Tom Sutcliffe as I know him - Fred Steynberg

Dr Tom Sutcliffe or Oom Tom as I like to call him out of respect, is a people’s person.  I don’t know the deeper side of him as well as I ought to, although I have spent many a day chasing Brownies and rainbows with him.

I do know however, that I am as comfortable in his silences as I am in debating a rare difference and that must count for something.  He is a master at his business.  When he fly fishes he does it with a passion, using flies he has created and is so well known for.  He then masterly paints and photographs his quarry and their environment and proceeds to write about his experiences in a warm, colorful, humoristic manner, sharing his love of the sport.  Oom Tom does not only possess qualities relating to fly fishing, but is judged by many as a competent and confidant motivational speaker.  He enjoys a glass of good wine fills the downstream breeze of noisy riverbanks with is pipe aroma and adores his loving family.

It is said that those who have much are trusted with much, as is the case with Oom Tom.  He reaps the generosity that he so selflessly sows, always eager to share his knowledge to whoever wants to know. He will admit that he has by no means the ability to cast a perfect line, straight and smooth, but strangely it is not this ability that makes one a good fly fisherman.  He has however mastered the art of manipulating the fly line and leader to present the correct imitation right on the spot at precisely the right moment.  To me he is a master at assessing, executing and producing around trout habitat.

In 2001 the two of us spent 5 weeks hunting rivers of N.Z. for ‘Giant Browns’, walking on average 10-12km every day and often 20-25km in a day.  We fished almost every day except for the odd wet and windy day when armed with a flask of coffee and tobacco, would drive from bridge to bridge assessing rivers.  Oom Tom is almost 28 years my senior, but was the first one up in the morning and effortlessly marched my pace, step by step every day without fail.  Each evening we would plan the next day and tie more flies than necessary and every day I learnt another amazing quality about him.  Where ever this amazing National Treasure goes he leaves a humble trail of knowledge and inspiration.