Mike Valla has been tying Catskill style dry flies for over 40 years. At the age of 15, he wandered the Beaverkill and Willowemoc rivers, alone, on a days fishing adventure having taken a bus from his home 65 miles to the west of the Catskill rivers. It was at that time that famed Catskill Fly Tier Walt Dette found him fishing along the stream not far from his fly shop. Walt, and his equally famous wife Winnie, opened their home to him recognizing his early love for fly fishing and fly tying. He stayed with the Dette family during early teenage summers, and throughout college years, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was during those times that the Dettes revealed to him their techniques in the tying of Catskill style dry flies and also helped him improve his own skills at the vice.
Itís amazing how you sometimes meet people in this world of ours. I was actually introduced to Mike by a Tups Indispensable a year or so ago. At the time Mike was researching flies for his new book to be released in August 2009 called, Tying Catskill- Style Dry Flies, he Googled Tups Indispensable looking for its origins and related material, came across an article that I wrote for Fly Talk all about the Tups a few years back and made contact with me. Well it all developed from there and you can read about it in his new book. If you wish to read the article on the Tups go to Fly Talk; it is there for all to see. Mick Hall
Valla received his Bachelors
Degree from Cornell University where he studied fisheries biology and
Natural Resources under Professor Dwight A. Webster. For several years
he was employed as a Research Specialist in the Department of Entomology at
Cornell. Thereafter, he entered Georgetown University where he
received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He is presently on the
Active Medical/Dental staff of Glens Falls Hospital, in the Adirondack
Mountain region of New York State, where he works as a public health dentist
treating disadvantaged children.
Valla has published articles in Fly Fisherman, The American Fly Fisher, The Conservationist and in a variety of other lay magazines and professional journals. He has tied flies in many regional fly fishing shows and gatherings.
Today his Catskill Style Dry Flies hang alongside those of his mentors, Walt and Winnie
Dette, at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum in Livingston Manor, New York.
He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum.
His book, Tying Catskill Style Dry Flies, released in August 2009, explores the rivers,
early fly fishers, fly tyers and characteristics and tying techniques of the Catskill Style
Dry Fly. He lives in Stony Creek New York with his wife Valerie. He has three grown children.
The Beaverkill River, one of the most famous trout rivers
America, located in the Catskill region.
The Dette home/shop in the early 1950s before the highway Route 17 was constructed.