The article below is one which has been on my site for some time. It
is one of the more popular stories which I have written. I am sending this
in this month's newsletter as some of you may have missed this. I think
the info is timely and it offers you some ideas you had not considered.
I have added some extra info and if you may have seen this you might want
to look at this again
How to Choose a Fly Tying Vise That is Best for You
By Mike Hogue
Every year I get a load of questions from folks just starting to tie. One of the most difficult questions to answer is "how do I buy a vise". I'd like to think one thing that makes me unique is the free information I provide and the technical skill I can offer. I can honestly say I have tried and used every vise I sell. I also personally own most of the tools I sell. Lots of folks offer fly tying vises for sale and many places have loads of tools. I suspect that few companies can make this same claim of using and owning tools the tools that they sell. I seriously doubt if some these folks have a clue how to make a fly. For some of them, selling you a tool is no different than selling say a set of tires. I personally select each every type of tool I sell and all have to fit certain standards I have. If it doesn't meet these standards, I won't sell it.
Let's start with one fact. Not all vises are a like and the best vise for you may not be the most expensive one I sell. I have said this many times and I will say it again, a good tier can tie well on a $15 Indian vise and create beautiful work. It is not the stove that cooks the stew. A good cook can make good food anywhere!
Tools can not be a substitute for quality materials or skills. If you are just starting out, it may be better to spend money on lessons and materials than tools. Lessons from a master makes learning easier and quicker and will help you improve your skills much faster. I tied on an Indian vise for many years before I could afford the vise I wanted. I still have that vise and it does work (sort of...... I wore the jaws out from using it too much.)
Each vise has several advantages and disadvantages. When you group these things together, it should become very clear which vise fits your needs. The most important thing is to find the tool that fits you and your needs.
A good vise should have these basic features:
Holds hooks well. If a vise can't hold the hook it's pretty much junk.
Be durable and well made. Some inexpensive vises tend to have soft metal that will crack, break or will get grooves in it over time.
A vise that works correctly should be able to be locked down tight. Wiggly tools drive me up the wall. If it jiggles or moves it belongs at a dance fever convention not on a tying desk!
Any vise should be adjustable to hold a variety of hook sizes.
Steps to Buying a Vise
1) Set A Budget: When buying a vise it is a good idea to start with a budget. How much can you spend? How much are you going to use this tool? If you don't plan on tying much or you only want to make just a few patterns you use a great deal of, consider buying flies with the money you'll save.
2) Determine the types of flies you want to make: Consider what kinds and sizes of flies you 'd like to make. If you fish only a size 22 all the time, it is pointless to buy a giant vise that is built to support a tank. On the other hand, tiny narrow jaws are totally worthless when trying to hold heavy, thick hooks. In other words the kinds of hooks you use will dictate the type of vise you need.
3) Identify the features you like: Is a full, true " rotatory" vise important? How about turning? Do you want interchangeable jaws? Flexible head? Pedestal or C-clamp? Warranty? Bright or dull finish?
All of these questions sound a bit silly but I can honestly say one tool does not fit all of my needs. Each tool has several advantages and I use a different vise for different reasons.
4) Treat yourself once in awhile. A few years ago I bought a vise that I decided I'd get if I quit smoking. I still have that vise and it reminds me of how hard I worked to get it. ( I still don't smoke. ........ almost 5 years now! ) Some times simple goals like this make life more interesting. If you are like me, I suspect that you work hard and can appreciate nice things once in awhile. Reward yourself!
5) Don't be afraid to upgrade or trade vises. If your skills have improved maybe it is time to upgrade to a new vise. Maybe you have changed either the style, type or the way you tie. Some of the new vises can make it easier for you to tie. For example, I was struggling with some repetitive stress injuries and I found that some tools were simply easier for me to work. If you don't like the current vise you have consider trading it for another.
6) Ask questions. The only bad question I get is the one that isn't asked. If I don't know something, I'll find out for you. Just because I don't sell a product doesn't mean I haven't tried it. There are several brands I don't stock for very specific reasons.
I think you will find most fly tiers are pretty generous and will help you if you ask for help. Attending FFF or TU get togethers and conclaves are great places to meet and see how people use different tools. Asking how something is made or how to use something is a good way to learn. Most of the time these folks will offer assistance if you ask.
