The idea first took shape in the hands of our founder, Dennis Black, back in 1972. As a fast and facile professional fly-tyer, Dennis was known for his skill and speed at producing hundreds of dozens of flies each year for the larger mail order houses. But he was also quick to realize how fast the demand for excellent flies would outstrip the abilities of cottage industry types like him.
To create excellent flies in sufficient supply – without sinking his standards. In response, Dennis developed (with characteristic care) a methodical plan: First, he enlisted the tying expertise of the likes of Dave Whitlock, Jack Dennis, Andy Puyans and others, to help him set the standard of excellence for Umpqua flies.
Next, Dennis established the first of what would eventually be five separate fly-tying “factories,” first in India, then in Sri Lanka, and finally in Thailand. The primary focus at each of these factories was on producing the very best fishing flies possible, constructed of the very best materials available. From the beginning, the quantity of flies produced was secondary to the quality and excellence of each fly pattern. These high standards were assured by the personal involvement of the fly designers themselves, and by the ever-increasing skill, imagination and creativity of the Umpqua production fly tiers. Today, you will find no flies more skillfully tied than those available from Umpqua Feather Merchants.
Finally, Dennis created a system of royalty payments, to reward professional tyers like Whitlock, Lefty Kreh, Randall Kaufman, Larry Dahlberg, and Bob Popovics for uniquely good patterns.