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axle27 12-25-2008 08:39 PM

My wife, God bless her soul, got me a book and just about everything to tie flies (minus materials and hooks) the the exception of a vice.

Any recommendations? Note that I've never, ever done anything like this. I'm trying to get her interested as she is very, very crafty and would probably enjoy tying. Not that I wouldn't, but I have an idea she might be much better. AND, I don't want to spend a ton of cash on a vice.

Wyatt 12-25-2008 09:28 PM

Re: Vices
Hello axle27
You could start as I did with a Griffin Superior 2A vise which is a very good vise for around $60 and my wife still uses it when she decides tie flys or if she is making ear rings or some other craft she tinkers at, but I then tried a couple of different vises that friends had and then went for the Renzetti Travler for about $170 at a locale flly shop and have not looked back now I look for reasons to try tying new and smaller flys.

Fly2Fish 12-25-2008 10:05 PM

Re: Vices
Hi Axle27,

In addition to Wyatt's good suggestion, you might also take a look at the Danvise, the only true rotary under $100 that I know of (generally goes for around $80).

Good luck,

peregrines 12-26-2008 12:13 PM

Re: Vices

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.

10-50 bucks
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.

45-60 bucks
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.

80 bucks
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.

Good luck,


Fly2Fish 12-26-2008 07:45 PM

Re: Vices

Once again, a masterful review. They all should be put in the Gear Reviews section.

As a fly-tying novice, I'm wondering what you think of rotary hackle pliers as compared to standard? And do you have any opinion on dubbing "winding" tools?

Thanks very much for your informative postings.


Ard 12-26-2008 08:31 PM

Re: Vices

Do yourself a favor and save some bucks, check eBay for a D. H. Thompson A vise. They are often there in new condition with the box. These are old and are not rotary but some of the best fly tiers that have ever wrapped a hook used the Thompson. The fly in my avatar was tied on a model A.

I assure you that if cash is at issue and you really want to tie flies, you can tie like an old master on a Thompson Model A.

I'm talking $9.99 - $15.00 and watch that you don't get ripped on postage. If you come in with one at or under 25 - 26 bucks, You Win! Made in America and built like a hammer they will last forever or until you can throw down for the heavyweights. I hope that everyone can agree that long before all the new generation of vises were available Thompson was recognized as quality at the bench.

Good Luck,


axle27 12-26-2008 09:02 PM

Re: Vices
Peregrines and Hardy,

Thanx for the great ad"vice".

However, my wife got me the scissors, bobbin, threader, whipfinisher, hackle pliers, hacle pliers and bodkin. Even Head cement. I know where she got them and I also know that she knows even less about this than I do, so someone there must have helped her.

I don't know when I'll start, but it will be soon enough. I'm just getting things together for my 2wt.

Ard 12-26-2008 09:25 PM

Re: Vices

I have the Model A, and the somewhat rare Thompson 360* pro, and a Renzitti Traveler, I was pushing the "A" to keep the price down but maintain quality.


pneumatic 12-27-2008 10:38 AM

Re: Vices
Just some advice: don't get caught up in the price... some of the best flies that I've ever seen were tied next to the campfire in a pair of vice grips.

While it certainly helps, an expensive vice will not make up for raw talent.

FrankB2 12-27-2008 04:08 PM

Re: Vices
The Griffin 2A is an excellent vice: inexpensive, holds a wide range of hooks
with a death grip, Made in USA (and well-made at that!). I used mine with a
c-clamp, but bought the Griffin pedestal base ($25) a few months later.
I bought a Peak rotary vise (made in USA as well) a couple years ago, and
sold my Griffin to a forum member whose vice had been stolen. There both
great, but the rotary vices are just a little greater for my tastes now.

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