Product Reviews

Thompson Cobra Vise
by Al Campbell

I had a chance to play with this vise for several months this year. Odd looking creature, but actually, very nice looking. I hesitated to do a review on this product because I found good and bad things with the vise. In one area it is probably as good as any vise on the market, but in another area, it isn't adequate. If people buy this vise for the type of tying it is best suited to, it will be an excellent tool and have a great following for years to come. However, please note the limitations of this vise when you look to see if it will fit your needs.

The main framework of the vise is very solid and designed to accommodate a variety of accessories without interfering with the function of the vise or true rotary head. This is a true rotary vise that is fairly easy to adjust and smooth as a baby's backside in rotation. The head locks in place with a thumbscrew to immobilize the jaw rotation as needed.

The vise excels in the realm of small flies. The rotary head is easy to work with and around, and there is enough space behind the fly to do things many other rotary vises won't do easily. The jaws adjust easily for small flies and hold small hooks extremely well. If you tie a lot of small, trout-sized flies, this is a very good choice for a rotary vise.

On the other hand, this isn't a good vise for saltwater or bass flies. I don't think it was designed for any flies bigger than standard trout fare. The base is too small to handle the leverage applied to very large flies, and the pressure it takes to spin deer hair on a bass bug will tip the pedestal base over or at least make it wobble. The jaws hold small hooks very well, but anything over about size 1 tends to slip under pressure. Definitely not designed for flies bigger than trout flies. I played with adjustments for over a month trying to get the jaws to hold large hooks securely, but without a groove for large hooks, these jaws let large hooks slip under pressure.

I suspect they will eventually place a groove in the jaws for large hook holding capacity, and probably offer a clamp mount or bigger base for larger flies. Until then, this is an excellent trout fly vise, but not for saltwater and bass bug tying.

If you're looking for a really good rotary vise for trout flies, this is an excellent choice. If you tie a lot of large flies, either look elsewhere or wait for these guys to modify this vise for larger hooks.

Look for this vise at a dealer near you or contact DH Thompson for the location of the nearest dealer, priced at $165 retail. ~ Al Campbell

DH Thompson, Inc.
200 Industrial Dr.
Hampshire, IL 60140
Ph: (847) 683-0051
Fax: (847) 683-0052

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