The Best Fly Tying Vises Reviewed: Choosing Your Next (or First) Fly-Tying Vise

Written by: John Baltes
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Tying your own flies is a fantastic idea.

Not only can you customize your flies and adjust the weight of nymphs perfectly, but you’ll also come to know the special satisfaction of catching fish on flies you’ve crafted yourself.

Tying flies takes a lot of practice, and the true masters have worked for years - even decades - to perfect their technique, material choice, and patterns. And from wooly buggers to streamers, emergers to nymphs, as you learn to tie the various patterns, you’ll discover a deeper understanding of entomology that will change your presentation and fly choice.

Ask a fly-tying expert, and they’ll tell you that the single most essential tool for learning to tie flies is a good vise. That’s where you start, and the quality of the vise will absolutely impact the performance of your flies.

If you’re looking for a fly-tying vise, you've come to the right place. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites as well as a complete buying guide to help you know what to look for.

Quick glance at the best fly tying vises:

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Best Fly Tying Vises Reviewed

Renzetti Traveler 2300 - Best Fly-Tying Vise

Renzetti-Traveler-2300-Series-Cam-Vise

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Renzetti’s Traveler is an established legend and easily the most popular fly-tying vise sold in America. Essentially an upgraded version of the original rotary ice produced by Renzetti in 1988, the 2300 is very hard to beat at any price.

The 2300 is a true rotary vise, meaning that turning the hook through 360 degrees does not affect its angle. That allows you to wrap flies accurately, maintaining proper proportion and presentation from all angles. In short, if you want your flies to look even and perfect, fooling keen-eyed trout time and time again, the Traveler 2300 is going to deliver.

This vise sports a 5-inch square base with a seven-inch stem but can also be attached via a powder-coated C-clamp with an 8-inch stem. Of course, you’ll find a shaft-mounted, highly adjustable bobbin cradle, a necessary tool for tying flies with precision.

And the jaws on this vise are powerful, keeping your hooks in position as you tie tight loops or fast knots. Adjustable through a wide range of angles, these jaws can accommodate hooks ranging in size from tiny #28s all the way up to big 4/0, so fresh or saltwater, the Renzetti has you covered for all your fly-tying needs.

I would say that the Renzetti is easier to tie with small flies than the Dyna-King - and just as good with large flies - though the difference isn’t going to make or break your final product.

Overall, there’s simply nothing not to like about the Renzetti Traveler 2300, and for the price, it’s a bargain.

Pros:

  • Quality manufacture and excellent fit and finish
  • A true rotary vise
  • Base or C-clamp mounting
  • Bobbin cradle
  • Powerful cam vise grip

Cons:

  • ???

Griffin Odyssey Spider - Best Entry-Level Fly-Tying Vise

Griffin Odyssey Spider Fly Tying Vise

Amazon 

Griffin’s Odyssey Spider is an excellent entry-level vise, and if you want to experiment with fly tying but aren’t convinced that you want to invest hundreds of dollars upfront, this may be a great choice for you.

The Odyssey Spider is a true rotary vise that allows you to rotate your fly through 360 degrees without changing its orientation. If you’re a novice, that makes it considerably easier to craft precise flies than trying to keep everything even and proportional as the fly changes its aspect eerie time you turn it.

Griffin offers this vice with a C-clamp, and that’s a good choice for beginners as it allows them to install and remove their vise as needed. You probably won’t have a dedicated fly-tying bench, and getting your vise out of the way once you’ve finished working on a fly is going to be a reality.

Despite its very reasonable price tag, the Odyssey Spider holds fast and tight, and it’s not wobbly at all.

The vise head can accommodate tiny #28 hooks as well as big 4/0s for saltwater, and it grips them all tightly.

As you’d expect, there’s a bobbin holder that’s adjustable for height but nothing else.

While Griffin’s Odyssey Spider is pretty basic, it’s well crafted. Anglers new to fly tying will find it easy to use and certainly more functional than the Apex Rotary or cheap, shoddy beginner’s vises that just can’t hold a hook still.

And while this vise isn’t going to provide the performance of the Renzetti, if you’re in the market for an excellent first fly-tying vise, Griffin’s Odyssey Spider deserves a close look.

Pros:

  • Excellent price 
  • A true rotary vise
  • Very stable
  • Powerful vise grip that won’t let go

Cons:

  • ???

