If you’re interested in the age-old sport of fly fishing and want to gain some experience in it, it’s time for you to invest in a good vise for fly tying.
A vise is a simple apparatus that allows you to hold your object securely in place while you perform work on it. It’s a mechanical device that has been around since the late 19th century. Standard vises come with twin jaws: a movable one and a fixed one. Now, there are many different types such as a woodworking vise, engineers’ vise, and jeweler’s vise, but what you need is a particular machine: a fly tying vise.
A fly tying vise will allow you to create an artificial fly with the help of a series of threads, fur, and feathers. Back in the old days, people had minimal options on what to thread onto the vise’s hook, but contemporary fly tiers make use of a variety of synthetic fibers to prepare their fly.
The aim is to mimic the look of a fish species’s food source so that you can attach it to the fishing hook and serve it as bait. From a grasshopper to a stonefly, you can imitate any insect you want.
To be successful at this sport, you’ll need to get a hold of the best fly tying vise. However, that shouldn’t be too difficult because we’ve got a comprehensive guide lined up for you!
- 1 What Are the Benefits of Using the Best Fly Tying Vise?
- 2 How Does It Work?
- 3 Top 5 Fly Tying Vises Reviews
- 4 How to Choose the Best Fly Tying Vise
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Benefits of Using the Best Fly Tying Vise?
Fly tying has been done for hundreds of years by hand, and some people continue with the practice. However, fly tying vises are an excellent means of getting some labor-intensive work done without a lot of hassle.
The main advantage of using a fly tying vise is that it gives you excellent control over the operation. Unlike the manual process, you’re able to separate each tying function within the vise. For example, you can place the thread on the stem of a bobbin cradle while you adjust the size of the jaw to hold a particular fly tying hook. Managing all three of these at the same time would be incredibly frustrating and complicated.
With a fly tying vise, you get to thread a fly piece significantly faster than you would be able to if you did it by hand. If you’ve got a rotary vise on you, you’ll be able to tie your fly together by just rotating a lever on the shaft.
The other advantage is the amount of flexibility you get when it comes to customizing your fly. As the single craftsperson at work, you get to decide everything from the size and color to the shape and design of your fly. All of these features can be created on the vise.
A functional fly tying vise is durable and stable. A metallic or tempered alloy material will last you for many years and will give you plenty of room to experiment with a variety of flies and working styles. A solid base will make it easier for you to work for long periods at a stretch. Plus, a hard steel jaw will anchor the hook firmly in its mouth, making your job a hundred times easier than having to hold a fly in your hand.
How Does It Work?
The art of fly tying requires you to know two things: how to operate a fly tying vise and how to produce a fly. The main idea is to put together a series of material onto a vise hook in an orderly fashion.
First of all, your vise needs to be held firmly in place. For this, you can use either a C-clamp base or a pedestal base. Make sure you adjust the vise height to your comfort and have good lighting in the region you’re working in.
Now, pull the lever on the shaft of your vise to open up the moveable side of the jaws. You will need to adjust the size of the jaws by rotating the screw at the end of the shaft. Then, place the bottom corner of your hook into the jaw.
When you first set up your vise, you may feel like the whole process is time-consuming, but once you’ve found the settings that work for you, it shouldn’t be a hassle.
The next thing you need to do is produce a particular type of fly tying. For this, you’ll need to follow a fly pattern and use materials like thread, fur, and feather to tie together so that they mimic a food source.
Top 5 Fly Tying Vises Reviews
Wolff Industries, Inc. Atlas Vise – Best Rotary Fly Tying Vise
This is one of the best fly tying vise models for novice fly tiers. It’s got a robust design and a broad metal base that keeps it stable at all times. You can easily thread some heavy pieces on here.
The jaws are made of stainless steel, while the C-clamps are made of aluminum, making the Atlas Rotary easy to work with and highly resistant to rust. This also means that those who are low maintenance and don’t want to spend too much time cleaning their apparatus won’t have to struggle with this fly tying vise.
When it comes to performance, you’ll find the Atlas Rotary very smooth. The jaws can roll down to tiny sizes, giving you the precision you need. All these features come at under $200, making it quite the bargain purchase.
However, the rotary handle might trouble beginners; it’s pretty tightly fixed in place and could do with some lubrication for ease of use. Plus, this model does not come with a bobbin cradle, so you’ll have to purchase it separately.
• Broad base for stability
• High rust resistance
• Low maintenance
• The rotary handle is stiff
• Does not come with a bobbin cradle
XFISHMAN Rotary Fly Tying Vise with Square Base
Proudly made in the USA, this model features a square pedestal base and a C-clamp configuration that provides stability like no other. The square base has been weighted so that the vise stays firmly on your worktable.
