Vises (fly tying type, not drinking too much)

Wanted to know what vise you tying types use? Why you use that particular model and what you would recommend to someone just starting out?

What do you know about the Nor-Vise?

Thanks for your help!



Active Member
Writing product reviews for a Fly fishing magazine, I have had the opportunity to try quite a few different vises. That said, one of my favorites is still my old Regal Inex. I like being able to just stick the hook in, release the lever and go to tying.

In the case of fully rotary vises, I've used the Renzetti Traveler and the Griffin Odyssey extensively. They are almost identical in design and the Griffin is about half the price of the Renzetti.

The vise I've been using most recently is the Dyna-King Kingfisher, a compact, very simple, cleanly-designed pedestal vise that goes for less than a hundred dollars. I'm going to buy it and make it part of my travel kit for tying in camp or motel. There's nothing remarkable about it, just a vise that's able to everything that a vise should do.

I'm currently trying to learn how to use Norm Norlander's Nor-Vise. I say "trying to learn how" deliberately; the Nor-Vise is the most truly unique vise on the market today. It comes with a video of Norm demonstrating the techniques that he has developed for use with it. Dubbing, spinning dubbing brushes, building floss bodies, palmering hackle, any number of things can be done much more quickly and easily with this vise. Oddly enough I know a number of people who own them but who who use them just as if they were conventional vises.

Another, little-known, vise that I reviewed was the Strait-Way vise from Dave Strait (of Lyle, Washington). It's a really clean design utilizing a unique method of clamping the hook that leaves more room to work around it than any other vise I've ever tried.
I too, have tried a number of vises and am currently working on "learning" the Nor-Vise method. I just got mine as a gift from a friend of Norms, who got me the complete package as well as a few extra's. Prior to using the Nor-Vise I was a semi-commercial tyer, tying for a shop and lots of friends, friends uncles cousins, ect.

I would agree with Preston that most people just use the Nor-vice as a standard vice. If you are not intent on using the vise to it's full intent, I would not buy it. The clamping mechanism is not very convenient in my opinion. It requres that you turn a couple knobs and really clamp them down good and tight. Seems like a small thing, but when you are used to a regal or a griffin patriot, when all you have to do is flip a lever or squeeze, it's a pain and it takes longer. The thing with the Nor-Vice is this; it takes practice. If you have been tying for long you have to force yourself to use the Norm-Vice like it is meant to be used. It doesn't come naturally.

The other pain is the bobbin. To use the system right you have to use the Norlander bobbin and that requires a different spool for the thread, so you have to change the thread off of the spool it comes on onto the Norlander spool, using a drill or the vice(slow). In the long run the vice does allow me to tye flies faster. The one advantage to being a beginner would be that you could learn on the system and wouldn't have to overcome standard tying habits.

The vise I had previously decided on was the griffin patriot. I Liked it for it's versitality and ease of use. It is not a true rotary vise though, just rotates. I believe the price is reasonable, but don't recal exactly, because it was given to me as well.

A friend of mine had a cheaper griffen model (used the same clamping mechanism as the oddyssy) and tightening screws stripped out, so you might beware that you usually get what you pay for.

If you live in the south puget sound area I would be happy to show you my Nor-Vice or let you borrow my video.
I am a real beginner and agree that since I've never used any other vise / method it might make it somewhat easier to learn on the Nor-vise. I live in the Tri-Cities and have a buddy that ties on the Nor-vise and he's willing to teach me, no matter what type of vise I get. Watching him tie it looks pretty easy (I know it's not) but then he's been doingit for a long time. Amazing how that works!

Thanks for the info and the offer to use your video.

I hope to get more thoughts from those tiers out there on what's the best vise!



New Member
Well is you want to shell out big bucks for unnessasary but nice features go with the nor vise or a dyna king barracudda. ZI recomend the renzetty traveler cam jaw vice. Or a Crowne type vice
Tight Lines From Alaska

Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
I tie on a Thompson Model 2, its a simple inexpensive vice that works well for trout and salmon flies. I am currently tying flies up to 6/0 for some bluewater fly fishing off San Diego and this vice is not the best for hooks that big. I know that I can get a bigger set of jaws, but no one in Seattle seems to stock them. I am currently pondering a Regal or a Renzetti Traveller for my next vise.

