Whenever the days are short, temperatures are colder and snow is in the forecast, it can be the perfect time to sit down at the fly tying vise. Grab a cup of coffee and start working to stock up those depleted fly boxes.
“If you’re a relatively new angler or perhaps new to fly tying, this is a great way to learn patterns and bug life that will pay off next summer,” says e-Commerce manager, Blake Katchur. “There’s simply nothing better than the first time you catch a fish on your own fly.”
A new fly tying vise makes a wonderful gift. And whether you’re looking for a vise for yourself or someone else, it’s understandable to have questions. For anyone new to fly tying, how do you find the right vise? Or if you’ve been dealing with a less-than-perfect entry-level vise and ready to upgrade, where do you begin?
The fly tying vise is the single most important tool for any fly tyer. A bad vise won't hold the hook well and will be cumbersome to use. Fly tying can be tedious anyway, so why start off on a bad foot? Your vise, then your bobbin, and then a good pair of scissors are critical.
Traditional or Rotary Vise?
A traditional fly tying vise is set up on a 45-degree angle. This means that as the jaw is rotated, the hook shank will not spin on a fixed axis. Meanwhile, a rotary vise keeps the shank of your hook on a fixed axis as the vise is rotated around. There are pros and cons to both styles.
“Traditional vises are often preferred for small fly patterns,” noted Larkin Wilson, e-Commerce and Marketing crewmember here at Anglers All. “The 45-degree angle allows you to rest your left hand on the vise. This is important for fine detailed work that requires precision and proper tension.”
“On the other hand, rotary vises are often used by tyers for streamer patterns, or saltwater patterns,” Larkin continued. “The fixed axis is ideal for wrapping bodies as the tyer can hold the material and spin the jaw to wrap it onto the hook.”
Beyond the traditional versus rotary classifications, there are now more than ever, cool new niche vises models available. These vises cover the largest saltwater flies, intricate deer hair streamers and even special models to help you tie articulated game changer style streamers.
Not sure which style is the right one? Come see us at the fly shop or give us a call at 303-794-1104. We’d be happy to walk you through the options and come up with the best vise for your tying needs.
C-Clamp or Pedestal Vise?
The next major decision point for most tiers is choosing between a c-clamp or pedestal vise. If you have a dedicated place at home for fly tying, a c-clamp is the way to go. It is more stable and will not rock as you crank thread through your bobbin. If you tend to move around the house or tie in different locations, a pedestal will be best for you. It will allow you to tie anywhere.
But it's also important to know that after you purchase either a pedestal or c-clamp, you're not locked in forever. You can purchase the alternate base for any vise.
Different Vise and Jaw Sizes
Next, tyers should consider the size and construction of any vise before making a purchase. Some vises are designed to be compact for travel, while full-size vises are best for tying at home.
Typically, travel vises are made with lighter weight aluminum parts. A heavier vise will be built with steel parts. That isn’t to say you can’t travel with a heavier vise. Or tie on a lightweight travel vise at home. But consider how you’ll be tying most often and pick a vise construction that best fits your needs.
“One way to look at a vise purchase is to decide what size flies you want to tie,” said Anglers All Warehouse Manager, Ben Baxter. “I like the larger, chunkier Regal heads for large streamers and big hoppers. On the flip side, if you mostly plan to tie small midges for the South Platte and other Colorado tailwaters, a traditional HMH, Peak, or Dyna-King vise is really nice to tie on."
It's important to know that the jaws are interchangeable on most vises to allow for a wide range of hook sizes. From large saltwater hooks to tiny midge hooks, most vises can cover the gamut. However, each vise has its strengths.
HMH, Dyna-King and Renzetti vises are usually available with two or three interchangeable jaws, depending on model. They come standard with a universal jaw that's great for tying on a variety of hook sizes. The extra jaws that easily install to the vise come in sizes more tailored to very small hook sizes, or monster saltwater hooks.
Regal Engineering vises are one notable exception to this. Regal offers a quick, non-adjusting system that uses a lever to open and close the jaw on nearly any hook size with no adjustment. They do offer replacement heads that change the shape of the jaw, allowing for finer detailed work on midge sized flies for example.
No matter which vise you choose, remember that this is your most important fly tying tool. Purchase a vise that you can grow into as a tyer. A great vise will last you for many years.
Tools, Materials and Gift Packages
“Even though the vise is the first step in introducing a new tyer to tying flies, we carry all the tools and materials to help you get started,” Blake added. “In fact, we are happy to package materials for specific patterns, taking the guess work out of what materials to buy. These make excellent gift ideas!”
And lastly, please note that if you have a left handed angler in your family, we can order in a specific left-handed vise.
If you have questions about fly tying vises or other tying tools, please visit us at the fly shop or call us at 303-794-1104. We'd be happy to give you our best recommendations and help you get started