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:
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 2 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.
I hope this helps you in choosing the right vise for you. If you have any questions or you need some help, e-mail me and I will try to answer your questions. Mike
For more Info Contact:
Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068