Take Advantage of Your Vise!

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Justin Pickett

Being a consistent fly tying machine can sometimes be challenging.

Especially if you plan to tie in the interest of making some extra spending cash, you need to stay consistent and efficient. When it comes to consistency, you’ve got to be able to stick to your recipes day in and day out, and not wander off due to complacency, or from just not having a golden standard to tie from. One of the things that I have done over the years that has helped me tie consistent flies is to simply use my vise. Our vises are more than just hook holding apparatuses. They hold materials, flies, tools, lights, but something else they do (an unadvertised feature) can be even more beneficial while sitting at the tying desk.

Aside from providing the platform from which we tie flies, a vise can also provide measurements and points of reference. 

When I tie, I always place the hook in the vise the same way, whether it is a 2/0 or a #20. When I lay the hook in the vise I make sure to have the tip of the barb just barely inside the very tip of the vise jaw. For barbless hooks, I place the hook point even with the tip of the jaw, completely covering the bottom bend of the hook. This gives me a consistent starting point before I lay the first wraps of thread. When it comes to tails, wings, legs, foul guards, weed guards and just about any other material that needs to be measured or trimmed, I have numerous angles, screws, and joints along the vise that I can use as landmarks to ensure that I have the correct length, or that I’m placing a material in the right place.

These are all things that you’ll likely need to write down as a part of each recipe initially, but given time and experience, it will become second nature. The first vise that I owned was a Danvise. I used a silver Sharpie to place hash marks on the vise, and I would jot down which hash mark a material would extend to for each pattern. It might have been a little OCD at the time, but eventually I remembered these recipes, including my landmarks. Today I own a Peak vise and I doubt I’ll ever own anything else. There are a couple of faded Sharpie marks on it, but mostly I’m able to use the various angles of the vise as well as some of the transitions from one piece to the next. Even when experimenting with new patterns, I make sure to use these same landmarks to help me keep track of material placement and length to ensure that each fly remains the same.

Next time you are sitting under the light, try using your vise to help you stay consistent with your fly patterns. It has helped me a ton over the years, and hopefully it will do the same for you!

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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