JVice Review – Hot Rotary Action!

It was a couple of seasons ago that on a long trip with some pals I watched Mike (Tamanawis) scramble around looking for a piece of wood for his vice – he needed to tie some flies for the session.

mike-with-his-tying-station

There has got to be a better way of doing that I thought – especially as I had to wait until we had booked into a hotel to tie some flies (and we only did that as a cold front moved in nearly causing us to have a severe case of the “freeze to deaths”) – it turned out there was a better way, a much better way in fact – Jay Smit from South Africa had already seen the problem and put his engineering skills learned from years of dismantling all things mechanical into action and thus the JVice was born.

Jay says:

“I found that most tables and surfaces at fishing lodges often weren’t suitable to take a clamp and often in an unsuitable location. The base (of Jays vice) is designed to allow laptop tying while sitting on a deck chair preferably with an ale or whiskey close at hand…I figured that if thousands of businessmen could tote laptop computers around the world a laptop sized base would work well and fit into a standard PC laptop bag. The problem was that laptop bags are pretty pricey and often cost as much or more than the vice so I had to design a cheap bag to keep every thing together “

I emphasised the part about ale and whisky by the way – just to show Jay was getting his prioritise in the correct order – first a convenient way to tie flies, second a good way to have a drink in the sun.

A nice way to spend the time between hatches!

A nice way to spend the time between hatches!

You can tell Jay is a professional drinker engineer – designing a vice to allow his friends the ability to multitask drinking whisky and tying flies – I like this man already never mind the vice!

Yikes – I have to review a vice!

How do you review a fancy clamp for a hook anyway?  It turns out it is quite easy, you look at what you have got just now, what you would like to have, what you need it for, does it fit the purpose and will it fit your future needs?

The reason most people want a high end vice (and this is high end) is because they now want a vice that they can use for the rest of their lives – basically one vice that will tie in any situation and with a wide range of hook sizes.

Well, my own current Snowbee vice cannot clamp to the table (thanks to the wife buying from IKEA) so I needed something with a base – the JVice has one. I wanted a rotary vice that would last for several years  – Jvice fitted the bill – Jay also makes all his vices by hand on his own machine (trying getting Waldron to make you one of his) which I think is kinda snazzy. I found big Pike hooks slipped in my Snowbee so was looking for something that would hold them steady when winding those tight mono ribs against the Pikes Teeth.

You see the thing is I tie flies for Pike (bloody enormous) and for 6inch trout (ridiculously small) so I need something that is going to take a wide variety of hook sizes without any grumbling  – when I received the vice the first hook I put in it was a pike hook, no problems at all – I have also since tied up numerous tiny dries without any difficulties – so far it has coped with everything I have thrown at it.

Jay gives a lifetime guarantee with his vice – his lifetime – do you keep yourself fit? I asked him – yup, keeps himself fit and is an active  young man – I reckon the vice will wear out before he does.

I have read other reviews of this vice and it has been described as “over engineered” which is fancy talk for it is a bit clunky – personally I like clunky – it is solid and feels strong in your hand.

So what do you actually get for your cash?

First just to whet your appetite, here is a photo of the fully assembled tying station before we look at what you get in a little more detail. This was taken just the other day when I had to scramble around and tie some nymphs.

JVice Station

JVice Station

The Package (First Impressions)

Lets have a look at the vice with base and how they packs away when being transported:

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The vice comes packed in a laptop style case (the one Jay designed) – the vice is attached to the base using a unique locking mechanism (more on that later) – Jay recommends placing the wastebasket underneath the vice to protect the wood.  Also included is  some bubble wrap for its travel from South Africa which you can probably discard – I kept it and still use it for some extra padding.

Packed inside was the JVise with oak base/pedastel, extension arm, material waste basket and gallows tool.

The case also has extra places to store tying tools. Up until now I kept my tools in my orvis materials bag – now what I do is keep them all in the JVice case – I have also found there is enough space to keep some materials packed away in their too. This is great as I may only want to keep a few materials handy as I need to tie a lot of flies of the same general pattern over the space of a few days in short bursts (during baby sleeps for example) – say a dozen comparaduns and Deer Hair Emergers – in the case I can keep deer hair, dubbing, hooks, tail fibres together and easily transport or tidy away the gear at the end of a tying session. In practical terms, for example marital family relations, it means one small case can be kept in the kitchen for a lightening quick half hour of tying during some girly soap fun.

Interestingly, I have noticed that I can keep the vice and base set up on my kitchen table for approx 1 week before I get asked to “tidy that damn stuff away”

Impressive!

