Chuck Kraft was one of the most impactful fly fishing guides, rod designers, and fly pattern innovators in the U. S. that you probably never heard of
By Skip Clement
In a local fly shop, we followed the crowd to the flies with the same bounce in our ancient steps as the younger lads and lassies to see what might be new for the Blue Ridge trouts this season. A young woman poked a laughing finger at the dozens of Kreelex flies and said, “What fish would eat Christmas tree decorations?” Before I could offer any advice, my fly fishing side-kick and still prickly but retired prosecuting attorney jumped in and blurted, “Any one of those ‘Christmas Trees’ will catch trouts before that handful of ‘gummy flies’ you’re carrying will find a tree.” A laugh gathered speed, and the young lady, unperturbed, said, “Are you shittin’ me?” Angie said, “No, the Kreelex’ in anything from a #4 to #10 will set you free young lady.”
After we stepped away from the fly section and perusing the fly tying materials, I noticed all the standbys that witnessed Angie’s rebuff of the Kreelex fly were secretly picking up Kreelex’ by the dozens.
Chuck Kraft, fly fishing guide and mentor, rod designer and fly inventor
Chuck Kraft, who passed away in 2020, is most underappreciated as a fly fishing legend. Lefty Kreh, who always fished Chuck when he wanted to catch smallies and a few shots at big muskies, said that Chuck wouldn’t say a word if somebody had a shout-out about the Kreelex Fly in his presence. Adding,“He would never self-promote, and he was okay with that.”
Chuck also designed the now-famous Reilly Rod Crafters fly rod company. The Chuck Kraft Series is widespread, and the five and eight are both Angie and my favorite fly rods.
The Kreelex hit the market in 1996 and made its way from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to Montana’s Madison River, SlideInn with Kelly Galloup where it became an overnight sensation. Most who fished the Kreelex have found almost every gamefish a willing consumer, like peacock bass, snook, musky, tarpon, largemouth bass, and many more. Never leave home without some.