Dyna-King Ultimate Indexer

In my opinion, the only fly-tying vise company that can truly compete with Renzetti is Dyna-King. And Dyna-King’s Ultimate Indexer is pretty amazing, as its legions of fans can attest.

The UI is available with either a C-clamp or pedestal base, and both provide sufficient security for tying even the largest flies. It’s jaws are designed to grip hooks as small as #22, while still opening to hold massive 8/0 hooks just as well.

The Ultimate Indexer is, as you would expect, a true rotary vice with an added feature. In addition to the standard, smooth rotation through 360 degrees without affecting a fly’s orientation, it offers eight pre-set positions that are perfect for tying and inspecting your work from all angles.

Some tying enthusiasts don’t care for that extra function, and it’s worth noting that it can be disabled.

The bobbin holder is extremely adjustable, tilting up or down and swinging out of your way when needed. I really like this feature, and there’s simply no question that the Dyna-King is an exceptional vise.

The craftsmanship and fit and finish of the Ultimate Indexer is flawless, but for more than twice the price, I’m not sure you get anywhere near twice the value of the Renzetti Traveler 2300.

Pros:

  • Quality manufacture and excellent fit and finish
  • A true rotary vise with a useful indexing feature
  • Base or C-clamp mounting
  • Highly adjustable bobbin cradle
  • Powerful cam vise grip

Cons:

  • Expensive

Stonfo Elite

Stonfo Elite Vise

Amazon 

Stonfo’s Elite is another contender for the overall best fly-tying vise currently available, and there are many, many tying enthusiasts who love the Elite.

The Elite is a true rotary vise that pivots smoothly through 360 degrees. The ease with which the vise moves is adjustable, allowing you to set your desired tension. That’s something I love about this vise, and I’ll bet it’s something you’ll quickly come to appreciate, too.

The jaws grip very securely and can accommodate a pretty incredible range of hook sizes. They tighten with the typical lever, and from very, very small hooks up to big saltwater options, the vise itself is so versatile that I can't imagine why you’d need the Transformer.

Stonfo supplies the elite with a stable pedestal that provides enough security to tie big flies without wobbling.

The Elite’s bobbin holder is mounted very near the jaws themselves, rather than on the shaft as are most other designs.

Overall, this is a well-designed, well-made product. That said, it’s still remarkably more expensive than the Renzetti, and unless there’s something you really love about the Stonfo, the Traveler 2300 is the better buy.

Pros:

  • Quality manufacture and excellent fit and finish
  • A true rotary vise
  • Solid pedestal
  • Powerful vise that grips well across an incredible range of hook sizes

Cons:

  • Expensive

Peak Rotary

Rotary Fly Tying Vise - Peak Fishing Vise With Pedestal Base

Amazon 

Peak’s Rotary vise is a solid investment, but overall, it falls short of the Renzetti while coming very close in price.

That’s a damning statement, but I think the details bare-out that conclusion.

Peak’s vise is available with your choice of bases, and both options are very secure. The pedestal option is one of the heavier bases on the market, and that makes it a great choice for tying very large flies.

The vise itself is a true rotary design that spins smoothly and maintains your fly’s orientation. 

The jaws grip pretty well, and from #24s to 2/0 hooks, you can expect the Peak to hold tight.

So far, so good, right?

The trouble sets in on two fronts. The shaft is fixed, meaning that your back and neck do the adjustments necessary to get the right distance from the vise. That gets old fast unless the factory height is a good fit for you.

The other problem is that the Peak uses a fixed arm between the shaft and the vice head. There’s no way to adjust their relationship, which can make tying awkward, especially with small hooks.

The fit and finish offered by Peak is workmanlike, no better and no worse than what’s necessary for performance.

These issues don’t make the Peak a bad vise by any means, and plenty of anglers love what the Peak has to offer. But in my opinion, unless you’re exclusively tying big flies, you’ll prefer the Renzetti overall.

Pros:

  • A true rotary vise
  • Solid, very heavy pedestal
  • Powerful vise grip that won’t let go

Cons:

  • Fixed shaft
  • Fixed arm connecting the shaft to the vise
  • OK materials and fit and finish

Wolff Industries Apex Rotary

Wolff Industries Apex Rotary Fly Tying Vise

Amazon 

Wolff Industries’ Apex Rotary has a slightly misleading name in that it’s not a true rotary vise at all. And while it does allow you to rotate your fly to see its other sides, overall, it’s not a vise I’d recommend.

The reasons are pretty clear.

