This weeks Meet the Crew Monday is the longest Norvise Ambassador, Carl Ronk. Read more about him below.
Tonight's blog post is an interview of sorts from a few years ago when we had just taken over as owners of Norvise. My buddy Shawn and I were driving to a fishing spot and we were talking about fly tying, the investment to get started, and if a premium vise was worth the cost to a casual tier. We turned the discussion into an interview of sorts. I believe it was posted on his local club's newsletter while he was the president. I stumbled across it the other day and I would like to share it with you, here on the website.
Why the cost of a quality vise is justified, no matter how much or how little you tie.
An interview by Tim O’Neill with Shawn Rakes
TO: Why do you think it is better to begin tying flies using a premium vise rather than upgrading over time as you become more experienced as a tier?
SR: Because experience in fly tying, manufacturing, and metalworking has taught me that you will spend more money upgrading over time that way. Cheap tying equipment, vises, tools, etc., are just that. Most are made in China or Korea and will break down quickly either from just use or from time and/or exposure. They lack quality, premium materials, and warranties. So what happens is these manufactures are not in the [fly fishing] industry and are using the cheapest recycled steel or aluminum that they can find.
In some cases, just from being exposed to the atmosphere (oxidation) occurs with these devices, and they just fail. Eventually, they will rust, break, crack, or crumble in pieces, and it is unrepairable, rendering them useless. Likewise, Sub-premium springs, pins, threads, bolts, and pretty much any kind of connection or hardware will fail or rust out.
TO: What was your first vise?
My first vise was a Regal knock-ff. I got it from a big-box outdoors retail store. The jaws began to crack and fail within one year, and eventually, the spring-loaded jaw mechanism just gave out and fell to pieces in my hand. When I contacted the retailer, as it was their name on the vise, they said they could do nothing because it was “fair wear and tear.” Truthfully I was only tying a couple of flies a week. It was ridiculous.
TO: So what did you do after that? Is that when you went to Norvise or what?
SR: No, I am what you call a slow learner; so at this point, I was just starting to get my [tying] legs under me, really getting excited about tying up my flies to catch fish, just like what happens to a lot of people who fly fish in those beginning years. But, I think because I was a fisherman first and a tier second, I felt that I should spend my money more on fly fishing gear than a vise. I mean, you are trying to get a rod/reel [size] to fit all the different types of fish you are perusing on the fly, and you look at the 500-1000 bucks for a premium vise, and you’re thinking, man I am only tying a handful of patterns right now and so on. So I went for the $150 vise made in the USA; the quality was better, but low-and-behold, my tying abilities gained momentum, and I needed more hook size capability for all those different species I was chasing. Plus, I wanted something with a heavier base for some of the spun hair, articulated, and more complicated patterns I was starting to tie. Even just tying a clouser, I had to turn the fly over in the jaws and then goof around with getting it secure again; it was a pain. I kept that vise for a while, but eventually, the jaws failed on it as they were regular blued steel. So I replaced the jaws and ended up giving that vise to a kid in my fly fishing club to learn on.
TO: So you switched to Norvise after that?
SR; Yes. My son Ethan took a tying class and learned the vise [from you]. After he had it home for a while, I sat down and started tying on it. It is different at first; you have to get used to turbo-rotary ability. I kept losing the thread and having to restring the bobbin. Once I figured this out though is that this vise can do it all. It is truly a “SYSTEM.” I have tried tying on a regular vise since I switched over, and there is simply no comparison. The three Editors note; there are 4 jaw types now with the addition of our shank jaw. quick-change jaws are stainless steel and hold a hood like they are set in concrete. I also have a marble base, so it does not move at all. I tie a lot of big stuff, and it handles it with no problem. This thing is heirloom quality; I just love it.
TO: So I guess you would recommend it?
SR: Absolutely, I think for the price of one quality fly rod and reel set-up, you can have a system that is heirloom quality, ties consistently and quickly and will last forever. I am a slow tier, so the vise [Norvise] makes me respectable when attending fly-tying meetings, events, or gatherings. Also, I target a vast array of species from creek chubs to tarpon in a single season, so I don’t know how you can beat the flexibility of the jaws. My Norvise is like a Fox or Parker shotgun, a Hardy Brothers ‘perfect’ reel, or a Rolex watch. I guess what I can say is: It is entirely efficient. Norm left nothing to chance; there are no wasted movements. Its development is the marriage of engineering and intimate fly tying knowledge.
TO: You ready to go fishing?
Well, he makes a good argument and one we certainly agree with. It is funny, just prior to working on this post I was talking with a customer on the phone. She told me that she has one of Norm's original vises. She believes it to be close to 30 years old and it is as good as the day she bought it. Quality parts made in the USA with a lifetime warranty...what's not to like.
