WEB BONUS—More Rotary Vises Field Tested!

  • By: Ted Leeson

More field-test reviews from the June 2009 issue!

By Ted Leeson

Dyna-King Ultimate Indexer
Jaws: The push-cam design forces jaw tips through a tapering housing to close them; jaw gap adjusts by screwing the housing in or out. The long cam lever is comfortable and easy to use, and a location notch in cam locks it into place when the jaws are closed. The jaws hold rock steady throughout the hook-size range, though below size 22 or so, the tapered housing does limit hand access a bit in the rotary orientation. Grooves in the jaw faces hold larger hooks exceptionally well.
Rotary Mechanism: Bearings make for silky, non-wobbling rotation. The drive crank has a long shaft that can be rotated with the index finger for greater precision than I think can be achieved with a crank alone. Rotary tension is sensitive and holds a setting.

Features: Lots of adjustability. A knob locates and locks the vise to true vertical. Another engages eight click-stops per revolution—for easily finding and holding 90 or 180 degrees, for instance, to dress sides and underside of hooks, or to provide temporary stops when drying epoxy flies. A third knob slides the jaw barrel up or down to put different size hooks on the rotary axis; jaws also rotate inside the barrel (independent of the rotary mechanism), though I couldn’t find a particular application for this. The whole rotary arm tilts upward, elevating the vise jaws, vertically if you wish, to mount small hooks with better hand clearance at the rear for non-rotary tying. Clip-on centering gauge establishes centerline hook placement.

The Lowdown: A cleanly made, top-quality vise, the Ultimate Indexer is a souped-up version of the popular Barracuda. While it positions and holds smaller hooks perfectly well, this one seems most useful in tying primarily larger patterns. The jaw-height adjustment lowers enough for very large hooks, the jaws hold them extremely well, and the extra-heavy base gives stability. The extra-long rotary arm gives good clearance for the long winging or tailing materials used on some saltwater patterns, and the indexed stops for epoxy drying are most useful for saltwater patterns as well. A solid, useful embodiment of rotary features. Retail: $399, includes bobbin rest, centering gauge, and choice of pedestal or clamp base. www.dynaking.com

Griffin Blackfoot Mongoose
Jaws: The pivot-screw design holds hooks securely through most of the test range, though a slight mismatch in the jaw tips made it troublesome to mount hooks smaller than #20. Hook-mounting is a bit involved, requiring two separate gap-size adjustments before tightening. The uncluttered jaw head gives good working room.

Rotary Mechanism: Reasonably smooth at lower rotary resistances, a firmer tension caused some friction inside rotary housing, though rotation remained true if not completely smooth. Adjusting tension with a knob on the hub requires two hands, which is inconvenient, and I found the adjustment itself not quite sensitive enough—a slight turn of the knob advanced the resistance from “too little” to “too much.” It takes some fiddling around to get a particular setting.

Features: The material clip, the same as on the Montana model, is useful. Otherwise, the vise is deliberately simplified with no extra features.

The Lowdown: On one hand, I find this vise slower and less convenient to use than most—both in the hook mounting and rotary tension adjustments—and overall less smooth in rotation than I prefer. Like the Montana Mongoose, there is a slight play in the rotary mechanism, most noticeable when resting your hand on the housing and least noticeable in rotation. The spring tension at the rear that’s necessary in this jaw design is provided by an O-ring, which has limited lifespan; it is easy to replace, but a metal coil spring would make replacement unnecessary.

On the other hand, this vise is serviceable in the basic functions of holding hooks securely and rotary tying, and the flies I tied on it turned out just as well (or poorly) as on any other vise. My guess is that experienced tiers would probably opt for a vise with a bit more precision of manufacture, but novices, or those new to rotary tying, would find that this vise meets their needs, particularly given the cost—$145, which includes bobbin rest, material clip, and hard-plastic carrying case. www.griffinenterprisesinc.com.