A true rotary vise will allow you to rotate your flies while maintaining their orientation. The Apex Rotary, by contrast, will absolutely alter the angle of your fly as you work around it, and though you can achieve good results, it takes more skill and finesse than it should. Simply put, a true rotary vise is much easier to learn on and significantly more user-friendly as your skills advance.

The Apex Rotary is available with either a pedestal or C-clamp base, and both work well to hold the vise steady. The issue is that the Allen screws that are used in its construction tend to back out a bit as you tie, and every few minutes, you may need to stop what you’re doing and tighten them down.

The vise head is acceptable, but not what you’d really want. And while it can accommodate hooks as small as #20 and as large as a 5/0 (or even larger), it struggles to hold larger sizes securely, as they tend to shift a bit as you tug on them. With very small hooks, the Apex tends to chip almost immediately, and it's clear that the jaws need a quality upgrade to compete head-to-head with its rivals.

We could forgive these flaws in a true entry-level vise, but for the price you’ll pay for the Apex Rotary, we’d give it a pass.

Pros:

  • The vise head can accommodate large hooks

Cons:

  • Not a true rotary vise
  • The vice head doesn’t grip large hooks very well
  • The vice head tends to chip more or less immediately with small hooks
  • The Allen screws tend to loosen and back out quickly

Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Fly-Tying Vise

Fly-tying vises are designed around allowing you to perform tiny, precise, detailed work. To make this easier, a good vise will offer steadfast security, excellent grip, true rotary action, and accommodate a wide range of hook sizes.

Security and base style

Whether you need a pedestal base of a C-clamp, a good fly-tying vise will hold fast as you tug on your thread, warp flies, and tie knots. And while it may not sound like a problem to have just the slightest wobble, any motion at all will affect your ability to tie a neat, precise fly.

Sloppy flies may occasionally attract a bite, but trout are among the most keen-eyed, wary fish you’ll ever chase, next to grayling. And to trick them into taking your fly, it needs to be every bit as proportionate and precise as the ones Mother Nature turns out herself.

Pedestal bases are ideal for creating a fly-tying station, and they allow you to place your vise wherever you need it. But they’re heavy, and spouses tend not to like them as a centerpiece on the dining room table.

But if you’re lucky enough to have a designated fly-tying area, a pedestal is the way to go.

If you need a vise to tie flies while traveling, or you need to set up and take down your fly-tying station, a C-clamp will be superior to a pedestal. Lighter, and just as secure as a pedestal, they’re easy to attach and remove as needed.

Whichever option suits your needs, it should be rock solid.

Grip

A good fly-tying vise needs to hold a hook immovably while you tug, wrap, and tie your flies.

It should also hold fast with small, dry fly hooks, as well as big streamers and saltwater options. And depending on the jaw design and shape, getting at those flies can be more or less challenging.

The best vises on our list - the Renzetti, Dyna-King, and Stonfo - really excel in their vise design.

True rotary action

As you tie your fly, you’ll need to rotate it through 360 degrees to assemble it precisely and maintain proportion. A true rotary vise allows this motion while maintaining your fly’s orientation.

What that means is that the fly will remain straight and level no matter how it’s rotated, and that makes it much, much easier to tie your flies accurately.

Adjustability

You need to be comfortable to work on the precise details of fly tying, and a stiff neck and aching back won’t do you any favors when it comes to the final product of your hard work.

Ideally, a fly-tying vice has an adjustable shaft, plenty of options for positioning the vise head, and a bobbin holder that can be placed right where you need it.

These degrees of customizability don’t come cheap, however, and one of the first things that manufacturers do to cut costs is reduce the adjustability of their vises.

Our Picks: the Renzetti Traveler 2300 and the Griffin Odyssey Spider!

Renzetti still seems to be the name to beat in the fly-tying world, and the Traveler 2300 is among the very best vises you’ll find at any price.

Offering an adjustable shaft, vise head, and bobbin holder, you’ll have plenty of options to dial in your perfect positions. And whether you choose the C-clamp or pedestal, the Traveler 2300 is rock solid. The jaws grip a wide range of hook sizes, allowing you to craft tiny nymphs as well as massive streamers.

For novice fly-tying enthusiasts, the Odyssey Spider is a great entry-level option that won’t make the learning cure any steeper than it already is. A true rotary vise wearing a very reasonable price tag, the OS delivers performance that you can rely on. 

As always, we’re here to answer any questions you might have. 

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
John Baltes
Chief Editor & Contributor
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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