Neal Taylor Dies

Neal Taylor, who won several national casting titles and guided and taught fly fishers for more than 30 years, died on Tuesday in California at the age of 78. In addition to teaching classes in fly fishing at various colleges, Taylor was a naturalist for Santa Barbara County Park Department, for which he conducted programs for thousands of school children.
Steve Chawkins said in The Los Angeles Times: “As much a showman as he was an angler, Taylor could cast into a crowd and knock the ash off a cigarette at 30 yards or plant his line in an unsuspecting coffee drinker’s cup.”
“Learning to fish from his father, often on the Santa Ynez River before Bradbury Dam was built, he learned to cast in elementary school, and won his first of seven national casting titles at the age of 14. While in the Air Force, he was invited to fish on the Platte River in Colorado with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.” Sally Cappon in the Santa Maria Times.
Leslie Schwartz wrote an excellent profile of Taylor for The Los Angeles Times in 1995: “It’s hard to believe that someone so big could care so much for something so small. But seeing his look of pleasure as the fish struggles to life and disappears into the river, it becomes obvious that Taylor’s husky 6-foot-1 stature belies an underlying tenderness. To his students, who line the river banks clad in waders and fishing hats, Taylor is a bit of an enigma: a bumbling Jonathan Winters look-alike who takes rod in hand and suddenly becomes a backwoods Baryshnikov.”

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