Fly Tying Vise Advice

#17
Thank you all for the advice.... especially FT, I appreciate you taking the time to write down all that great advice. It will definitively influence what I purchase when I set up my fly tying station
 

troutloop

Pescando Con Mosca
#18
I tie a lot on a renzetti traveler and it is great. I also have a regel vise for tying big flies those are two vises that seem to be pretty well priced.
 
#19
Here are my thoughts on buying tying tools based on 47 years of tying experience, 17 years as a professional commercial tyer, having tied in the neighborhood of 3 million flies, and having taught several hundred folks how to tie.

1) The vise is the most important tool you will need because it needs to hold a hook without slippage and without requiring too much pressure (which would damage and even break many hooks as you tie). There is nothing more frustrating than having the hook slip when you are nearly finished with a fly.

2) since the vise is the most important tool you need to tie flies, buy the best vise you can afford, not the most expensive All you need is a good, solid vise many of which can be gotten for under $80.00 or so new retail.

3) Never, Never, Never in a million years buy a cheap imported vise. They are false economy. They have poor fit and finish, don't hold hooks well, don't hold up, and are false economy. Many folks learned this the hard way, don't be one of them.

4) Griffin has a line of lower priced (i.e. under $80.00) vises that are excellent. They hold hooks well, are easy to operate, and the last because they are made of good materials.

5) Thompson is another excellent lower priced vise. In fact, Thompson was the first company to offer the draw cam vise (i.e. it has a lever to open and close the jaws) with the Model A vise with its draw collar adjustment for different hook sizes. Thompson have good jaws, last a long time, are very easy to operate, made of good materials, and have other size jaws you can get for tying really small stuff (like #18's and smaller) or really large stuff (like #2's to #10/0) for a very reasonable cost.

6) If you want to get better quality than the very good Griffin or Thompson, go with the stationary angle Dyna King Kingfisher, the Regal, the HMH Spartan, and similar vises. These are all over $100.00 with most selling for between $130.00 and $230.00 give or take a few dollars. All of these are top quality and will last a lifetime.

7) If you want to get the best, be prepared to pony up over $300.00 for a vise. HMH, Dyna King (my personal favorite is the Dyna King Barracuda), Norvise, LAW Vise, Renzetti P4000 and mastery vises, Anvil, and some others I don't recall at the moment. As a beginning tyer, you need vises of this quality and with these features like you need another hole in your head.

8) I can't emphasize this enough: You don't need rotary to start tying!!! Since rotary vises are more expensive than non-rotary, you save a good amount of money by getting a non-rotary for your first vise.The Danvise is not bad, but there are other vises on the market that sell for less and are better quality, they just aren't rotary vises.

9) If you must have rotary, the Peak vise is much better quality than the Danvise, as are the Griffin rotary vises and the Peak and Griffin rotary vises sell for about the same price as a Danvise. Don't get me wrong, the Danvise is OK, but there are other rotary vises in the same price range that are better.

10) After the vise, the next most important tooll to get is good scissors. This also can't be emphasized too much. Good scissors run around $20.00 a pair, but they last a long time. Cheap scissors are false economy and a waste of money. Cheap ones don't hold up, don't cut well very long, feel clumsy in your hand, don't stay sharp, and quickly wear out the welcome on the tying bench.

11) Get 2 good bobbins to hold your tying thread for tying. One for a thin thread like Danvill's Flymaster, Uni 8/0, Wapsi's 70 Denier, or other 6/0=8/0 thread. And the other for a heavy thread like Danville's Flat-waxed nylon, Wapsi's 210 Denier, etc, which is used for tying things like deer hair. Good bobbins can be had for as little as $5.50 for the S&M Bobbin (one of my favorites, which is why I own and use 16 of them and one of them I've had since I was 16, which is 40 years ago and it still works without any problems whatsoever). You may have to look around to find the S&M Bobbin, but it is worth finding them. Or ask your local shop to get a few for you, you never know if they might never have heard of them. Griffin Cearamic's (another favorite of mine is the Griffin Magnum Ceramic, I own 12 of them) are very good and sell for about $14.00. I use these for the heavy thread. But any good quality ceramic bobbin (I'd avoid the ones with the ceramic thread tube and only go with the metal tube ceramic insert type because the skinny ceramic tube clogs easily and is prone to break if dropped, the metal tube, ceramic insert ones don't have these problems) is a good choice. Several companies make good wire arm bobbins that sell for around 10.0- give or take a bit. But just like Vises and scissors, don't buy the cheap imported ones.