One final question is the convention design versus true rotatory. Which should you have? Generally if you tie small flies, bass flies, epoxy bugs or saltwater a conventional vise is the best choice. These flies have special problems and unique things often better suited to a conventional design. For example when making very tiny flies it is sometimes easier if you change the angle of head and make the stem go up and down instead of sideways or at a pitch.
True rotatory tying is generally useful if you are doing average size trout flies of say 4-20 which is what the most of us tie. If you are dubbing, ribbing a body, using floss or hackling dries true rotatory makes tying flies much easier. Almost any vise you buy should have a turning or rolling feature to allow you to turn the fly over. While I prefer a conventional design, all of my personal vises have a turning feature.
So which vises do I use? I have a collectable set of vises I use. I use:
An original 360 black head Regal with a C clamp. The first 360 turning Regal was a non Medallion version that had only a black head. I recently found a 1970's gold head Regal that I installed the pivot head on and I ordered a set of stems and a bronze base for shows and demos to fit both of these. The Regal is my choice for tying bass and some commercial tying. I generally have the Regal set up on a C clamp with a Griffin vise offset so that the head is about level with my tying desk.
Dyna King Pro. I have a Pro model Dyna King. I have the midge set of jaws and I also have a right angle offset from Dyna King. Dyna King sent me a base which is a limited edition brass pedestal base which I often use for demos and such. I have also have some brass knobs that was on the limited edition model also. I use this vise for many types of flies and I often take this on trips.
HMH Classic. This was the first "expensive" vise I owned and for awhile I was an HMH dealer. This vise is about 25 years old now as I bought it used! I wore out the collet from tying so many flies and the last tyer to send one like that back for repair was either Stalcup or Best ( don't remember which). I have the standard trout jaw, the midge jaw and a heavy duty jaw. A few of those I don't think they make any more. I also have the brass base which I had refinished once about 10 years ago. I use this once in awhile and it is the best vise for midges.
AK Best Vise: I bought one of these that was a return to a big box Outdoors store, it was marked down and I got just after the AK Company went down in flames. It is similar to the HMH vise although it locks at a 90 degree turn when you flip it. I like the vise and the design but I am reluctant to use since the jaws have been known to fracture and break and there are no replacement parts to fix this.
I have had several other vises which I have owned and used. I sold off several demo vises I owned a few years back and thinned my collection down by about 4 models.
Great New Vises to Buy or for an Upgrade:
Danica Fly Tying vise. The Danica offers many features found on vises which cost over $300: Rear handle crank, Full 360 Degree True Rotatory Tying, Midge Jaw (ties down to size 24!), Quick Release Hook Cam, Choice of angled or straight arm tying, Adjustable Bobbin Cradle, Interchangeable Jaws. Standard Vise w/Midge Jaw: $80.00, Optional Saltwater Jaw: $32.00, Pedestal base: $30.00, Danica vise w/both jaws: $106.00, with Both jaws and Base: $140.00
The Anvil Apex Vise: A work horse vise at a great price! This vise is an American Made vise of the highest quality. Traditional design made out of tool stainless steel. The Apex Vise has a rotating head with a cam lock. Head tilts up and down. Comes with BOTH a Pedestal Base and C-Clamp. Lifetime warranty. Nice for trout, travel. $100.00
Regal RCS-5: This is one of my favorite vises. Easy to use, just squeeze the handle and drop the hook in! Standard C-clamp model. 360 Degree Rotation, 220 Degree up and down movement, Adjustable hook tension knob, Lifetime warranty. $150.00, with Special Bronze Base: $225.00
The new Marryat MP (Multi Purpose or Marc Pettijean) Vise is an all-in one vise which is designed to travel with you. The MP vise enables tiers to tie a variety of flies from the simplest to most intricate and complicated designs. The MP vise includes 3 sets of jaws for tying from size 32 to 4/0 hooks, a tube fly system, a pedestal, -clamp, standard and rotatory setups, bobbin rest, parachute system and a materials holder. This truly is a one of a kind, complete system. With this vise you can tie almost any pattern, anywhere you are. $390.
