The 92-year-old gear innovator, guide, and teacher has fished with everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Tom Brokaw to Yvon Chouinard to Fidel Castro.
The sport of American fly-fishing has two hours of screen time to thank for its resurgence at the turn of the 21st century: the film A River Runs Through It. The 1992 movie adaptation of Norman Maclean’s novel of the same name, directed by Robert Redford and starring a young Brad Pitt, made fly-fishing not just cool, but wildly sexy to the general public. “It was the most enticing fly-fishing movie ever made,” Maclean’s son John told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 2012. “In the first year after it came out, the fly-fishing industry grew by 60 percent, and the following year by another 60 percent.” In the years following the film’s release, streams and rivers famous for their fly-fishing became noticeably more crowded. It was so influential that fly-fishermen around the country took to calling it simply “the movie.”
But while a soaking-wet Brad Pitt could get twentysomethings to buy a starter fly rod, he couldn’t teach them how to cast it. And so, in only a slightly roundabout way, the real savior of modern fly-fishing is “Lefty” Bernard Kreh, whose books, videos, and articles on casting, tying knots, and catching fish were the first real introductions to the sport for many of those who stuck around long enough to actually give it a shot.
By Chris Wright
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