The most famous of fly fishermen are famous for something else. Ted Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Tiger Woods…(probably the most recognizable of all time is a pretend one, Brad Pitt as Paul Maclean)…The lone exception to that would be Lefty Kreh. In the fly fishing community at least, he is a one-namer, like “Babe” to baseball fans, “Jerry” to VW van owners, or “OJ” to celebrity murder enthusiasts. (OK, maybe that last one doesn’t work so well.) Now Flip Pallot, not so unknown a name himself, is paying tribute to Lefty’s life in the new book All The Best.
A hardcover tome filled with tons of photographs and testimonials from many other fly fishing brand names, All The Best reads how you’d like to think a book would turn out if your best friend wrote one about you. (Pallot wrote the book with backing from the guys at Temple Fork.) The book is, as the cover states, “celebrating” the life of Lefty Kreh, but to me, it reads best as fly fishing history.
What strikes me the most is how Lefty seemed to be everywhere; directly or tangentially involved in every major fly fishing development of the 20th century. Getting mentored by Joe Brooks, developing the Deceiver, testing Bob Clouser’s new fly, pioneering saltwater along with Ted Williams, Stu Apte, Del Brown, and others, hanging with Dave Whitlock, Jimmy Albright, Ted Juracsik, Pallot…how did this guy manage to know so many people and fish so many places? Fly fishing as we know it doesn’t exist without Lefty and the people in the book with whom he is connected.
As it’s a biography, there are plenty of tidbits that are obscure but enjoyable in their quirkiness, like the black and white photo on p.26 with the caption:
“Uncle Hen,” as the Kreh children called him, built many boats like this. He would put a sand-filled washtub in the bottom of the boat so he could enjoy a fire while he fished.
Because of gems like that, but mostly for the fly fishing history lesson, All The Best is a worthwhile read.