A fly tying vise is used to hold a fish hook as it is being turned into a fly through the wrapping of string, feathers and fur onto the hook's shank. Often, this type of vice is called a rotary vice because of the manner in which the fly tying vise can be manipulated in a full 360-degree range to gain access to all areas of the hook. Small, frequently-serrated jaws aid the fly tying vise in gripping the very small fish hooks used in the creation of flies. Some of the better vices incorporate a large magnifying glass into the base of the vice to aid tiers in seeing their work more clearly.
An activity perhaps as old as fishing itself is fly tying. Creating an artificial bait that will fool a fish into biting is aided by the use of the fly tying vise. When properly set up, a fly tying vise is almost like having a third hand for the serious fly tying craftsman. The adjustments on a typical fly tying-type of vise are nearly the same as those used on many medical tools. Finely adjustable to enable the fly to be held in any conceivable position, the vice is able to securely hold and position the fly hook to allow materials to be glued, tied and trimmed into the final fish-catching shape.
While associated with fishing, many owners of a fly tying vise do not fish at all. Many fly tiers simply tie the flies because it is an art form or they do it for recreation and resale. The very high cost of quality flies makes the initial investment in an expensive fly tying vise easier to handle for some creative tiers. Other fly tying supplies, such as feathers and fur, can often be obtained through local taxidermists and fur buyers. For those who do not have access to any taxidermists, quality supplies for the creation of flies can be purchased online from several suppliers.
The key in maintaining a properly working fly tying vise is to avoid over-tightening the jaws and nicking the serrations. The jaws can be easily damaged by tightening them excessively against a hook's shank. It is also imperative that no adhesive, glue or paint be allowed to contact the threads on any of the adjusting screws. Properly cleaning and lubricating the fly tying vise with a quality light oil will assist the vise in working properly for many years.