As a beginner, I would not buy a Nor-Vise, as they are so radically different, you will have trouble tying on anything else. I have a friend who wanted to sell me one at a good discount, and I passed. It was too weird for the tying I do. I don't want to relearn my tying, I want to tie the way I do, better.

I have been using a Regal pedestal vice for about 10years and am very pleased. I paid about $150 back then but it has served me well tying large and small.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
I might be old---but I'm good.

I thought that I would add my two cents to here. I have an vise that I bought from Gorrila and sons. It is big and bulky, but it's jaws are good. I tie from size 18 to size 6 on it and don't have any problems. I don't know what I would do with a good vise. It rotates and does everything that I ask it to do. But then again I just tie for myself. After looking at my flies I know why. :WINK Jim S. :TONGUE
I started out with an old Thompson model A knock off. It worked ok, but the day I got my Renzetti Traveller my tying improved 1000% It got a lot faster as well.

There are a number of vices that probably work just as well, so your best bet may be to go down to the local fly shop and see if they will take some out of the bok for you and let you fiddle with them.

Rest your hand on it like you are tying and check to see if it feels to big or small, and if it wiggles when you put the weight of your hand on it. If you are looking at rotaries, spin them around a little and make sure the action is nice and smooth. Also, put a hook in the jaws and wiggle it around to make sure it holds well enough for you. Also, especially with rotary vices, make sure that there is enough room behind the jaws for your fingers to hold little tiny things in place without being cramped up. Hacke tails, biots, etc. are hard to place when you are cramming your fingers into tight space.

Finally, make sure the base won't slide around, or if it is a c-clamp, make sure it won't mar the coffee table, dining room table, etc.

Enough rambling, now go test drive some vices.


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
I was always curious, what is the difference between a vise that rotates and a true rotary? I've heard some tout "true rotary" but have yet to see difference. Unless it's a ball bearing thing.

I too started out on a thompson. Suited me fine, but wanted to have the rotary aspect. Tried the Norvise. Though it was cool, was hard for me to get hang of, so didn't buy. I use a griffin rotary. Works great for me. Been tying for about 20 years now, and this has helped out my productivity immensly (and has helped my patterns stay more uniform).

Can't complain about the Griffin and it's price. I'd like to have a Barracuda, but am getting by with the Griffin.

You haven't lived until you've run a cataraft. Friends don't let friends run Outcasts.
What happened to my post???

It just disappeared!!!


Okay. So Was telling everyone not to use the Nor as a normal vice. As you can see, no one really sells them like the Thompson or the Regal or the Renzetti. I tie with the Thompson I bought 10 years ago. i don't have the ability to see all sides of my fly without actually peering my head in between the lamp and the vice. I would suggest against using a Nor unless you tie onlu wooly buggers and griffiths gnats. They are just not good for versatility. A true rotary is the latest technology that exists today. This means that the fly will rotate on the shank axis. This is a good design but it is very costly. I think the Regal or the Renzetti Traveller is the way to go if you have the money to put down on them. If not, go with the Thompson. It costs around $50 and if you do the calculations, $1 a year for a good vise that lasts 50 years. If you are rich, but a good vice and hire someone to teach you how to use it and tie flies with it. If you think that the vice is what makes a fly look so good, think again. It ain't the flyrod that catches the fish.
Thanks to everyone who responded to my question. I've been out of town for a week and didn't have access to a computer or I would have thanked you all sooner. Still not sure that I want to take the time (and money) to start tying my own flies. I'm not a real patient type (except when I'm actually casting a dry fly) and I enjoy stopping in a various fly shops for info. I feel that I should help them out a little so they're still there next year.

I also figured out what set up costs might be (not the most expensive but no cheapo stuff either) and I can buy a lot of flies before I cover my initial costs for equipment.

I'll think about it a little longer and again thanks. The information I've gleened from this forum has definitely helped!



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