• You will need a Vise.  All the fly lures or flies  are tied on a jig holder called a fly vise.  The pictures here are ones I made myself from a collection of “ Stuff”.  “Stuff”  is unused items finding GOD and being reborn.  Or sent to the foundry and Mr. Mestopheles.

  • Example:  A miniature Chinese Vice Grip I paid under two dollars for,  and a couple of X-Acto knives, twenty assorted,  I paid five dollars for at a junk show, ten minutes in a Vinegar based solution and my buffing wheel, they cleaned up new) and a Lansky Knife Sharpener which I used all the sharpening stones to uselessness. 

I went to Japanese wet stones and the Lasky was finished…. I used or re-used every part of it

  • The other parts were small ball heads I had a box of and never used.  Small handgrips filled it out.  They hold firm, don’t move and perform nicely with the cost factor of nil… 

  • Commercial FLY TYING VICES  range from simple to complex and from 14.99 to 1499.00 depending on your income and ability to hide credit cards from your wife.

  • ERRATA: The stands and portable bases I built with HD Magnets from Home Depot made this the most flexible Flying Station and more ideas coming…all my benches have tops that are magnetically interchangeable and allow me to use magnets found at Home Depot.  The larger X-Acto’s needed some filing on the locking ring to get the nose to protrude enough for gripping the hook.  And they also needed the gripper widened a bit to accommodate larger hooks. The Clamps also have a steel base and the Vices grip to them.  Here the stand in critical soldering mode and is  is rebuilding remote drone devices.

  • Neodymium magnets:   A neodymium magnet (also known as NdFeB, NIB or Neo magnet), the most widely used type of rare-earth magnet, is a permanent magnet made from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron.  The round ones  ( home Depot)  come in three sizes on an end cap display.  You need to drill out,  we call it opening the hole in the center for a 1/4 x 20 bolt.  I used allen heads. Best selection ACE HARDWARE.

  • Plain metal construction plates are found near the wood aisles in HD in various sizes.  And the heavier all steel bases are found in electrical, or plumbing, they are rectangle all-steel cover plates. The medium magnet and this all-steel plate hit sisxteen pounds gripping. Nothing moves. No clamps needed.

  • Bad weather:  Indoors I started learning to make my own fly fishing lures, bugs, poppers etc and actually bought a Griffin Vise ( Reasonable and rotates ) and then DIY kicked in…  why not see whats available and my garage needed cleaning anyway…here are some ideas in how to take old photo parts of all things and make them into new tools. Including a cool display stand to keep things needed, safe from kids and magnetically designed for convenience.  From store displays ( even some from a Penny’s that went under)  I ripped apart for the metal… and parts.

  • The black boards are Marine Grade plastic called Starboard or HDPE, salvaged ( unusable ends, odd pieces  etc.) Black Industrial plastic ( Twenty Pieces 14x12) from another job, bases for the slide devices.  They cut and work with wood grade hand tools, no splitting, can be tapped, drilled and screwed to be worked a million ways… No refinishing needed. Non-magnetic, still proof and our cat stays away.

  • Brackets came from displays we tossed again from my old photo store.  The big stand holds everything especially items with live fish hooks in them.  Thats why the display stand.   You’ll need a vise or make one…  The Griffen is about $75.00 one of the best medium priced entry level to moderate rotating vise.


Once you explore fly fishing, you’ll likely hear about folks who are “ Fly tying.”  BAD Jokes:  “ It’s not a rodeo for mosquitos” and “ Not a reminder to tie the strings on Hospital Scrubs so your pants don’t fall down”…  And "Not a form of Birth Control”…

Nor is this a term for tying a fly to your line as I initially and very naively thought, but rather a term for making your own flies rather than buying them. 

But fly tiers are thinkers and observers and do think differently,  it’s an art and in its simplicity the art is in duplicating, imitating and the presentation of what the fish are eating.

You would also tie flies to possibly save money.  Flies are easy to lose in trees, and note:  they have also been found in ears, legs and shoulders and lost to rowdy fish, but mainly tiers or fly fisherman are in a sense artists…they live for the art of it.

EAR FLIES:   For those who catch themselves, Its best to cut the hook above the barb with diagonal cutters or pliers, pour merthiolate on the hook, swallow two shots of good Tennessee sour mash, internally and on skin surfaces, and pull it back or through.  Go get a tetanus shot.  We generally use barbless hooks in close quarters. 

Many flies truly are works of art, created with various materials like beads, foams, animal hairs, and much more.  The beginner angler will not be fly tying; there are literally fifty excellent books written on the craft, and it requires a whole other set of tools and skills. 

This is something to look into after you’ve gotten the hang of the fishing itself.  My Lasky model shown below handles the bigger Salt-Water lures.   These are not cut in stone, for sale or anything else, I built them for fun and the beauty of it is that is cost me little or nothing, and lots of experience. And if I don’t like something I Un-build the parts, they go back into the bin and we start over.

