We are going to slip way back in the past, back to my early childhood growing up in a small town in west Michigan. I remember back in the dearly 60’s when my dad would take me to the barber to get my hair cut, I never minded that for Jack the barber was an avid fly fisherman and fly tier. He had pictures that graced the walls of his barber shop of the great Au Sable River in northern Michigan, memories of trout caught and the cabin he owned of that famed river. My dad and Jack would discuss fishing and hunting but mainly fishing local rivers and my ears were wide open, it was kind of a magical time of my life and where my interest in fly fishing was spawned. My dad never took an interest in the fly fishing but he loved to fish and still does to this day but me I just never could stop thinking about that big brown sipping a fly from the surface. I started fly fishing before the sport was popular, at age 14, there wasn’t anyone around our little town that had an interest in fly tying and fishing except Jack and now he was retired and in poor health. I pulled feathers from pillows, raided my dad’s hook selection, took threads and yarns from my mothers sewing basket to attempt tying a fly. So I stumbled through the mystical and intriguing sport for some 4-5 years before I really sank my teeth into it, money didn’t come easy in those early years and equipment was expensive.
When the fly shop opened in Ada, Michigan I signed up for some tying classes, at this point in time I had purchased a tying vise from Herter’s, nothing more than a Tompson vise but probably what most tiers start with. I remember setting down with Carl Richards for a tying session in that shop, I thought that was the neatest thing I had ever done. Now having somewhere to actually lay my hands on the items to tie with, the means to purchase them and some advise along with instruction just sealed it in me forever. From those days to today I have been in and out of the sport, some years there just wasn’t any time to fish, work and family took precedents but I never stopped collecting the materials, rods, reels and tying equipment. Now some 40 years later, some 30 shoe boxes full of materials, tools and equipment I am playing around with upgrading my tying equipment.
The non-skid material used on the base is cork/ rubber gasket material (from an Automotive Supply); between the weight of the solid brass base and this stuff glued on the bottom it doesn’t move easily. Before using the gasket material I had used felt, leather and neoprene rubber, this cork/ rubber material has proved better than all the rest. The dimensions of the large base are ½ x 6 x 7 and the small base is ½ x 5 x 6. The large base weighs in at just over 7 pounds coupled with the gasket material stays in place almost as good as a clamp base. The small base in the picture weighs in at just over 5 pounds; at the time I made them I wasn’t concerned on weight, just the overall dimensions so they were stable on any surface. They both stay put even when spinning deer hair or tying large bass bugs. This is a project most anyone could accomplish with a minimum amount of tools, one more project I thought I would share.
In the photo below are the tying vises from 40 years ago to today and the ones in the foreground are all Renzetti, L to R is the Presentation 3000 early vintage, just behind that is the Salt Water Traveler Clouser and then the Salt Water Traveler, in the background are the Orvis and Thompson A. I have to admit that I like bling, if there is a way to up-grade and pretty up something I will so if you know what the original Renzetti vise looks like mine are far from original. The only Renzetti I purchased new was the SL Traveler in 1998, the rest were purchased on ebay.