I met Mike Didonna, owner of the Deerfield Fly Shop, while fishing. I’ve heard great things about his shop, and so, was excited to meet him. He writes great river reports and has a cool Instagram feed. I’m very grateful that he was willing to do this interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where were you born and raised?
Born and raised in Northampton, MA. Currently reside in Deerfield, MA, with my wife and two kids.
How did you get into fly fishing?
I remember watching one of the fishing shows on TNN on Sunday mornings. They had an episode about fly fishing. I was 10 years old, and it had me interested. My Dad bought me a fly rod at the Springfield Sportsman’s Show a short time after.
Casting poppers for bass in a pond at a golf course I worked at is how I started. Ten years ago, when I decided to get back into fly fishing, is when I started going after trout and became obsessed with it.
What do you like most about it?
The challenge of catching fish is exciting, but, being outdoors is what I like most. You can be in a river and feel like you are 100 miles out in the wilderness. You can take in your surroundings and forget about what’s going on in the world.
What are your favorite rivers to fish?
The Deerfield is my favorite for sure. I like to fish the Westfield and Millers, and we have lots of smaller rivers in the area that are fun when the conditions are right.
What is your favorite kind of fly fishing?
I’ve really been into tightline nymphing lately. Swinging wet flies and streamers gets my heart pumping, too.
Any favorite flies?
Whatever the fish are eating.
Tell us more about the fly shop and how it got started?
I was looking to change my career and it was my wife who mentioned the idea. I was skeptical at first considering all the small tackle shops that were closing. We have all this water around us and no fly shop close by.
The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. So, I decided to look into it. The more I worked on it, the more momentum it got, and here we are today. It will be our third year in business this week.
What do you folks offer in terms of products and services?
We offer fly fishing and fly tying equipment and materials from beginner to advanced. We also offer guide services and instruction on the Deerfield, Westfield and Millers.
Fly tying classes are held during the winter months. Advice on anything is always offered, and, so, don’t hesitate to ask.
The Deerfield is massive. Any advice for someone new to the river?
Pick a spot, and just go to it. Any river can be intimidating the first time, until you step into it and make that first cast.
Check what the water flow is before and during, if possible. Under 1,000 cfs is ideal. Give us a call or stop in, and we can point you in the right direction as well.
What flies and techniques tend to work well at the Deerfield?
Nymphing with Pheasant Tail, Caddis and Stonefly nymphs will be consistent. You can never have too many olive and black Woolly Buggers.
We have good Caddis and Mayfly hatches throughout the year, and Hoppers and Terrestrials run late July through September. Soft Hackles will produce some vicious strikes as well. If you are willing to change your techniques and depth, you’ll be successful.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We are holding our 3rd Annual Open House on Saturday, March 3, 9 am to 4 pm. We have two great presenters and fly tiers throughout the day. You can learn more here at DeerfieldFlyShop.com.