A brief tribute to our SFDG ex Chairman and manager of the Guild’s Award scheme; who passed away 10th November 2023.

David Taylor our much loved ex Chairman has just passed away. We understand it was his heart & that he took himself off to hospital with the pain. He will be missed by many of us. Some who learnt their Fly Dressing Skills directly from him, others who fished with him. A great ambassador for the Guild. Dave brought the award system to life for many, especially those in the Wey Valley group.

David Taylor sadly passed away on 10 November. Some of our newer members won’t have met Dave, but he was a stalwart member of the the Surrey Branch, in many ways. He was Branch Chair for a number of years (more than he wanted, due to his sense of duty) and continued to be a member of the Branch Executive Committee when Chris took over as Chair. He took over our fly-tying classes after Trevor Coxon retired, and, like everything else he did, meticulously prepared for these. When Chris took over the sessions, Dave was always prepared to stand in for him, when needed.  He attended virtually every meeting we held, and indeed delivered some of them himself. These sessions were invariably well-attended, as there was always something to learn. He was an excellent fly-tyer, precise, neat, knowledgeable, and enjoyed fishing his flies, around the UK and abroad. 

He was also a key part of the Wey Valley Branch and was responsible for managing the Guild Fly-Tying Awards scheme. 

Dave had mentioned to us a couple of weeks previously that he had received some bad news about his heart, and would be undergoing more tests, but was determined to catch up and continue with the Awards scheme.  Sadly, none of us realised how serious the problem was. Through his family, we’ve heard that he was feeling unwell and took himself off to hospital, where he suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away, despite the medical team’s efforts. 

The tributes shared on Facebook are a measure of his standing in the fly-tying community and in other walks of life.  many of us shall always remember Dave as a kind, thoughtful, generous with his knowledge, patient, precise (infuriatingly so sometimes!) and all round good company. He will be much missed by us all, and we shall all be poorer for his absence. Below are some members thoughts and insights into Dave:-

” I was surprised and extremely saddened to hear the news about David. I have only known him for a relatively short period of time since I started classes at Byfleet, but I would fully endorse all your comments about his dedication and professionalism in how he approached these lessons. He certainly helped me to progress from an abject beginner to someone who can tie flies that at least look something like the pattern he is teaching us, and do sometimes manage to fool the fish. His classes were always fun to attend, and I will miss him greatly.”

“V sad he was a nice guy – help me a number of times and always open to questions “

“His branch and the wider Guild will miss him badly. With sympathy.”

“He got me really interested in fly tying—lovely meticulous helpful sheets on tying the different flies for the night-so useful when you returned months later to re tie. Please add my name from the Surrey fly Dressers with much sympathy for his family”

That’s very sad news – I did know David for many years and he will be missed.”

A short note about Dave Taylor

I was very sorry to hear the sad news of the death of Dave Taylor. 

I knew Dave for at least 13 years, including the time I sat on the Committee of the Surrey Branch of the FDG, of which Dave was an excellent Chairman.

Dave had a great depth of knowledge of all fishing matters, including fly patterns. More than once, I referred to him about a specific pattern and he would come up with all the details, or would know of someone else who could help. He was an excellent fly-dresser and teacher and I remember the notes he prepared for each tying class he ran. They were so well set out with photographs of each stage that  when he demonstrated the tying, you could easily follow each section from the notes. I still have those notes stored within my ‘Pattern library’ and I will treasure them, as I know others will also, when revisiting the pattern.

Dave was a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker and would often present talks at the monthly meetings. These were detailed in the subject, be it either the entomology of the insects he was trying to fool trout with, or the natural fauna of the riverside, to exact details of the de-waxing of peacock herls. 

At a monthly meeting of the Branch, I was fortunate to win a raffle prize of some flies that Dave had contributed. These were mainly nymphs and small dry flies. During this summer, I used some of the smaller nymphs. The trout certainly liked them and these patterns outperformed some of my usual nymphs.

My last correspondence with Dave, concerned the smaller nymphs, especially the sparkle thorax,  which he informed me of the exact material. I shall certainly be tying some myself and when I do and use them, I shall always remember Dave and the generosity of his spirit.   

John Sawtell

November 2022