Antron Body Wool: This is jumbo sized card of antron sparkle yarn. Pretty much the same stuff as the spooled antron but you get a lot more! Use for parachutes, shucks, LaFontaine Caddis, wings, spinners or about anything. Colors: Flo White, Flo Orange, Light Brown, Dark Brown, Gray, Black, Cream, Gold Yellow, Olive, Ginger or Amber: $2.50
Beaver Dubbing Dispensers: Really nice fine dry fly fur in dyed colors. Complete travel box with pre-drilled box. Ideal for trips, demos, classes. Nice fine dubbing with soft texture. One of my favorite natural furs. $15.00
Flexi Tails: Soft sparkle sili leg material formed into a squiggle shape. Ideal for sparkle grubs, wooly buggers, bass flies or saltwater grubs. Easy to use and something different. Is it a fly or hy-bred? I don't know. Hell they work so just try them. Medium size for 2-4 hooks. To use tie a 30 lb piece of mono into the fly body and then zap a gap the tail to the hook shank, easy replacement if the tail wears out or comes off. Colors: Clear/ Silver Sparkle, Olive/Gold Sparkle, Solid Black, Pumpkin/ Gold Sparkle, Chartreuse/Gold Sparkle. $3.00 a package.
The Original Genuine Canadian Series Mohair: THIS is the good stuff! Original material used for mohair leeches. I have at last found a source for this material. Very cool. If you are planning ANY sort of lake fishing trip you need some leeches and these are the deadly colors you must have! Canada Blood, Pond Olive, Canadian Brown, Spectrum Brown. $2.50 per pack.
THEY are back! The Original John Foust Pre-Cut Chernobly Ant Bodies. Double stacked foam in 2 colors. Use for C-Ants, Crickets, Stoneflies. Cool colors and easy to tie. Lay down some chenille/about 2 twists, Lash on the body, add some legs, make about 4 more winds of chenille, tie in the front, add more legs and finish. Great for the kids and easy to see if you need Coke Bottles to find your keys! Colors: Double Black, Tan/Yellow, Olive/Brown, Black/Orange, Brown/Orange, Tan/Black: $3.50 /pack ( I think there is 24 per pack, DON'T quote me on this! If it is missing one body it is not my fault!)
Wapsi Razor Foam: Each Pack contains 2 sheets each of .5mm AND 1 mm fly foam. Ideal for tiny bugs, wrapping or lots of other stuff. Colors: White, Gray, Olive, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Gray, Tan, Black. $2.50. ( Please note: a few of the colors are out of stock, I will add ALL of these as soon as available. Due in this week.)
Hareline Thin Foam: 1.5 mm thin foam. A bit bigger than the micro foam. Ideal for wings, bodies, beetles or ants. White or Black: $1.50
No Fray Wing Material: A soft web material which can be pre-cut shape without worry of it loosing shape or falling apart. Great of hopper, caddis, salmon flies. Contains some sparkle. Color with marker. Black, Dark Dun, Light Dun, Medium Dun, Tan, Yellow, White. $2.50 a pack.
Cauterizer: Very cool new tool! Pen like device with batteries. Flick on button and top glows extra hot. Use to remove loose fibers, clean eyes or melt deer or wool for installation of eyes. Also great for making a third degree burn to your fingers! This gets hot now so be careful! $20.00
Dan Bailey's Fly Fur: This is a synthetic material that makes quick and easy patterns. Fly fur has fine textured fibers with a bit of sparkle build in. Fibers are woven on to a backing and can be wrapped like chenille or hackle. Trim, shape and color with a marker to make cool flies: Colors: White, Med Dun, Olive, Yellow, Chartreuse, Flo Orange, Tan, Black. $3.50
Dan Bailey Wing Fiber: Same material as above but in long strands. Use for wings, streamers, bass or long saltwater flies. Flash and woven backing installed to make using easy. Colors: White, Med Dun, Olive, Yellow, Chartreuse, Flo Orange, Tan, Black. $3.50
Tyer's Travel Tubes: These are HOT! Big Hit at some of the winter shows. Unique solution to organizing and storing many materials. Perfect for travel to eliminate mess in travel box. Transparent tubes with square cap ends. Put materials inside and keep them from getting messed up. 2 sizes:
Flash Tube: Use for Flashabou, Mirror Flash, Mirage, Krystal Flash. 1/2" tube by 8" . Insert flash and it will lay flat. $1.50 each or a 6 pack for $5.
Thread tube: Keeps thread, floss, wire, tinsel organized. 1" x 10 1/2". Holds about 9 spools. $1.75 each
One More Color of Thread! At your request I have added this color! Danville 6/0. Tan/Beige; Use for crabs, caddis or on Hendricksons. $1.50/ 200 yard spool
I have a few skins of these: Dark Dun, Pearl and Purple ( Natural) Guinea Hen. These are a bit rough. Feathers are fine, wings and heads are a bit barfed up. Mostly grade 2's. Email me for choices. $20 each.
