How to make a Fly-Tying Vise for less than $6.00


A Low Cost Fishing Innovation by

Ed Engelman


Low Budget Fishing And Fly Tying

This fly tying vise can be built and used as a low cost way to introduce tying flies and jigs. It is designed to be built by those who may not be willing to commit the financial resources to purchase more expensive equipment. I have introduced adults and children to tying flies on these vises. The flies can then be fished on a fly rod or can be used with a spinning outfit when a casting bubble is used. When children catch a fish on a fly or jig of their own creation, it is almost as though they are catching their first fish again! And of course, the participants experience the connection between insect, fish and themselves.

Parts List:
One 6 1/2" x 11" piece of plywood (1/2", 5/8" or 3/4" plywood can be used)
One 3 1/2 x 8 piece of plywood (1/2", 5/8" or 3/4" plywood can be used)
        Note: This piece of plywood is a cap for the top of the brick. It should be the same size as the brick. Since the size
        of  bricks vary, it is suggested that you acquire the brick first and then cut the plywood to match.
Two 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 11" pieces of softwood.
One brick (formed with one or more holes though the brick)
Three 5/16" nuts
One 5/16" wing nut
Three 5/16" lock washers
Two 5/16" flat washers
One 5/16" threaded rod coupling nut
One 5/16" threaded rod 9" long (Threaded rod normally is sold in 3 foot and 6 foot lengths.  Generally the longer pieces
        cost  less per foot of rod)
One X-ACTO knife # 1 (5/16 diameter handle)
Six 1" Brads
       Wood Glue


To build:
1. Use a die to thread the bottom end of the aluminum knife handle with a 5/16 NC (national coarse) thread. (This is a common die in a tap and die kit.)  Thread the bottom for about one inch in length.
2. Place a nut on the threaded portion of the knife and tighten.  Next place a lock washer on top of the nut and screw the knife into the coupling nut and tighten until the lockwasher is compressed.
3. Measure and mark a nine-inch length of 5/16 threaded rod. Place a nut on each side of the mark. Place the rod in a shop vise and cut the rod with a hacksaw. Use a file to smooth the sharp edges of the rod. Now you can remove the nuts which will align the threads that may have been damaged during the cutting and filing process.
4. Make a mark five and one-half inches from one end of the threaded rod. Place the threaded rod in a shop vise so that the mark that you just made is at the vise jaw. Now bend the exposed five and one-half inch portion of the threaded rod 45 degrees. The easiest way to do this is to slide a piece of pipe over the rod and pull on the pipe until you have reached the desired angle. The bend can also be made by placing and holding a piece of wood on the rod and hitting the piece of wood with a hammer so that the rod is bent. If you hit the rod with a hammer directly, you will damage its threads.
5. Drill a 3/8-inch hole in the center of each piece of plywood.
6. Place wood glue on each 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 11” piece of wood. Position each one in place under the larger piece of plywood so that the smaller pieces of wood act as feet for the vise. Nail the one-inch brads through the plywood base to hold the pieces together while the glue sets.
7. Put a nut onto the rod and thread it near to the middle of the rod. Next place a lock washer, and flat washer onto the rod. Next place the small piece of plywood, the brick, and the larger piece of plywood onto the rod. Now put the flat washer, lock washer and nut onto the rod. Thread the nut on until the rod is flush with the end of the nut. Next tighten the nut that is close to the midpoint of the rod until the lock washers are fully compressed.
8. The wing nut can now be put in place. Thread it on the rod so that the wings point towards the brick. Last, but not least, thread the “knife assembly” onto the rod. The vise is now complete.

To put a hook in place, loosen the knurled portion of the knife. Insert the hook into the slot in the knife head. Tighten the hook by turning the knurled ring clockwise, while pulling the knurled ring against the knife head. After the hook is tight, turn the coupling nut to align the hook in the vertical position. Screw the wing nut until it jams the coupling nut in place. This will maintain the hook in the vertical position.

Happy tying!

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