I started tying flies somewhere around 1962 or 63. Somewhere in there. My first vise was, most naturally, from the magical Herter’s Catalog. It got me going but didn’t survive the rigors of a seventh grader trying to figure out how on earth a guy could make that cool spiral of hackle from the tail to the head of a bucktail caddis. They didn’t provide much useful advice to Western fly tyers in that little grey Herter’s Fly Tying instruction Booklet.
Anyway, then i got a Thompson, wore it out and then grew into a Thompson Ultra, I think, and as the number of flies I tied grew, I broke collet washers and vise jaws now and then, but with a good stock of parts, I was entirely pleased with the Thompson.
For whatever reason, in the 1980s I bought a Regal Vise. Whoa! I really preferred this vise. Simple. Quick. No adjustments to make. Reliable.
Skip forward to the mid-1990s. Wanted to try a new vise. A fly shop recommended Dyna King. Bought it and tried it. Great for certain applications. Overall, I preferred the Regal. So I went back to my then-favorite and messed around with various new vise-heads.
Now let’s go to why my favorite, must-have, wouldn’t-in-a-million-years-give-it-up vise is now a Nor-Vise.
I had a dear friend who used a funny rotating vise back in the 80s. He tied commercially on it and told me it was great. I think I might have even used it a few times at his home. I was stump-fingered. Couldn’t get the hang of it. Gave up. politely thanked him, and went back to my Regal.
In early 2006, another friend encouraged me to try a Nor-bobbin. I was skeptical. I tried it and initially, was frustrated when the thread retraced and i needed to re-thread the silly thing. But after working with it for a week, I realized the advantages it offered over my cadre of fancy standard bobbins. This was a bit of a problem because I probably owned forty-something traditional bobbins at the time.
Then I went to a FFF Expo in Albany. Usually I just smiled and walked past the nice man sitting there demonstrating his invention, the Nor-Vise.
This time, though, I stopped and watched, from a distance at first, then up close and personal. I was still suspicious, clinging to my thought that this vise was mostly a gimick, a magician’s trick.
But I purchased a Nor-Vise and went to work.
Three years later, the Nor-Vise is my absolute go-to foundation for all my tying. It holds hooks positively. It saves me considerable time in fly construction. It is a marvel spinning dubbed bodies. Did I mention that it is fantastic for tying dubbed bodies. My tinsel rib is a marvel to behold. Stimulators and Wooly buggers with palmered hackles over-wound with copper wire are perfection, and fast to tie.
I could go on but won’t do so now. I also got to know Norm over the last three years. Fine gentleman. An innovative engineer and consummate fly tyer. A great teacher. Norm can do things with this vise that are beyond my current skill-set, but the efficiency, reliability, and superior technical advantages of this vise are mind-boggling.
Wish I had tried one years ago.
No hype, no bull, just performance.
Now for a shameless and blatant commercial suggestion: give a Nor-Vise a try. These are genuinely effective quality tools and Norm backs them with a full warranty. These are available at the Caddis Fly, as are any of the Nor-vise accessories that are not listed in the on-line catalog.
I still keep my Regal handy, because there are a few functions ot tying angles I seem to need it for (like tying on Waddington Shanks). Those functions comprise maybe 5% of the tying I do, but that 5% is still important.
And the Nor-bobbin? Now have over twenty of these gizmos and use them for 99% of my fly work. Duh.