The Jaws

Ok – the serious stuff – the jaws – the jaws are operated by two mechanisms – a knob on the side of the jaws to adjust for size and a lever to open and close them on the hook. There are two small pockets to secure larger hooks – I banged a size 6 prototype Pike Popper in that baby and it did not budge a millimeter. Jay says the jaws can take a size 6/0 to 22 and I believe him – I got down to a size 18 without any problems.

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A note on the hook pockets – I have never seen these on vices before however I found them great when tying up big pike flies – it means that the hook does not slip at all in the vice – the picture below shows a size 4/0 pike hook in the pocket nearest the tip of the jaw (essentially to show that bigger flies can be tied just as easy..)

Hook Pockets are the biz!

Hook Pockets are the biz!

Of course I do not need to tell you this vice is rotary!

Rotary tying is particularly useful when dubbing as you can turn the jaw system thus positioning the dubbing much more accurately around all the fly – makes for a neater fly (to be fair the fish probably do not mind however it certainly is satisfying). Dubbing is just one use of a rotary tying vice – the many benefits are beyond the scope of this review.

The Base

The Base - sturdy and with four wee feet that do not slide!

The Base - sturdy and with four wee feet that do not slide!

The JVice is supplied with an oak wood tying station which doubles as a pedestal base. It rests on four silicone feet and measures in at a cool 14.5″ x 10.25″ – there is absolutely no slippage when tying flies.

As you can see there is plenty of wee dockets to place your materials, hooks and tools when not in use.

The drilled holes for the tools were nice and clean however the larger recesses felt a little rough at the bottom – A bit of time spent with sandpaper would sort this out – saying that, I can see how difficult it must be to actually make these recesses and I would say in the grand scheme of things it means very little considering you are receiving a hand made product.

Yea sure – I have read in magazines that you could use a wooden chopping board and carry that around with you however have you ever actually felt the weight of a chopping board – they are very heavy. Also chopping boards have the tendancy to be flat with no edge meaning your materials will roll or get blown off.

The Locking Mechanism

The locking mechanism is pretty important as it is the main way the vice attached to the base in the various positions.

The vice arrives locked on to the base using the wee cam lever – this lever is the main way you attach the vice to the base in the two different positions – lap fly tying and table top tying.

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The cam lever is a great wee widget – I was worried that there might be some slip in the mechanism however the vice is as steady as a rock no matter what position you are tying in.

Table Top or Laptop?

An extension arm is used to attach the vice to the front of the base. This means the vice height can be adjusted for table top tying . .

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As explained you have two options – table top mode or laptop mode – you use the cam lever fix the vice in whatever position you want. You can also tilt the vice using the extension arm – this may give you a little more room when tying small fiddly flies.

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To be fair though you can use the vice on the table in laptop mode without any difficulties – this is what I do as my new kitchen table is round with a very thick edge.

The vice also comes with a waste basket – this can be fixed on to the vice easily using a thumbscrew.

waste-basket

Waste Basket

The waste basket can really only be used when in table top mode – I guess the thinking is that your materials will just fall on the base (or get blown away in the wind) – being the stingy type I like the waste basket as I can then keep any stray bits of “stuff” for dubbing other flies.  You can of course position the basket underneath any table you are working on which keeps things nice and neat – like this..

Photo courtesy of JVice

Photo courtesy of JVice

My table top is especially high and thick making this impossible so another way of tying is to have the vice in laptop style with the waste basket away to the side – sure it will not catch falling debris however you can still drop stray deer hair instead of messing up your workspace – the wife likes this!

Extra Thingamyjigs

You also get a handy very simple gallows tool and a bobbin rest – they are both functional and do the job.  You can of course buy the parts individually at a very reasonable cost!

There are several addons that do not come as standard – for example midge jaws – I suppose at some point in the future I will want to tie flies that are truly microscopic so they will be particularly handy.  I also like Jay’s salt water streamer attachment – it holds tail fibres in place to add epoxy – that should do the trick with those enormous pike flies that I have so much difficulty with – I will get my hands on these at some point in the future and add to this review.

With any top end vice you think about what you might tie in the future as well as what you tie just now – for me the Jvice ticks all the boxes.

Conclusion

I suppose I had better say something else other than I love it!

The construction and the quality of the vice are excellent –  like I say I have heard this vice described as “over engineered” – I think it is made to last a life time. The jaws and adjustment screws are designed and machined to a high standard and I can’t imagine them wearing out.

How does the vice actually look? well lets just say…

No Lasso of Truth Required!

No Lasso of Truth Required!

I have not tested the C Clamp so cannot comment on it however if it is anything like the actual vice then you will have nothing to worry about.

You can only buy the vice direct from Jay in South Africa.

