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Thread: Fly Tying Vice Advice

  1. #1

    Default Fly Tying Vice Advice

    I'm going to take up a new hobby this winter....tying a few flies. What should I know or consider when looking for a proper vice. I know it should rotate but what else? btw..I plan on tying larger salmon type flies, not small midges, nympths, etc...

    As always..thanks all

    Gary

  2. #2
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Start simple...

    Consider a well-made, lower priced vise. After taking the fly tying course at Mtn View Sports, I bought the $47, Griffin Superior 1A - a quality value vise which I still own and enjoy. Well-made, very portable and simplicity itself. You can tie anything we use up here with it. With the $100-200 that you save on the vise, you could buy better fly tying materials!

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    What he said...


    I don't tie, but my best friend does. He makes most of my flies for our float trips. He bought a Griffin vise a few years back and loves it. A real bargain from what I can see. Don't blow your money on a high dollar vise. With what you will be tying for Alaska, I doubt the other features on the big money vises would be missed at all. Invest in a few books and some good materials. There are a few books, one I know of is "Flies for Alaska". It may be for sale on the forum store. If not, certainly Amazon or Barnes and Noble online will have them.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    I would recommend the Thompson A-1 vice. They are inexpensive, rugged and work well. A rotary vice is nice but it's far from necessary and I would learn to tie on a non rotary vice.
    At sea, it's force not reason that confers sovereign rights

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    DO NOT get the Danvise...a real pretty rotary but the locking mechanism sucks and the jaw tips actually bent out....but it looks SO nice! Stay away from the cam locking vises also, unless you spend the money on a good one like Renzetti. If your not going to be a production tier then there really is no need for a rotary, even though they are the most popular right now. The Griffin I've had for 20 years is still in use for big stuff. You might like a heavy base rather than the c-clamp...wife's tend to get upset when you lock your vise onto the nice dining room table. If you don't mind the shipping to AK then try and find one on ebay, I've seen some Renzetti Travel vises (by far the BEST vise for the money) sold for under $100. Sportsmans has an Anvil vise that seem pretty durable and a less expensive model of Regal vises. Short story long, you can't go wrong with Renzetti or Regal vises.

  6. #6
    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    OK I'm going to go against all that has been posted, why cause it's crap! I don't tie but......really? Don't get....and why?

    Long and short If you are serious about learning, get the proper tools! Anyone who argues against a rotary vice has not tied more than 3 patterns in the last 25 years.

    Get a franzetti! If you can afford it, if not get a vice that has at least 2 jaws for different sized hooks, is full rotary and you feel good about.( Looking for a basic gut vibe here, vice selection is very personal)

    Next consider what species and what kind of fly will be your primary set up. I can tie a darn good salmon fly with no vice at all but a size 18 elk hair caddis might require a little more subtle than my hands alone can offer.

    Lastly if you are at all serious about tieing take a class....take a class....take a class...did I mention take a class? With a good foundation Fly tying can be a sport to last a life time. Have fun, get in touch if you need help

    Rick P
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    The 3 fold way: Every step we take as we walk through life effects, our family, our comunity and ourselves. One should walk thoughtfuly.

  7. #7
    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Respectfully disagree with Rick. You can get started tying flies and enjoy it a great deal without spending a boatload of money on a new vise. I have even seen some new rotaries that run under $50-60. I don't know what the quality level is on them, but I'm sure they'll hold hooks to tie flies with. A Renzetti is NOT an entry level vise. I started out on a Thompson AA vise that probably cost about $15. I learned a ton on that vise and when I moved up to a Renzetti rotary, I appreciated the attributes of that vise so much more because I had learned on much less of a vise. I did not move up to that Renzetti though until I actually started tying production flies for a fly shop. I don't recommend that beginning fly fisherman start out with a Sage or Loomis fly rod, and by the same account, I don't recommend that you start with a Renzetti unless you really have more money than you know what to do with.

    I do recommend Rick's suggestion of taking a tying class. Most local shops and fly fishing clubs offer these, especially during the winter. I do NOT recommend buying a prepackaged tying kit that you find at SW or other places. I have found over the years that these are pretty pricey for a lot of fairly cheap materials that you will likely never use. I've set people up with "personalized kits" over the years for fairly inexpensive. The way I do it is I take them to a fly shop and show them what basic tools they will need - vise, bobbin, scissors. Then we spend a good amount of time looking at the fly selection of the shop and I have them pick out 4 or 5 flies that think "look neat" and would like to tie. I show them what materials are needed for those particular flies and they get them. This is my idea of a "personalized kit" the person will actually be interested in using. I show them how each fly is tied, usually several times, and away they go.

