By John McPherson
As we move into the winter season we aren't able to be on the river as much but we can pass the time with some fly tying. I tyed for almost 30 years on the same vise and thought I would be tying on it until the day I die. Then I played with the Dyna-King vises we started carrying last spring.
That night I went home, sat down at my tying bench, and for the first time ever I wasn't satisfied with my vise. The very next day when I came into work I purchased a Dyna-King Barracuda which is priced in the middle of their line. The first thing I noticed when I got home that night to tie was how smooth the rotary feature was compared to what I had been using. This company does not skimp on the bearings they put in their vises!
I have a heavy hand when it comes to tying. In the past I have always had to clamp my vise to the table in order to have a stable platform for tying. The larger base for these vises with their extra weight allows me to pull with considerable force without worrying about tipping my vise. My Barracuda is roughly 6 pounds in weight and about 4 of these pounds are in the vises base. Another feature that allows me to wrap thread really tight while tying streamers is the double notched jaws. There are two notches in the jaws, one for the larger hooks used in tying streamers and a second smaller notch for your small dries and nymphs. The Barracuda can tie flies from size 8/0 down to size 24. Personally, 4/0 hooks are the largest I've used so far and none of them have moved when cranking down hard on thread. The only time I seem to have some slippage with the jaws is when I am using streamer shanks. These really don't hold well in any vise though. The only other thing I have noticed that I need to keep an eye on is the knob that locks the rotary feature. Occassionally it will loosen to the point it will fall out. As long as you check this knobs tension periodically you won't risk loosing it and have to order a replacement.
Some people I have talked to have issues with the jaws holding very tiny hooks, size 20 and smaller. The tip of the jaws are serrated and as long as I have the jaw tension properly adjusted I haven't encountered this issue myself. All Dyna-Kings come with standard jaws on them but If you do tie a lot of small flies you may want to take a look at their midge jaws which have a hook range of 10-32 (you'll need a microscope to see that small)! Another option for small flies is the Excalibur, this vise has two spots to adjust the angle of your vise that will aid you when tying tiny bugs by tipping the jaws up.
These vises do come with a slightly higher price tag but they are American made with the highest quallity materials and craftsmanship. I myself hesitated for a moment before making my purchase but I realized that this is a vise that I will be tying on for the rest of my life and hopefully will pass on to someone when I can no longer see good enough to tie myself. You can find Dyna-King vises here!
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