Introducing the JVice - a review

Recently I was introduced to the JVice by a friend of mine who began using it not long ago and now swears by it. Although I was pretty happy with the vice I had been using for many years I was intrigued by the Jvice and saw how it might solve some of the problems I've always encountererd with my current vice. The Jvice was invented and is hand-built by Jay Smits whose shop is located in Durban, KZN South Africa. His website can be viewed at jvice.com. This vice is not just for salmon flies but is optimized to tie all types of flies in all sizes all the way down to midges. The oval support at the top comes in a number of colors including black, red, and natural brass with the silver version shown here and the blue version shown in the following images.


The vice itself is very rugged yet beautifully machined. It features a "gooseneck" design for the main shaft (as seen above) which allows very easy access to a large fly like the Green Highlander pictured in the vice. This, by the way, is the first fly I tied in the JVice. One of the problems I always had with the vice I used to use was that the main shaft of that vice was essentially "in line" with the vice's rotational axis and it made it rather difficult for me to get my hand in a comfortable postion in which to hold a married wing prior to mounting. The JVice gooseneck completely eliminated this problem for me. You can see in the photo below how my hand nestles very nicely in the crook of the gooseneck allowing my fingers to be in the best position for holding a wing.

The jaws pictured below are the "Pro" jaws which features four curved "slots" machined on the inside face of one of the jaws. These slots allow for a large hook to be securely held in place for tying. These jaws are extremely stong and will hold a hook very securely. I always use a small piece of cardboard or plastic wrapped around the hook to protect the hook's finish so it took a little getting used to the action of the jaws to find the right pressure to use with the jaws to grip the hook/cardboard combination without slippage and without breaking the carboard while tightening the jaws. Nevertheless it provided a very tight and secure grip on the hook.

Each set of jaws features a dual-action tightening system, again, making for a very secure grip. You use the knurled knob on the side of the jaws to set the initial gap between the jaws to match the thickness of your hook. The photo below is looking from below to show the relationship of the tightening elements (as in the next photo as well).

Then you insert your hook in the jaws and tighten the grip with the cam lever at the left bottom of the jaws by swinging it around to the rear where you feel a slight "detent" which is the optimal position for maximum tightness. The next photo shows the position of the cam lever before tightening and the following photo shows the lever after tightening - notice how the jaws come together at the right. You can move the lever to the left (as I did in this case) or to the right to achieve maximum grip strength. The newer versions of the jaws has the cam lever "in-line" with the jaws and is even easier to use. Click Here to see the new jaws.





The photo above shows the lever in the "detent" or optimal position with a hook in place. The jaws are easily removed with the supplied hex wrench as shown in the next two photos.



The JVice is a rotary vice and the small handle at the rear makes it very easy to turn the vice front or back. In front of the handle is a large knurled brass ring which can be used to tighten the rotary aspect of the vice from a small amount to allow the vice to be rotated to a position and then hold that position or it can be tightened fully to completely "freeze" the rotating aspect allowing for a stable, non-moveable position. I found this feature to be very useful and tend to keep the ring slightly tightened.

The colors of the handle base and the main section - blue in this case - can be selected when the vice is ordered with a number of colors available including black, red and natural brass. There are also a number of accessories available including different types of jaws to accomodate all types of flies from Classic Atlantic salmon flies all the way down to trout flies and midges.

This photo shows the material keeper attached to the forward end of the main shaft. There is also a second material keeper available to attach around the jaws to allow for shorter materials. In the photo you'll also notice a small knurled screw - this is where a "gallows" attachment can be set in place for trout flies. I did not get this attachment with the vice I received as I don't tie trout flies. You can see it in action, though, at the JVice website.

All in all I was more than satisfied that the JVice is a versitile, rugged and wonderful tool for fly tiers who tie all sizes of flies from the Classics to midges. It is now my primary vice and I highly recommend it!

The JVice Travel Kit

In the above review I concentrated on the Wasatch version of the JVice base and demonstrated how the JVice itself works in a tying situation. In this addendum I am going to introduce the JVice Travel Kit which was designed and is manufactured by Jay Smit himself, the "Jay" of the JVice. Jay designed the travel kit as a streamside solution for fly tiers as well as a tying table for in-home tiers.

In this photo, the left image shows the travel kit closed and zipped up. The case measures 11" x 15" x 2" thick and contains the complete kit including the base, vice, and waste-trol bag as shown in the right-hand image. Not shown is a flap on the inside of the cover which has a velcro strip to secure the flap to the inside of the cover. The flap hides a strip of material loops where you can store many fly tying items like tools and tying thread. Plus there's room inside the case for other bagged materials.

This photo shows everything set up and ready to tie at your tying desk. You can see that the vice itself attaches to the front edge of the base by way of a short rod that is attached to the barrel-shaped connector at the bottom of the vice shaft.


This photo shows the receptacle where the short rod of the vice shaft connector slides in. The round item at the top with a short rod projecting from it is a "cam" lock mechanism that locks the rod in place when you turn the cam. Also, the metal piece with the serrated hole that is attached to the front edge of the base accepts a nut that is attached to the vice base rod. This will keep the vice shaft vertical and rigid when in use.

Also, the waste basket attaches to the bottom of the vice shaft via a round connector. You can lower the vice shaft so that the basket can swing away from you under your desk edge (see previous photo).

This photo shows the wooden base itself. It is 14 1/2" x 10 1/4" length by width and the left and top sides are almost 2" high while the rest of the base is about an inch thick. The cam lock described above also sits in the hole at left as shown to secure the bottom of the vice shaft for storage and travel. This will keep the vice itself from shifting around during transport. The next photo shows how the bottom of the vice shaft is secured by the cam lock:

In the left-hand photo, the cam is rotated to the right and down to allow the bottom of the vice shaft to be pushed into a hole on the inside of the left base "wall". Then, when the shaft is in place, you turn the cam to the left (up) to lock the shaft in place (right-hand image). The hole that is visible above the cam lock is another place where you can insert the vice shaft if you are stream-side or need to tie with the vice in your lap. The next photo shows how the cam lock secures the base of the vice shaft for this application:

You can also see, in this photo, the rod projecting to the right from the "barrel" connector which is used to secure the vice to the front of the base as describe above.

Finally, this particular vice has a different hook jaw mechanism than the one shown in my review of the vice on my website.


This photo shows how the newer jaw cam works. Although I don't actually have a hook in the vice here - to secure a hook you rotate the cam downward as shown in the right-hand photo.

All-in-all Jay really thought this out to make the travel kit extremely useful for streamside tying as well as in-home tying. Both the Wasatch version of the base and Jay's version have their merits and are well made and can enhance your fly tying experience.