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Thread: Vise Lessons (Sometimes) The Hard Way

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Southampton, New Jersey

    Default Vise Lessons (Sometimes) The Hard Way

    25 years ago I started out tying on the standard vise at the time a ?Thompson Model A? that was a clamp. I tyed a few years on it but was frustrated with the inability to take it to Hotels or camping and be able to use it all. You see the clamp did not always fit the picnic tables or the hotel desks and or room tables. My wife for Christmas bought me a Thompson Pro II vise that was a pedestal. I simply loved that vise and tyed thousands of flies on it. I had moved along in my tying and started wanting to tye larger flies and seen that my vise could not accommodate. So I went and looked at what Thompson had to offer. I went without trying bought myself a new Thompson 360 SLT that could accommodate larger flies. Since it was a Thompson, I thought to myself, how could I go wrong. Well it did. The vise was beautiful and truly was built and crafted but, its hook holding ability was really poor. Okay the Thompson era has just ended, now what?
    The Renzetti era begins. I bought myself a Renzetti Presentation 4000 with a saltwater base and cam locking jaws. I was in bliss for an extremely long time. So loving this vise so much, I wanted a Master. So I sale my vise and buy a master. I simply loved it. So what?s the issue here? Well tying at show and presentations and giving demonstrations and for tying when on camping and fishing trips, I needed another vise. So I bought a Renzetti Traveler 2000. I had the vise and used it about six times. I am tying at Ramsey?s show and I pushed the vise and knocked it over on the table. The vise fell from its upright position to its side. The adjustment screw made of Nylon use for the Rotary tension sheared off and the housing for the vise cracked. I could not believe my eyes of the damage occurred at a small drop. I sent the vise out to Renzetti and paid for the shipping and another 30 dollars and had the vise repaired. I then sold the vise and went and bout a newer Renzetti Presentation 4000 with cam Jaws and saltwater base. So I am back to being happy and had the vise and used it a total of three times. Back to being happy and relaxed. So here I am at fly fest last year and I take my vise out of its storage pouch made by Renzetti and start to assemble it. The vise stem when placed into the vise goes smooth, and then the vise arm that holds the jaws slips out of the collet and falls on the table and rolled onto the floor. So I pick up the pieces and realize the vise is damaged and cannot be repaired by me. A lot of my friends seen this and were trying to assist and they could believe it either. At this point I realized that the newer Renzetti vises were not built the same as they were 10 to 15 years ago. I sent the vise back to Renzetti and they informed me that they would not cover the repair and told me I was abusive to the vise. The owner?s wife who runs customer service became extremely combative and downright nasty hanging up on me twice. So I told her to please just send the vise back and she would not unless I paid them $15 dollars for shipping. I blew up at that point and went off. To make a long story short, I got the vise back about two months later.
    Ending the Renzetti era, so at fly fest I purchased a Regal Medallion with the Stainless steel jaws and felt like a fish out of water tying with it. So I go home and a week later I want to tye some larger Carrie Stevens streamers and make the adjustment to the master vise. Next I wanted to tye some clouser minnows for saltwater and had to remove the master jaw assembly and then add on the Clouse Arm for the Renzetti Master. I just got tired with always having to change the jaw assembly and still had a bad taste in my mouth with Renzetti. So I just simply sold this eight year old vise and took part of the money and bought another Regal with Stainless steel jaws and the big game jaws assembly as well.
    The Regal Era begins. Now I must say that Regal is a great vise for Trout flies and I truly feel it is a quality product. I also love the simplicity. So my only quirk with a Regal is I do not like the Big Game jaws used for salt water flies and tying Salmon flies. I just can?t seem to get use to finding a slot in the jaws to properly hold the hook. I feel this issue is further compounded due to me placing a protective piece of a small acrylic like material around a salmon fly hook so the hook does not get it?s coating/finish ruined by the vise. Secondly the last minor quirk is the base of the vise. Allow me to explain. When the vise stem and jaws is placed into the base, you really have to crank it down a bit to keep it from rotating around. Not really a big issue. The problems I see here is how long with the set screw last that has piece of jell like material attached to the end of the screw. I feel Regal could make the diameter of the base holing just a tad smaller and make the set screws head a little larger at the end of the screw that is securing the vise stem. My last issue is I see after a couple of weeks the vise stems get a little oxidation to it. Wipe it down and remove the oxidation and not an issue for a few weeks again. So I have sold my main home regal vise and am keeping the second regal vise for tying at the club and camping only for right now.
    The HMH era begins. I have been trying touching and owning numerous vises since February this year. I have finally settled with the HMH standard vise. This vise is what I call a back to basic?s vise with that old Thompson feel and style. The hook holding power is great and yes I can still rotate the fly for inspection and aid in tying. I also bought the Micro Jaws and the Magnum jaw assembly for the vise as well. Changing jaws takes no more than 30 seconds to do and again has great hook holding ability. The head of the vise can be moved up and down and the fly can be fully rotated 360 degrees. No issues for space for hands. The HMH standard vises are precision made and built like a battleship. No oxidation issues and need for constant adjustments.
    So why the back to basics approach from owning full rotary vises? Fully rotary vises are nice and have their drawbacks, try tying a clouser minnow on one. Hand room on some of them is an issue. Also really how many people use the rotary do nothing more than just look at the fly? Now on the flip side rotary vises do speed up tying flies when using the rotary function as it was intended to do. My only quirk with this statement is that I am a minimalist when it comes to thread wraps and do not like to add a half hitch here and there to the fly so I can use the rotary function. It seems that I have come full circle and have seen and learned that keeping it simple truly is the best way. I am not endorsing any vise so I have nothing to sale or lose. What I do have is many years of experience and when I speak about a vise in a positive or negative way is not due to being on some one?s pro staff, it?s due to my own liking and experience. As I have told numerous tyers on this site from time to time, vises are like ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge and so on. Long as the vise meets the basic criteria that all vises must stand up to then the decision is left up to the tyer. Try the models out if you can before buying. There are tons of really good vises on the market today.

    Well moving on a little over 35 days:

    Well the HMH Standard Vise is working out great. I am finally use to the vise and very comfortable with it. So why did I need time to get use to the vise, Good question. Try tying day after Day on a true Rotary vise and then go to something completely different. Now that I am very comfortable with the vise, I am doing one thing that I have not done in awhile, tying flies. The HMH vise is a hook holder and once you get the hang of adjusting the jaws (maybe only a hook or two to learn), the vise is a set it and forget it when tying flies of the same size. I am so use to the vise now that I can just set the jaws in one try for new hook sizes and just go about my tying. The jaws can be replaced with Midge size jaws or Large size jaws used for Salmon & Saltwater flies. It takes about 30 seconds to change out the jaws. I can see this vise lasting a good long time. Plenty of room for my hands and I like having a material holder again. I hate the material holder on the Regal and just stopped using it. I love this vise so much that I just bought the HMH Spartan Orvis edition that will be my new travel and show vise. What was really nice was being able to tye Clouser Minnows with out having to take the vise apart to install the clouser minnow arm which was a pain in the but at times. One thing I do find with HMH and Regal is that the simplistic design allows plenty of room for your hands to work in. I felt a little cramped on rotary vises. Again this is not putting any ones favorite vise down. I am only speaking for my own likes and dislikes with vises that are ment for me to tye on.
    Last edited by Fontinalis; 01-30-2013 at 08:36 PM.

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