BONUS:  It’s my metal version of LEGO….  The Vice-Grips and Lasky turned out to be excellent and dual purpose for other projects in assembly and soldering.  On precise items they hold great and the rotatable fixture is better than a conventional vise.


Great on medium and large size hooks like streamers for baby Tarpon etc…  I found the Chinese knockoff mini vice-grips on promo at LOWES for $2.00 so I bought five, cheap enough and very secure. Use them for everything.  

NOTE:  To build this no vice-grips were harmed in any fashion. Again , I built these for fun and was surprised to find out they worked great. It really can lock down on large hooks.

I also have enough adapters to convert this to a tube vice in two simple steps.

It is on an adjustable tilt and swivel photo head which is mounted on a handle bottomed by a 16 lb. magnet.


Great on bigger Salt water hooks and streamers…This was the head off a Lansky sharpener for knives that was literally used up so it became a salvage issue.  

Purpose:  The head was modified to hold larger hooks and the two clamps I  had from the Lasky were used to make a secure magnetic base for table tops.  

Clamps get used a lot around here…age and arthritis dictate their usage.

The inside of the vice head was checkered and that secures any salt-water stainless hook which slide sometimes when in the 4/0 and 6/0 size. 

I simply used a Dremel tool made lines with a cutting disk and finished with mini-files.  I used to checker gun grips and wish I still had my checkering and line files when I stopped doing gunsmithing.

In the same shot you can see the photo handle and the small ball-heads that work so well and get re-used rather than dying a slow death in a garbage pail.

The simple X-Acto knife is drilled and tapped for 1/4 x20, the size of the X-Acto on the right and the foot of the Lasky on the left.  Nothing is wasted, parts get reborn everyday in this house.

THE X-ACTO KNIVES  (#2) and (#4)

Sooner or later we had to come to the X-Acto knives.  All the extra vises I made are equipped with magnets as the base to allow quick change of devices.

The magnets are from Home Depot - medium size and Anilco powerful, as are the steel reinforcement plates on all the black bases and allow many configurations and may be changed out as needed for storage or use.  

They are a cheap cool solution, they work, don’t move, rock solid and allow rapid changes in concept and even duplication with the same hackle or bobbin. 

The base holds two of the vices if needed below. The top picture is a single smaller base.  They all have non-skid feet so nothing moves on my desks.  The small base above is something I use for planning or trimming.

Lots more coming you can build yourself like Bobbins,Bodkins, Bobkins, whatever,  forceps, Hackle holders and Bobbin holders…. 

I chose to build with magnets ( about 3.00 -6.00 dollars) as small parts and hooks, are safer and don’t get lost… they allow quick changes, multiple vices to allow duplicating or making two flies at once, heavier enough to stay put,  etc.  

HINT: The steel friendly magnet plates came from Home Depot, in the wood area, ll kinds of brackets and stuff.  They average 98 cents each.   Or steel cover squares in electrical for 62 cents.  But heavier and more substantial plates are found in HOME DEPOT either plumbing area for 1.64.  Mid aisle, bottom row,  left side.

The heavier the plate the stronger the magnet hold, so heavier is better.  It allows me to make my man cave COMPLETELY CONVERTIBLE and very versatile.

Another part from the Lansky, the clamp got castrated, a magnetized base and drilled out and I used the 1/4 x 20 tap hole it had.  No Lansky’s were injured in this project and every part except the stones were reborn.

I have a dozen assorted devices that allow my work benches to be converted into different platforms and projects for again small builds, experiments , soldering, glueing and so forth.  

Those magnets are brutally strong. I have never had one slip or move.I

Caution: I also work with electronics and have synthetic wood tops which are non-magnetic when working on same.  But my entire room/shop is all magnet based allowing reconfigurations, soon I will post the pictures of my productive man cave…

Soon, with time, I will list where you can find all the parts, some part numbers and have some fun building something you can use and just as good or better than the expensive stuff.  

Today’s Thoughts:  Sometimes I get asked “ What do you do in your spare time”.  I’m semi-retired, up till recently I spent time in the air flying my plane, a Piper four seater, my photography donating to hospitals and as a caregiver for stem-cell transplants and my slide duplication keep me fairly active.  But I give two pieces of advice when they ask me that. 

Forget about the Golden Years, thats bullsh*t, the only gold you’ll see is yours probably outgoing to the doctors.  Keeping active is the key to long life.   Never stop dreaming , building,  be active, have some kind of crainial activity or you will become a victim of ALZHEIMER'S and/or DEPRESSION.  An active mind and body prevent that.  I treat two folks with it when needed and it is a live body without a mind.  It is heartbreaking.  I lost my brother who suffered for ten years with Alzheimers and just lost a boss of mine for 35 years.