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.
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), four flies with materials to tie them and told me to come over to his house on Sunday. He taught me to tie those four flies and encouraged me to tie them at home until I got them right. Then, bring back the four fly “models” and trade them for four 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 about 180 dozen flies. My Custom Flies seem to be popular. I tie custom fly orders for clients and friends, and have been known to give flies away on the river, 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 200 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 images in most of my posts.
I was fortunate to retire early and wanted to find volunteer activities as a way to “give back”. Here are some of the fly fishing activities that have taken up my time over the years:
Oregon Council – Fly Fishers International – 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.
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.
I was honored to receive the 2017 Stan Walter Memorial Fly Tyer of the Year at the NW Expo.
Central Oregon Flyfishers – In 2012, I took over as the leader of the Central Oregon Flyfishers Winter Fly Tying and continued in that role through 2019. I averaged over 28 tyers in the room every week in January, February, and March in 2018. In April 2016, I was honored to receive my club’s Flyfisher of the Year award. In 2020, I decided to take a break from COF because of Covid-19.
Next Cast Flyfishers – I helped my wife with our fly club’s youth flyfishers called Next Cast Flyfishers at the annual Fish Camp and Master Class at East Lake. She retired from her position in 2019.
Central Oregon Project Healing Waters – I served as a Board member from 2011 – June 2018 and taught fly tying and fly fishing to Veterans through 2019. Unfortunately, they disbanded in 2020.
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) beginning in 2007, IFFF Fly Fishing Fair, and the Pacific NW Fly Tyers Rendezvous (Portland, OR). In 2020, I ventured into the online world of fly tying through Zoom and my own RiverKeeper Flies YouTube channel.
I was featured in American Fly Fishing magazine’s “Masters at the Bench” in the Nov/Dec 2020 issue.
Thanks for stopping by. Maybe I’ll see you on the river.
Read some of your stuff, all good.
Want to say I also started with a thompson fly vice in 1969. Still use it today.
Trying to reach out to you for some flies… havent been able to get email to you. Now trying this format.
I have tried to use you contact page but get rejected by a spam filter. I have used two emails from two different search engines on two different devices and they all get rejected.
It was a pleasure to meet you at the Metolius today. I attempted to email via your contact page re the fly tying guild / Zoom classes, however I get a weird reCaptcha message and it won’t go through. That said, you have my email now.
Thanks for the Comment Tom…email sent.
John, Good morning. I’d be interested in your tying 6 Bronze Goddess for me to try on the Guadalupe River in Sattler, TX on our GRTU leases below Canyon Dam. Rainbows we stock are 14-24″. Some survive the lower flows of summer and the Osprey to reproduce. Probably 3 flies in one size and 3 in another. I can send an article and detailed instructions by email. Looks like your Captcha prevents my sending links to article or instructions. Thanks, Dave Agerton 713-873-1318
Afternoon, would you be interested in making some custom steelhead flies for me? I’m interested in a modified Burnt Chicken in three sizes, and wighted/non weighted versions for a trip at the end of October.
I hope you are fine. I am too happy that you love fishing like me .I also love too much and I am also sharing his ideas and guiding those anglers who are beginners in the field of fishing like https://wildfishingman.com/best-baitcasting-reels-for-beginners/.
Now I am also guiding his children about fly fishing and we feel love after reading this.
Thanks John for sharing valuable information.
I simply needed you to know the amount I partake in your posts. I don’t fish however much I utilized as well yet your expert posts consistently fill my heart with joy. Your unselfish eagerness to impart your insight to the world is striking these days. Besides, all the chipping in you do adds to the development of so many other fly Fisher individuals. Much thanks to you once more
I fish mainly in Idaho and Montana rivers for trout. An you email me with your recommendations that you think would work on the waters I fish so that I can place an order? Thanks
Thanks for leaving a Comment…email sent.
Hi, Mr. Kreft!
My name is Matt and I’m a novice fly fisherman and fly tier. Would you email me so I can pose a fishing question to you? Thank you kindly!
Thanks for the Comment Matt…email sent.
John – met you last week on the footbridge; thanks for the fly samples you gave us! I think they were the Beetle Bailey.. worked great, i caught several with it till I broke it off on a 16″+ fish. Had an amazing trip, fished several of the area rivers and tribs and did a lot of hiking. Hope you both have a safe and fun rest of your adventure. I’m looking forward to reading about it in your posts – nice website!
Thanks for leaving a Comment.
Good to hear you caught some fish on Beetle Betty…just like Beetle Bailey, but tied with red thread for the body. I think you might have had better fishing than we did. We might return as we drive home.
John, Im new here to fly fishing has some questions for you and would like to order a pack of East Lake Flys. I am going to introduce my 4 kids to the art of fly fishing moving them on from the standard methods. Thanks,
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Hello John, the internet is an amazing place. I was checking on a couple of books that I have to replace [Halford’s Floating Flies] and came across your page. Needless to say you’re a very generous guy. Copying all these books you have posted is no small endeavour. You’ve certainly chosen some great British classics.
