There are many great fly tying vises out there, and if holding a hook in place is your main objective, we’d go so far as to say you probably can’t go wrong with any of the ‘premium’ vises available today. However, those who spend countless hours at the bench know that not all vises are created equal.
A while back we asked you what exactly you wanted us to write about, and we were pleased to hear that some of you wanted to see more gear reviews – for tying flies! So, with that in mind, today we thought we’d tell you about a vise we really like for our line of work, and why.
What We Like in a Vise
Operating fly fishing lodges in remote locations means that our vise travels just about as much as we do. Therefore, not only do we prefer a vise that’s portable and durable enough to travel, but one that is also versatile enough to accomodate a whole bunch of fly styles and hook sizes for a bunch of vastly different fisheries. Furthermore, there are no repair shops or warranty centers in the bush. Thus, when it comes to most things mechanical (like a fly tying vise), we tend to subscribe to the theory that simple is best as well.
For those reasons alone, several of our guides (including yours truly) have been tying on HMH vises for some time now. We recently we got our paws on HMH’s premium level vise, the Standard. We really dig it, and below we’ll elaborate on some of our favorite features.
In a single year, its not out of the ordinary that we spin out hundreds (if not thousands) of flies from large articulated patterns and tube flies for steelhead and salmon, to tiny midge-sized flies for trout, to smaller saltwater flies for bonefish, to even larger saltwater flies for barracuda and tarpon. Therefore, when choosing a vise its really important to us that its able to accomodate the many fly styles and sizes for all the fisheries it might be used for. After all, who wants to travel with multiple vises?
The HMH Standard does a great job of this by featuring removable jaws available in three different sizes – Micro, Omni, and Magnum to handle hooks from size 32 – 6/0+. The jaws are easily removed and inserted by hand – simply unscrew the jaws from the vise, and hand tighten the new jaws back in place (see photo below).
When switching over to tube flies, HMH also offers a converter tool that threads directly into the vise, in the same fashion as the jaws, instantly converting it to an in-line rotary tube vise using the same ‘chuck-style’ jaw feature as their popular Tube Spinner Vise. Tubes can then be securely mounted directly in the vise, rather than forced onto a tapered mandrel or crimped flat like with other tube-holding tools. It really couldn’t be any easier!
Like most premium vises, the Standard is also available in your choice of a c-clamp for attaching directly to your tying desk, or a hefty pedastal base – which is perfect for those living in a tent without ‘traditional’ furniture.
Fly tying vises tend to be heavy (especially pedastal bases), generally contain a decent amount of steel, and are often quite pricey. Thus, they’re not something we like to chance being confiscated from our carry on in the security line. Therefore, we like a vise that can take a bit of abuse on the baggage carousel.
The HMH Standard is built tough, literally with a lifetime in mind. It also folds down surprisngly compact without any disassembly required, and features no smaller fragile parts to get beat up in transit making it a killer vise for travel.
As we mentioned above, when tying flies in the middle of nowhere, the last thing we want in a vise is something that needs a specialized key or tool to tighten, adjust, clean, or service. One thing that we really like about the HMH Standard is that essentially the entire vise can be adjusted or even entirely disassembled by nothing more than a couple common allen wrenches, a small screw driver, and your own two hands. That type of simplicity is something we really, really appreciate in the bush, and think in turn creates a tougher, longer-lasting product.
We really like the HMH Standard, and think its a fantastic option for anyone looking for a vise that can do it all, regardless of the fishery at hand. All HMH vises are also made in the good ol’ United States, which makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, and also offer a lifetime warranty – That’s hard to beat.
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