I am far from qualified to be reviewing vises. After all, I have only been tying flies for about 6 months now. But I haven't seen a review on my new vise, the Danica DanVise, and I thought other new fly tyer's, and maybe some experienced tyer's, would like to read an unbiased opinion of this vise. (So, how to you spell the plural of someone who ties flies?)
The vise I had been using came from a Hank Roberts fly tying kit from the '60's or '70's. Simple bullet nosed steel rod with a slot cut in one end and a thumb screw for clamping onto the hook. A simple clamp on affair that did an adequate job for a beginner. I selected the Danvise as my first real vise 1) because I was looking for something under $100, 2) thought I wanted to give rotary a try and, 3) a couple of independent reviews were quite positive. Oh, and 4) I found a deal on a gently used one.
The vise came with the vise, table clamp, bobbin holder, a spring for make 2 material holders, a left hand jaw clamp and a DVD for setting up and using the vise. One thing about the DVD, it?s not a slick professional production, but it is pretty thorough and carefully explains the features and how to use them. Set up is straight forward following the instruction on the DVD, which by the way are also available on YouTube at Part 1 and Part 2. The more important of the two, IMHO, is part 2 as it shows how to set up the jaws for the size hook your using. Part 1 shows how to adjust the tension on the rotation.
Personally, I think the jaw clamp could have been better designed, not for the clamping, but for dual motion. As designed, you need the left hand jaw clamp because the cam only works through 180 degrees. Just a bit more thought and it could have been 360 degree operation and one jaw. But that is just my opinion.
Speaking of the hook clamp, jaw, whatever is the proper term, I haven?t had any difficulty with it tying #8 through #20 hooks. A little adjustment when changing hook sizes and you have all the clamping power could ever want. One of the complaints in reviews is the chipping and breaking of the jaws, but I think if the properly adjusted, that shouldn't be a problem. It is also adjustable in the clamp so the hook shank is in-line with the rotary axis no matter what size gape is on the hook, at least for the size hooks we typically use.
The rotary feature is adjustable for tension and operates very smoothly. It can be set for free wheel with almost no friction, to full brake for no movement except with a very hard twist on the handle and everything in between. When I set it up for tying, there's just enough tension to hold position while wrapping thread, hackle or spinning hair, yet turns smoothly to inspect all sides or wrapping on tinsel or dubbing.
My biggest complaints with the Danica DanVise are trying to use the rotary feature for the top layer on flies like the Clouser Minnow. But that may be something that all rotary vises have in common. And that is lonely comes with the table clamp and not with a pedestal. My setup is more conducive to a pedestal than a table clamp, but the clamp is solid and does not mar the table top.
Overall, I think this is a very good vise and would have no qualms recommending it. And don't let the fact that it is made from Delrin stop you from buying this vise. The operation is smooth, the jaw clamps the hooks with all the force you need, and it looks good.