The exciting thing is that even when the base is pretty heavy, the overall item weighs only a little under 4 pounds.
The jaws are robust and made of tempered steel, which gives it a great grip. It can easily hold a range of hook sizes, anywhere between 12 to 5/0, with very slim chances of your fly slipping through.
Most novice users will find the Rotary simple to use. The head angle can be adjusted to your preferences.
The best part is probably the 360-rotation feature. It glides smoothly across the fingers and can be easily locked into place with a knob. Although the entire apparatus comes with a lifetime warranty, the locking knobs aren’t highly durable and may need some work.
• Heavy square base for stability
• Strong Jaws
• Easily adjustable head
• Rotation feature works smoothly
• Locking knobs have poor performance
Griffin Odyssey Spider Vise – Best Fly Tying Vise Under 100
This fly tying vise has many great things to its name. It’s made specifically for entry-level fly tiers, so it is incredibly user-friendly and durable.
The model comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you won’t need to worry about it breaking or bending. It also claims to function flawlessly that even professionals will enjoy working with it. The 360-degree rotation feature is high quality and lets you spin it in any direction you want.
We consider the Odyssey Spider a good bargain because of its low price. It comes with a bobbin cradle, so that’s a definite bonus because many other models expect you to buy it separately. The whole thing only weighs about 15 ounces, so you can also transport it with comfort.
The jaws can hold hooks anywhere between size 28 to 4/0. Those expecting to work with substantial fly ties will find this model to be perfect. However, be warned that the jaws are relatively soft and can bend out of shape with too much force.
• User-friendly design
• 360 rotation to adjust the vise to your preferences
• Low price
• Jaws are relatively soft
Nor-Vise Fly Tying System
This is easily one of the best fly tying vise models in the market. The highlight here is the hook shank. It’s always fixed to the center and rotates in place, which means you don’t have to spin a fly thread by hand onto the hook. It’ll wrap on its own. For professional fly tiers who intend to work on their craft for long hours, the centerpiece rotation will save you major effort.
The Nor-Vise’s hackle and ball bearing are all meant to stay in motion like a spinning wheel, allowing you to thread together some of the most intricate pieces of work. Additionally, the jaws and bobbins are easily exchangeable. You can put together a wide jaw to hold bigger fly ties in place or reduce it to get delicate pieces through.
Perhaps, one of the coolest features is the bobbin piece’s ability to rotate in reverse to redact any excess thread that you might want to take off the fly.
An apparatus made for fly tying connoisseurs; the device does not come cheap.
• Rotating hook
• Adjustable jaws
• Bobbin can redact threads
• Fast and versatile
Peak Fishing Vise – Best Fly Tying Vise Under 200
This vise makes the tying process very easy. The base is made of stainless steel, brass, and aluminum, giving it the sturdiness to last an eternity. Alongside being highly durable, this vise has some of the sharpest steel jaws designed to grip the smallest fly ties. The hooks can hold up to size 2 and can be easily adjusted.
The rotation instruments can also be maneuvered with minimal effort. The circular screws in the center allow you to rotate the device with one hand while you continue work at the jaws with the other side.
This vise comes with a bobbin cradle whose width and height can be adjusted. Again, the screws here are an integral feature because loosening them allows you to dismantle the crib and the base at the same time. If you’re traveling, you’ll be readily able to transport your device with you.
The only real drawback here is the brass screws. They can loosen a bit too quickly, making the rotation part a little frustrating at times.
Easily adjustable parts
• Sturdy base
• Screws allow you to disassemble the device
• Screws can get loose easily
How to Choose the Best Fly Tying Vise
At first glance, all fly tying vises look the same. They may appear to have the same functionality, but ask any tying veteran, and they’ll be able to tell you that each vise has its specialty. If you want to make the best possible choice for yourself, consider the following features in a fly tying vise:
One of the critical elements that you need to look out for is how robust the vise’s design is. You need something that will last you for a long time, and by long, we’re talking about decades, not just years. There are certain materials, like brass and stainless steel, that are more durable than others, like synthetic plastic.
Make sure you look for terms like tempered metal when buying a fly tying vise. Metal alloys are always longer lasting than other materials. A rule of thumb is that durability is directly proportional to price. A cheaply made clamp will bend, break and become unusable very soon because it is made of inferior materials.