    Good luck in whichever way you go. It is definitely a fun and addicting hobby. I can hardly go into a fly shop anymore without picking up new material for something.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

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    JMG,
    I agree with you 110%, Fishn, you would not go wrong by following his advice.
    Rick,
    Who said I don't tie!? Yes I have a rotary vice, but I learned to tie on a Thompson type vice and I still have one in my travel kit, and I still recommend one to start out with. As far as my opinion being crap, you can shove it up your pipe, pal!

    By the way, I meant AA instead of A-1 in my first post
    At sea, it's force not reason that confers sovereign rights

  9. #9
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Little Help

    All good Post love the passion.

    http://www.griffinenterprisesinc.com/vises.html

    Look at the Odyssey Spider it will work fine and is not expensive for the quality you get.

    As mentioned by others stay away from purchasing kits IMO. Bacis Tools are all you need might I suggest a Nice Double Flair Ceramic Bobbin, Threader and a Nice Pair of Scissors.

    You do not need a Hair Stacker, Whip Fishiner, Hackle Gaurds, Wing Burners, Parachute tool etc....................................! to start out.

    Griffin has some nice package deals and are worth looking at. Do your-self a Big Favor and stay away from Cabelas Crap kits.

    It's like getting started into fly fishing! Lots of options but truely only a few requirements to get the job done when it comes down to it.

    No need for head-cement! Use Pac Thread it holds enough on its own.

    I will be in the shop again for the next two weekends as well as Friday Nights. I have several vises you can try and look at from Cheap i.e. 14 bucks to ouch that hurt my pocket. No sales pitch I do not sell fly tying items.

    Moose-O

  10. #10
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default All tradeoffs...

    FishnMan, You're getting good, broad range of responses, all with good points. Disagreements bound to arise over the tradeoffs; dollars, learning efficiency, etc, but plainly there's a lot of experience speaking.

    Learning/time: Most guys I know are self taught; learning from books or each other. I happened to take a tying course as a structured way to learn with my daughter. What surprised me in the course was the range of techniques covered in teaching a few basic flies. Tips in the 8-hour course enabled us to tie virtually any flies used in Alaska. But you could learn it all on your own easy, or better yet, get a friend to sit down and tie a few flies with you. The hobby seems most rewarding when you can look at a fly or fly recipe and tie it, or alter a fly to improve function. Doing so is easiest once you've got the fundamentals down.

    Equipment/materials: How many packages of materials do new tyers buy in the first year or so, I wonder? Good advice is inexpensive, but good materials add up. Depending on how much you get into it, learning about materials might take awhile. The flies you want to tie in quantity might change. In many cases, I bought too much quantity. At approx $3 to $5 or $12 (or more) per package (hackle, maribou, thread, chenille, ice chenille in different colors; herl, bead eyes, dumbell eyes in different sizes, tinsel/wire, biot, lead; krystal flash/flashabou in different colors, rabbit strips (assorted colors/sizes)), ... you might buy 10 or 20 or 30 packages over your first year. What you save on a vise, you have available for materials.

    If you later want to drop more cash on a vise, you might select a fine Renzetti, or you might find the Norvise aids your tying better. The Norvise is very fast for tying certain kinds of flies involving many wraps and strengthing herl or hackle, but only experience and finding your tying preferences and needs will tell. Watching a few fly tying video clips (You Tube, etc) might help too.

    Of course, one of my favorite answers when people post questions asking which fly rod, or rifle should I buy, is "Buy both".

    Enjoy shopping. Main thing is get your flies on/in the water!
    Good luck.

  11. #11

    Thumbs up Great Responses!

    Thank you all for your responses, lots of great advice. I will be looking for some fly tying classes here in the Fairbanks area when some are available. Still looking at vices, wow the choices; and yes, they go from cheap to ouch (lol BlueMoose). Leaning towards a rotating vice, now trying to decide on platform or c-clamp.. Oh, and yes, YouTube does have some great videos to learn some basic ties.

    cheers...

