Lefty Kreh, the legendary angling instructor and best-selling author, responsible for teaching generations how to fly-fish, died Wednesday afternoon at his home, in Cockeysville, MD. He was 93.
Rick Pope, chairman and founder of Temple Fork Outfitters and a longtime friend of Kreh’s, confirmed to Men’s Journal that Kreh passed at about 1:30 EST today, as a result of heart failure.
In an email shared with Men’s Journal, Dr. Mark Lamos, Kreh’s physician, wrote that the fishing icon passed without pain. “He told us multiple times during the worsening of his illness how lucky he was to have so many friends,” Lamos wrote. “During these last few weeks he was so sick and without energy that he was unable to respond to any emails and the many phone messages left for him. I can say this was a great comfort to him.”
“Lefty” Bernard Victor Kreh was born in Frederick, MD, in 1925, and enlisted in the U.S. Army while in high school. He fought in the European theatre during the Second World War, as Allied forces advanced across France and Belgium, Garden & Gun noted in a 2015 profile.
Upon returning to the United States in the late 1940s, Kreh took up fly-fishing and soon became an expert caster, stunning crowds at exhibitions. In the mid-1950s, he began holding instructional seminars to teach newcomers how to fish, a move that would come to define his career. There is likely no one else in the history of fly-fishing who has introduced more people to the sport, and helped them overcome its steep learning curve.
Kreh’s easy-to-understand magazine articles and books—the most popular of which include Fly Fishing in the Salt Water, Modern Fly-Casting Methods, and Advanced Fly-Fishing Techniques—helped him amass a legion of fans. “He’s always brought an earthiness and simplicity to something that a lot of people make a very complex activity,” Nick Lyons, the publisher of many of Kreh’s books, told Garden & Gun.
Kreh is also credited with creating the Lefty’s Deceiver, a seminal fresh and saltwater fly pattern.
Over the past several years, Kreh’s health had been on the decline, causing him to slow down his traveling and event appearances. Last year, he published a note in American Angler magazine, in which he wrote that, during tests for a carotid artery operation, doctors discovered that his heart was pumping at only 35 percent. As a result, his shows and clinics would have to come to an end. He added that he planned to spend most of his time at home. “I’m not frustrated and I’m content,” he wrote. “My problem is, I don’t have a lot of stamina and have to work around that. If Marks medical system works I should be busy and around for a year or two.” He concluded: “I’m busy and content, but I want you to know I am so appreciative you’ve have shared your lives with me.”
The Kreh family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in honor of Lefty Kreh. (Under “Designation,” select “Other.” Then, in the next field, write: “Lefty Kreh Memorial.”)