The Letort in Fly Fishing History
by
Gene "Guido" Macri

The Letort in Carlisle, Pennsylvania is one of the birthplaces in fly fishing history.  In fact, the limestone spring creeks of Pennsylvania led to the modern techniques, methods, and fly patterns that fly fishermen use today.  The reason for this is simple:  the stream environment allowed the trout to be extremely selective and thus the fishermen had to adapt new methods, techniques, equipment and fly tying to meet these demands.  This is how my buddy Charlie Fox put it, "these streams made us what we were as fly fishermen." 

So "Natural Selection" worked both ways with the fish and with the Vince Marinaro Fishing the Letortfishermen. The Pennsylvania spring creeks and the Letort specifically posed so many new problems to fly anglers that they just didn't find elsewhere.  These streams will show every flaw that you have as a fly angler. Charlie Fox, Vince Marinaro, Rossy Trimmer, Thommy Thomas, Gene Utech, Ed Shenk, Ed Koch, Lefty Kreh and other fly anglers honed their skill and techniques on these streams (the photo to the left shows the legendary Vince Marinaro fishing the Letort, circa 1960's). Fly patterns that worked elsewhere were often ignored by the sophisticated brown trout on the Letort.

Unlike the hatchery trout that most fly anglers were accustomed to, theLefty Kreh and Rossy Trimmer Fly Fishing selective brown trout on the Letort were beyond wary. As one fly angler described it these fish are "scary."  But there were even more problems with fishing the Letort and that was the environment itself.  The spring creek was swampy in areas and you just couldn't maneuver or get a good back cast without throwing the fly in a tree or bush.  Fly anglers would put the trout down for hundreds of yards because of line flash and too much false casting (Photo to the right shows the legendary Lefty Kreh and Rossy Trimmer, circa mid 60's). So in order to fish the stream sophisticated methods and stealthy approaches had to be developed.  The Letort was like an English Chalk Stream.  Most fly anglers were used to freestone streams and the methods that were often successful there seemed totally lacking on the Letort.

Charlie Fox Letort PartySo the Letort was like a living laboratory.  Charlie, Vince, and Rossy could tie up a pattern and then test it on the wary trout of the stream.  Because the stream was so clear the fly angler could observe the trout's reaction to the fly.  This is one of the reason's that things developed so quickly on these streams was the fact fly anglers could really understand how the trout adjusted to the patterns they tied and the methods they used.  The Letort and the other Pennsylvania spring creeks including Big Spring, Falling Spring, Cedar Run, Green Spring, Silver Creek and others became the testing ground for modern fly fishing in America (photo to the left shows the late Charlie Fox at a birthday party on the Letort held by the Letort Regulars).

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