MORE Genetic CDC in! For big fans of this stuff, I got a bunch of this in. Colors: White, Light Dun, Brown, Light Brown ( Sort of a Wooduck Color), a few packs of Dark Dun. Great stuff. $3.50 a pack
Emu Feathers: Great for gills, use on stoneflies or hellgrimmites. Makes nice midge heads. Colors: Natural, Dyed Gray, Bleached, Olive, Black, Brown. $2.00 a pack.
Shows: I am still out on the road and I eventually will be near your house, so come and get out! The snow isn't that deep and this is a great chance to have some fun, see lots of stuff and stock up.
March 1, 2003 , Syracuse, NY, Iroquois Chapter of Trout Unlimited: Troutabout: Speakers include: Ed Jaworowski, Ed Koch, Don Holbrook, Don Douple, Rick Kustich. Holiday Inn, Electronics Parkway, Syracuse, NY. To get there: Come up Rt. 81, Get off on 7th North and go West until you get to the Holiday Inn. Same place as the TU National Show 2 years ago. 9:30-5, $5 to get in.
World, Fly Fishing Expo, Shriners Auditorium, Wilmington, MA. March 15-16, 2003. Speakers Include: Gary Borger, Lefty Kreh. Show also includes the Fly Tying Competition put on by United Fly Tyers of Boston. Got www.sportshows.com for exact directions.
Ithaca Fly Fishing Day: Boyton Middle School, Ithaca, NY. 3/24/03 , 9 am to 4 pm. One day event. Free admission. meet and talk with local folks about area fly fishing. Great chance to see what is happening around Ithaca.
Just added! Virgina Fly Fishing Festival: Waynesboro, VA. 4/ 5-6/03. Fish the South River in the Waynesboro for rainbows and browns. This is located about 2 hrs from Washington DC and about 2 hours from Harrisburg, PA. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is a fund raiser for the city of Waynesboro. Money will be used for stream improvement along the South River. Speakers include: Harry Murray, Lefty Kreh, Harry and Cathy Slone. For info go to: www.vaflyfishingfestitval.org.
Catskill Fly Tyer's Guild Fly Tyer's Rendezvous: Date: Saturday, April 12, 2003, Time: 10 am to 3:30 PM Location: Rockland House Restaurant, Roscoe, New York. Join us for a day of fun-filled fly tying. See new patterns; learn a new technique from those that have mastered tying the Catskill style of fly. Guests tyers include: Poul Jorgenson, Dick Talluer, Ralph Graves, Dave Brandt, Bob Mead, Bill Skilton, Frank Thompson, the Gang from the Global Fly Fisher, Crazy Ed Engleman. Also on hand will be Eric Leiser, Leon Chandler and a host of others. Admission is FREE!
Directions: Take Rt. 17 to Roscoe. Get off at the Roscoe exit. At the the main traffic light and stop in town, take Route 206 North. ( This is either left or straight depending on your direction of travel. Continue on 206 North at the Blinking stop light. Head 2 miles and the Rockland House is on the left hand side of the road.
The final stages of the Red Barn Fly Shop, the NEW Permanent home to Badger Creek Fly Tying are close. I am in the process of getting the little store and workshop together. My hours are this: Open when I am home. This is completely restored barn with parts which originated in the 1800's from the old Groton Smith Corona Type Writer Factory. Very cool, interesting and certainly unique.
To get here: Take 13 from either Cortland or Ithaca, come to the intersection of Hanshaw Road and RT 13. Turn North on Hanshaw ( this is a left FROM Ithaca)/drive by 84 Lumber. Go 3 miles to a T in the road. Turn right. Go 2 miles. Look for a Brown Octagon House, we are the next place. Olive house with red shutters. Red Barn is in the back. If you go to far you will cross Sheldon Road and see an old town meeting hall. If we have too may guests, we ask that you park at the church and walk down the street.
We will be carrying rods, boots, even more tying tools. Expect classes taught by some of the region's BEST known talent, special promos and lots of interesting stuff not available at the mall or your local McFly Shop.
If you are coming from out of town, it is best to make an appointment. I am at some shows and traveling.
As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068. 607-347-4946. Email: Mike@eflytyer.com, Web Site: www.eflytyer.com
See you soon! Mike
For more Info Contact:
Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068