I started collecting in the 1970’s and as you might guess I have a lot of books. I’ve book marked your website and I’ll be back. FWIW I was writing for Martin Joergensen’s Global Flyfisher for a couple of years. I wrote about 9 columns then life took a turn. I may well return in another year
Happy to hear you finally found RiverKeeper Flies! Welcome. I seem to have spent quite a few hours over the 6 years since I started. I’ll check out the link you provided.
Looking for a custom fly for display purposes. I’m wanting a ‘Childers’ salmon fly. Please email me and let me know if you could tie it as well as the cost. Thanks!
Thanks for leaving a Comment on my RiverKeeper Flies website…email sent.
John please contact me about purchasing flies.
Thanks for leaving a Comment on my RiverKeeper Flies website…email sent.
Just found your web site today.
For a number of years have been going out to Idaho and Mt since my wife has a relative in Billings and my best friend from college lives in Post Falls, Idaho. That makes your trips and comments very relevant to me since I have been to many of the same places. Appreciate you reviews and great fotos!
BTW what is the vehicle you drive and camp in? Have been talking about the merits of getting some kind of RV for years but concerned about mileage and comfort.
Thanks for the positive Comments about my RiverKeeper Flies website. We purchased a 2017 RAM Promaster in July 2018 and have loved it. It does everything we want and allows us to stay close to our favorite fishing spots. Mileage varies depending upon wind, mountains and Montana’s 80mph speed limit! We can achieve anywhere between 16 – 20 mpg. Not bad for a 3/4 ton van I’d say.
I would like to purchase a few flies from you for my upcoming King Salmon fishing trip. Do you have any suggestions?
Thanks for leaving a Comment about purchasing some RiverKeeper Flies…email sent.
Dear Mr. Kreft,
These pages, associated websites, river walks and literature downloads are a real treasure chest. The best of the best in my opinion. One day ill have the opportunity to visit some of these and witness the beauty first hand.
A huge thank you for making these available over the Internet.
Mark Lomax UK
Thanks for leaving a Comment on my RiverKeeper Flies website and for the nice thoughts. It is a labor of love! Happy to see it’s useful for you.
Can I “commission” you to ty flies you don’t have listed?
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John, Many thanks for the very informative information you provide here.
I have been tying off and on for 20 years. Recently within the last 2 years i picked up the bobbins, bodkins and scissors again and have really started tying and learning about this fantastic hobby.
One area i am working on and need some advice, Can you recommend a web site, or book or whatever media form on tying feather wings. As i see some flies i shy away from them because of what i see as an intricate wing. I have not found a lot of info in my searches. Any info that you could lead me to i would be most grateful. I try to spend several hours a day tying, reading etc about fly tying as i am medically disabled with a rare medical syndrome, Short Bowel Syndrome. Again thanks for the info you have given us here.
I am interested in purchasing a custom example of Grant’s Black Creeper trout fly. It is not for fishing but for a display – so as close as I can get to original hook style is preferred….please let me know what the cost is and how else to discuss it … thanks – Ed
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We are cleaning our house and I wonder if you would be interested in a set of videotapes By Gary LaFontaine with commentary by the Beattys? There is a set of seven 90 minute fly tying demonstrations of proabably a total of 60+ of Gary,s patterns. Happy New Year!
I’d love to find a book of ancient fly-tying patterns for my son who is an fresh water fly fisherman and fly-tier. He fishes rivers in Arkansas, some in Montana and lakes in and around Baton Rouge, LA.
What to buy and who to buy from would be most appreciated.
He has asked for this for awhile now and I have come up empty.
Thanks for your help!
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John, your flies are awesome! Hopefully, we get to fish sometime down the road. Take care!
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
Jon…thanks for your comment…email sent.
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.
Thanks for your comment…email sent.
HI,JOHN,,AM HAPPY TO SEE YOUR FANTASTIC WEB AND FLIES TIED .AM ALSO A FLY TIER AND OWN A SMALL FACTORY HERE IN KENYA,,,I STARTED TYING FLIES SINCE 1987 UP TO NOW.WE ARE THE ONE WHO INVENTED NEW FLY PATTERNS OF WATERWISPS WITH Q.MASSETTI AND JIM GREEN.
AM LOOKING FOR A FLY SHOP THAT CAN SUPPLY US WITH ORDERS PLEASE ASSIST ME WHERE TO GET FLIES ORDERS.I WILL APPRECIATE YOUR HELP.THANKS.JOSEPHAT
Thanks for finding my RiverKeeper Flies website. I only sell the flies I tie, but thanks for contacting me.
Are you available for a presentation at our monthly meeting in SW Portland? What is your speaker fee?
Thanks for contacting me about my presentations…email sent.
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
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.
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.
Thanks for contacting me about making a presentation to your fly club. Email sent…
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
Thanks for the compliments…it means a lot!
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.
I know you will be busy but I do want to say hello in Albany. I do the blog for the IFFF. I want to put something in the blog about the event and the Oregon Council.
I’d be pleased to provide whatever you need about the upcoming Expo.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Thanks for the kind comments. I hope I was able to impart how special of a place the Metolius is.
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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?
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.
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”
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.
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.