Fly Fishing Jazz: Ode To “Charlie Brown”

October 22, 2011 By: Kirk Deeter

Photo Andy Ward

Late season mission. Photo by Andy Ward

A FEW YEARS AGO I ignited a storm of angling controversy by asking whether or not it was “cool” to fly fish while listening to an iPod.

As you might imagine, I heard it from both sides: The “how in the world can you tune out the glory of Mother Nature?” people scolded me. The “who are you to suggest what’s right and wrong on the river?” people felt their rights had been called into question.

Here’s the confession: I do listen to my iPod (though very rarely) when I fly fish. And here’s why that matters in a “Fly Fishing Jazz” context: When I do, I almost always listen to jazz music. My favorite playlist, for the record, comes from the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

You might better know the Vince Guaraldi Trio for the soundtracks of all the “Peanuts” shows you saw on television. “Linus ‘n Lucy” is the jam that “Schroeder” played on his piano. It’s that happy-walking swing beat behind the piano melody that keeps me plugging away on the river in a very lighthearted mood.

And besides, if the fly angler in you doesn’t at least sometimes feel like Charlie Brown—when the football gets whisked away right as you attempt the kick—well, you obviously haven’t been fly fishing very long.

Fly fishing is the ultimate realm of dealing with frustration, and setbacks. And yet, it’s the Charlie Brown who generally stays the course, deals with the situation at hand and perseveres, and becomes the hero at the end of the day.

The day someone makes a yellow polyester fly fishing shirt with a brown zig-zag design around the middle, I’ll not only buy it, but wear it with pride—on the river, the saltwater flats, wherever. To the extent an angler can embrace the fact that he or she is Charlie Brown whenever they hit that water with a long rod in hand, the sooner they’ll find comfort in this sport.

By no means am I advocating for iPod fishing, but if you go there, check out the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and see if you can’t find the beat, mood, and Charlie Brown spirit.

When that 20-inch brown trout spits your fly and leaves you humbled on the bank, you might find yourself uttering, “Rats.”

It could be worse.