The mark of a functional fly tying vise is that it can be easily adjusted for hooks of all shapes and sizes. If you can’t grip more than one or two dimensions, you won’t be able to accomplish anything significant with that vise. On average, you should look for sizes between 4 and 20. Anything with a lower range is best avoided.
Another feature that you should consider is the bobbin cradle. This can give you great room to position the device however you like and will work best if you’ve got a rotary vise on you. Remember, it’s important to favor your comfort because fly tying is a time-consuming task.
If you value convenience, a 360-degree rotation feature is a must-have. The ability to move your vise and adjust its head will allow you to work on the fly from any angle you want. A fixed head will make your functions very limited. Hence, when you’re purchasing a vise, check if the description defines it as a rotary or non-rotary mechanism, the former meaning you can rotate the pieces as per your comfort level.
The important part about rotation pieces is that they minimize labor when you’re threading the fly tie onto the hook. Most rotary vises will come with a lever that lets you wrap the thread quickly.
The cost of the vise is undoubtedly going to reflect on the material of the vise and the craftsmanship of the manufacturer. The more expensive the vise, the more durable the materials used. Now, as a beginner, you might be tempted to buy something as pricey as possible, but it’s highly unlikely that you will stick to using one vise for the rest of your life.
Try to stay under budget and pick a vise model that caters to your needs then. If you’re unsure what to base your budget on, we suggest you consider the jaw grip and rotation features as your priority.
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to tie flies for freshwater or saltwater species. The size of the fly will not make a difference if your vise is not capable of holding a hook securely in place. For this purpose, you must pick a base material and design that is strong enough to accommodate your work. Try to select either a brass, aluminum or stainless steel material. These are not only robust but also easy to keep clean.
In most cases, you’ll have to choose between either a pedestal base or a C-clamp. The clamp is usually a better choice when you don’t have a regular or stable working area because you can anchor it to any hard object. The pedestal will work if you’re working on a flat surface only.
There are two basic types of jaws that you need to look out for. The first is where the two sides of the jaw are adjustable using a screw. Since the screw is fixed in place, you don’t have to apply much pressure for the jaw to grip your fly firmly.
The second type of jaw, however, comes with a closed clamp. You will need to apply pressure onto the clamp, fit your hook in it and release a lever to keep the clamp locked in place. Depending on your style of working, you can pick either.
If you’re considering fly tying as a viable profession for yourself, vises are going to be an essential part of the endeavor. Good vises make your life easier and your fly tying experience more enjoyable.
When you have to choose a fly tying vise that works for you, there are a handful of things you must consider. Begin with the basic building blocks themselves. What material are the parts made of? Are these materials durable or liable to crack and bend over time?
Also, ask yourself if you can compromise on certain features. Many regular fly tiers find it hard to compromise on the vise’s performance and are willing to pay extra to ensure they get to work with ease. Some people think the jaw grip and hook stability are the most important features. However, others believe the ability to adjust pieces and rotate shafts allows them to play with the fly piece better.
As in most cases, the bottom line remains that you must pick a vise that caters to your personal preferences. We suggest you choose something that stays close to your budget because if your preferences change somewhere down the line, you won’t find it hard to upgrade to a more technical fly tying vise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is it easy to set up and use?
A. Yes. Most fly tying vises are simple to set up and use, but it depends on the model you have purchased. The base of a vise can make a lot of difference.
If you’re working with a pedestal base, you won’t have to do much because the vise is already attached to the platform. You have to adjust the height. If you’re working with a C-clamp, you’ll have to get screws and find the appropriate spot for stable work.
Other than that, most controls like the lever, bobbins, and rotation screws are easy to use.
Q. How to maintain and clean a fly tying vise?
A. Most fly tying vises are easy to maintain, especially if they’re made of durable materials like aluminum and brass. Stainless steel is easy to keep clean with a dry cloth. Do not use water because that will oxidize the metal and leave it prone to rusting, which will clog up some of the screws. If you ever feel the need to deep-clean your vise, you can use a lemon and vinegar solution.
Store the apparatus in a dry place, preferably away from sunlight. A cupboard drawer is elegant, but ensure that there is enough room to position it without disassembling all the parts.
Q. How long does it last?
A. A fly tying vise is usually very long-lasting if you keep it in good condition. Some models come with lifetime guarantees like the Griffin Odyssey Spider and the Peak Fishing Rotary Fly Tying Vise. This indicates that you can use the vise for many decades and not have to worry about its durability.
If you’ve paid good money for your vise, the chances are the material is also very durable. Strong, tempered metals will keep your vise from losing its shape and elasticity over time so that you can use your vise daily and still keep it in top form.