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Blog > Fly Fishing > In Memoriam: Ed Shenk

In Memoriam: Ed Shenk

Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 04/13/2020 (1094 reads)
In sad news for the fly-fishing community and the Cumberland Valley in particular, Ed Shenk passed away this week. He was 93.

Ed was one of the last of a well-known generation of Pennsylvania fly fishing innovators from the Greatest Generation. He is often mentioned in the same breath with Charlie Fox, Vince Marinaro, and other central Pennsylvania fly fishers who were central to advancing the sport in the mid-twentieth century. Like Fox and Marinaro, Shenk is best known for his association with the Letort, our state’s best-known stream for the development of innovative fishing methods.
Ed Shenk

Many of us knew Ed and fished with him. While he could be opinionated, Ed was always willing to help and was eager to share his knowledge and experience. An innovative fly tier, Ed has long been associated with a variety of well known and still productive patterns, in particular the Letort Hopper, Letort Cricket, Shenk Sculpin, and Shenk’s White Minnow among others.

He was a guru of short fly rods and was handy at building custom glass rods. This short rod school has made a lasting impression on many of us who still love to fish with rods under six feet long, almost a sort of rebellion against the new fad for longer rods.

Ed was particularly skilled at targeting large trout with streamers, sculpin patterns in particular. This too affected many of us. I remember an article by Ed, “Sculpinating Trout” from (I think) Fly Fisherman Magazine in the mid-1980s. When I recently told Ed that that article had hooked me on sculpins, still one of my favorite flies, he was delighted and surprised someone would remember an article from back then.

Ed published a book, Fly Rod Trouting (Stackpole, 1989) that should be in any Pennsylvania angler’s library. In it, Ed recounts what is, I think, Pennsylvania’s greatest fish story: Old George. This was a great trout Ed pursued for a long time in Letort, finally catching it in 1964.

Image courtesy PA Fly Fishing Museum.
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