John Goddard

It is with great sadness that we report the death of John Goddard, one of fly-fishing’s towering figures and the pre-eminent angling entomologist of his day. He died on Boxing Day at the age of 89.

John, a staunch supporter of the Wild Trout Trust, wrote a dozen books, most of them with an entomological bent. His reputation was established with Trout Fly Recognition (1966) and then Trout Flies of Stillwater (1969). Trout Flies of Britain and Europe followed in 1991. The artificial flies he designed and revealed in these books and in the hundreds of articles he wrote for magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, were used by anglers throughout the world. His most famous pattern was probably the G and H Sedge, a virtually unsinkable deer-hair pattern devised with Cliff Henry, with whom he collaborated in his early researches.

John’s most widely-publicised book was probably The Trout and the Fly (1980), written with his long-time friend Brian Clarke, former President of the WTT. This book concentrated as much on the fish in the water as the angler on the bank and was a worldwide success. The Sunday Times Colour Magazine devoted seven pages to it in the week it was published. A 50-minute documentary on BBC‑2 followed two days later. The New York Times picked it as one of its books of the year. The work is still in print in many countries, 32 years on.

In addition to his trout fishing, John was an accomplished coarse fisherman and sea angler. He was also an international big game angler and represented his country’s A’ team in this branch of the sport, for several years.

At the behest of the Portuguese Government John, with the noted deep sea angler and photographer Leslie Moncrieff, explored the potential of the big-game fishing off Portugal’s coast. Their resulting catches of shark, marlin, tuna and the rest effectively kick-started the angling tourism that Madeira and The Azores have enjoyed ever since.

John was also a pioneer of fly-fishing for bonefish, sailfish, tarpon and the like and travelled regularly to the Seychelles, the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico and Belize in pursuit of quarry. He fished many times in New Zealand and the United States and counted many of America’s most famous anglers among his friends. His book, Big Fish from Salt Water, appeared in 1977. An autobiography, The Passionate Angler, came out in 2008.

John was active right to the end. At the time of his death, he was collaborating with Brian Clarke again — on a commissioned book about their fishing lives, a kind of joint angling autobiography.

John leaves his wife of 62 years, Eileen — and a daughter, Susan. Our condolences go to them both.