Homemade Fly-Tying Vise

Hand Tied Fly Fishing Fly image by Chuck Alexander from Fotolia.com

Tying flies requires a vise that firmly holds a hook for the application of materials needed to create a natural-looking lure. Fishing hooks differ in length, wire diameter, finish, gape and method of forging. A good vise will grasp a variety of hooks. Fly tying is easier if the surface of your vise has a dull, matte finish. Strong lighting is a prerequisite of the craft, and you don't want any annoying reflection that a polished surface produces. You can create a personal vise that fits your specific fly tying needs.

Preparing the Parts

Place the X-Acto knife handle bottom-side up in your bench vise. Tighten the vise to secure the knife handle.

Thread the bottom end of the X-Acto knife handle with a 5/16 NC thread from the tap and die kit to a length measuring 1/2 of the length of the coupling nut.

Place the 5/16-inch drill bit for metal into your drill press and tighten the bit in place.

Invert the cast-iron frying pan on your drill press table so the base of the pan faces you.

Drill a hole through the frying pan. Use a drop or two of cutting oil, and drill at a low speed to prevent undue heat from friction.

Cutting and Bending the Threaded Rod

Measure and mark a 9-inch length of the 5/16-inch threaded rod. Screw a nut onto each end of the rod until they line up on either side of the mark.

Secure the rod in your shop vise and cut the rod at the location of your mark using a hacksaw.

File down the sharp edges created by cutting using your file. Remove the nuts to realign any damaged threading.

Measure and mark 5 1/2 inches from one end of your 9-inch rod. Place and tighten the rod in your shop vise so the mark rests at the jaw of the vise.

Slip your 12-inch piece of pipe over the threaded rod. Pull down on the pipe until the part of the threaded rod above the vise jaw is bent to an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the closed jaws of the vise.

Assembling the Fly Tying Vise

Screw a 5/16-inch coupling nut onto the knife handle. Place a lock washer on next and screw the knife into the coupling nut until the lock washer compresses to hold the knife.

Place the bent end of your threaded rod through the hole in the underside of your frying pan.

Apply flat washers, lock washers and nuts on either side of the pan and tighten to hold the rod in place.

Place a nut onto the rod and thread it down until it reaches the approximate midpoint of the rod now jutting out of the frying pan. Add a flat washer, lock washer and nut. Tighten the midpoint nut to compress the lock washer.

Thread the wing nut onto the rod so that the wings point down to the frying pan base. Thread your knife handle on to the rod. To place a hook in the vice, loosen the top of the knife handle and place the hook into the empty blade slot. Turn the knife top clockwise to tighten.

Things You'll Need

  • One X-Acto knife, No. 1 with 5/16-inch diameter handle
  • Shop vise
  • Tap and die kit
  • 5/16 NC, National Coarse thread
  • Safety goggles
  • One 8-inch diameter cast-iron frying pan
  • Drill press
  • One 5/16-inch drill bit for metal
  • Cutting oil
  • Ruler
  • One 5/16-inch threaded rod, at least 9 inches long
  • Hacksaw
  • File
  • One 12-inch piece of pipe, 1/2-inch diameter
  • Three 5/16-inch nuts
  • One 5/16-inch wing nut
  • Three 5/16-inch lock washers
  • Two 5/16-inch flat washers
  • One 5/16-inch threaded rod coupling nut


  • Using a cast-iron pan as a base provides a steady platform with no need for the addition of extra weight.


  • Wear protective eye wear when operating a drill press, using a hacksaw or filing metal.