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Informative Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Articles!
CHOOSING QUALITY FLY TYING TOOLS
There are a lot of products out there for getting a few scraps of feathers wrapped around a hook so we can fool our quarry. The following fly tying tools are the essential foundation of a well-equipped fly tying bench:
FLY TYING VISES: Your fly tying vise needs to do one thing: Hold a wide range of hook sizes in a stable manner so you can tie a fly. Vises are available in price ranges from $10 up to hundreds of dollars. We can't recommend the lower end vises, even for beginners. They require a lot of adjustment and even then, the hook can still move around: Amazingly frustrating! After many years of tying professionally, we can recommend the following fly tying vises:
BUDGET FLY TYING VISES: The original Thompson A vise is a good inexpensive vise. This is the U.S. made vise that all of the Indian imports are copied from. We can't recommend any of the import knock-offs of the Thompson: they just don't hold up. They're alright for fly tying classes and beginners kits only as far as they are cheap and actually allow you to manage to tie your first couple of dozen flies economically. However, if you stick to the craft of fly tying, you will immediately buy a real vise. If you know you want to tie flies seriously, then at the minimum begin with the Thompson A. Unfortunately, Thompson is no longer in business, but you'll still see some catalogs or local fly shops that still have a stock. The best Thompson substitutes are the U.S.-made Griffin Superior 1A vise and Griffin Superior 2A fly tying vises. You'll see these good quality US-made low-end vises in a lot of beginner's fly tying kits or at fly tying classes. They are a good value for the novice or for a traveling fly tying kit.
MODERATELY PRICED FLY TYING VISES: Griffin makes moderately priced fly tying vises, including the excellent Montana Pro II Vise, that will give the average fly tier many years of trouble-free service. These are good investments for the casual tier.
TOP OF THE LINE FLY TYING VISES: Griffin, HMH, Dyna-King, Regal and Renzetti all build top-of-the-line beautifully machined fly tying vises. From a professional point of view, we prefer the HMH Spartan vise, which holds the smallest to largest hooks with only minor adjustment: very fast! The Dyna-King vises, of which there are many models, are all great tying tools that require minimal adjustment. The Renzetti line of vises are for the tier who likes the flexibility of the rotary type of vise. Although everyone has their own preferences, we would not recommend buying and learning on a rotary vise until you have the basics down. Once you have become proficient at wrapping hackle, dubbing and wing-work, and all the other basic tasks of fly tying, you can decide whether you want the classic simplicity of the Regal, or all of the bells and whistles of the Renzetti. Griffin also makes premium US-made rotary types now: The Griffin Montana Mongoose Rotary Vise is top of the line and made in the USA.
FLY TYING BOBBINS: Bobbins are a simple tool designed to hold your fly tying thread and to keep it under tension, releasing it as you tie. While this sounds like an easy thing to achieve, a cheap bobbin that frays and breaks thread can ruin a perfectly good tying session. The Classic Matarelli is a quality stainless steel bobbin that had been the standard for decades, but Griffin and a few other manufacturers are building American-made stainless steel bobbins and stainless steel bobbins with ceramic tubes that are a real pleasure to use, and at a much better price point. We like to have several bobbins loaded with different colors and weights of thread, and when doing production tying of one pattern we’ll load two or three bobbins with the same thread so that we’re not slowed down when the thread breaks. A block of wood with several small holes drilled in it is an economical way to store unused bobbins upside down without them getting tangled up with each other.
FLY TYING HACKLE PLIERS: Hackle pliers are simple devices that pinch on to the end of a hackle stem or other material and enable you to wrap materials around the hook shank. With the evolution of longer domestic hackle (e.g., a Whiting saddle hackle that will tie 3 or 4 #14 dry flies) most tiers now use hackle pliers infrequently. However, they come in handy while you’re learning fly tying, for smaller patterns, for shorter imported hackles, and for people that just have big hands. They are usually quite inexpensive, and you might want to try a few different styles and brands to find the one that suit you best. Try our Griffin Regular Hackle Pliers with large finger loops, or our Griffin Teardrop Hackle Pliers for small hackles. Fly Tying Tip: If your hackle pliers are breaking hackles, take an emery fingernail file and lightly buff the edges of the hackle plier jaws until you get rid of the offending sharp edge.