I am a prolific fly tier. I fish a lot, and I only use my own flies because I do not think commercial flies are tied on strong hooks or to be durable. I am very fortunate that I work from home and have my fly tying desk next to my work desk, so I can tie flies when I am talking to clients.
For many years I used Regal Medallion vices, one for Saltwater and one for Freshwater. Regals are beautifully simple vices that work exceptionally well for most of the normal trout fly tying I do. I especially like the jaw system and how it always works, holding the hook perfectly every time I insert a hook.
The downside of the Regal Medallion is it is not a rotary vice. This downside is compounded by the Regal accessories not quite being what I wanted for my tying bench. They also rate from size 22 to 1/0, which covers most of my tying but not the flies I tie for big saltwater predators.
This made me look around for a full rotary vice that allows me to adjust the jaws infinitely. The Vice that appealed the most was the Norvise, which is a true rotary vice with some really exceptional accessories.
There are many things that make a Norvise extremely compelling. It starts with the jaws, which are infinitely adjustable and so far have handled all the hooks I use from #16 to 8/0 easily. It took me a bit of getting used to the Norvise system, as it is not as simple and straight forward as the Regal, but it works well once you get the hang of it.
Simon Lusk’s Norvise holding a Gamakatsu SL12S Big Game Hook 8/0, the largest hook he ties on.
The important part of putting the hook in the vice is to place the hook in the jaws, then turn the nut on the side of the vice so it is lightly holding the hook. Then move the lever across to increase the pressure on the hook with the jaws. Do this and the hook is held securely every time.
Centre Line Rotation
The next feature that really appealed to me was the centreline rotary system. The vice is set up so it spins around a central axis, which makes it ideal for rotary tying. I do not do a huge amount of rotary tying, but when I do I really appreciate the centreline rotary feature.
The Norvise is exceptionally flexible, adjustable and controllable. The speed of the rotations can be controlled, there are four lug points to hold the vice upside down, right side up and 90 degrees either side. While I do not use this function it is also possible to hold the fly at any angle at all.
I have mounted my Norvise into my tying bench. This provides a very solid base for the vice, and means I have a clutter free bench.
Simon Lusk’s fly tying bench with the Norvise set up. Note the lack of clutter, only one pattern’s materials on the bench at any one time. It is currently set up to tie Hare & Coppers.
Post The post comes with the vice and should be spaced about 14 inches from the jaws. It acts as a bobbin holder and is very useful for dubbing, creating dubbing brushes and generally keeping the thread out of the way without creating clutter. I have never liked the look of the wire bobbin holders that attach to the stem of the vice, so the very solid and clutter free Norvise post really appeals.
Automatic Bobbin The automatic bobbin is a pleasure to use, and deserves a thorough review of its own. There is one slight downside, the barrel is very narrow and I cannot thread it without using a bobbin threader.
Waste Basket Norm Norlander is a brilliant designer, and his take on products that plenty of other people make is always worth considering carefully. The accessory I like the most is the waste basket. Unlike most other baskets that attach to the stem of the vice the Norvise waste basket attaches to the edge of the desk.I cannot emphasise enough how fantastic the basket is. It is easy to use, is out of the way and I would hate to be tying without one having used this one for almost a year.
Tube Fly Vice The tube fly vice is very easy to use, rotates around the centre line and is made with the same beautiful quality of all the Norvise products. My tube fly tying is not that good at the moment, but that is due to inadequate technique, not the quality of the product.
The Norvise is an incredibly impressive product. It is beautifully designed, beautifully finished and aesthetically very pleasing. I am into aesthetics, and this is one of the reasons I fly fish. Fishing in beautiful places for sighted fish is one of the reasons I fish, and I like to have beautiful gear to go with it. The Norvise system is aesthetically pleasing as well as being very functional.
It is matched with exceptional information and support.
Videos Norm has produced a large number of high quality videos explaining how to use the Norvise, and how to tie specific patterns on it. These are what convinced me to buy the Norvise rather than the Regal Revolution, and as someone who has done a lot of sports gear marketing I think Norm has nailed it with his videos.
After Sales Service Norm is easy to reach and very helpful explaining how his vice works and solves any problems I have with my vice. Any product that doesn’t function perfectly gets replaced quickly. My Tube Fly attachment did not fit into the hub, and Norm replaced it very rapidly.