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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Dec 16, 2007December 16th, 2007, 3:34 am EST
Double post.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Dec 16, 2007December 16th, 2007, 3:37 am EST
I see there have already been many replies with lots of good information. I've been tying for about fifty two years and for more than half of those years used a really old fashioned Thompsom vise that didn't even have a cam lever to lock the jaws. It had a large threaded knob at the back of the vise that I turned to close and tighten the jaws.

If you want to tie many different sizes of flies and especially large streamers and salt water hook sizes I would recommnend the Regal Vise. It is really a "work horse" and can take all sorts of abuse and it still hooks hooks tighter than any vise that I'm familar with (although there may be others that hold tightly too)

The rear action cam opened the jaws easily and once the hook is properly seated in the jaws it will not move. I used the standard, no rotating Regal for about fifteen years and still use it for Clouser minnows and all of my salt water patterns.

For finesse and simplicity I like the HMG standard model with the clamp on feature. I never liked the vises with the heavy base that just sit on the table by the virtue of their heavy base. That may be fine for trout flies but when I am using 3/0 thread and trying to lash down a hair wing on a streamer I don't want the vise to be falling over on it's nose.

I use the standard jaws for all of my tying but that is because I'm very frugal and just won't pay the extra money to buy a set of midge jaws. But I can see over the years of using one set of jaws for hooks from # 2 - # 22 my HMG jaws are sprung and don't hold small hooks as well as they did fifteen years ago.

I like any bobbin with a polished radius at the bottom and top ends of the tube. I've tried bobbins with ceramic inserts and can't say that they perform one bit better than a standard bobbin costing half as much money.

I like the "Stonefly" brand of scissors with the very fine points for small fly work, and the Thomspon serrated blade "Ice" scissors for cutting hanks of hair. I think it is important to have at least three pairs of scissors for various fly tying work. Fine slender points for small dry fly and nymph work, a medium duy pair with serrated blades to cut hanks of hair and fur from the skin, chenille, etc. and a really robust pair of scissors with blades 3" - 4" long for cutting Glo-bug yarn, synthetic hair, etc. I never use my fine bladed scissors for anything but cutting thread, hackle stems, and similar tasks requiring finesse. A fifth pair that I like for hooks #20 and smaller is a pair of Iris scissors. These have very short blades about 1/2" long and function via a spring between the curved handles. I take a fine Arkansas stone and carefully stone the tips of the blades to a much finer shape so I can get the cutting edges closer to the head of the fly.

Years ago I located a miniature "Whip finish tool" at a flea market. They resemble the standard whip finisher but are just half the size. I find it so much easier to whip the heads of small flies with this tool as Ican still see the head of the fly.

I keep a pair of fine quality tweezers on the work bench to aid in picking up single microfibbet tail fibers and to help separate a clump of three tail fibers so I can get my thread in between the fibers to split the tails.

In fifty two years of tying finding excellent hackle pliers has been my biggest challenge. About fifteen years ago I saw a hackle plier advertised in a Dan Bailey catalog and bought one. It is eaily the best hackle plier I have ever owned and will tightly grasp the thinnest hackle stem and not break it. I just looked at the DB website and these pliers are no longer sold. They don't look anything like a traditional hackle plier with two opposing jaws that close to grasp the feather. If anyone wants to see what they look like send me a PM and I'll take a picture of them and send it to you. If you have access to a length of .062 spring wire, some bending dies, a propane torch, some hand tools and patience you could probably whip up a set of these pliers in an hour or so. If you get good enough the fly tying world would be beating a path to your door as they really are the best.

Good lighting is very important and in addition to an overhead light that is slightly behind me I also have a 25/50 watt halogen light on a long counterweighted arm right above the vise. It is articulated and I can move it left, right or up and down.

It took me years to figure out that a white base would not only reflect light and allow me to see better but also my materials stand out better. I buy packages of glossy white poster paper in 10" x 14" pieces and they come five in a package. I can get glue and epoxy on them and they protect the finish of my oak roll top desk. I change them when they start to lool grundgy.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Dec 16, 2007December 16th, 2007, 11:38 am EST
Excellent points, WBranch. I particularly like your points about lighting and backgrounds. I tie on an antique writing table/dresser that my grandmother gave me. It's beautiful (tiger maple), but my lacquers and tools damage the surface and the background color is terrible for locating materials. When you put down your white poster paper, do you affix it in some way or do you have problems with it sliding around? Has anyone else tried any other type of covering that works well?

It does not surprise me that you like the Dan Bailey stuff. From everything I've seen and heard, everything he sells is really good. I have a pair of his waders and they have been an excellent value for the money. I rarely use hackle pliers because they perform so badly, but I may give his a shot after your recommendation.


Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Dec 16, 2007December 16th, 2007, 11:21 pm EST

"When you put down your white poster paper, do you affix it in some way or do you have problems with it sliding around?"

Actually all I do is loosen the bench clamp on the vise and slide the poster paper under the foot of the clamp. The clamp holds it tightly.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Dec 18, 2007December 18th, 2007, 8:43 am EST
I tie with a Renzetti Presentation under which I place a 1/16 X 12 X 18 Sheet of white foam rubber. The surface texture of the foam holds well on the table top as well as items placed on it. Also there is no shiny glare.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
JAD's profile picture
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362
JAD on Dec 18, 2007December 18th, 2007, 11:43 am EST

I use the same thing Falsifly uses. The foam is from Darice-- from a craft store. Foamies is the trade name it is 2mm thick I use black and white.

Hope this helps.

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Dec 18, 2007December 18th, 2007, 12:06 pm EST
Nice ideas, guys. I bought some of this white foam awhile back and haven't been able to bring myself to tie with it yet. In the meantime maybe it can still serve a purpose.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis

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