  12. #12
    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    Equipment/materials: How many packages of materials do new tyers buy in the first year or so, I wonder? Good advice is inexpensive, but good materials add up. Depending on how much you get into it, learning about materials might take awhile. The flies you want to tie in quantity might change. In many cases, I bought too much quantity. At approx $3 to $5 or $12 (or more) per package (hackle, maribou, thread, chenille, ice chenille in different colors; herl, bead eyes, dumbell eyes in different sizes, tinsel/wire, biot, lead; krystal flash/flashabou in different colors, rabbit strips (assorted colors/sizes)), ... you might buy 10 or 20 or 30 packages over your first year. What you save on a vise, you have available for materials.

    This is a VERY important point. If you are going to get into fly tying because it is cheaper than buying pre-made flies, you're probably far better off buying pre-made flies. Once you start learning how to tie, you will want to tie many different types of flies. This will cause you to buy a package of material - even if it is only $4 - that might contribute to say 50 flies. But you'll tie a dozen and be satisfied, and then move to another fly. Eventually you'll find another fly that uses that material too, but overall, collecting materials is part of the fun - the hobby - and really, hobbies get more expensive quickly.

    I've had people tell me over the years that they want to get into tying because a fly costs $2, but they can tie up 200 of the same fly for $.10 a piece. While theoretically true, it is rare to sit and tie up 200 flies unless you tie production. You simply get the itching for different flies, different materials, etc. long before you get to fly 200.

    When I tied production, I could buy 500 hooks, I knew how far a bucktail would go, how much thread I needed, etc., and could calculate the cost of my flies down to a pretty reasonable estimate of about $.20 (I tied big saltwater flies). But that is very rare to do in hobby tying because you simply won't produce the number of one particular fly (although an egg-sucking leech up here might be a close shot ). I don't tie production anymore but I have enough materials to last me probably 20 years of tying. But you know what? In the next 20 years, I'll probably buy that much and more in extra materials. That's what makes it a very enjoyable hobby.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  13. #13

    Default Why I'm doing it

    Quote Originally Posted by jmg View Post
    This is a VERY important point. If you are going to get into fly tying because it is cheaper than buying pre-made flies, you're probably far better off buying pre-made flies. Once you start learning how to tie, you will want to tie many different types of flies. This will cause you to buy a package of material - even if it is only $4 - that might contribute to say 50 flies. But you'll tie a dozen and be satisfied, and then move to another fly. Eventually you'll find another fly that uses that material too, but overall, collecting materials is part of the fun - the hobby - and really, hobbies get more expensive quickly.

    I've had people tell me over the years that they want to get into tying because a fly costs $2, but they can tie up 200 of the same fly for $.10 a piece. While theoretically true, it is rare to sit and tie up 200 flies unless you tie production. You simply get the itching for different flies, different materials, etc. long before you get to fly 200.

    When I tied production, I could buy 500 hooks, I knew how far a bucktail would go, how much thread I needed, etc., and could calculate the cost of my flies down to a pretty reasonable estimate of about $.20 (I tied big saltwater flies). But that is very rare to do in hobby tying because you simply won't produce the number of one particular fly (although an egg-sucking leech up here might be a close shot ). I don't tie production anymore but I have enough materials to last me probably 20 years of tying. But you know what? In the next 20 years, I'll probably buy that much and more in extra materials. That's what makes it a very enjoyable hobby.

    I'm choosing to tie for a couple of reasons. Number 1, I have found a few flies that have been very good for me; however, I can make them better (i.e. higher quality hook, diff sizes, diff colors, etc.). I have some creations in my mind waiting to be born. It's not because of cost, I don't have an issue dropping some dough on a few flies before a trip out. I'm looking for a hobby as you know the winters can be veeeeery long up here. I also enjoy the fact that I can create a new fly that will catch fish; that's a nice warm fuzzy also. I'm also going to take some standard flies out there and put my own spin on them, if you will.

    Funny, all it took was one day on the water with my new fly rod, out fishing everyone around me, to realize, there really is more to fishing than baitcasters, pixies, and Vibraxes! lol

  14. #14

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    FishnMan,

    Looks like you've gotten some sound advice so far. I started out with my dad's old Thompson Model A and graduated to a Renzetti Saltwater Traveler after 3-4 years. It was great to learn on the Thompson and to make sure I really wanted to stick with this new hobby before investing in a nice rotary vise. However there are a number of patterns we use in the great white north that are so much easier to tie with a solid rotary vise that I have a hard time arguing against the up front investment.

