Remembering the Great Larry Kingrey

Written by, Taylor Edrington, Royal Gorge Anglers

Larry Kingrey was beloved by those he taught to fly-fish and those who benefited from his great patterns.
Photos courtesy Royal Gorge Anglers

Last Tuesday our dear friend, mentor, compadre, partner in crime, and one of the true icons of the fly-fishing industry went on ahead of us to find the eternal riffle. For the past year, Larry Kingrey had been waging a battle with cancer that he could not win. We are left in a vacuum where he once filled the space with his wit, loyalty, and absolutely spectacular fly patterns. If a fish would rise to a dry fly, Larry could catch it, and he could teach you to, as well.

Larry was a southern-Colorado Boy who lived his life on Centennial State rivers, throwing dry flies at willing suspects. Larry started out in the fly-fishing industry in the late 70s and 80s while working as a guide for several Steamboat Springs shops. He guided on both the Yampa River in Colorado and the Green River in Utah. While picking up work as a guide, Larry began to perfect his craft in fly tying and fly design.

If a fish could be caught on the fly, the Larry could catch it.

In the early 90s, Larry moved back to Canon City, Colorado, on the mighty Arkansas River, where he cut his teeth with a fly rod. He worked his magic at Royal Gorge Anglers, where he managed the guide service and commercially tied over 2,000 dozen flies a year for the shop. All in all, Larry spent nearly 30 years with the fly shop. His patterns were cutting edge from the beginning, including some of the earliest foam and synthetic patterns. Even though Larry mastered the use of synthetics, he believed that real flies had wings and were tied with quill bodies.

Larry was one of the first, along with AK Best, to work on fashioning dyed quills with subtle colors to really match the adult insects. An extensive collection of Larry’s patterns can be found in the Umpqua Feather Merchants catalog today, as a leading signature designer. He was passionate about teaching folks to respect the sport by instructing traditional methods…Larry was adamant about his clients perfecting line control and mastering the science of presentation. About the only thing he liked better than a perfect dry fly drift was a dram of 21-year-old Ardbeg Single Malt Scotch.

Larry Kingrey’s legacy will reflect his love of teaching this sport to anyone who had the time to listen. He has touched thousands of people, both on the river and at the vise, and he was admired by everyone he met.

See you again, old friend, on the eternal trout stream in the sky We’ll bring the Single Malt.

Taylor Edrington is the owner of Royal Gorge Anglers fly shop and SoCo Anglers outfitters in Cañon City, Colorado. He is also a former Trout Bum of the Week.

9 thoughts on “Remembering the Great Larry Kingrey”

  1. Very nicely written, Bill. I didn’t know Larry well, just saw him in the shop and at shows but he obviously knew his stuff. Guys like him we remember forever.

  2. He was a great father in law that will be missed by many. Thank you for those kind words. You are very much part of our family Taylor.

  3. Larry taught me how to fly fish on a lake. We spent some time together up around the town of Yampa years and years ago. He suggested we go to Lake Crosho where he patiently showed me the finer points of casting and retrieving on the open water. He would cast his line and perform his magic by setting and playing fish that I could only dream to land. He cured me of my clunky delivery and retrieval and had me catching beautiful arctic grayling by the end of our time there. He effortlessly and artistically fished every water I witnessed him get into and could only hope to know 1/1000 of the information he had within his mind about flyfishing. Larry was more than just a great flyfisher – he was funny and compassionate. He treated me with respect and decency and never made me feel like a lesser person because of his skill and knowledge. I hadn’t seen him in many years and was very saddened to hear that he had passed away. There aren’t many people like Larry in this world and I feel like a better person for having known him. Tight Lines and Tight Loops my friend!!!

  4. I met Larry in 1991 and asked him to teach me how to fly fish. You see he didn’t have much choice as I was soon to marry his daughter. So he took me out to a creek and put what I thought was the tiniest thing ever on the end of my line and told me to cast it over there by the other bank. He then started working his way up the creek catching fish after fish effortlessly. Well I didn’t even get a look that day, and I don’t think Larry thought I was serious about learning so I kept pestering him. So the next day he took me to one of my all time favorite spots on the Yampa river and he showed me how to nymph fish and OMG I hooked into a half dozen 16+ inch rainbows that I broke off every time. As he was laughing at me for it seemed like an hour, he then showed me how to fight and land a big fish. I was completely hooked and knew this was going to be a lifetime of enjoyment.
    Well his daughter and I did get married and we spent every three day weekend and holiday up in Yampa going fishing at all times of the year. I was blessed because every time I went fishing I was going with a professional guide who took me under his wing and showed me everything I needed and wanted to know about fly fishing. He taught me how to tie flies and even had me helping him tie production flies. While I was in college and after he moved to Canon City he taught me how to guide on the Arkansas and I did that until I graduated. We took many memorable fishing trips together and drank more than a few micro brews. After many years, his daughter, Jodi and I got a divorce but remained friends and I kept in touch with Larry. He was always a great friend to me and I will miss him more than I care to admit. I know that I will never be able to get in a stream and fish without thinking of this wonderful man and know that he will be smiling down at me while I am working the water.
    Thank you Larry, and I love you
    Todd Berisford

  5. I first met Larry at a Royal Gorge Angler’s Spring Fling in Cotopaxi in 2002 when I first started to fly fish. He helped straighten out my cast without my even asking. He always answered my stupid questions year after year whenever I saw him. One of the first flies I learned to tie was his black ice pattern which is still my go to fly to this day. Larry was a great guy who I will miss.

  6. I just now learned of Larry’s passing. I am deeply saddened to hear of it. He taught fly tying as well as fly fishing. He will be missed.

  7. I have been fishing the Arkansas River for over 20 years and Larry turned me on to all his patterns for the Ark. I made sure to stop by Ark Anglers to pick up his patterns and it would upset me when I fished the river without them because his patterns would outfish others by at least 2 to 1 . Had the pleasure to fish with him once and talked to him in the shop on numerous occasions and the one thing that I remember most about the man was how humble he was which is a trait the seems to becoming pretty rare in people anymore. Great Guy. Jack Curley

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