OBITUARY: Dermot Wilson

Dermot Wilson was the leading authority in the UK on dry fly fishing, particularly in the chalk streams. The poet Ted Hughes wrote of Wilson's book Fishing the Dry Fly (1957): "Wherever I open it my eye alights on a paragraph that is delightful to read, and that leads on irresistibly to the next paragraph that is equally delightful and that leads on irresistibly . . . etc etc."

He was born in Cologne in 1924, where his father was serving in the British army of occupation. He went to Winchester College, where he excelled academically and learnt to fish on the college water on the Itchen, following in the steps of those giants of fishing literature Viscount Grey of Fallodon and G.E.M. Skues. Leaving school in 1942, he joined the King's Royal Rifle Corps, in which his distinguished father Maj-Gen T.N.F. Wilson had also served. Dermot Wilson was awarded the Military Cross in North West Europe for leading a patrol behind the enemy lines. He later said, "I didn't deserve it, I just got lost." He was also mentioned in dispatches.

After the war, he took the Foreign Office exam, finishing top. But when he found he was required to learn Mandarin Chinese, and would spend more than half of his career overseas, he decided against it. Instead, he joined the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. There, in 1947, he met and married Renee Balsom, his support and mainstay for the next 49 years. He rose to become the youngest director of J. Walter Thompson, at that time, at the age of 37.

In 1968 he set up a mail- order tackle business, the first of its kind, at Nether Wallop, Hampshire, supplying a full range of fly-fishing tackle. It gave an extraordinarily good service. If you ordered flies from Dermot Wilson, they arrived in the post next day. The company grew to employ a staff of 14, many of them friends from his Greenjacket days. In 1981, ill-health caused him to give up, and the business was sold to the US company Orvis, who still run it successfully.

Dry fly fishing is a delicate art, and Wilson exemplified it. Once, on the Wiltshire Avon at Netton, I saw him kneel down and cast to a fish tucked in below the far bank. Using the finest and most delicate of tackle - a No 2 line and a tiny dry fly - he landed the fly to the inch, just above the fish, which immediately took it. A few inches wrong, and the current would have dragged the fly away. It was a perfect piece of fishing, elegantly executed.

Wilson was for some years Chairman of the Anglers Co-operative Association, which combats pollution of the rivers. He set up the Water Resources Board of the Salmon and Trout Association. He wrote for Country Life and the Field and was a popular lecturer at fishing gatherings.

Sidney Vines

Dermot Needham Furnival Wilson, fly fisherman: born Cologne 1 June 1924; married 1947 Renee Balsom (one son); died Salisbury 10 January 1996.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor