Vises Become Habits

| May 18, 2021

Thinking About Next Level Fly Fishing? Start By Adding Zip To Your Flies!

Pulling the Trigger

So you say your flies are down? We all have that problem at some point in our fly lives. 

I had a text early Sunday morning, “I’ve tried everything and nothing works,” in reference to river carp rejecting his flies, all of them, while he could only stand there and actually witness the rejections.

First thing’s first though. We have to remember to LITERALLY get your fly down to the level a carp feeds. That level is most likely to be, day-in-day-out, eye level and below. If your fly is down, and you see that it is down while always remembering that water bends light, and you’re still suffering from premature rejection?

It’s time to make the leap, once all your flies have been exhausted … open your mind to tying flies for yourself. I know this may be something of a “roll-back” to fundamentals in fly fishing for some of my more seasoned readers of Texas Fly Caster, but new readers, true newbies, are showing up here daily as the sport enjoys popularity unparalleled since the days after “A River …” ran through the sport.

Vise Advice

The price of a better than average fly tying vise is going THROUGH THE ROOF right now, and if fly rods are any economic indicator, the top-line vises are headed straight toward the thousand-dollar mark, sooner rather than later. Imagine that! In fact, I am quite confident I could get more for my vise than I paid for it – if – I was going to put it on the market. But that brings up the topic of personal preference. My Dyna-King vise had been dubbed by fellow fly tying feigns, a “steampunk” vise. It’s big, industrial and heavy metal all rolled into one finely machined, tuned and oiled machine. I love it, and it loves me back. We are one in the fly tying universe.

Now you realize that fly tying vises are a very personal choice. Some general truths are, 1) You get what you pay for, 2) You can buy to grow into, 3) You can buy to grow out of, 4) In this market, selling what you grow out of is not a “losing proposition!” If you know, like I knew, that I was down for the count? then your choices get much easier.

Other general truths include, 1) Your time must have no value in the mathematics of fly tying motives, 2) Your significant other should sign-on for your bliss to come, 3) You might have to move out sooner rather than later, 4) Your best resources for fly tying materials and hardware (aka. hooks/eyes) are now, mostly in the internet world, 5) You WILL – UNCONDITIONALLY GUARANTEED – catch more of the fish you want to catch.


When I started my YouTube Channel in 2008, it was the wild west world. Never did I dream that of all the videos I have done, since the very first one, that of any category, “fly tying” far and away exceeds the viewing of all the rest of the great videos on my channel, and most channels experience the same phenomenon. The “views” of fly tying videos run rings around other categories and it actually does make perfect sense. 


This said, you can now go to fly tying gatherings, and they are great events for the spiritual gathering of extraordinarily diverse people who have the same interests. I say, “spiritual,” because these gatherings do something to cure aloneness, cultivate community and condone the creative side that is in all of us – without exception.

If you are interested in these gatherings, they also are a great place to see what equipment the grizzled fly tiers use, abuse and create; to help them be more creative, efficient and cost effective fly tiers. That goes for the basis too: You can see what these vises look like, up close and personal, before pulling the trigger on your own vise.


It is easy enough to drop names of vises – been there, done that. Instead, I want you to get a handle on what flies you want to tie. Are you strictly a trout gal? Are you strictly a sunfish kid? Are you a big warm-water game soggy bottom boy? Are you a saltwater momma? Many vises are typically NOT mutually exclusive to one of your addictions, but some do lean one way or the other – in the ways they are built. For me, I have a huge range because the flies for our local carp population are small, and the flies for my favorite thing – TEXAS SALT – are much larger flies. My Dyna-King can deliver abuse akin to a “Reservoir Dogs” torture sequence, but in order to balance strength with finesse? I have two sets of jaws, one for the big stuff and a (now very expensive) midge jaw that allows me to get around the hook when tying small stuff. 

What it boils down to now is your own personal needs, and your own “feel” for the vise you want. What I am here to recommend today is, a single vise that is (nowadays) considered affordable, middle of the road, and one that you may not ever outgrow if your feelings for fly tying wax and wane over time. You will probably love and appreciate a rotating vise, and that eliminates all non-rotating models. You will probably love and appreciate a vise that handles a wide range of hook sizes – AND I MEAN WIDE! My vise had gripped 26 to 4/0 saltwater hooks in its lifetime, and it still does so with strength and stamina. Hand size actually matters too.


I am not in need of a new vise, but am definitely fascinated by the company and products that come from Wolff Industries. Full disclosure: I do own one of their table clamps, and not only is it affordable, I believe it is a bargain for what you get! “Manufactured and assembled with pride in the USA,” means something these days as well …

Wolff Industries Atlas Vise looks to me to be a great place to start your next trip down the fly fishing black hole of tying flies. CLICK ON THE ABOVE IMAGE TO PURCHASE TODAY.

Would I buy this vise today? Yes, if I were at the start of fly tying I was at fourteen short years ago. But, no if I knew fourteen-years-ago what I know today. Tying thousands of flies, and selling flies as I do today, means I am firmly attached to my third vise purchase (around 2010) the Dyna-King Barracuda. But is the Barracuda worth today’s price (nearly $200 more than I paid)? That is a very difficult question indeed. My first two vises, I quickly outgrew, were Griffin Vises, and there’s a lot of bang for the buck in those vises – FOR SURE! They still sit on my table, ready for action today.

Only you know the answers, and mistakes are allowed when it comes to choosing the vise of your future. In today’s inflation, buying hardened American Made steel products looks like a good, arguably short-term, investment. Don’t like what you bought? Sell it quick, and move on! This is one of the hidden values of an inflationary time. Will prices continue to go up? Have you seen the prices on fly rods lately? There’s your answer … until something cataclysmic happens to the big economy (IN MY OPINION).

For you bean counters, there is one other, possibly significant, factor in your buy-no-buy calculations. Relaxation. Isolation. Community. The psychology of fly tying can fill one of these, or all of these psychological needs – if that is something you seek. I was one of those 1960’s eight-year-olds that built World War II model ships and planes. I glanced at the instructions once, and went to work. When I sit down to tie a new pattern, I commune with that kid once again. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes not so good … there’s no more dogfights on my bedroom ceiling, but now there are fish fights at the end of the line. I like that.

Lastly, a reminder: Your time has no value in your equation for your fly tying profit-and-loss statements! If you have better things to do, by all means – carry on. Keep paying for your therapist, and keep buying the meds … Chances are you can find the flies we tie that will do what you want to do – catch more of the fish you’ve been missing. Just hand over an arm-and-a-leg, and I will ship them today! It will not take you long, buying retail flies from custom tiers, to get to the mark of a top-of-the-line fly tying vise AND the ingredients you need to tie your own winners!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Body-Mind-Soul, Fly Tying

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

Comments are closed.

Discover more from Flyfishing Texas

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading