About Me


I’ve been fly fishing and fly tying for a long time. I won’t call myself an expert, but I know a lot of things I hope will help you in your fly fishing journey.

John at IFFF | www.johnkreft.com

How did I start fly fishing?

It began around 1970. I was mesmerized by the beauty of casting. 

I bought some flies, lost them and thought this was going to be an expensive hobby…if I would have only known…purchasing materials…fly rods…more fly rods…

I learned to tie flies from Wayne Doughton. He owned the local hardware store in Salem, Oregon. I’d never seen a hardware store with garbage cans filled with rod blanks, glass cases filled with reels of all types, 5 gallon tins with India necks, and all the other fly tying materials.

Wayne sold me a Thompson Model A vise (I still have that vise), six flies with materials to tie them and told me to come over to his house on Sunday. He taught me to tie those six flies and encouraged me to tie them at home until I got them right. Then, bring back the six fly “models” and trade them for six more and purchase materials for the new flies. Well, you get the picture. That’s how I learned to tie flies. 

You can read more of my fly fishing story in the post – My First Flies.

Last year, I tied over 170 dozen flies. My Custom Flies seem to be popular. I tie custom fly orders for clients, friends, and have been known to give flies away on the river or at my local fly club (Central Oregon Flyfishers) and Central Oregon Project Healing Waters.

I’ve fished nymphs, dries and streamers. Fished all day long when I had a chance. That’s when I worked. Now retired, I’m fortunate to live in Sisters, Oregon close to my home water, the Metolius River.

I seem to fish with dry flies more these days. I love watching trout rise slowly to the flies I tie. There’s a satisfaction of watching a fish rise to a fly you tied that’s difficult to explain. Like playing a chess match with the fish.

I enjoy teaching people and this website helps me do that. RiverKeeper Flies is loaded with tips and tricks, along with over 170 fly pattern sheets you’ll find on the Fly Patterns page.

I’ve been known to say…”you can use whatever you want, but this is what I do.” A friend of mine listens more intently when that line is used. Guess I use it often.

And I enjoy capturing and making special moments with my camera. That’s why you’ll see photos in most of my posts.

I was fortunate enough to retire early and wanted to find volunteer activities as a way to “give back”. Here are some of the fly fishing activities that take up my time:

Oregon Council – International Federation of Fly Fishers – I was Treasurer of the Oregon Council from December 2011 to June 2016. In March, 2016, I  received the Federator of the Year award and the 2016 Oregon Council Award of Excellence from IFFF In August 2016.

John Kreft 2016 Federator of the Year | www.johnkreft.com    

NW Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo – I was the Expo Treasurer from December 2011 to June 2016. I served as Chair for the 2015 and 2016 Expo (sponsored by the Oregon Council – IFFF). The NW Expo has been heralded as the “largest fly tying event west of the Mississippi”. I wrote about the 2016 Expo HERE.

In March, I was honored to receive the 2017 Stan Walter Memorial Fly Tyer of the Year at the NW Expo.

2017 Stan Walter Memorial Fly Tyer of the Year | www.johnkreft.com

Central Oregon Flyfishers – In 2012, I took over as the leader of the Central Oregon Flyfishers Winter Fly Tying. I averaged over 28 tyers in the room every week in January, February, and March in 2016. In April 2016, I was honored to receive my club’s Flyfisher of the Year award. 

COF Flyfisher of the Year | www.johnkreft.com

Next Cast Flyfishers – I help my wife with our fly club’s youth flyfishers called Next Cast Flyfishers at the annual Fish Camp and Master Class at East Lake.

Central Oregon Project Healing Waters – I’ve been a Board member since 2011 and help teach fly tying and fly fishing to Veterans.

Trout Unlimited & US Forest Service – I’ve volunteered to help with several Metolius River rehabilitation projects. See Metolius River Stewardship Project blog post for details, pictures, and a short video.

Casting for Recovery – I’ve supported Karen, my wife, in her volunteer work at retreats in Oregon. I’ve been a Casting for Recovery River Helper since 2013. 

Presentations – I’ve started making presentations to fly clubs, which have been well received. Contact me for more information about presentations to your fly club.

Demonstration fly tying – I’ve tied at various fly fishing shows, including: Western Idaho Expo (Boise, ID), NW Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo (Albany, OR), IFFF Fly Fishing Fair, and the Pacific NW Fly Tyers Rendezvous (Portland, OR).

Thanks for stopping by. Maybe I’ll see you on the river.

Metolius Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

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31 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi John- I really love your blog! You are indeed a very generous man. I appreciate all that you share: your knowledge-(humbly offered); your skill at teaching (the tying classes are absolutely the best instructional experience in fly fishing I’ve had over my 52 years of fly fishing!) and tying (thanks again for the samples you’ve provided); and your photography!!
    I try to emulate your style and to pass on to others what little I know about this magnificent sport! See you on the water.

  2. Hi John-we met at the Craig Mathews seminar, and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your website. It is extremely well done. I am a huge fan of sparkle dun patterns and soft hackles, and you really do a nice job on these.

  3. I recently received a nice comment via email I thought I better post here:

    I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your posts. I don’t fish as much as I used too but your professional posts always make my day. Your unselfish willingness to share your knowledge with the world is remarkable in this day and age. Furthermore, all the volunteering you do contributes to the growth of so many other fly Fisher people. Thank you again. — Rod”

  4. John,

    At East Lake, is there a morning Callibaetis Spinner fall or an evening Spinner fall or both?

    If morning, what time frame do you typically see it? If evening, same question.

