Barry and Cathy Beck: Legends of Fly Fishing

Barry and Cathy Beck: Legends of Fly Fishing
Barry and Cathy Beck

Barry and Cathy Beck will be inducted to the Catskill Fly Fishing Hall of Fame Oct. 8 at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum at Livingston Manor, NY, along with Doug Swisher, Carl Richards, Roderick Haig-Brown, and John Alden Knight. The Becks have spent the past three decades photographing the great trout and salmon rivers and saltwater flats of the world and the fly fishers who haunt them. But few people know about their other accomplishments. Barry and Cathy formerly ran their Fishing Creek Outfitters in Benton, PA where they taught fly fishing and hosted trips around the world for Frontiers International out of Wexford, Pa.Barry's father had run Becky's Sporting Goods in Berwick,which Barry ran from 1980 as Becky's Fly Fishing Specialists, when he married Cathy. They closed down the Berwick shop and reopened it as Fishing Creek Outfitters in 1988 in Benton, which they sold in 1992 . Barry also worked for the H.L Leonard Rod Company in the early 1970s as purchasing agent for the company's flies in Midland Park, New Jersey. Barry taught President Jimmy Carter how to fly cast at Camp David in July, 1980. Cathy, a world-class casting and fishing instructor and fly fisher, is the author of Cathy Beck's Fly Fishing Handbook, (Lyons Press, 1996). The Becks cooperated with Montana guide George Kelly to produce Seasons of the Bighorn and they wrote and photographed Fly Fishing the Flats (Stackpole), the Pennsylvania Blue Ribbon Fly Fishing Guide (Amato), The Outdoor Photographers Handbook (Stackpole), and Fly Waters Near and Far (Stackpole). Cathy is currently working on a new fly-fishing handbook and Barry is preparing a coffee-table edition of bear photography based on his years in Alaska. The Becks are longtime Sage Rod Company team professionals, and are on the pro staffs of Rio, Reddington, Tibor, and Smith Optics. They are among the most pleasant and outgoing couples in the world of fly-fishing.

Carl Richards had an investigative mind and was a master fly tier. John Randolph photo

In the Golden Age of American fly fishing (from Jennings (A Book of Trout Flies, 1935, to Flick, the Wulffs, Marinaro, Schwiebert, Caucci/Nastasi, Whitlock, Shenk, Kreh, Meck and many more today) Carl Richards and Doug Swisher have a special place: They published Selective Trout (1971) and Fly Fishing Strategy (1975) and Stoneflies (with Fred Arbona) in 1983. More importantly, they made their no-hackle imitations the flies of choice in flat-water dry-fly fishing on such iconic waters as the Muskegon and other rivers in Michigan and the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. Along with Marinaro, Caucci/Nastasi, Schweibert, Flick, Meck, Borger, and others theyput fly-fishing entomology at the center of things for the most dedicated American dry-fly fishers. Doug Swisher left a career as a plastics salesman in Michigan to become an amateur aquatic-insect researcher, writer, freshwater and saltwater guide (Florida in winter and Montana in summer). His partner, Carl, a career dentist in Grand Rapids Michigan, always had six aquarium tanks in his cellar, where he raised mayflies and caddis for research. In their youth and middle years, both men were triple-A personalities, intensely devoted to unearthing and publishing the truths on North American trout-stream insects and creating the imitations that matched them. They were also incomparable dry-fly trout (and saltwater) anglers.

Roderick Haig-Brown is, as historian Paul Schullery says:. . .certainly the dean of Western fishing writers and the foremost literary interpreter of Western fishing, who settled on his beloved Campbell River in the early 1930s." His books, The Western Angler (1939), A River Never Sleeps (1946), and A Primer of Fly Fishing (1964) rank among the most cherished in fly-fishing literature. His selection for Hall of Fame recognition is over-due and well deserved.

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