Lately, I’ve begun tying larger flies, including streamers, salmon flies, and now saltwater striper flies. So, I finally decided to commit more of my hard earned money on a Renzetti Traveler vise, a finely made, true rotary action, pedestal based fly tying vise. All had for under $200.
I’ve been fly tying for over two years with a budget non-rotary AA clamp on vise. You might know the one, it’s been repackaged by a number of different fly tying stores, but they are all the same. For $15, it’s served me fairly well, aside from the fact that the jaws are a bitch when changing hook sizes to readjust.
I had a short list of vises which included the HMH Tube Spinner, Griffin Odyssey Cam, and Anvil Atlas vise, along with the Renzetti Traveler 2000. I was almost committed to getting the Anvil vise, but learned a little insight from Nate over Stone River Outfitters before I pulled the trigger on one.
The main thing he advised me on was the fact that Renzetti is one of the oldest in the business when it comes to making vises and their cam lock jaws don’t require swapping for different hook sizes. And it’s true. I went from tying #18 nymphs to 2/0 saltwater flies in the same day. A simple adjustment of the jaw spacing screw and that hook is cocked, locked, and ready to rock.
I also wanted to get a pedestal base vise to abandon the hassle of making sure the desk I want to tie at is 1.) not too thick 2.) has enough overhang to clamp to and 3.) isn’t going to get ruined by the clamp. The pedestal base has enough weight to keep the fly balanced even when cranking down on bucktails with mono thread. It also disassembles and packs down just as fast as unscrewing a clamp vise if you’re the traveling type.
Finally, the true rotary action. It spins a fly a full 360 degrees on a perfect parallel, if you line up your hook properly. That’s the one tricky part if you want to tie in rotary fashion. Some other vises, just due to their inherent design, make it easier to make sure your hook shank is level when clamped. Just from a prominent line made by the arm or jaws that your eye can follow, or by some level point of reference you can touch your finger to while holding the hook. I haven’t been able to find a consistent way to get this on the first shot, so I normally just clamp it in and rotate it to quickly check if its level. If anyone knows a good way, let me know!
The rotary action is adjustable using a set of nylon and brass bushings adjacent the rotary handle. This allows you to adjust the free play in the rotary action to let it spin freely like a bicycle wheel or with more resistance so that the fly will stay inverted on its own. I prefer the latter, as I haven’t the skills to speed tie flies like some of those showboats on YouTube. Maybe someday.
If you tie a lot of wooly buggers, streamers, and even dubbing spun wet flies, a true rotary vise makes life so much easier. While the biggest benefit comes from spinning hackles, chenille type materials, and wire, its been a god send using newer materials like vinyl D-rib and laying down smooth wraps of 3-4 strand floss.
One thing is to make sure you get the material holder, which doesn’t come with the vise. It’s a necessity if you want rotary tie multiple materials because it keeps other tied in materials spinning on the same axis as the hook. It’s only about $10 extra bucks, which is still a deal since Renzetti includes a bobbin holder with the vise (many manufacturers do not!).
And, at the end of the day, its nice knowing you have a quality base to work from and can stop worrying about pulling a hook off while you’re tying. I suggest you consider one if you’ve been tying with a budget vise for as long as I have. It should treat you well.