At the time of writing June 2009 the costs are:

Standard Package (Vice + oak base, waste basket, material springs x 2, gallows, bobbin cradle and carry bag) £220
or Standard package + Midge Jaws + (Old Style) C Clamp £275
or Standard package + Midge Jaws + (New Style) C Clamp £299

Exchange rates being what they are it might be best to check with Jay)

These prices might seem expensive however if you are thinking of buying a high end vice you have probably already shelled out a couple of hundred on a rod. The price puts it in the same league as a Waldron however I doubt you will get him to make you one at that price –  Jay is making this himself in his workshop especially for you. You can contact him with any special requirements and he will do his best to accommodate you.

Long term readers will be aware of a recent life changing event which means I get to stay home a lot more – staying at home when the boy is napping has never been so much fun – and my fly box has never been so full – another boon is that the whole set up is compact and plain old sexy looking which means my better half does not mind it taking up space fully set up and ready to tie.

Tying flies on this vice is a pleasure – I have never looked forward to winter tying so much as I am now!

A post about fishing related “stuff”

You would be forgiven for thinking I have not done any fishing at all over the last week – as it is I have been chasing Pike on the Forth n’ Clyde canal and attempting evening sessions on the Kelvin – both did not amount to much mainly because I was half pished merry from some red wine on the canal and managed to hit the Kelvin when all the Yellow Mays were having a massive orgy – only problem was they were not doing it anywhere near the water.

Urban Pike Fishing

Urban Pike Fishing

I also popped into the Friends of the River Kelvin gala day – the Kelvin Angling Association had a stall  this year where the guys sold a fair few permits and seemed to attract plenty of women who were interested in what we were up to.

FORK 2009 Gala Day

Yes Euan - that is a WOMEN - you know, just like your mother!

Here is another one of a women who thought I was a pervert – look it is for the website ok!! You can ckeck out more photos over at the official club page.

Note:shifty eyes

Note:shifty eyes

I was walking through the park today as it is the famous West End Festival – the park was absolutely heaving with people out listening to the music and watching the parade..

New recruits for the bailiff force?

New recruits for the bailiff force?

– after meeting a pal we spotted a lone angler casting into some shade in the distance – turned out it was none other than Derek from “A River Returns” – he had winkled out two trout even with the low water and hoards of people walking past the river.

Cigarette hanging from mouth, oblivious to several thousand people walking past…it can only be Derek

Cigarette hanging from mouth, oblivious to several thousand people walking past…it can only be Derek

Tonight I headed down to the river for a session however when I arrived it started to rain – I walked the stretch and did not even see one rising trout – I decided that an early night was called for (saving my brownie points for a proper evening session this week) which means I can replenish my fly box.

Sexy Polaroids

So I needed a new pair of Polaroid’s – in fact I needed two pairs – a pair with light lenses for low light conditions and a pair with dark lenses for…..you guessed it, bright light conditions.

Usually I would just head off to my local boots and try and find a pair that will do the job or even buy a couple of cheap pairs made for fishing – the problem with them is they scratch very easily and they look ridiculous on you……what is wrong with this photo?

ali_fish

What is wrong with this photo?

You are correct – a perfectly good picture ruined by a pair of enormous unflattering shades – my wife fashion advisor goes nuts when I show this photo – in fact she is only letting me now as the dark days are behind me – I have two new pairs from ……wait for it – Polaroids – I suppose if you are going to buy a pair of Polaroids you should buy em’ from the people that invented them in the first place.

Lure Polaroids - a lot more sexier!

Lure Polaroids - a lot more sexier!

So I got a pair of Lure’s and a pair of Torrent’s – I have been using them for the last few weeks and so far I am finding them great – usually when I review anything I wait until they have been given a bit of abuse however I thought I should let you know Polaroid are doing a promotion just now and are giving a rather nice discount of 10% on the cost of these babies – all you need to do is put in carp1 (no laughing at the back) as the discount code and proceed to the check out !

I will post a fuller review in time however so far they are great!

Check out the Polaroid Site

Conditions good? = wrong!!

Decided on fishing the Kelvins big sister/brother as a pass was given at the last minute – it looked like it was going to be good conditions – overcast and windy – so where did it all go wrong?

Well for a start it was cold, and a north easterly wind pushed an area of low pressure over us as we fished (my fancy pants watch I got for my birthday told me this) which pretty much killed any action stone cold dead.

No pictures of fish - so here is one of Alex's arse

No pictures of fish - so here is one of Alex's arse

There was rising trout – sporadic ones – the most annoying kind – ones that rise once to something that you cannot see for some unknown reason known only to itself – it rises once and then does nothing but sink back to the bottom of the river and sulk.

