Congrats, you’ve got a great woman there. As far as vises go the good and bad news is you’ve got a lot of choices. Budget, personal preferences (c-clamp vs pedestal base), what you’ll be tying (real small stuff, typical trout and bass stuff or large saltwater), range of hook sizes you’ll be tying, and features (fixed head, adjustable head angle, 360 rotary, or “true” inline rotary) all enter in to it.
You’ve gotten great recommendations from Wyatt and Fly2Fish. Shop around, and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, but you can often find some pretty good deals for the same vise and prices can vary quite a bit from shop to shop, and there may be discounts and coupons available for additional savings as a lot of places are struggling with the lousy economy.
You may be tempted by some inexpensive Asian imports that run from 10-50 dollars. Generally they have soft metal jaws and poorly machined parts that can give you fits. A lot of people have started on them including me, but there are better ways to go. If you were to go this route, buy a 10 dollar one if you just want to try a few flies to start and save money here for a bottle of aspirin and a better vise fairly soon down the road and plan on eventually giving the vise to a kid, someone that owes you money, or your mother-in-law.
Griffin, made in USA makes vises with steel jaws, and their vises come with a guarantee. The 1A is a no frills basic vise (fixed head angle) for about 45 with a 1 year guarantee. The 2A has a few more features (adjustable head angle) that make it a little easier to tie on and a lifetime guarantee for about 60 bucks. If tying is something that you take to, you’ll likely want to upgrade fairly soon, but either of these wouldn’t be bad to start on, and are decent back up vises if you decide to upgrade.
Danvise is a “true rotary” with a lot of features, is well designed and an excellent value at around 80 bucks. Many of its component parts are made of Delrin (hard plastic) instead of metal. This vise is something of a love/hate thing. Many people love it and have tied for a bunch of years and tied 1,000’s of flies on it with no issues. The support from the importer (the vise is made in Denmark i believe), Al and Gretchen Beatty is super, should you have any problems with it down the road and it comes with a DVD that shows how to set it up and use it. Others have bought it as a very good “entry” vise and have moved on to more expensive vises in the 150 dollar range (Peak, Renzetti Traveler). If you’re tying trout and FW bass sized stuff, in terms of bang for the buck, this is a very good vise IMHO. If you were looking to tie on big saltwater hooks 2/0 and up there would probably be some better choices for a bit more.
At 100-120 and again around 150ish there are a ton of choices of quality vises, and preferences will pay a big role in your selection. I think it would be a good idea to have a little experience at tying, and trying a few different models once you’ve gotten some chops first before you sink a ton of money into a vise. And like everything, prices for vises will go up from 150 with lots of choices at different price points around 200-250, 300-400, and up. Browse through some of the recent threads on this forum for more info on starting up, and here’s a link to vise reviews with a lot of helpful info to get your head around options and things to look for:
Selecting the best fly-tying vise, by Hans Weilenmann and Bruce Salzburg
Tools- at a minimum you’ll want a bobbin, scissors and bodkin. Here are a few specific recommendations with inexpensive but “decent for now” and better quality more expensive but “lifetime” quality tools:
Bobbin to hold thread. Griffin metal tubes at 7, or ceramic tube or tip bobbins by Griffin, Dr Slick, Matarelli, Tiemco, Wasatch Rite, for 13-25
Scissors- 4” long (total length) fine point needlepoint/embroidery type scissors 3-5 bucks, or Dr Slick or Anvil 15 bucks. If you upgrade to Dr Slicks or Anvil, save the first pair for cutting rough stuff like bucktail etc.
Bodkin- just a needle on a stick, any import 2 bucks or stick a needle in a wine cork.
Whip finisher – “Matarelli style” import whip finisher 7 bucks, the real thing, Matarelli whip finisher 17 bucks
Bobbin threader- any brand, or use a loop of mono to pull thread through.
Hackle pliers- get the “English style” any brand 2-3 bucks for wrapping hackle for trout flies.
Hair stacker- handy for hair wing flies, get type with 2 different size ends, any brand, 5-7 bucks. You won’t need them for simple nymphs and stuff you’ll probably start with, but they’ll be handy down the road for Wulffs, Elk Hair Caddis patterns etc.
Dr Slick makes a quality toolkit that has all of the above for about 55 bucks.
Waste catcher- to catch snippings and other **** to keep your marriage intact. You can buy one (of course) or just slip one handle of a plastic grocery bag over the stem of your vise to have a handy place to toss stuff.
As far as materials go, start slowly buying stuff for a couple simple patterns at a time and use decent but inexpensive hooks. For trout, that would be stuff like woolly buggers with size 8 3xlong hooks (like Mustad 9672), pheasant tail nymphs size 16 2xl nymph hooks (Mustad 9671) and gold ribbed hares ear size 12 or 14 2xl nymph (Mustad 9671). Knock off a dozen or so of one pattern, maybe in a few different sizes or colors or adding stuff like bead heads to a few for a little variety before you move on to the next pattern. This will help you “get it down”, and lock in the techniques and proportions , which will serve you well as you move on to other more complicated patterns.
The best advise anyone can give you would be to look into a beginning tying class at a local TU chapter or fly shop. You’ll learn a ton, get to see how to use different tools, what materials to use for different patterns (and why), and get to see/try out different types of vises in action. Lessons will get you off to a great start and save a ton of time crawling/climbing up the learning curve and save a lot of frustration.
If you don’t want to go the class route, there are excellent tutorials on the web that we can point you to, and can give you suggestions for materials based on patterns you fish with and want to tie.