Oliver Edwards

We are deeply sorry to report the death of Oliver Edwards – one of the most skilled and influential all-round fly-fishers of the modern era – at the age of 85 on Saturday 22 April. 

Oliver started fly-fishing as a teenager, learning his craft on the River Wharfe and other rivers of the Yorkshire Dales, which would remain his home waters for the rest of his life. Successfully fishing North Country spiders in the tradition of Pritt, Edmonds and Lee, he nevertheless realised that these looked very little like the natural flies that the fish were actually eating. 

Oliver went on to develop his own style of tying imitative flies, which he described as super impressionistic fly patterns’ with trigger points including size, shape, proportions and silhouette. 

As he demonstrated his skills at fly-tying shows, his reputation grew, and he won the Fly Tyer of the Year award in 1980 and 1981, before being invited to join the judging panel in 1982. His fly patterns made regular appearances in magazines like Fly Fishing & Fly Tying (UK) and Fly Tyer (USA), and his ground-breaking book A Fly Tyer’s Masterclass’ was published in 1994 to much international acclaim.

In addition to his creative skill as a fly-tyer, Oliver was also a master of fly-fishing technique – representing England at world championship level in the 1990s, and running the Orvis fly-fishing schools in Yorkshire and Hampshire for many years. Later, he condensed all this technical and teaching experience into a very popular series of Essential Skills’ DVDs, which are still available HERE.

In 2004, Oliver was appointed as one of WTT’s first Vice-Presidents, with a brief to help to raise our profile among fly-fishers, which he did with great enthusiasm and effectiveness. Many WTT members tell fond stories of being inspired (and sometimes star-struck) by meeting him at fishing shows, or encountering him stalking wild trout on the river banks of Yorkshire and Iceland.

Oliver’s views on many aspects of fly-fishing could perhaps be best described as forthright’, but beneath that no-nonsense Yorkshire exterior was a man of very great kindness, humour and generosity. 

His authoritative opinions also extended to classic Yorkshire delicacies like pork pies: for his 80th birthday, the pie shown in the photo below was specially made for him by the Ginger Butchers in Bakewell. This was deemed acceptable, but not as good as the pies from the butchers in Pateley Bridge. (‘Geoff’ appears on top of the pie crust instead of Oliver’ because David Percival nicknamed him as such after Geoffrey Boycott – another Yorkshireman not troubled by self-doubt!)

In recent months we were all very sorry to hear of Oliver’s struggles with Parkinson’s, and his passing truly marks the end of an era. 

We send our sincerest sympathies to his wife, Hazel, and all his family.

Oliver Edwards via David Marriott
Oliver Edwards celebrating his 80th birthday with a specially-commissioned pork pie, on the banks of the Derbyshire Wye, in 2018