Being based in Melbourne invariably means getting up early and driving to a lovely stretch of water somewhere. I’m not usually a big fan of being cooped up in a car but with fly fishing it’s different — I actually love the trip. Why? Well, because it usually involves turning on my fave tunes, trundling along through gorgeous scenery, and letting my mind aimlessly wander down memory lane. There’s just something about the music, the promise of fish, and the magic of the Australian bush that lets me step back through time and make sense of it all.
There are tracks that transport me to moments I’d like to relive, people I’d love to see again, places I dream of returning to, and events I’d give anything to change. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh god, what a downer.” It’s not, it’s unbelievably uplifting because I’m not ruminating on my thoughts, I’m reframing them in a positive and peaceful space to prevent them from being destructive. And it doesn’t stop when the car does, fly fishing itself is a means of catharsis. I know this from personal experience, but I’ve also seen it in others when they open up about stuff they’d be uncomfortable talking about without a rod in their hand. I guess that’s why I’m addicted to fly fishing — because a day on the water feels genuinely cleansing on so many levels.
So, what does my playlist look like then? Well, I’ll be honest, I’m a bit nervous because revealing my taste in music opens a window to my soul and invites judgement. It’s similar to the vulnerability I feel fishing in front of other anglers I admire. What do I mean? Well, I always hope that even if I throw the odd crappy cast they’ll tease me kindly and put me back on the right track. Luckily, nine times out of ten, this has been the way.
Fly fishing is a sport in which foibles are forgiven because everyone understands they’re bound together on a life-long learning journey where people rarely achieve perfection. With this in mind, I’m going to let you into my fave fishing beats safe in the knowledge that I won’t receive too much ridicule! Instead, I hope it inspires a little riverside toe tapping and laughter because after all, fly fishing is a bit like life — a great game you’d be wise not to take too seriously.
The Prodigy — No Good (start the dance)
My go-to trance anthem in high school, this reminds me of my bestie Emma Urquhart. We dreamed of throwing mad shapes to this tune in cool Manchester clubs and made fake IDs to make it a reality. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t… and we ended up in second rate venues full of creeps trying to pick up underagers like us. Good times.
Seal & Adamski — Killer
Did this record launch the 1990s acid house movement? Who knows, but it certainly caused a lot of grief with my big sister because I used to pinch it from her room all the time. She said I was a loser and should get my own taste. This particular row still makes me smile today. Sorry, Jo.
David Bowie — Rebel, Rebel
Growing up gay in the English countryside is crap. David Bowie is one of my heroes and this song never failed to fire me up. The lyrics empowered me to not give a rats about who I am, and the joy it gave me to defiantly sing them kept me going when everything felt biege.
London Beat — I’ve been
thinking about you
As a teenager I had a massive crush on my best friend. This song kinda summed up everything about this tragic unrequited love. I’m chuckling about it right now because while I was certainly thinking about you (and you know who you are), you didn’t give me a second thought. And that’s okay, because I’m over it now.
The Divinyls — I touch myself
I’m surprised I can actually remember this song given where I used to listen to it. It was a place called the ‘Vodka Bar’ in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne that used to serve criminally cheap booze on Sunday nights. This was a crowd favourite and when it played the place went off. I’m still friends with the people who regularly picked me up off the floor on Monday mornings. Thanks, guys.
Oasis — Talk Tonight
A close friend killed himself just be-fore I went to university. My world collapsed. This song was one of my favourites at the time. Its melancholy lyrics about stopping someone from throwing it all in still echo in my heart today as loudly as they did back then. I will always love you, Roger.
Simon and Garfunkel —
El Condor Pasa
I can still smell the wild thyme on the road from Vouliagmeni to Sounio in Greece where I used to live. We were visiting some archaeological site I can’t remember. What I recall is my mum behind the wheel, red hair blowing in the wind, singing this. It made me feel both uneasy and free. She separated from my dad a few months later. I guess she’d rather have been a hammer than a nail.
Journey — Don’t stop believin’
This will always remind me of my bestie Rach. It was a rainy London night and I had a rotten cold. She wanted me to go out with her to this night club called ‘Power Ballads’. I said no. She told me to stop being so bloody soft. I went, totally lost my voice, and had one of the best nights ever. The moral of the story? Take some Codral and keep on partying.
Lenny Kravitz — Again
Back in 2002, I packed up my life in the UK and travelled to Australia. I had $1500 in the bank and a bag full of unsuitable clothes. I mean, I didn’t pack a jumper because I thought the sun shone year-round. I was in a shite spot to be honest and didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily, I met the love of my life and she set me straight. I remember playing this song on repeat because there’s this line in there that summed up how I felt about her: “All of my life, where have you been.” Fifteen years on, and I still count my blessings every day.
Foals — Mountain At My Gates
Like fly fishing, life’s not always easy. It takes effort to stay strong and when things get tough I sometimes get daunted. I love this song because it’s about donning the wet weather gear, clipping on the crampons, and digging deep because you can climb the mountain (or catch that special fish) if you put the work in.