Sylvester Nemes Dies

Sylvester Nemes, champion of the wet fly and author of the classic The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles: A Trout Fisherman’s Guide (updated and revised in 2006), died on February 3, the Bozeman Chronicle reported yesterday. As we noted two years ago in our review of The Soft-Hackled Fly, Nemes “helped create a resurgence in what many fly fishers had dismissed as an arcane method of tying and presenting flies. Prior to this book, soft-hackles had lost favor to the more ‘scientific’ imitations of dry flies and nymphs. Now few trout shops don’t offer at least a few ‘spiders,’ ‘wingless wets’ or ‘soft-hackle emergers.'”

“Nemes, predictably, [was] a purist. (He once responded to someone who asked ‘Do you ever tie your flies as beadheads?’ with ‘Why don’t you just get a spinning rod?’) But he demonstrates that all the careful attention to color, materials, and tying techniques that are so important to dry flies and nymphs matter just as much in what looks to be the very simple construction of soft hackles. Soft-hackles, you might say, are only as simple as you want them to be.”
Ben Pierce writes extensively about Sylvester Nemes on Outdoors Chronicle: “Sylvester’s fame extended to Japan where there is a fishing club named in his honor and a fly rod manufacturer that produces a model bearing his name. In 2008, he was the recipient of the ‘Legends of the Headwaters’ award from the Madison-Gallatin chapter of Trout Unlimited.”

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  • Pgiffin1851

    I met Syl in the late 80’s at the old Ed Rice fishing show in Denver . He shared his flies with me as with all he met. I was delighted …. I could practice my greased line steelhead fishing on trout ! I saw him every year and he always had something new to share , his midge , his starling and olive ( on of the best baetis patterns you will ever try ) always he gave me flies, I have a box of 11 (it was a dozen but couldn’t resist fishing one or two and lost the hairs ear to a fish ) signed . One of my treasures , but the real treasure was Sly, his joy in those tiny simple flies , their history , how to fish them , how to tie them . His pleasure in sharing and talking . He changed my fishing life , I am never without his flies , I tie them give them away and teach anyone who will stand still long enough to tie or fish with them . It is many years since I have seen Him and I am sad I cannot tell him how much his sharing has meant to me . He still is underrated buy some but that is their loss . The sport has lost one of its greats . A gentle, caring , sharing soul. A gentleman of the first water . My deepest regrets to his wife and friends and family . Thank you Syl , and god speed .