    Whatever you do though, just make sure you get prior approval from the boss. From this point forward, you will be responsible for every odd bit of lint that shows up on the floor. Get use to spending quality time with Mr. Vacuum Cleaner.

    Good luck with your decision.

    tt

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    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnMan View Post
    I'm choosing to tie for a couple of reasons. Number 1, I have found a few flies that have been very good for me; however, I can make them better (i.e. higher quality hook, diff sizes, diff colors, etc.). I have some creations in my mind waiting to be born. It's not because of cost, I don't have an issue dropping some dough on a few flies before a trip out. I'm looking for a hobby as you know the winters can be veeeeery long up here. I also enjoy the fact that I can create a new fly that will catch fish; that's a nice warm fuzzy also. I'm also going to take some standard flies out there and put my own spin on them, if you will.

    Funny, all it took was one day on the water with my new fly rod, out fishing everyone around me, to realize, there really is more to fishing than baitcasters, pixies, and Vibraxes! lol
    Then you will most certainly enjoy tying. Good luck.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  16. #16
    Member G_Smolt's Avatar
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    Renzetti traveler, c-clamp.

    Straight vises are ok for 2-vise setups, and they are great to sit in front of for hours tying a few flies, but rotary and adjustable gets the job done.

    By the same token, if you want to tie itty-bitty midges with 8/0 and #22's, get the pedestal model...If you are tying anything larger than a sz10, you will find the c-clamp vise to be superior for its grip and stability.

    Welcome to fly-tying. Soon you will be covered in fluorescent bunny fuzz and tinsel bits, mumbling incoherently about hook-bend shapes and chasing your housepets around the yard with scissors.

    Gotta love it.

  17. #17

    Wink Like the spelling of vice/vise

    I don't know if it constitutes a Freudian slip or not, but I just noticed your spelling of vise in the original post. In any event, my wife would agree with your spelling. She definitely thinks fly tying has more to do with a vice than a vise.

    Good luck.

    tt

  18. #18

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    I started out with a Thompson, but wish I hadn't. It was a real pain, especially with different thickness of hooks. I am a firm believer in good tools. Get a good quality rotary vise. Renzetti is great. I have a Regal and am very happy with it. Good tight spring loaded jaws. Don't start tying flies with any more frustrations than you need to.

  19. #19
    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    I started out with a Thompson, but wish I hadn't. It was a real pain, especially with different thickness of hooks. I am a firm believer in good tools. Get a good quality rotary vise. Renzetti is great. I have a Regal and am very happy with it. Good tight spring loaded jaws. Don't start tying flies with any more frustrations than you need to.
    Many folks here have stated they started with the Thompson and that it worked adequately for starting out. With that said, there are several other quality vises on the market for under $50 these days that should definitely be looked at by a beginner. If you have the money, I would certainly recommend even a $50 rotary - some of what seem to look like Renzetti knock offs - over a $15 Thompson. If you really have money to burn, by all means, start out with a Renzetti Traveler - probably set you back about $200 or so these days.

    My posts above were in no way to say one should never start out with a Renzetti if they have the money to do so and have made the commitment to tie (which I think is not always the case BEFORE one has actually tied). I just get tired of seeing the posts - and the attitude of some on the stream - that someone cannot start flyfishing without $2000 in their pocket. I mean, you have to have a Sage rod, Abel reel, Simms waders and boots, Renzetti vise, Tiemco hooks only . . . . the list could go on and on. It's attitudes like that that tend to give flyfishing the snobbish, elitist stereotype, when many of us really just love to wrap feathers and wet a line now and then. And even more so than doing it ourselves, what we really love doing is getting others involved in it - even on a tight budget.

    Tight lines.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  20. #20

    Default

    Thought I would throw my vise into the mix since no one has mentioned it.

    Anvil Atlas
    http://www.anvilusa.com/The_Atlas_Vise.htm

    I started with a bass fly tying kit for Bass Pro Shops. Included the ever popular Thompson style vise. Later purchased a $30 Cabelas Master vise. Tied on the Cabelas vise for years until I purchased the Anvil two years ago.

    The hook range is greater than any other vise I know of. I have personally tied 20-4/0 with no problems. The fit and finish of the vise is very good. The rotation is smooth and steady. And when you want to lock it down, it locks tight.
    Additionally, it comes with a base and a C-clamp. Both of which work very well. At $150, its right in that "should I or shouldn't I" price range, but I think its well worth its value. Plus, if you shop e-bay (like I did) you may come in under retail.

    Ben

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