The club was founded in 1978 by the late Steve Parton, and a number of like-minded fishermen following the opening of fishing at Rutland Water in 1977.
This group of enthusiasts worked day and night to get the club off the ground. The Inaugural General Meeting was held at the Crown Hotel, Oakham on April 13th 1978 under the chairmanship of the late John Starkey.
At this time, there was only a handful of members but, with a lot of hard work by Steve’s and his workforce friends, the numbers rapidly increased and at one time in the late eighties, we had to put on a membership limit of 200!
Steve Parton 1948-2013
Early days at Rutland
The main reason for the formation of the club, was to gather together a bunch of enthusiastic fly-fisherman who would encourage many more people of all ages to come into the sport and to be able to have a say in the management of their beloved fishery.
We chose the Crown Hotel, Oakham as our headquarters for official business and where some entertainment and a bar could be provided for members during the closed season. This ranged from speakers, to tackle auctions and fly-tying demonstrations and committee meetings. We also used the Victoria Hall where there was more space available for auctions and even some casting demonstrations.
Juniors event run by John Wadham
Another aim of RWFF was to encourage young people to take up the sport of flyfishing. As a result of this, we had a very active junior section. The success of this was down to tireless efforts of the late Roger McCarthy and subsequently by Chris Evans.
This branch of the club produced some very big names in the field of flyfishing whether still-water or river. Many of these have gone on to great things including writing for magazines, instructing and sweeping the board of trophies.
It wasn’t long before Rutland Water Fly Fishers and Anglian Water were working together on all aspects of flyfishing, with some members being invited to act as honorary bailiffs. Eventually, we requested Anglian Water Recreation staff, to give us the benefit of their plans at an annual forum prior to the opening of each season.
Later, senior members of the committee, were invited to sit on the Anglian Water users group working with David Moore, Jon Marshall and their staff. This enabled us, as a club, to represent the views of all anglers coming fish at Rutland Water.
Jon Marshall 2007
David Moore and John Maitland 2007
In 1985, John Wadham, took over the reins as secretary from Steve Parton and commenced producing newsletters. These were very basic reports on A4 sheets, more resembling a government White Paper than an angling publication! These gradually improved as time went on.
As technology advanced, a wonderful product –the “Puddle”, a brilliant magazine, the envy of other similar flyfishing clubs, was produced by Rob Waddington in association with Sean Cutting, the website manager. These newsletters, as much as anything else are essential to the club’s success and what keeps us all in touch.
Over the years, thanks to the efforts of our Treasurers and Auditors RWFF finances have always been in very good shape.
Also, thanks to the efforts of our Club Captains, over the years, we have done very well and won many accolades in the competition field from the Association of Major Clubs to entry into National Competitions.
Major Clubs Team
By 1996 when the late John Maitland took over the chairmanship from Eddie Hein, preceded by Tom Saville, we had approximately 200 members from far-flung places such as Orkney in the UK and even, some European continental members.
The club has been involved in a number of charity events at Rutland water. This included help on opening days for the disabled and litter picks. Also, assisting, over the last 20 years, with the Water Aid events which have now realised £223,000.
Sean Cutting and John Wadham
Over the years Dave Porter has done so much for the club. This includes Sunday Meets, Open Days, Thwart boards and of course the Bus Trips.
Chris Evans, when Chairman, made an inestimable contribution in taking the club forward into a new era.
In 2012, following a tremendous amount of work by Chris, RWFF were the first fly fishing club to achieve Club Mark status with the Angling Trust.
Dave Porter with, left to right, Pat Bonner and Josie Porter
Throughout the lifetime of the club, RWFF has always had a very cordial relationship with Anglian Water and a continued great working relationship with the present Fishery staff.
Sadly, alas, many of our founding fathers have now passed away: but it is good to report that their work continues and the club is still at the forefront of still water fly fishing.
This article was written by John Wadham, November 2021.
Water Aid group