If you grew up on the Main Line or around Philadelphia in the mid 70's thru the early 80's, when someone referred to "Lefty" it meant Steve Carlton. I saw Carlton pitch several incredible games as a kid and even got the chance to drink a few beers with him when he came into my Jazz Club one night in 2001.
However, today's post concerns another not so famous "Lefty." Bernard "Lefty" Kreh is perhaps the most talented and revered Fly Fisherman on the planet. He lives quietly and modestly in Maryland, yet he is considered a Guru of Flyfishing by anglers around the World.
Lefty has been teaching and demonstrating the finer techniques of Fly Fishing for 50 years. He teaches a simple and direct casting method and tries to take some of the mysticism out of Flyfishing. He teaches at Angler's Shows, private fishing clubs and also fishes with Celebrities, Captains of Industry and others who are in the know and want to learn from the best. Tom Brokaw told "Oustside" Magazine that "fishing with Lefty was like going to the batting cages with Ted Williams."
He teaches a casting method that uses the whole body rather than just the arm.
Lefty also studies and develops knots and lures for his fishing. He is credited the "Lefty Deceiver" to use for catching striped bass in the Chesapeake.This lure is now used around the World and has been featured on a US Postal Stamp.
Recently, The Washington Post did a piece on Lefty that detailed his hardscrabble childhood. He described "bushbobbing" for catfish and selling them for 10 cents a pound to earn money for his widowed Mother. He aslo grew to be an expert marksman after a childhood hunting quail and rabbits outside his Hometown. He later earned money doing shooting demos for Remington.
He served in WWII in an Artillery crew and returned home to a job at a Lab at Fort Detrick.
He became an outdoor writer and his reputation as a Angler and Sportsman grew. . He was invited to fish in the Hemingway Marlin Tournament in 1959 and fished with Hemingway on his famous boat: the Pilar. One can only imagine what it was like to go out with Hemingway for a day's fishing.
Kreh remains active in Fly Fishing to this day despite his advanced years. By all accounts he is an affable, soft spoken and congenial gentleman who relishes the chance to pass his knowledge on to youngsters. I saw Lefty a few years ago at a Sportsmens Exposition and had no idea until later just what a privilege it was to see this man cast a Fly rod.