07-07-2009, 12:47 PM
Re: Opinions on a Vise
I'm with Mosca on this one-
What vises do you have access to? And will you be spinning a lot of deer hair?
Make sure whatever vise you look at can handle large hooks comfortably and hold them rock solid. Some vises will be able to handle a wide range of hook sizes, including 4/0 with standard jaws. Others may require "magnum jaws" and other models may not be able to handle them at all either because standard jaws can't be replaced, or because available optional jaws may not hold hooks that big. If you plan to tie hooks in a wide range of sizes, consider the price of optional jaws if needed as well as how easy it is to swap them out. (In some like the HMH it's a cinch, in others it may require some effort and/or special tools.)
For large flies you generally will want to use heavier thread and more thread torque--- especially if you're spinning hair. So either a c-clamp or a heavy pedestal is a good idea or you will be chasing the vise around on your bench or trying to keep it from tipping as you crank down.
For the HMH Spartan, you'd probably want to make sure you get the Magnum Jaws which hold hooks from 12-10/0. The Omni jaws that are typically sold as standard on the HMH are better suited to hooks 20-2/0. (The HMH also has excellent midge jaws if you tie tiny stuff 18-32). Extra jaws for the HMH run around 40 bucks, but you might be able to buy the HMH with the magnum jaws in place of the standard Omni. The base weighs around 3 lbs which may be a little on the light side for big stuff and heavy thread torque.
I use a Regal Medallion pedestal with the heavy 5lb bronze base and Big Game Jaws that hold hooks solid from 20-5/0 and I've used them to tie up to 8/0. It's been a great vise and I've been tying on one for 25 years, but it's not for everybody, and others have their favorites.
Both the Regal Medallion and the HMH Spartan are "360 rotary" that let you flip the fly in your vise to view from all sides, as opposed to "true rotary" which rotates the shank of the hook in a constant plane and are more typically used with rotary tying techniques. Both the Spartan and the Regal also allow you to adjust the angle of the jaws up or down which is handy if you tie inverted flies like clousers. Both are well engineered, no frills, rock solid vises that you could pass along to your grandchildren.
Vises like the Renzetti Saltwater Cam Traveller, DynaKing Barracuda etc would be examples of true rotaries that would hold 4/0 hooks well. Typically they do not have adjustable angles, though the are available in higher priced models like the DynaKing Ultimate Indexer. I don't have much experience with the Griffin rotary vises and haven't tied large hooks on a Peak Rotary.
It would be ideal if you could get a chance to test drive a few, with some coaching from friends or coworkers that tie, using the size hooks you'd normally use to see what features you like. Some vises require some fiddling to accept hooks of different sizes, some folks may feel cramped on some vises.
Good luck. It sounds like you're in a great position to get some great deals.