    I’ve fished Hebgen Lake in MT and the Callibaetis Spinner fall there is awesome, and in the mid-morning (9:00 am or so when I was there.) It is considered a major activity to focus on.

    Do you find fishing Callibaetis Spinner patterns at East Lake to be a high priority for your top water fishing there?

    Thank you.


    • Hi Bryan

      The times I’ve seen Callibaetis Spinner falls on East Lake have been in the am…because I don’t stay late enough. I don’t get there early enough to see the fall, but have seen them on the water by 9 am.


  5. John,
    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your presentation at the Central Oregon Flyfishers meeting. It was very informative and a great introduction for me as a new member to the club.
    I can also see that your website will be the “go-to” site for learning more about the fishing and flies of Central Oregon.
    Stephen Baer

    • Stephen

      Thanks for the kind comments. I hope I was able to impart how special of a place the Metolius is.

      Be sure to not miss a post by selecting the “Subscribe” button at the top right of any page. You’ll receive an automated email with a link to the newest RiverKeeper Flies post.


  6. Hi, John! Will you be putting together a top ten gift list of items that fly-fishers would like to have for Christmas? Maybe stocking stuffers, and also items that are either new on the market, or things you have found to be indispensable at the fly tying desk or out on the river? That would be so helpful. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment “A Fly-Fisherman’s Spouse”

      That’s a great idea for a blog topic. I’ll give it some thought and you might see it in November!


  7. Just discovered and very much like your Web site. Reminds me that I’m looking for some tungsten Frenchies for personal use in #14 through #18. (Can’t tie any more because of a combination of age, arthritis and worsening vison.) Need a few dozen tungsten Frenchies with ice pink collar distributed as follows, but with one special feaure: tied on circle rather than standard nymph hooks: 6 each dubbed PT in #14, #16 and #18; 6 each dubbed caddis green (close to Whiting insect green) in $16 and #18, 6 each in #16 and #18 dubbed Blue Dun (close to Whiting medium dun), and 6 each dubbed medium olive.in $16 and #18.

    Would you be interested in tying them and, if so, at what price? Also, would you be interested in swapping some of our Waterwisp hooks for some of the nymphs?


    Jim Greene

  8. Hello John, My name is Bill Laing, I’m a member of the program committee for the McKenzie Flyfishers in Eugene. I’ve reviewed you website, read About Me (you), and several of our members know you and recomend you as a speaker.

    The McKenzie Flyfishers would like to invite you to speak to our club on Monday evening February 15, 2016. Our club has just over 100 members. We organized and hosted the NW Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo in Eugene for many years. Many of our members still participate as volunteers and tyers. In addition many club members consider the Metolius River one of their favorite and most challenging flyfishing destinations.

    Are you available to speak to our club Monday evening February 15 in Eugene? AND—What “presentations” besides Secrets of the Metolius River do you offer, and what is your fee schedule?

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Bill Laing, member McK FF program committee

    This might be a great recruiting opportunity to sign up volunteers for the 2016 NW Fly Tyer & Flyfishing Expo in March.

  9. Hi John, I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago stating that I knew you from the Central Coast Fly Fishers (CCFF). I must apologize to you as I was incorrect. I had confused you with John Peterson, also a very accomplished Fly Tyer, and a former member of the CCFF. I was hoping to get the chance to talk with you at the expo. However, you were quite busy and it didn’t happen. I am interested having you tie some flies for me for both the Crooked River and East Lake, two bodies of water I fish regularly. If that is something you can do, we can discuss it further via email. Thank you very much.

  10. John, I really enjoyed sitting down with you at last week’s Expo and picking up a few tips. I learn something every time I do this.

    Thank you for leading an excellent Expo event.

    I really look forward to your weekly posts. Keep up the good work.


    George Wilson, President
    Washington County Fly Fishers & fellow COF member

  11. Hi John, Umpqua Valley Fly Fishers would like to have you come for a presentation to the club. Meetings are first Thursday of each month.

  12. I enjoyed reading your “about me” page. Wayne Doughton introduced me to fly fishing in his store (I remember the old hardware store smell still) by selling me a glass Fenwick and a Pflueger 1495. Not long after my brother helped me tie a fly that caught a fish. This year at the fly-tying expo I caught up with many old fly-fishing and tying friends. I appreciate the information you share here, and that you share flies on the stream. timk

    • Tim

      Thanks for your comment. I think I purchased the same rod/reel. I still have the Fenwick 8 1/2 7 weight, which was standard in those days. I pulled it out to fish a couple of years ago and couldn’t believe how much more difficult it was to fish. We are very spoiled with the equipment we have these days. Pleased to know it brought back some good memories!

      I’ve been tying at the NW Expo for a few years and was Chair the last two years. Look me up and say hello as I plan to attend next year and demo a few flies.


  13. John,
    Are you available for a presentation at our monthly meeting in SW Portland? What is your speaker fee?

  14. John, we met at you presentation to Rogue Fly Fishers earlier this year. And even though I know there aren’t any fish in the Metolious my wife and I plan on visiting the river the second week of September. Dave Roberts tells me you may have a few patterns you’d be willing to share that will work well that time of year. If so, please do.


  15. Hi John, I first became aware of your existence when you spoke at the Rogue Fly Fishers, which everyone very much appreciated. Now I enjoy your website and postings! Fished the Crooked at Thanksgiving and had good luck with the Ray Charles. Will be in Tumalo in a couple of weeks – what patterns would be best for the Metoious (which I have never fished before)? Not sure if I will fish Crooked again or Metolious. Thanks. Jon – Medford

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