When I first started tying flies, threading
the bobbin was always a chore. I would insert
a light wire loop into the bobbin barrel, feed
the thread through this loop, and then draw the
loop with the thread back through the bobbin
barrel, trying my best not to bend the wire
was always a big concern. A lot of flies were
built with little thread tension in order to
avoid breaking the thread and having to repeat
the threading process. Then I took a tying class
and was shown how to feed the thread into the
bobbin's barrel by drawing a breath through the
barrel pulling the thread up using air power.
This was a bit easier but still difficult, and
almost impossible in low light conditions, as
in when trying to tie up some quick replacements
for lost flies during a camping trip.
Then I purchased a Nor-vice and automatic bobbin.
The vice came with a video, and while watching Mr.
Norlander work his magic with the vice I happen to
catch him threading his automatic bobbin. I watched
as he looped the thread around his finger, slid a
tool into the bobbins barrel, caught the thread on
his finger and drawing it through the bobbins
barrel in one fluid motion. I was amazed! I had
to know what this secret tool was. I called the
shop that sold me the vice and was told Mr.
Norlander would be called and I would have an
answer in the morning. The answer I received
tickled me. Simplicity in motion. The mystery
tool I was told was a Crochet hook that had been
ground down on a bench grinder.
With my new bobbin in hand, I headed off to my
nearby fabric store. It didn't take but a few
minutes to figure out that a 1.0 mm hook would
best do the trick, and it was under two bucks.
I happily purchased the hook and my next stop
was a home improvement store for a small bench
grinder (I needed one any way). Finally home,
I started on the task of making my own threading
tool. Slowly, carefully, almost painfully slowly,
I ground the shaft down. I stopped and checked the
fit as I went and all was going well. Then I reached
the point on the hook that is flattened for a thumb
grip. I got a bit heavy handed at this point and
the material turned red hot and quickly became two
pieces. As luck would have it, the end I needed
was just that much too short.
So on my second trip to the fabric store I decided
that at the price the hooks were that buying 5 would
not be overkill, and if I finished more than one the
rest would make nice gifts. All 5 came out fine and
the four left were well received by friends.
I use an empty - worn out - ball point pen to protect
the threader when not is use, and as a handle.
I had the chance to meet Mr. Norlander at a fly show.
I spied his threading tool and much to my surprise
it looked to be a wire of some sort. I didn't ask.
Some things in life need to stay a mystery.
The Crochet hook works fine for me, bobbin threading
is no longer a chore, it's actually fun. My Nor-Vice?
For me, it's every thing it is advertised to be. It's
not a vice for every tier, and it does take some
getting used to. I have no plans to sell my Renzetti
Traveler, I still use it, but, the major part of the
flies I tie are now happily tied on the Nor-Vice.
Good luck with the Crochet hook. Take your time during
the grinding process. Go slow, and avoid getting the
hook too hot. Dunking it into a glass of water every
now and then helps keep the heat down.
~ Jim L.
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