Photos and text by Josh Prestin
the spawn of Satan terrible dogs.
It was the salivating maw of a Vizsla that plucked a handful of egg-laying hens and two gallant roosters from my father’s free-ranging flock, leaving us only a quivering, molting, panic-ridden brood of chickens that refused to leave the coop at all costs. The offending demon responds to “Emerson,” christened so by my sister, who crowned him king of her condo and adopted him for a running companion at a time when she found males of the human variety in short supply.
My first interactions with the beast were outside of his specialization. While Emerson proved a great runner, his talent for carrying chickens by the neck while doing so poisoned my opinion of the breed. A lineage of prematurely butchered roosters later, Emerson inhabits a suburban estate with two adoring owners and four boys whose backyard sandbox shenanigans are guarded by the adoring, skinny, docked-tail-wagging chicken hunter.
What challenged my opinion of Vizslas was watching one hunt Chukar. Its point performance was stunning, fluid, and elegant. After seeing a Vizsla in its element I can begrudgingly acknowledge that Emerson is probably a good dog too, despite his history of feather-filled grins. He serves as playmate for my nephews and hasn’t played assassin in several years. I still disdain his breed, but if pressed, I’ll tell you that Vizslas can be darn good dogs for the right application.
Fly rods are like dogs. They have unique characteristics and qualities that can make or break an experience, depending on application. I’ve seen many customers balk at fly rods in any given price range because of something their buddy said, an industry review, or simple brand presuppositions. While it’s important to listen to input from other anglers, there are often backstories to negative opinions that explain the ruffled feathers resulting from incorrect equipment application.
If you still believe me when I say Vizslas are *necessarily* terrible dogs, you could miss out on a great family companion or hunting dog. The same is true when choosing fly rods; sweeping generalizations are as out of order in our nuanced sport as they are when describing dogs. I’m a dry-or-die, light rod fanatic, so if I tell you that a certain streamer rod you’re interested in doesn’t perform to my standards, take my opinion with a grain of salt and remember that you likely fish in a different style than I do.
Rods (lines and reels, too) are designed with specific applications in mind, often to fit a certain price point, and it is unfair to manufacturer and consumer alike to judge an item’s performance outside its intended application. There are always select rods that impress across the spectrum of fishing styles and environments—they receive hype for good reason. Just remember that there are plenty of unsung heroes in the rod market worthy of your cast, especially if you’re in the process of expanding your rod quiver to include more specialized tools.
Oh, and if you ever need help butchering chickens, give me a shout. I know a dog for that.
Josh Prestin is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer for outdoor industry publications. He’s also a published poet, itinerant academic, and avid adventure traveler. When he’s not stalking trout, you’ll find him dreaming about it behind Idaho fly shop counters. He lives in Boise with his lovely wife, where they dream of one day raising Vizsla-hunting chickens.