Bruce Ajari: Paying homage to a fly fishing legend
Another legend in the fly fishing community passed away this past month. Mel Krieger, one of the foremost casting instructors and ambassador for fly fishing, passed away peacefully at his home in San Francisco on Oct. 7.
Krieger was probably one of the most well-known people involved in the fly fishing community due to the number of sport shows he participated in all over the world. He will be remembered for his characteristic hat, well-groomed beard and the ability to communicate his passion of fly casting to those attending his sessions.
He was an integral part of the Federation of Fly Fishers, a 43-year-old international non-profit organization dedicated to the betterment of the sport of fly fishing through conservation, restoration and education. The Federation of Fly Fishers and its councils are the only organized advocate for fly fishers on an national and regional level.
In the early 1990s ” if my memory serves me well ” Krieger was instrumental in creating the Federation of Fly Fishers’ casting instructor certification program and also the federation’s guide association. In beginning the casting instructor certification program, he recognized the importance of good instruction in keeping people in the sport and enjoying it. So he strove to improve the way people taught.
This also gave instructors a solid foundation to teach casting and ensured the same measure of quality whether you learned to cast in Truckee or anywhere else in the world.
I was fortunate enough to take one of the very first instructor certification programs taught by Mel Krieger and Al Kyte here at one of the Northern California Councils of the Federation of Fly Fishers’ Annual Conclave’s held at the North Lake Tahoe Conference Center. While I felt I was a pretty accomplished fly caster at the time, the session for instructor’s made me better.
An articulate and passionate man, and though not a large man, he projected a bigger-than-life image while teaching. When teaching the double-haul cast, I will never forget his term, “down-up,” in reference to the action of the line hand. I can still hear that today.
The many casting instructors he personally certified and those who go through the current and future certification process will carry on his legacy. A part of him is in all of them.
If you get a chance to pick up one of his three DVDs on fly fishing and fly casting, you will get an opportunity to meet the man who was truly one of the legends of fly fishing.
They are still available online. You can go to http://www.melkrieger.com and order them. His wife Fanny is still maintaining their business. Viewing these DVDs will give you a glimpse of the man, a truly great one.
While he was a man of many accolades, he was happiest when teaching.
– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.