Sporadic Rises

Sporadic Rises

There were plenty of birds on the water (swallows, sand martins? I really should buy a book about this shit like Mike has with the trees – sweet idea by the way – I bought the book of trees due to his recommendation – I have rowan trees outside my house, they keep away witches apparently) however they seemed to be taking something so small that spotting what they were was almost impossible. There were also Yellow Mays on the water – drifting along – undisturbed.

Tny Sedge?

Tny Sedge?

As a last ditch attempt at possibly catching a monster we tied on woolly buggers – I fished some choppy water with a ledge that must hold a leviathan – if it did it was having none of it or quite possibly away on its holidays..

Under the Ledge - got to be a monster trout!

Under the Ledge - got to be a monster trout!

Alas – we left empty handed – I later learned that other rivers had faired better with good trout taking surface flies – I have no idea why on the Clyde trout were being beligerant.

Urban Fly Ventures

Another urban blog flits across my radar – Urban Fly Ventures

Go check that bad boy out !

Stream Thought

I was  flicking through “Stream Thought” after the writer/photographer posted a comment here and noticed he had posted a a gem of a find !

It is a quote from a book on Sea Trout fishing:

“Brown trout give themselves up to those with skill and salmon to those with money but the sea trout is a very different fish. To catch sea trout you need soul”.

You know – I might just buy that book!

The dusk that never was…

I am all  Topsy Turvy here – by this point I am usually fishing most evenings and have really got into the swing of things – instead I am having to pick and choose my fishing opportunities based on experience and knowledge – unfortunately the trout (and pike – see last post) have decided to mix things up a bit.

You cannot get away from the traffic cones...

You cannot get away from the traffic cones...

The other night I decided to hit the Clyde and then at the last minute changed venue to the Kelvin for a dusk session – I have usually found dusk to be a great time on the Kelvin when usually spooky trout will take your fly fairly readily when just an hour ago they were spooky as the Ghostbusters – especially in this heatwave we are experiencing right now.

Turned out that was a load of baloney – when we got to the river at 8pm it was roasting hot with bright sunshine as well as trout rising all the way up the stretch of river – there was some lovely trout rising in amongst them so we dived through the bushes to attack full force – I reckon we spooked every one of those trout – if not with crazy wading then with one to many poor drifts…..

Not one trout landed - all of them spooked here...

Not one trout landed - all of them spooked here...

I mean sure we hooked trout in the flats where they were rising however none of them stayed on – it was only when we walked up the river to some riffles did we finally managed to fool some trout – I even had to put on  a Jardines Ducks Dun to fool the blighters as my Deer Hair Emerger was just not working.

A stunning bit of finger reflexes there of the take...

A stunning bit of finger reflexes there of the take...

The trout were never big – I mean we know there are bigger trout mixed up with the smaller ones they just did not let us get anywhere near to them..

A bandie..

A bandie..

Campbell caught a fair few as well…note size of net compared to trout – ever hopeful..

Campbell bring a troot to hand..

Campbell bring a troot to hand..

We had not brought bottles of water so made do with what nature gave us:

Not worth three days of sickness and vomiting!

Not worth three days of sickness and vomiting!

Still – we knew that we were playing around until dusk – then the trout would really come out and play – sadly, it just did not happen – the rising trout slowly disappeared one by one until finally no trout were showing – or at least as sporadically as they do at any other time.

It was actually darker than this - I made the picture lighter so you could see me!

It was actually darker than this - I made the picture lighter so you could see me!

Still – plenty of action and great chat – casting to rising trout is great after the long sabbatical (mind I went crazy for Pike at the end of last years trout season) and am now storing up a wad of brownie points for the next few weekends.

Now – where are my microscopic hooks!

The dawn that never was..

Up at 0300 on Saturday morning for a dawn raid on a Pike venue – dawn was scheduled for 0430 however when the guys came to pick me up just before 0400 (by jings early as well) the dawn was already in the sky – by the time we got to the venue it was proper light – it was also clear skies with a light wind – a perfect morning.  Turned out we were correct – it was a perfect morning – for staying in bed… still Alan managed to wangle his usual couple of fish when no-one else is catching – at least he had a witness this time – “Got one” he shouted..

Bad news - that is no Pike

Bad news - that is no Pike

Turned out it was a cheeky wee Perch – in all the time I have fished this venue I have never had a Perch…

Good on a BBQ

Good on a BBQ

We fished on – I spotted a few Pike which gave a little hope however they were just not for chasing or taking any flies – obviously a combination of the pressure change and bright sunlight was making them particularly belligerent on this fine morning – we fished on….Bang – Alan landed another Perch…

The Perch Meister - must be pheremones or something!

