The tackle trade has paid tribute following the passing of Barrie Welham, a man who spent more than 50 years in the industry leaving an indelible mark on its evolution.

For five decades, Barrie contributed to the success of many brands, becoming the face of Mitchell, British Fly Reels and then Orvis during that time.

A true fishing legend, tournament caster and lifelong casting instructor, Barrie – who was 93 – began his industry journey in 1956 when he joined J W Youngs as a rep before travelling the world selling reels for K P Morritt.

He then moved to handling the Mitchell agency in the UK, spending 22 years with the company, and growing its presence throughout the country, helping it move from selling 2,200 reels a year to more than 240,000.

As he considered retirement in 1988, he and his partner began pulling together several key tackle businesses at the time – the likes of Taylor and Johnson, Leeda, F Stead and British Fly Reels – to buy East Anglian Rod, only to have the whole lot bought by venture capitalist firm Porter Chadburn.

Barrie was retained to run British Fly Reels but when that started having difficulties, it was in turn purchased by Orvis, who kept him on for the next decade and subsequently he remained as an ambassador for the brand.

Barrie was a regular at The Game Fair for many years and during his time with Morritts, he attended 25 consecutive shows and even more in the years that followed. He was both a hugely successful angler and an extremely keen shot.

Paying tribute on social media, Game Fair favourite Charles Jardine said: “What an astonishing man and world class fly caster. I first saw him fish and cast using a Hardy rod and Garcia automatic reel, catching huge trout at Two Lakes on his infamous BW nymph – I was about 12 and entranced!”

Hywel Morgan, who comperes the fishing demonstrations at The Game Fair and helps organise the Welsh Game Fair fishing area, added: “I only met him in later life, but he always had time to talk and was a true gent. All our thoughts and best wishes to all his family at this sad time.” In an interview with Game Fair angling consultant John Hunter for Tackle & Guns magazine back in 2005 as he marked 50 years in the industry, Barrie said: “As I look back at the industry and my career, all I can think of is how very lucky I have been.”

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