Views From This Side Of My Vise

Since the name of my column is “Views From My Side of the Vise”, I thought I should talk about fly tying vises. Or, at least my experiences with the
different vises that I have owned.

My tying journey started with a tying kit from Cabela’s. It came with a basic non-rotary vise. The vise did its job and held a hook tightly. It was extremely difficult, however, to adjust and some smaller hooks tended to slip in the jaws. This vise did give me a good start to fly tying.

From my beginner vise, I did a minor upgrade and got an EZ Rotary Vise. This gave me a nice step up from my first vise. It was much easier to
adjust in order to hold a hook in place and was a nice vise — worth the money I paid for it.

My first quality vise was a Peak Rotary Vise. It was big, heavy and well-built and was easy to ad￾just and held the hook very tight. I’d recommend
this vise to anyone.

About this time, I joined the Laughing Trout Fly Tying Club. Most of the folks there were tying on a Renzetti Traveler Vise. Since I cannot stand up to
peer pressure, I sold my Peak and got a Traveler. This is another high quality vise and all that you will ever need.

Well, anyone but me. I eventually sold that Traveler and got a Renzetti Presentation 4000. This is just a little higher quality as compared to the Traveler. I still have this vise and use it all of the time.

My fly tying vise journey was still not complete. Several years ago, I bought a Renzetti Master. It’s a high quality vise and should be for what it cost.
This vise stays on the desktop in my tying room and I use it every day.

Since I got the Master, I did go back and get another Renzetti Traveler that I keep on the tying desk at my lake cabin. I also picked up a Griffin
Mongoose that I use if I am going on a trip.

So, what have I learned along the way? The first thing is to find a vise that looks and feels the way you like when you are tying on it. I recommend
going to your local fly shop to check out their options. They will be more than happy to help you and probably even let you test drive a couple
different models to see what you like and what you are comfortable with.

The biggest thing I have learned along the way is that a better vise will not make you a better fly tyer; only practice will do that. High-end vises are
very nice to tie on, are silky smooth and for me are worth the extra money, but they’re not foreveryone. Try a couple different vises and figure out what works for you.

Views From My Side Of The Vise

Have these words ever passed your lips? “But honey, I will save a lot of money if I start tying my own flies!” That is where some of us started out. Saving money by tying flies is possible in theory with some self discipline and constraint. Until it isn’t. When you finally admit that you have no impulse control when it comes to your tying addiction, you will need to give some serious thought to material storage.

Those that are just getting started tying their own flies can probably put all of their tools and materials in a shoe box. I can still vaguely recall those days. Now I need an entire room, plus a little more in my basement to keep everything that I have. But I don’t have a problem. Really I don’t. And if my wife asks about my tying material collection, I assure her that my collection is very normal while doing it with a straight face if possible.

I like to keep all of my tying materials neatly stored in my tying desk and a couple other cabinets. I keep materials that I use the most in my desk. Most of the materials are kept in their original packages so they are appropriately labeled and similar materials are grouped together in larger plastic bags. My tying thread and wire are kept in smaller drawers and sorted by brand and size. Likewise, hooks are sorted by style and size.

If you don’t have a dedicated space like I do for your fly tying, plastic totes work very well to keep your materials organized. Another option if you
don’t tie a lot of different fly patterns is to organize your materials by what is needed to tie a particular pattern. You could keep a plastic tote that has just the materials needed to tie a Parachute Adams or an Elk Hair Caddis.

One thing you need to pay very close attention to is keeping bugs out of your tying materials. Materials that you purchase from your local fly shop are going to be clean and bug-free. If a friend gives you a beautiful full pheasant or wood duck skin that they harvested, be very careful! The best
thing to do if you have great friends like that is put those donations right into your freezer. After a couple of days, take them out and let them thaw.
Gently wash and dry them. When they are dry, put them in your microwave for about 10 seconds. After that, they should be safe to keep with your
other tying materials.

Wherever your fly-tying journey takes you, try not to become like me!

Views From This Side of My Vise

Paul Johnson

In this column I thought I would share with you some of the reasons I really like to tie flies, so here goes.

• I get to buy some really cool fly tying tools, from my tying vises to my bodkins. I really like how they feel. Some of the tools are ridiculously expensive, but if I take good care of them, they will last for years.

• It is a good feeling to finish up a batch of flies. It feels like I am being productive and accomplishing a goal.

• When I head down to my little fly tying room it seems like I am escaping from the real world. Along that same line, tying gives me time to daydream. My mind can wander to the places I might be going or where I have already been.

• I don’t consider myself an artist by any means; however, when I am tying flies I can pretend to be artistic. I enjoy the opportunity to be creative in my preferred medium of hooks, thread, feathers, hair, foam, dubbing, etc.

• It has been really cool to share my passion for tying with others, whether through publications like this, social media, YouTube videos, or with my buddies at Laughing Trout. I have met so many nice people throughout this journey.

• I am always on the lookout for new fly patterns to learn. It is a fun challenge to figure out how to tie those flies or how to tweak the pattern to please my eye.

• Fly tying is a lifelong pursuit. I have learned a lot since I first started tying and there will always be more to learn.

• Most of all, I love to tie flies that fish will eat. Nothing is better than watching a fish come up and sip in my size 18 BWO Special dry fly.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if there is anything that I can do to help you with your fly tying journey.
Paul Johnson (
Waconia, Minnesota