|Vises for Fly Tying|
Your vise will be your most expensive tool. You’ll use it for every fly you tie. It must be able to hold the range of hooks you require solidly and easily change hooks. It must provide good hook access to tie on material. How well it continues to do those things will be reflected in the price.
Most vises provide a good mid-range of hook sizes. The vise description should specify the range. Some vises hold almost any size of hook. Others may do so if you purchase interchangeable jaws for exceptionally large or small hooks.
Why the huge price differences? Some is because of more durable and precisely created materials. Other considerations are features, accessories that can be added, and the companies behind them.
Some of the vise differences are how they are supported – a C-Clamp, or Pedestal base. The C-Clamp, clamps to a protruding edge, if the clamp is wide enough. The pedestal mount is a plate which holds the vise allowing it to be used on any flat surface. Both hold securely. The pedestal base can be used in many more places.
Another difference is whether the jaws (head) of the vise can be rotated. Of those that can, some will rotate the hook shank on it’s own axis, these are known as “True Rotary.” They allow, not only inversion to get to the bottom of the fly and both sides without removing the hook from the vise, but even rapid application of materials. They can also be locked into stationary positions, and have become our favorites.
Here are three, of our many, options.
Renzetti Cam Traveler, Pedestal, F1235, Freshwater, specify right or left hand
Peak Rotary, Pedestal, F1215
Griffin Superior 2A, C-Clamp, F1197
Special Considerations for small flies
If you’ll be tying very small flies, you’ll find some of the following recommendations very useful. The first concern is your vise. Holding smaller hooks firmly is usually not a problem for most quality vises. Maintaining adequate tying access to the hook can be. Small, sleek jaws and an uncluttered head is a good start. Most of your standard vises and tools will do the job. Your scissors will probably be the exception for flies under size 14. Here’s what we recommend.
Four great vises for small flies.
HMH Spartan with the Omni Jaw, F1227 for size 6 down to size 20’s. If you tie a lot of 20 or smaller, consider the Micro jaw, F1232 (Not for larger than size 18).
Renzetti Traveler, Standard jaws, F1235, Freshwater, specify right or left handed use
Griffin Superior 2A, F1197
Griffin Superior 1A, F1202
Special Considerations for Saltwater, Muskie, Pike, and Bass
Tying large flies requires larger hooks, more material, more thread pressure, and stronger thread. Exceeding the vise’s hook size capacity will lead to slippage, frustration, and quite possibly damage to your vise. Scissors too, need to be heavier, longer, and sharp enough to repeatedly cut through tougher material. Longer, stronger bobbins are a real plus. There are a few specialty tools which can help out as well. Other than that, most of your basic essential tools will serve you well.
If you will be tying many larger flies, here are a few vises you should consider.
The Renzetti Saltwater Cam Traveler, F1236. The saltwater jaws hold size 4 to 8/0 hooks.
The Peak Rotary Vise, F1215. Purchase the additional saltwater jaws, F1219, for hooks up to 4/0. The standard jaws take you from size 28 to 2/0.
Wolff Atlas Rotary, F1222. One set of jaws holds size 32 to 7/0. Do get the Wolff Bobbin Cradle for this, F1225.
HMH Spartan. If you tie greater than 2/0, we recommend the Magnum Jaw F1233. Hook size 10 - 6/0.