William G. Tapply

I enjoy writing, and I love to fish, and these two traits, in sum, breathe fire into this blog.  There are some who do both of these things in such combination as to be able to make a living of it, and one of those has recently passed on to greater waters.  William G. Tapply died July 28, 2009 at his home in Hancock, NH, after a courageous battle with leukemia.

Non-literary fly fishermen may recognize the name Tapply from the deerhair bug that H. G. Tapply, William’s father, created:

The Tapply Bug - a smallmouth and largemouth bass killer...

The Tapply Bug - slaying bass since the 1930's.

But father, and more particularly son, had much more bearing on flyfishing than a bass bug pattern.

William G Tapply started his career life as a teacher.  Later in life he began writing and editing, as dad did, for several fly fishing magazines.  He also became a prolific writer of mystery novels, publishing more than 40 books in 25 years, and I might add, he continued writing right up to the end of his life.  To read more about Mr. Tapply, please see his website -http://www.williamgtapply.com/.  You will note a last letter to his readership that courageously understates his sickness as a “pesky ailment” and the prophetic close to his letter, to “enjoy the summer” and “not let it get away from you”.

After soaking all of this in, I decided to sit down with one of his books, “Gone Fishin’, Ruminations on Fly Fishing”.  This outstanding book is a collection of short stories and essays, and great reading to go along with a cigar and dry gin martini on the rocks, with olives.

In memoriam, William G. Tapply

In memoriam, William G. Tapply

One of many great stories in the book is entitled, “Paying Homage” and is especially interesting because it is written about an annual pilgrimage Tapply made with some close fly fishing buddies to the Beaverkill and Willowemoc Rivers in the heart of our fabled Catskills.  The group met and fished every year through bouts of high and low water, hot and cold weather, bad hatches and good hatches – and always on the weekend following Memorial Day.  The piece ends with the details of one of his later trips, most likely in 2005, in which the fishing started slow, got as good as it can get and then closed with a washout.  “The fishing gods giveth and they taketh away” is how Tapply humorously labels the experience.  And I’ll add that they gave us a great flyfisherman and a writer of rare talent, but they’ll really never take him away…


2 Responses to “William G. Tapply”

  1. This is the only Tapply book I have read, which was a good one. A couple more of his fishing books are on my “to get” list. I’m also interested in his Stoney Calhoun series – have you read any of his fiction?

    -scott c

    • stflyfisher Says:

      Scott – I have not read any of Tapply’s fiction, but I hope to crack open one or two of his books this winter. He apparently was a big Hemingway fan, as I am. I’ve always enjoyed Tapply’s columns, and from what I’ve read, his mystery books are a very good read.

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