12) A whip finisher is well worth buying. Granted, you don't need one to tie a good fly, but, having one sure makes tying off the head of the fly easier. Get one of the Materelli Whip Finishers, or a copy of of because they are the best. Avoid the ones with the little spring on them because they tend to tighten the thread as the whip finish is being formed and this can lead to thread breakage. Besides, the Materelli sell for about $16.00 and the copies of it sell for from a low of about $4.00 to about $20.00 for the fancy, exotic wood handled ones.

13) A hackle plier is needed to help with wrapping hackle, both wet and dry. Get a good one. I like the rotary hackle pliers (they sell for around $16.00), but you really don't need one. Heck, even a small electronics parts plier or holder works very well as a hackle plier. Radio Shack and other electronic supply stores have them. These are the little plastic doo-dads with the spring plunger and little hook on the end. They sell for about $1.50 or less. Anyway, the tear-drop shaped hackle pliers are terrific, as are the English-style (that is what they are called because they were invented in the UK 160 years ago) hackle pliers. Again, avoid the imported ones because they don't hold up, don't hold hackle well, or have too much pressure and end up breaking hackle stems. Most hackle pliers sell for around $7.00

14) A bodkin is needed for things like applying head cement to the finished fly, picking out hackle that has been wound down the the hackle stem, roughening up the body, and a multitude of other things. It is nothing more than a large needle in a handle. Therefore, you can find them for as little as $2.00 for a plastic handled one (not a problem since the needle is steel) to as much as $30.00 for a super, duper, fancy, dandy exotic wood with inlay handled one. I'd either get a plastic handled one, or one of the metal handled ones with a half-hitch tool on the end of the handle. You could even make you own with a small piece of doweling (plastic or wood) of small dia. and a large needle. Just glue the needle into the wood or plastic after you cut the dowel to lengh, and you have a bodkin. I have one make like that from a piece of wood dowel that I've used for 30 years. This is the only tool that it doesn't matter what you get. Cheap ones are as good as expensive ones.

If you follow these guidlines and advise, you can get a very good and complete tying tool kit for $150.00 or less. Just remember the most important tool is the vise, so get the best you can afford without going nuts and buying a high-end professional one.
Word
 

Richard E

Active Member
#20
Here are my thoughts on buying tying tools based on 47 years of tying experience, 17 years as a professional commercial tyer, having tied in the neighborhood of 3 million flies, and having taught several hundred folks how to tie.

1) The vise is the most important tool you will need because it needs to hold a hook without slippage and without requiring too much pressure (which would damage and even break many hooks as you tie). There is nothing more frustrating than having the hook slip when you are nearly finished with a fly.

2) since the vise is the most important tool you need to tie flies, buy the best vise you can afford, not the most expensive All you need is a good, solid vise many of which can be gotten for under $80.00 or so new retail.

3) Never, Never, Never in a million years buy a cheap imported vise. They are false economy. They have poor fit and finish, don't hold hooks well, don't hold up, and are false economy. Many folks learned this the hard way, don't be one of them.

4) Griffin has a line of lower priced (i.e. under $80.00) vises that are excellent. They hold hooks well, are easy to operate, and the last because they are made of good materials.

5) Thompson is another excellent lower priced vise. In fact, Thompson was the first company to offer the draw cam vise (i.e. it has a lever to open and close the jaws) with the Model A vise with its draw collar adjustment for different hook sizes. Thompson have good jaws, last a long time, are very easy to operate, made of good materials, and have other size jaws you can get for tying really small stuff (like #18's and smaller) or really large stuff (like #2's to #10/0) for a very reasonable cost.

6) If you want to get better quality than the very good Griffin or Thompson, go with the stationary angle Dyna King Kingfisher, the Regal, the HMH Spartan, and similar vises. These are all over $100.00 with most selling for between $130.00 and $230.00 give or take a few dollars. All of these are top quality and will last a lifetime.

