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Mary Dette Clark, Daughter of Catskills Legends Walt and Winnie Dette, Passes at 93

Clark ran the hallowed Dette Flies and was herself a remarkable fly tier.

Mary Dette Clark, Daughter of Catskills Legends Walt and Winnie Dette, Passes at 93

Mary Dette with her grandson, Joe Fox, in the Dette Fly Shop on Cottage St. in Roscoe, New York. Joe, along with his fiance Kelly, now own the Dette Fly Shop.  But they moved it from its long-time location on Cottage street to a new location in Livingston Manor several years ago. (Photo courtesy of Paul Weamer)

Mary Dette Clark, the daughter of Catskill fly-tying legends Walt and Winnie Dette has passed away at the age of 93.

According to a Facebook post by Dette Flies: “Mary was a member of the CFFCM [Catskill Fly fishing Center & Museum] Hall Of Fame, a Lifetime Achievement award recipient from the Federation of Fly Fishers along with other accolades. Mary was fond of sharing her tying skills and techniques to those who asked. She would gladly smile and lend her expertise.”

Dette flies have long been heralded as some of the most beautiful and effective flies in the world as the shop promises rigorous quality control over their imitations.

Longtime friend Paul Weamer, who tied flies for the Dette Fly Shop, said she and her husband Gene felt like family.

“Mary was the most talented fly tyer I have ever seen,” Weamer said in his own Facebook post. “But if you’d tell her that, she’d most likely dismissively wave her hand at you, smile, and say, ‘Ah, baloney.’ She was too down-to-earth, humble, and unpretentious for such flattery.”

A sign for Dette Trout Flies fly shop.
The sign that stood in front of the Dette Fly Shop on Cottage Street for many years. (Photo courtesy of Paul Weamer)

Dette Flies was established in 1928 and is said to be the oldest family-run fly shop in the world. It is currently located in Livingston Manor, New York, and sells flies, fly-tying materials, and other fly fishing gear, along with guided trips, casting lessons, and more.

Clark’s father Walt Dette, whose fly-fishing legacy traces back to the “Father of Dry-Fly Fishing” Theodore Gordon, designed the renowned Delaware Adams and Coffin Fly patterns. Mary herself designed flies, such as the Spotter Midge.

“Mary paid her fly tiers more than any other shop would; she always had their best interests in mind,” Weamer continued. “She remembered what it was like for her parents to try to make part of their living from fly fishing, and she wanted to help. Mary would always try to balance her fly orders between easy, quick-to-tie flies and more time-consuming patterns. So, she’d order dozens of my CDC Burke Emergers to counterbalance the time it would take me to tie the 20 dozen Muddler Minnows she requested; Mickey Finn and Red and White hair-wing streamers to help with the dozens of parachute dry flies she asked me to tie.”

A service will be planned at a later date in the Catskills to honor her, according to the Facebook post.




A man tying flies behind a desk in a fly shop.
The Dette Fly Shop on Cottage St where Mary ran it, eventually with Joe's help before he took over the shop. ((Photo courtesy of Paul Weamer)

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