Lefty Kreh - fishing book, bone fish and a fishing trip
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Fishing instructor, fly fishing tuition and fishing trips based in Scotland. Salmon and trout fishing advice, flies and articles.

Lefty Kreh interviewed about fly fishing by Ally Gowans

More about Lefty's fishing exploits, fishing books, bone fish and fishing trips.

Could you recommend a good book on fly fishing?

One of the best books I have ever owned is Al Mclane’s Fly Fishing Encyclopaedia which came out in the late sixties. He was one of our most famous writers and a fishing editor for Field & Stream. What he did was he went to top fisherman across the world and got them to write a pieces on various subjects such as chalk streams in England or where to fish rainbow trout in Kamloops etc. and he got manufacturers involved so if you want to know what hooks sizes are there is a chart in there which shows them all. It is probably the single most important book that was ever written for fisherman and its still available. I can’t think of another book which had a major impact on me.

What is your favourite fishing?

My favourite salt water fish is bone fish, for a number of reasons. You can use light tackle, we use 7 & 8 weight rods. Bone fish are completely nervous. You get to sight fish, you are on a boat and you are moving all the time, something’s going on on the flats all the time. A ray is coming past or sharks swim by and there are other types of fish. You can do so many things right or one thing wrong and you don’t catch fish. When I first fished for bone fish I would cast to thirty fish before I caught one now I have learned all these little things you have got to do and if I don’t get one in three casts I am getting upset and wondering what the hells going on but it takes a long time to put the mechanics of all these things together. In fresh water I would much rather fish for small mouthed bass than any other fish. They are powerful I think you could tie a four pound brown trout to a two pound small mouth tail to tail and the small mouth would drag the brown trout backwards and descale it. They are so much stronger. The only fish I would like to have caught that I haven’t caught was a dorado of South America and I went three times. It’s a two day trip to get into these places, they live in the big jungle rivers and every time I got there the rivers were swollen and muddy and I wasn’t able to fish.

What is your most memorable fishing trip?

I have made a number of trips to fish in Australian and New Guinea. The Australians are like the British, they like to play practical jokes on people and when I was down there for five and a half weeks making films and these bastards were pulling jokes on me every day. After three and a half weeks in Australia I went to New Guinea with Rod Harrison who the leading fly fisher writer round there. On the way there, Rod like the others likes to play tricks on people and all the way up to New Guinea they were telling me about this thing that lives in the rivers near the sea, brackish rivers its called New Guinea bass and they don’t spell it like we do its spelt Nuigimi. They said this is the baddest, meanest, most horrible, hardest fighting fish you ever saw in your life and they went on and on. Because it lived in rivers they called it the River Rambo. Well I didn’t believe anything they said cause I thought it was a big joke but they took us into this tiny river in a helicopter and dropped us down through the trees. This was real primitive country and that night Rod Harrison gets out two bulk spools of line for his plug reel and asked me to help load these reels up. One was 40 lbs test and one was 50lbs test. Well I thought it’s a big joke, Ill help him to put the lines on and then he took some seven inch Rapala plugs and took the hooks off and threw them away and I asked what’s wrong with the hooks and he said they ain’t strong enough. This was the most bullshitting thing I had ever heard in my life. So now I thought you know what, he might not be kidding so I got out 20 lb test and bimini twisted it and put a shock leader on.

Next morning we got in the boat and go down this river and there are flocks of parrots of all colours, green and red macaws, hornbills and monkeys screaming at us from the trees. I look around and there is nothing in this boat but the two rods with the plug reels, great big trawling reels and I wonder if these guys are telling the truth. These New Guinea bass hide under trees that have fallen in the river and they dive out and grab something and dive back under there. So we pull up to the first tree and Dean Butler now one of their top writers but he was a kid then, was running the motor. We had a forty horse power Yamaha on a twenty foot Yamaha boat and we pull up to the sunken tree and Rod says “okay have a go”, I replied “no you have a go” and he says “no I want you to go” and I said “no I ain’t going but you go I want to see what is going on” so he finally picks up the 40 lb outfit takes his pliers out and tightens the star drag down on the reel. Dean has the motor sitting in neutral. Rod is an incredibly strong guy they call him the gentle giant with arms as big as your thigh he throws this big lure back into these trees and starts to wind, out comes this big green thing and grabs the plug he sets the hook and yells “hit it Dean” and he put the motor in reverse and tries to tow this fish out. My eyes look like mushrooms on stems then all of a sudden “bang” and the 40 lb test snaps, busted. Man I am getting this 20 lb test of my line. Now we come to the next tree and I ain’t ready yet, Rod has another go, this time its with 50 lb test. He threw it back in there and this thing came out and grabbed it and went back in the tree. A human can’t break 50 lb with his bare hand, we tried and we ended up having to cut the line so we lost two plugs on two fish. We come to the next tree. Now my fly line is only 40 lb test and I have a 40 lb test leader right to an 80 lb shock leader and a great big Lefty deceiver on a 5/0 carbon steel hook with weed guards on it I’m using a rod I have caught sail fish and all kinds of stuff on. I’ve never been armed so well in all my life. So Dean pulls the boat up to it and I made a cast and out comes this big green thing and I set the hook the way you would on a sail fish “hit it Dean”, he drives the boat backwards and the fish ran back in the bushes and run a burn groove right across my hand. We go to the next tree after I have re-rigged and when I hooked that one I wrapped the line around the reel and Dean towed the fish out into open water. Interesting thing about this fish is that after 2 minutes they exhaust themselves but these are the damnedest two minutes you ever had with a fly rod in your life. If you ever get a chance to do that go do it. The biggest fish I caught that year was 18 lb but there have only been about eight guys who have caught these fish on fly.

New Guinea holds some fond memories for me and not just the big fish. But it’s different now when I first started going there with the guys from Australia what a pleasure it was to fish for fish that had never seen a lure or a fly, I like dumb fish. Some people say they like to outwit smart fish I just like to outwit fish I don’t give a damn whether they are smart or not. I caught 20 species of fish that I had never caught on a fly rod before in New Guinea and Northern Australia. At time it was a pristine wilderness its not that way now they have a done a lot of logging and there is gold mine flushing there on these rivers and the natives are not so friendly now, at that time they were and it was a paradise, it really was.

More interesting discussion with Lefty. See page 1. See page 3.

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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.