The Perch Meister - must be pheremones or something!

Alex disappeared from view…

p5300010

He was fishing here a moment ago

Turns out that when you get up ridiculously early and the fish are not biting you can get some kip just about anywhere – including the middle of a loch..

p5300010ghyt

Better than a float tube!

One of the main advantages of sleeping in the middle of a loch is that you are not affected by the evil blood sucking Culicoides Impunctatus – the dreaded Scots midge. Yes my friends – those evil little bastards are out – I apologise for the use of language however if you have fallen victim to the insatiable  appetite then you will be giving a wry smile – if not then imagine a tickle, which turns into an itch which then stings a bit – now multiply that by a thousand all over every exposed part of your body combined with a funny high pitched zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ noise.

I am itching just thinking about them – many a strong man has fled his partner due to their evil bite, many a camper had abandoned their tent and driven 90mph along dirt tracks to get to the nearest Bed n’ Breakfast – I myself have beaten a hasty retreat when out for a country stroll – nothing stops them apart from a womens face cream which just makes them stick to you – they laugh at 100% deet!

Phew – I got off on a bit of a tangent their – bottom line – we caught nowt and I am now in need of deep sleep.

Kelvinator Forum Meet and Greet (and fish obviously)

OK – I think it would be pretty neat if some of us could meet up for a wee evening session – we have got to come up with a place – this will obviously be based around numbers, for example if a few folk fancy it then we can meet up in the West End or if several folk fancy it we can head a little bit further out the city – maybe above the vet school where there is lots of untapped water (apart from a couple of guys).

At the moment I am planning a trout evening session however if all goes well a Salmon one will be planned when the big runs start – I will be relying on some of the salmon gurus on the forum to organise that one – well I can organise it however for any advice and tactics you will need to ask them.

If you guys are up for it in the fall we can organise a Pike meet up on the canal where we can all freeze our rocks off.

So – I need a rough idea of numbers – I think we need to know this quite early on so that we can come up with a venue – so if three guys say yes and we choose the west end and 10 turn up we will have little room to fish.

If you have been lurking on the forum as a guest this might be a good idea to sign up or log in and put your name forward.

You see this is why I like people using real names in the Kelvin Forum – it means when you guys meet there will be no “Oh, I am Big Boaby Big Baws fae the forum”

Saying that I may have shot myself in the foot there – could be potential for some comedy meetings.

Community Wall

Community Wall

At the moment I am thinking sometime in June – maybe towards the end – depends on the weather really.

Who is up for it?

WTF – the skunk cabbage came back!

So I was planning on hitting the Clyde today however as my car had to return to the garage because of a bizarre squeaking sound (any of my readers mechanics?) I took my beloved wife’s motor and hit the Kelvin.

Things went from bad to worse – the temp seemed to plummet and the wind got up – plenty of fly life around – lots of Yellow Mays and other small olives (forgot the test tubes again) however the change in air pressure seemed to turn the trout off – there could of course be another phenomenon at work here and I will tell you about that later.

I wandered down to a nice pool, shaded by trees in the Kelvin valley to get out the wind and came across the seen of my (supposed) skunk cabbage massacre – WTF !!!

Skunk Cabbage - This is now like something out of a horror film!

Skunk Cabbage - This is now like something out of a horror film!

…that’s right – the beast is growing back – Willie Yeomans is not going to be happy at this I muttered as I pulled out the stems and dug down to the roots – I suspect I left some of the roots behind meaning the creature will take hold again – next time I go down that way I am going to take a bottle full of weed killer and pour it straight onto the beasts tendrils!

Anyway, I was going to tell you about the other phenomenan – basically one stretch of river one season can fish very well – you know where all the fish are and it can be pretty predictable – the next season the place seems devoid of trout – this can happen with individual pools as well. Anyone got a good reason for this? – is it spates that move around the insect population, sewage that kills off pools? Any ideas?

River movements?

River movements?

I fished on for a few hours casting at sporadic rising trout – I was using my orvis superfine 4 weight and initially a deer hair emerger and then swapped over to a comparadun due to the number of Yellow May’s I watched sailing past – usually the trout love em’ – today only crazy trout wanted them..

Messy Comparadun

Messy Comparadun

So – a mixture of cold wind, change in air pressure and possibly even a bizarre phenomenon caused me to have what I can only describe as a great days fishing   – I would rather be fishing than be at work, or decorating or ironing or…

Crazy Trout - one of only a few

Crazy Trout - one of only a few

…well pretty much any task that involves drudgery and forced labour!

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