Thank you Shawn for helping me with this post and a big thank you to all of the Norvise customers out there. Til next time...
Tight Lines - Tim
Norvise Team Member Todd Kennedy, better known on social media as Jock Scott, is from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is a Nova Scotia Master Guide and Guide Instructor, a member of the Semperfli Pro-Team, and the winner of our first Norvise March Madness Fly Tying Competition in 2020. You can read more about Todd Kennedy down below and find him on Facebook.
This weeks Blog coms to us from Norvise ambassador Marc Williamson. This is a great read for any fly angler looking to up their game. Sound advise here from a seasoned veteran of the long pole.
Ben is a Norvise Team Member from Nova Scotia. He is a husband and father who taught him self to tie about about six years ago. You can find Ben on Facebook and Instagram if you would like to see some of his really great Atlantic Salmon flies. To read more about Ben, check out his Norvise Data Sheet below.
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Many of you have herd me say "I love Sculpin patterns" they are literally my favorite streamer pattern to fish. Below is a fantastic pattern from Norvise ambassador Dominick Petruzzi.
We had a great time this past weekend. Sunday we spent several hours floating down the famed Juniata river or the "Big J" as the locals say chasing my favorite fish. I actually spent most of the day on the oars rowing Ed and Tyler down the river. The fishing was tough, we did manage to scratch out a good day with approximately 15 landed fish including this 18" tank landed by Ed. Yes, Sunday was a great day, Saturday was even better...
So, about a 10 months ago we got a sweet deal on a nice little John boat from the Millers. You may remember last July I broke my elbow and some ribs, well this is the boat I was on when I fell. The obvious next step would to be to buy the damn thing, makes perfect sense right? Well, we have it and have affectionately named it "The Rib Breaker" Seriously, that is what Braden named the boat after we bought it. This is a perfect little boat to do a lot of the fishing we like in the ponds that litter the lower part of Delaware. We will waterfowl hunt out of it in the fall and winter and as I learned this weekend, this is a great little boat to run a trot line for crabs.
Living in our area Blue crabs are something we look forward to every summer. and this year was no different. What was different is this year we are catching them ourselves instead of paying the close to $300.00 market price per bushel of jumbo crabs. Tyler did all the research and built the 1200 foot trot line, which sounds much easier than it is. There are a lot of parts to a trot line including anchors, bouys, lengths of heavy chain and many brass carabiners.
We started out early (much earlier than I care to get up) at 3:30 am on Saturday morning. We were at the dock and launched by sun up and forsake of a little issue with the plug we were on our way.
So, the most important thing in the initial set of the line. The straighter it is, the easer it will be to "run" the line. With a ripping tide, this is easier said than done. Our line was crooked as an old kerr dogs leg when we were finished, this made for some interesting tending when we ran the line a bit later. One thing that is pretty cool is the more you run the line the straighter is becomes. While the first couple of passes were a little challenging, after that we were running the line like a well oiled machine.
Once the line has had a bit of soak time you run to the down tide side of the line and place the line on the "prop stick". The prop stick is basically a hook hanging off the side of the boat. With the line on the hook the line will ride up off the bottom of the river, up over the hook and back down to the bottom as the boat idles from the bottom of the line to the top.
Now, this is where the fun begins. As the boat is idling up the line with the line on the prop stick the line is gently lifted from the bottom of the river. As the line is coming up and the baits come into view the crab that are on the baits will hang on, all you have to do is net them and put them in the cull bucket. Sounds easy doesn't it?
When you get to the end of the end you take the lone off the prop stick and let it settle back to the bottom. While you are motoring back down to the other end the crabs in the cull bucket are sized. The little ones and females go back and the legal sized males go into the keeper bucket. If you are running a 1200 foot line, by the time you get all the way to the end, cull the crabs from the last run and get back down to the bottom it is time to go again. Once the line is in there really is not any down time.
7 to 10 keepers per run is a good average. At that pace it does not take long to fill a bushel basket.
We did about 7 runs on Saturday and had a bushel of big ole Blue Claws. We were off the water and back home by 2:00 in the afternoon with the boat washed, motor flushed, gear cleaned and stowed for next time.
Remember those 250 chicken necks. Well, they don't take themselves off the line...
Even as nasty as un-baiting the line is, it is all worth it later that evening. Not much is better than a good batch a crabs for dinner.
Like I said, this is not the type of blog post you would normally see on a Fly Fishing web site. Every now and then it is good to do some different things. Till next time...
Tight Lines - Tim
Today we take a look at our good friend and Norvise ambassador Marc Williamson. Marc is a retired teacher that still spends much of his time teaching others how to fly fish. A Father, Grandfather and friend to many, Marc is as kind of an individual as you will ever meet. To learn more about Marc check out his Norvise Data sheet.