Tight Lines: Innovation in tying
special to the Daily
While spinning deer hair for pike, I ventured into a nostalgic journey through my past and the history of fly-tying vices. In my youth, the only “rotary” with any vice was the clamp bolt or the shaft slipping. I went through five different hook-holding devices that all did the same thing: hold the hook. Then, moving forward to the 1990s, true rotary vices were all-the-craze. What an excellent addition to tying!
I traded my old-style Reagle vice for a Renzetti Traveler 2000. Today, it’s a hand-me-down to my daughter.
In 2005, the next revolution in fly-tying tools appeared: the 720 vice. The 720 spins on two axes, horizontal and vertical.
Most only see the 720’s unbelievable parachute-tying qualities, yet, there are many uses for the vertical spin feature. The “gallows” tool holds the para-post while you spin the base to wrap the hackle. The base of the pedestal weighs in at 7 pounds, giving this vice another leading edge.
The heavy base actually makes spinning deer hair a pleasure. Spinning hair is when most tyers put all the thread pressure possible against the material/hook causing most pedestal vices to tip forward. Not the 720.
A vice tipping in mid-tie will upset the most experienced tyer, messing up their work on the fly. While a clamp-down vice solves this problem, it still leaves you with limited options when it’s time to sculpt your creation.
The flip-up bobbin rest, attached to the base instead of the shaft, provides more working room between the jaws and the base of the pedestal – wicked feature for every fly you tie.
One of the best innovations of the 720 is that you can see, cut, and trim your fly at every angle. The four locking (every 90 degrees) points give you the ability to shave deer hair like no other. As I love to spin hair for pike/bass flies, this helps make more attractive flies in less time.
Before the 720, I put out a dozen flies an hour. Now, with the 720, I am able to tie fourteen flies an hour. Although it may not seem like a large gain, after six hours of tying, an extra two dozen flies proves its worth.
The jaws on the 720 are rated to hold hook sizes #32-#0/2.
In the typical Summit County way, I tend to push things to their limits. In this case, I’m stuffing a 0/4 Partridge pike hook in the jaws – the hook didn’t move once – and cutting shape of the fly body was easy and quick.
It is a modern tool for modern tying, like the difference between HD versus the color TV we knew as kids. In the winter, it’s spinning 720s on the mountain, and in summer it’s spinning the 720 on the tying bench.
Life is great here in the county, isn’t it?
Here’s a big, hair spun, pike fly recipe. This will require hair-spinning skills on your part. If you like pike, this fly is worth your time.
See the above picture for the finished product.
Kevan Evans is a local fly fishing guide and expert tyer. He writes a weekly column on fly fishing in Summit County.
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