In Memory of Legendary Fly Fisher, Artist, Scientist: Dave Whitlock (1934-2022)

Many of you may have heard about the passing of Dave Whitlock this Thanksgiving. He suffered a massive stroke Thursday night, his wife Emily told Fly Fisherman Magazine. “He was working on his boat next to our casting pond when it hit, and was flown to Tulsa for care. But he broke the tippet and drifted gently back to the deep water, the wild that he loved and spent a lifetime exploring, writing and painting about.”

Dave was a world-renowned artist, illustrator, fly tier, caster, advocate, and even a scientist. He invented countless fly patterns, had a crazy successful art career, and he even dabbled in fisheries biology. His patented “Whitlock-Vibert Boxes” are used to this day for in-stream rearing of gravel-bed-spawning fishes, and in sedimentation studies. A google scholar search of the term returns hundreds of hits.

Not only did he design the boxes, of course he illustrated the user manual as well! Check out this series of youtube videos he did for fly fishers international explaining how the boxes work.

Dave was passionate about conservation and wild fisheries, and was known to get absolutely giddy about a redbreast sunfish. He loved big tailwater trout, but his eyes always lit up a certain way when he talked about bream fishing.

I got to meet him a few times and what always stood out most to me about him was his character. For someone with so much fame to be so nice to people was crazy to me. He treated everyone the same, whether you were an old hall of famer like Lefty Kreh, or a starry eyed kid with big dreams, Dave always looked you in the eyes and tried to know your heart.

He will be dearly missed by a lot of folks, especially his friends in Alabama, where his art decorates nearly every fly shop and tying bench from Huntsville to Daphne. In my opinion, you can see some of his finest work at Deep South Outfitters in Birmingham. Rob, the owner, can tell you everything you need to know about the amazing life of Dave Whitlock.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Tim says:

    Dave taught me to fly fish through his interesting articles, books, and illustrations. I remember tying my first streamer with the hair from our black lab. It worked great. Thanks Dave,

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