On the Fly

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It is with heavy hearts and deep sorrow that we are announcing the passing of a long time Umpqua family member and key figure in fly-fishing. BRUCE OLSON passed away yesterday afternoon at his home in Superior, CO, and will be missed terribly by many people in our community.

Already an avid fly-fisherman, Bruce joined Umpqua Feather Merchants in 1989 as the Inside Sales Rep, and over the next two plus decades held several positions at Umpqua including Customer Services Manager, Sales Manager and New Fly Manager. He played a key role in the development and evolution of Umpqua’s Royalty Signature Fly Designer Program, inevitably influencing innovative fly introductions into the main stream of fly-fishing. In working with hundreds of fly designers, and reviewing thousands of potential fly patterns, Bruce applied his knowledge of fishing and fly design to shape trends, drive innovation, and inspire fly tyers to push the envelope in their craft.

“Bruce was as passionate about his job as any person I have ever met. He was honest, intense, funny, creative and brash all at the same time. I penned the name “Il Duce” (the dictator) to him and he loved it! You both loved him and wanted to strangle him at the same time. The end result was that he was always pushing the envelope to get the best out of his fly designers. Love him or hate him you always knew where you stood with Bruce. He wore his feelings right on his shirtsleeves and that is what I admired about him most. I already miss our after hours talks about flies and their attributes to particular fisheries.”
— Henry Cowen, Writer, Guide, Umpqua Signature Fly Designer

In addition to his tireless work with Umpqua’s Signature Designers and invaluable contributions to Umpqua’s sales and marketing efforts, Bruce was a highly sought after source for all types of media and authors. His insights and knowledge of fisheries, fly design and angling in general often appeared in trade magazines and other publications. In 2012, Fly Tyer Magazine bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award to Bruce for his many contributions to fly tying and fly-fishing.

“Clearly, the mold was broken when Bruce was created. He had the rare gift of knowing what minor tweaks an average fly needed to make it a major hit, and in his words, he could “smell money” when it came to new flies that would light up a retailers cash register. Bruce loved Umpqua and loved flies and even a complete stranger could sense that passion within minutes of meeting him. Bruce was one of a kind and won’t easily be forgotten!”
— Jeff Fryhover, President and CEO, Umpqua Feather Merchants

Bruce undeniably played an important role in the sport’s and the industry’s evolution. Bruce will be missed by many people in the fly-fishing community.

Rest in Peace, friend...