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Thompson Model B

First Impressions.  Did the vise come in an attractive package?  Was it well packed and would the packaging serve as storage for the vise?  Who knows what the first impressions are on this one.  Those first impressions are several decades old!


Directions, literature, parts lists and documentation?  Does this vise come with a set of directions that explain care and maintenance of the product?  Are there illustrations of the parts in case you need to order an accessory or replace a missing part?  Are there well written directions explaining calibration and set-up of the vise?  Back then you were expected to be smart enough to figure this one out.


Vise fit and finish.  Is this a well finished product?  Did it communicate quality right out of the box?  Like a '63 Buick


C-Clamp quality:  Is the clamp well designed?  Did the clamp provide a solid, immobile mounting system for the vice?  Did it remain tight through a long session of tying?  Did it mark, or have the potential to damage the surface of the table to which it's clamped?  Barely Functional


Vise stem finish, adjustability and length. Is the vise flexible in placement for a number of tiers and table heights? The only thing you can adjust with this is a dent in your tire rim.


Smoothness of operation of vise jaws.  Were they easy to open and close?  Are the jaws easy to calibrate for various hooks?  Do the jaws remain in the calibrated position or is it necessary to readjust the jaws after a few flies?  Pure functionality for 35+ years!!!


Rotation and adjustability.  Is the vise capable of rotating?   If so, was the rotating mechanism smooth and robust?   Use N/A if this vise doesn’t feature rotability.  You have to ask?


Jaw grip, hold and clearance.  Does the vise hold the hook stable under both vertical and horizontal pressures?  Is there access to tie on any type of hook in the normal size range?  Can it reliably hold different sizes of hooks?  All vises must hold a minimum of size 20 to 2/0 to rate a 4 or better unless they are purposed designed and labeled as being designed for a specific hook size (tube, midge or saltwater, for instance).  Everything from 20 to 6/0


Accessories. Is the vise capable of being customized with a bobbin cradle, material clip, background card, parachute tool, waste receptacle, etc.?  A good vise should have a material clip included as part of its design. There are none


Reviewer’s Choice.  There is no category for this.  This is a gauge of “goose-bump” factor.  Did you like this vise?  Could you forget about the tool and do the job?  Reference standard


Country where manufactured?  USA







2.0 - Our Reference

MSRP   $6.95 Circa 1968


Jim's Comments - This vise harkens back to the halcyon days of Thompson's former domination in the fly tying vise market. Nothing says 'presence' like a big hunk of cast iron. I collect and use old woodworking planes and the older the cast iron, the better. You could literally drive a framing nail with this thing. That said, it certainly represents an evolutionary dead end in vise design. The draw collet uses a big knob at the back that reminds me of the old regulator knobs, on steam heating systems. The vise attaches to a table top and stays there. My guess is that it just wasn't as fast to tie on as the comparable cam/ draw collet designs that were gaining popularity. If what Joe says about how many thousand dozen flies were ties on this thing, it's weathered the storm with aplomb. I was able to tie easily down to a #18 hook and up to a 2/0 with no problems. If anything, I think this vise probably operates more smoothly than when it was purchased during the first Johnson administration.


Joe's Comments - I've owned this vise since the late 1960's and it's a beast. It is the first vise I tied on and, despite my best efforts, it's still in fine condition. Ugly, heavy and without sophisticated capability it will hold any hook over a size 18 that I throw at it. I can't count the number of 5/0 saltwater jigs I've tied on this vise. I think this vise cost me $6.50 when I purchased it at Tight LInes in West Bridgewater Massachusetts.  I remember riding my bike the 7 or 8 miles to the only shop I knew of that sold fly tying and fly fishing gear.  I wanted the Model A, but I couldn't afford it.  The difference is the screw cam versus the lever cam and it all came down to speed.  Believe it or not, I tied commercially on this vise through high school.  I'd guess I've tied more than  2,000 shad darts alone on this vise over the years.


No new vise worth owning can score lower than this one, considering it's price when adjusted for inflation is about $32. This is what a tool should be - Spartan and utilitarian. I'll always own this vise.


Mark's Comments - For an older vise, I can see why great things have hardly changed with the times, this vise is so simple, there was never reason to fix any of it. The jaws and adjustable screw are very simple and very adjustable as is the built in C Clamp. Only downside I saw here was lack of height adjustment and the C Clamp could be a little sturdier but otherwise, I enjoyed tying on this one.





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