Umpqua Feather Merchants has announced that its founder Dennis Black passed away this morning.
Black is known as a pioneer of fly fishing who revolutionized the industry by working with over 150 expert tyers to increase the production of quality, hand-tied flies. Black's efforts throughout the years helped to reduce the negative stigma associated with flies tied overseas. Part of this accomplishment was driven by Black convincing American expert tyers to allow young women to tie their designs at his factory in India. Dennis is also known for rewarding the creativity and skill of professional tyers with his own unique royalty payment system.
In over 40 years, Black has worked with expert tyers, like Dave Whitlock, Mike Lawson and Randall Kaufmann, to build five separate fly-tying factories in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Today Umpqua Feather Merchants is known for having some of the best fishing flies constructed of the best materials on the market. Black is also a commercial tyer himself and has been credited with launching the careers of many talented amateur and professional fly tyers.
Black was well-loved by many individuals throughout the fly fishing world. When asked about Dennis, accomplished fly fishing and nature photographer David Lambroughton noted, "I first met Dennis Black when I floated him and his girlfriend on a three day trip down the Deschutes River in 1979 and we became friends ever since. This is when he was getting Umpqua Feather Merchants off the ground and in the process becoming an icon in the industry. Over the years I often visited him at his three houses of favoured residence; Turangi, N.Z., Chiang Mai in Thailand where he started all the fly tying factories, and at the Palace he built over looking one of the best pools on the Umpqua River in Oregon. He lived well and shared it all with his lovely wife Maew, undoubtedly the greatest catch of his life. I last visited him in October in Oregon and I knew I'd never see him again as his cancer was progressing. When I got the news of his passing yesterday morning here in New Zealand, I just sat by the river and gave the feeding fish a free pass for the day as I remembered a wonderful man that made my life and so many others so much better."
Black was survived by his wife Maew.