing Movie- A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT. That movie was of course about trout fishing, and the unique people living near Montana’s Little Bigfoot River. It was a unique community of individuals that each of us can relate to in a way. The script created from a short story- by Norman McLean, who was the son of a Presbyterian Minister.

  Famous fly-fishermen such as Lefty, Tom Brokaw, Brad Pitt, Jimmy Carter, Robert Redford, or Henry Winkler, might teach you better than I could, as to how that unique movie- turned thousands of anglers into experiencing the beauty of fly-fishing. Perhaps, it is as simple as a story unfolding or is it altogether something deeper than an unfordable stream that we feel the need to cross. We all desire to learn various lessons in life, and make the cast in our own waters to our own dream fish.

  Fly-fishing is a part of our hearts and minds, yet it is much more than just our travel and the fish that we catch. It is much more than that. It is more about the friends we meet along the way. We are at times- transformed by wading the water, and the sight fishing unique species that we pursue in life’s journey that knows no barriers. Is your outdoor life any different? Are these not also the lessons each of us must learn throughout our life’s journey? Those lessons we learn from the teachers in our lives. Flyfishing is much more than just a sport. It is a lesson in life. A lesson learned through our adventures, and the characters we meet along life’s great journey.

Wade-fishing in the Spartina Grass
Wade-fishing in the Spartina Grass

  I enjoy stalking the tailing redfish throughout the seasons of the year. It reminds me of hunting in a way; and if you cannot imagine what that is like, then you just have to travel down to the Carolina coast in the spring-summer-fall months especially during a lunar moon week, and just see what it is all about- first hand. In the hands of the neophyte angler, fishing with a nine foot fly rod may seem like some exercise in frustration, with line tangling around the rod’s end, or fear at hooking the back of your hat, instead of unfurling 40-50 feet away and dropping delicately on the water.

  Frustration will often cause anglers to flail the fly rod faster and faster, which only makes matters worse. Many casting instructors promote a technique in which the body remains rigid — legs together, right elbow at the side, rod tip high, casting motion moving from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock and back.

  Throughout his long career, Mr. Kreh has advocated a more “fluid approach” in his books and videos on casting - the fly rod- must load properly, in order for the rod to properly load, and to make an effortless cast. New fly-fishermen do not just cast with their arms- they mistakenly utilize their wrists, and this tends to cause the fly to drop on the back cast. Lefty demonstrates this in his classes and in his books- with his right arm at his side, his right foot was just slightly behind, and the fly rod neatly at a 45-degree angle, when he turns his hips and shoulders. The fly line whips back and forth as on a level plane, until he stopped the rod abruptly on the forward turn. The fly line flies across the grass and landed within inches of its target.

  “I’ll soon be 91 years old guys,” he said. You will all notice- “I didn’t use my elbow, or a double haul, and I can still cast 80 feet. You guys can do this, too.” Wounded warriors of course, know how to follow directions. Kreh invited one young fellow to the casting area to make a few casts.

  “Your forward cast isn’t bad,” Kreh said to one of the soldiers, “but you’ve got a “poopy-looking loop” on your back cast. People tend to get dip during their back cast, because they tend to use their wrists unconiously. He said, “You gotta hold your wrist tight, when casting a fly rod son.” You just remember that and you’ll be casting much better with practice,” and he cracked a smile.

  People across our nation that love this sport, have come to understand that a rare spirit has lived in their midst, a bright burning fire in a heart of a sportsman can be easily seen in this gentleman from Maryland.

  He has a mighty, kind smile on his face under that funky- looking, long brim fishing hat. One of his casting protégés that day- began to explain that he generally uses a shorter fly rod when trout fishing in Oregon, but Kreh put up his finger, and explained a bit more.“The length of your fly rod doesn’t mean a dog-gone thing,” Lefty said. He added, “People, there are “three things you all need to know- in order to make yourself better fly casters,”

  “If you are right-handed, the right foot should always be positioned to your rear.” Do ya’ll hear me? There was a whole lot of nodding going around. Lefty just stood there and smiled. Before beginning a back cast, the casting-hand thumb- should ALWAYS be positioned behind the rod handle, and just keep your eyes focused on your target.

  Don’t let your eyes look around at other fish tailing, or any good looking women!”

  Lefty continued casting practice but with another “pearl of wisdom”: remember that your elbow, should- never…ever… be elevated on your cast.” Now can ya’ll remember that? Think about keeping your arm, just as high as your elbow.”

 I would encourage my readers should go out and get a copy of one of his many books on casting and practice before their next fishing trip. Lefty Kreh is my hero. A long time ago, it was back in the 1990’s I believe, that he told me the only person who ever called him “Bernard” was his mama. I told troops that it always pays to listen closely to your mama!

  I’d asked Mr. Kreh to adjust my casting a great many years ago, so I could make better presentations to tailing Bonefish- when I was stationed out in the Central Pacific. Could he help me make accurate eighty foot casts- when the wind was in my face? He just laughed, and said to me, “Dinkins, even I can’t do miracles,” perhaps you should try prayer. He laughed so hard he took off his floppy, long-billed fishing hat, and wiped away a tear or two.

  Lefty was working the crowd. All eyes are on him when he is teaching. He adjusted the position of the thumb of peoples casting hands. He also lowered the trajectory of other people’s back cast so it was almost parallel to the ground. One fellow snapped out a 50-60 foot cast that hit mighty close to the target. “That was a lot better, said Lefty.

 “You are de’ Man, Lefty,” said one fellow.

  He just turned and walked away, smiling that big ol’ gaped- tooth smile of his. Lefty has been on his feet quite a while now, and he was getting tired, so everyone sat down while he sat in a chair and told a fishing story or two.

  In the sky, Egrets were flying somewhere in the distant sky. Clouds were gathering, and a storm was somewhere out there in the distance, although we could not yet see it. There seemed to be somewhat of a chill in the air, the sun was falling fast, and the afternoon was almost over before we knew it.

No one can fit in his shoes, or replace an individual such as Bernard Lefty Kreh, God broke that mold over ninety years ago; however I’d imagine that Lefty will one day, teach Jesus and all the disciples how to be better fishermen—I think the best of ‘em will be fly fishermen.

Tight lines…
Walter (Joe Guide) Dinkins
OWAA Outdoor Writer


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