• Pic: Adrian Gray IGFA
    Pic: Adrian Gray IGFA
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AMERICAN saltwater fly fishing pioneer Billy Pate has died.

Pate was a frontrunner in the pursuit of big saltwater fish on fly fishing tackle, in particular tarpon and billfish. A world record 188-pound tarpon he caught in 1982 on 16-pound tippet remained unbeaten for 21 years. He was the first angler to catch a blue marlin and a black marlin on fly tackle, and the first to catch six billfish species on fly.

Pate was instrumental in creating a tarpon tagging system in Florida and was a founder or board member of the Everglades Protection Association, Trout Unlimited, Bonefish & Tarpon Unlimited, the Don Hawley Foundation, and the Pate Foundation.

In 1967 Pate and Florida Keys guide George Hommelin created one of the first destination angling companies in the US, Worldwide Anglers, which they sold in 1995 to Bass Pro Shops. In 1976, Pate and Tibor Reels' Ted Juracsik designed the first readily available anti-reverse tarpon fly reel. The reel went on to feature in 225 world records.

Billy Pate was inducted into the IGFA Hall of Fame in 2003.

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