7) If you want to get the best, be prepared to pony up over $300.00 for a vise. HMH, Dyna King (my personal favorite is the Dyna King Barracuda), Norvise, LAW Vise, Renzetti P4000 and mastery vises, Anvil, and some others I don't recall at the moment. As a beginning tyer, you need vises of this quality and with these features like you need another hole in your head.

8) I can't emphasize this enough: You don't need rotary to start tying!!! Since rotary vises are more expensive than non-rotary, you save a good amount of money by getting a non-rotary for your first vise.The Danvise is not bad, but there are other vises on the market that sell for less and are better quality, they just aren't rotary vises.

9) If you must have rotary, the Peak vise is much better quality than the Danvise, as are the Griffin rotary vises and the Peak and Griffin rotary vises sell for about the same price as a Danvise. Don't get me wrong, the Danvise is OK, but there are other rotary vises in the same price range that are better.

10) After the vise, the next most important tooll to get is good scissors. This also can't be emphasized too much. Good scissors run around $20.00 a pair, but they last a long time. Cheap scissors are false economy and a waste of money. Cheap ones don't hold up, don't cut well very long, feel clumsy in your hand, don't stay sharp, and quickly wear out the welcome on the tying bench.

11) Get 2 good bobbins to hold your tying thread for tying. One for a thin thread like Danvill's Flymaster, Uni 8/0, Wapsi's 70 Denier, or other 6/0=8/0 thread. And the other for a heavy thread like Danville's Flat-waxed nylon, Wapsi's 210 Denier, etc, which is used for tying things like deer hair. Good bobbins can be had for as little as $5.50 for the S&M Bobbin (one of my favorites, which is why I own and use 16 of them and one of them I've had since I was 16, which is 40 years ago and it still works without any problems whatsoever). You may have to look around to find the S&M Bobbin, but it is worth finding them. Or ask your local shop to get a few for you, you never know if they might never have heard of them. Griffin Cearamic's (another favorite of mine is the Griffin Magnum Ceramic, I own 12 of them) are very good and sell for about $14.00. I use these for the heavy thread. But any good quality ceramic bobbin (I'd avoid the ones with the ceramic thread tube and only go with the metal tube ceramic insert type because the skinny ceramic tube clogs easily and is prone to break if dropped, the metal tube, ceramic insert ones don't have these problems) is a good choice. Several companies make good wire arm bobbins that sell for around 10.0- give or take a bit. But just like Vises and scissors, don't buy the cheap imported ones.

12) A whip finisher is well worth buying. Granted, you don't need one to tie a good fly, but, having one sure makes tying off the head of the fly easier. Get one of the Materelli Whip Finishers, or a copy of of because they are the best. Avoid the ones with the little spring on them because they tend to tighten the thread as the whip finish is being formed and this can lead to thread breakage. Besides, the Materelli sell for about $16.00 and the copies of it sell for from a low of about $4.00 to about $20.00 for the fancy, exotic wood handled ones.

13) A hackle plier is needed to help with wrapping hackle, both wet and dry. Get a good one. I like the rotary hackle pliers (they sell for around $16.00), but you really don't need one. Heck, even a small electronics parts plier or holder works very well as a hackle plier. Radio Shack and other electronic supply stores have them. These are the little plastic doo-dads with the spring plunger and little hook on the end. They sell for about $1.50 or less. Anyway, the tear-drop shaped hackle pliers are terrific, as are the English-style (that is what they are called because they were invented in the UK 160 years ago) hackle pliers. Again, avoid the imported ones because they don't hold up, don't hold hackle well, or have too much pressure and end up breaking hackle stems. Most hackle pliers sell for around $7.00

14) A bodkin is needed for things like applying head cement to the finished fly, picking out hackle that has been wound down the the hackle stem, roughening up the body, and a multitude of other things. It is nothing more than a large needle in a handle. Therefore, you can find them for as little as $2.00 for a plastic handled one (not a problem since the needle is steel) to as much as $30.00 for a super, duper, fancy, dandy exotic wood with inlay handled one. I'd either get a plastic handled one, or one of the metal handled ones with a half-hitch tool on the end of the handle. You could even make you own with a small piece of doweling (plastic or wood) of small dia. and a large needle. Just glue the needle into the wood or plastic after you cut the dowel to lengh, and you have a bodkin. I have one make like that from a piece of wood dowel that I've used for 30 years. This is the only tool that it doesn't matter what you get. Cheap ones are as good as expensive ones.

