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Umpqua Feather Merchants remember Bruce Olsen

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Bruce Olsen, who has died aged 67, enjoyed a distinguished career at Umpqua Feather Merchants.

Bruce Olsen, one of the most respected figures in fly fishing, has died at his home in Superior, Colorado. He was 67.

Olsen joined Umpqua Feather Merchants in 1989 and played an important part in the development of the company in a number of senior roles, including Sales Manager and New Fly Manager.

An intense character with the ability to influence those around him, he is equally recognised for his contribution to the fly fishing world at large, shaping trends and inspiring fly-tyers to push the envelope.

He was instrumental in the development of Umpqua’s Royalty Signature Fly Designer Programme, which introduced innovative patterns into mainstream fly fishing.

Umpqua fly designer Henry Cowen remembers Olsen as honest, funny, creative and brash. “He was as passionate about his job as any person I have ever met. I called him ‘Il Duce’ (the dictator) and he loved it. You both loved him and wanted to strangle him at the same time.

“He was always pushing his fly designers to get the best from them. Love him or hate him, you always knew where you stood with Bruce. He wore his feelings on his sleeve and that is what I admired most about him.”

Olsen was a frequent contributor to the angling media and in 2012 he received a lifetime achievement award from Fly Tyer Magazine.

Umpqua President and CEO, Jeff Fryhover, said Olsen was one of a kind. “He had the rare gift of tweaking an average fly to make it a major hit. In his words, he could ‘smell the money’ when it came to new flies that would light up a retailer’s cash register. Even a stranger could sense his passion within minutes of meeting him.”


Filed In: Flies, Product News