Vale John Dunphy

On January 8, 2015, Australian recreational fishing lost one of its true giants with the passing of John Dunphy, better known to many simply as Dunph’, JD or the Silver Fox. John was far and away the most influential figure in the local tackle industry for well over four decades, and leaves a massive legacy.

Born in Kogarah, on Sydney’s south side, in August, 1943, John grew up in Allawah, Jannali and later in Herne Bay (better known today as Riverwood). His passion for fishing started early, with frequent family outings to the Georges and Hawkesbury Rivers, mostly chasing bream and jewfish.

After stints working as a postal officer and rent inspector, John entered the sporting goods industry in 1964 as a storeman and packer for Jones and Joseph in Redfern, before being head-hunted as a cadet for the Dunlop organization. Later, he went into business with John Glover, establishing a successful sporting and fishing tackle wholesale company that operated for 14 years.

In 1981, JD founded Dunphy Sports/Fishing Imports. Shortly afterwards, he accepted an offer from Shimano Japan to set up an Australian and New Zealand arm of their fast-growing tackle empire…the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the following decades, John and his team (including brother Terry and several other family members) took Shimano from being a relatively obscure name in this part of the world to the position of market leadership in Australia and the Oceania region. Along the way, John personally conceived and developed several ground-breaking tackle technologies, including the original Baitrunner reel that went on to be a huge hit around the globe.

Throughout the course of his very full life, John became a highly respected figure, both within the fishing industry and well beyond it. An untiring advocate for sustainable fishing and the maintenance of access rights for all anglers, Dunph’ was often consulted by government departments, becoming heavily involved in a host of projects and committees, on top of his already massive corporate workload.

In 2008, Shimano Japan acquired 100 per cent ownership of Dunphy Sports/Fishing Imports, but John remained with the company in an advisory capacity until 2011 and was much loved and admired by his Japanese counterparts.

Following a lengthy battle with cancer, John finally succumbed to his illness while undergoing specialist treatment in Osaka, Japan, surrounded by his closest family and regularly visited by his old colleagues from Shimano.

John Dunphy’s death has rocked the Australian recreational fishing community and elicited an unprecedented outpouring of grief and plaudits for a much-loved man.

“JD was greatly respected for his vision,” wrote magazine publisher and well-known Top End angling identity, Alex Julius. “Not only in respect of the Australian fishing trade, but also for his acumen in the area of fishing politics. He was also the first to understand the value of the fishing media to the Australian tackle industry, including his support of TV fishing shows.”

Following Gough Whitlam’s death last year, Paul Keating famously eulogised that there had been “an Australia before Whitlam, and then a different Australia after Whitlam”. It can equally be said that there was the world of Australian recreational fishing before John Dunphy, and a very different fishing world after him. A figure of John’s magnitude and importance to our industry and beloved sport comes along perhaps once or twice in a century. He will be sorely missed, not least by those of us lucky enough to call him a friend.


John Dunphy was the most influential figure in the Australian fishing industry for well over four decades.

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