Fly Fishing Jazz: Matching the Music

Fly Fishing Stonefly

Stonefly awaiting imitation. Photo by jksnijders

I like to listen to music when I tie flies. It reinforces a free thinking mood, and if you looked inside my fly boxes, you’ll know I’m not very good at following patterns, recipes, and instructions. Some would call that attention deficit disorder, though I prefer to think of it as improvisation.

The other day I got to thinking about music, and how there are songs that just beg to have a fly developed and named after them. They aren’t all jazz songs by any stretch.

For example, country music really lends itself to fly pattern names. If I ever concocted a big dry fly for throwing into undercut banks for trout, I’m going to name it the “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” (Ray Wylie Hubbard). It’d have a red thread collar, and lots of grizzly hackle.

In the jazz realm, I think there should be a fly named “Quasimodo” (Charlie Parker Sextet). Of course, it would be some sort of hunchback streamer fly, but it would have to undulate with a snappy, silky smooth groove swing, just like Bird on an alto sax solo.

My alternative music fly would be “Patricia the Stripper” (The Wombats). That one would probably be a dry fly, very sparse on black hackle, with a prominent gold post.

In the rap genre, it I’m split on whether my fly would be “Bust a Move” (Young M.C.) or “Baby Got Back” (Sir Mix A Lot). Either would be a streamer, of course. “Bust a Move” just smacks of how a fly fisher should work a streamer after it hits the water. “Baby Got Back” would be a reverse-tapered fly, triple-wrapped at the end of the hook shank, and I bet it would work.

And when we start talking classic rock, Jackson Browne deserves a nod for “The Pretender.” After all, that’s what every fly is, isn’t it? I think the Parachute Adams is probably the best all-around pretender, at least for a dry fly.

How about an all-white dry fly—ice-dubbed body, white hackle, calf tail post, with a Krystal Flash tail? The “Crystal Ship” (The Doors)?

Or wrap as many rubber legs, undulating marabou, and flashy accents into a nymph and call it the “Livin’ Thing” (Electric Light Orchestra).

A traditional Irish wet fly? “The Wild Rover” (preferably of the Dropkick Murphys variety). It veers this way, flutters that way, then drops into the feeding zone.

And after serious thought about the perfect emerger fly—one that’s half above the water, half below, and wobbles as it floats cockeyed through the run, I’ve decided that “God’s Own Drunk” (Jimmy Buffett) is a spot-on moniker.

Of course, someone could make a nymph fly with a peacock body, white goose wing, and gold rib, but add a purple palmered hackle or something and call it the “fly formerly known as the Prince nymph.”

Well, maybe not. But you get my drift.