If you follow these guidlines and advise, you can get a very good and complete tying tool kit for $150.00 or less. Just remember the most important tool is the vise, so get the best you can afford without going nuts and buying a high-end professional one.
Dang, this gets my vote for Post of the Year! Well, it's early in 2010, but hopefully you get my drift . . .

Great stuff, man. I agree with nearly all of it, except on a couple of items.

The Barracuda vise is nice, but a little big and unwieldy (for some). It's sturdy and well-mad and will last you forever, and it's so sturdy it could double as a home self-defense weapon, if needed. For your use, I concur that a Thompson vise would work GREAT for you. Super light, inexpensive, built well, and they just work.

Regarding bobbins, a person can never have too many bobbins. It's nice to have bobbins set up with those threads used most often. It's embarrassing to admit how many bobbins I have, but just suffice to say it's a lot. Ceramic bobbins are worth the extra few bucks. I haven't used the S&M bobbins, but I'm perfectly happy with the Griffin and Tiemco bobbins.

I do agree to get the best scissors you can. That's one of the first tying tips I received, and it has proved to be in the top 3. Make sure the scissor loops fit your fingers, too . . . a seemingly small, but you'll find important, item.

Other tips:

1) Don't buy hackle online or unseen. You will inevitably regret it. Buy your hackle from a shop, and pick out the one you like.

2) Ditto with bucktail, elk hair, deer hair, peacock herl, etc. Basically pretty much any materials that come from an animal. No animal is built the same or was raised in the same environment, and the materials reflect those differences.

3) Buy the best hooks you can. I fell in to the trap early on of buying the specific hook brand and model referenced in different fly reckpes, and now I have a jillion hooks that never (well, rarely) get used. I find there are certain hook types that can suffice for most uses. And, a sharp hook can NOT be over-exaggerated.

4) You need a few of the basic colors of thread, and I would probably start off with 6/0. You can get a lot of fly tying done with 6/0. I rememeber a buddy telling me about the different shape/build differences and how it affects the tying of various flies, and I remember thinking "yeah, right, 6/0 is 6/0". Man, he was right. You'll find some thread will tie down more 'flat', important if you like smaller heads on flies, and some thread is round and will 'build' more when you wrap it, not tying down as flat. Try various brands and you'll see. It's tough to beat the Danville stuff, for price and function. I used to want to get the strongest I could get for the size, but I've since gone back to Danville for both value and function.

5) Probably most importantly, find a shop that you like and get your materials from there. Your local shop can give you great advice and pointers. You'll be going there for items, anyway, and buying products over the Net is a crapshoot. I can't over-emphasize. as a beginner. how important it is to look at the materials you are buying (with the exception of hooks). Even thread and other man-made materials. You won't believe how often you will get something purchased over the Net that looks different in person than it did on the computer screen. Also, the shops will likely even have tying classes in which you can enroll. These can be a huge benefit to you, and get you up the learning curve more quickly and save some of that 'learn by experience' time.

6) Lastly, buy some plastic bins to keep your stuff organized. It will be spread all over the house soon enough!


Good luck on your vise purchase! Your lucky to start tying now; the fly tying products (vises and materials) available have improved exponentially in the last 15 years, and there are a lot of great choices out there.
 
#22
some great advice by ft and denny.. another tidbit. see if there are any tying clubs around.. here in boston the uft (united fly tyers) has monthly meetings that include fly tying sessions and they offer lessons as well..

good place to see a large variety of vises in operation . most fly tyers will let you try their vise. and trying different vises before you buy is also key.. buying site unseen is risky.. i've seen the kit you talk about on fleabay. its not bad

but you cna build your own table cheap. go with the above advice and you cant go wrong.. check craigslist occasionally you will find vise deals on there.


best of luck..
pete