According to Dr. Ed “I started fly tying in New Jersey in November, 1944, fly fishing in April, 1945, and it’s been a continuous learning process ever since”. He began fishing the streams in New Jersey, New York, and Maine and, from there, his travels took him to Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Montana, and Alaska to fish. He even made the trek to in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to Christmas Island to fish for bonefish and Giant Trevally. But, with all his travels, one of Dr. Ed’s favorite haunts were the waters of the crystal clear waters of the Guadalupe River, in the Texas Hill Country, where he could often be found mining for rainbows and browns.
Dr. Ed Rizzolo joined the Texas Fly Fishers Club in 1983 and, within a couple of years, he took over as the Club’s Education Director, a position he held for 12 years. As part of the duties of the Education Director, he oversaw the Club’s Fly Fishing Academy, which was developed to teach all aspects of fly fishing to all levels of fly fishermen and fisherwoman, beginners to experts. A large part of the Academy is the fly tying classes which Ed became intimately involved in with. Long after he stepped down as Education Director, Dr. Ed could still be found at the Club’s two fly tying courses to support the instructors and, at times, conduct classes himself; forever passing along his knowledge and love for fly tying that he has developed during his years of teaching.
Probably Dr. Ed’s greatest contribution to the Club was to organize and oversee the Club’s annual Fly Tying Festival. On April 25, 1993, the club held its First Fly Tying Festival and, it has been an annual event every year since. The Festival’s philosophy is simple, invite a group of tyers to a one day event to demonstrate their talents and techniques at the vice and invite the general public. Tyers of all skill levels and all disciplines are invited to participate, free of charge, in a free forum setting, allowing the public to visit and learn from some of the area’s (many from out of state) premier tyers. The event also features six, one hour classroom sessions where the instructor will demonstrate their particular talents, patterns or styles of tying. The Fly Tying Festival consistently draws around 50 tyers and upwards of 200 visitors annually. While many of the tiers who participate in the event are not known beyond this area, some of the country’s most innovative fly designers and tiers with names like Bob Clouser, Tim Borski, Jack Gartside and Dave Hughes, have been on hand to take part in this great event. But still, at the center of the action was Dr. Ed, making sure everyone having a good time, as well as answering all questions and demonstrating proven techniques in the art of fly tying.
On February 7th, 2009, The Board of Directors of the Texas FlyFishers issued an official proclamation officially changing the name of the Fly Tying Festival to the Dr. Ed Rizzolo Annual Fly Tying Festival in honor of Ed’s many contributions to the success of the festival and to the Texas FlyFishers Club as a whole. The event still is as popular today as it was back in 1993 and shows no sign of slowing down.
Sadly, on June 6, 2013, Dr. Ed passed away but his memory is a constant reminder of how much he meant to those he mentored and, to the sport of fly fishing in general. It is in this vein that his fellow Texas FlyFishers club members will ensure that the Dr. Ed Rizzolo Annual Fly Tying Festival tradition carries on year after year, the first Saturday of February.