Reader Reviews: HMH Standard Fly Tying Vise

Fly Tying, Fly tying Vises, Product Reviews — By on January 5, 2012 11:10 am
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Rating: 9.5/10 (27 votes cast)


This is the package for the serious tyer. A full-size, professional-quality tool. Comfort and stability to carry you through extended tying sessions without fatigue. You know what you need to tie, so we let you choose the jaws that are the best for you. No clutter; no gimmicks. Nothing to get between you and quality ties. A good, solid vise that will be there for you forever.

All parts are precision-machined and carefully finished using top-quality stainless and tool steels and brass. Each vise is individually hand fitted and tuned for maximum performance. Comes with your choice of 2 jaws, plus a bobbin rest, and vise pouch. Or, substitute the profile plate for the bobbin rest.

Have an opinion about this product? Share your comments and rate this product in the comment section below

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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

30 Comments

  1. Mark says:
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    I started tying on a Thompson Ultra Vise. My preference is for the hand position I learned on the Thompson, which is essentially idenditcal (but at a much higher price) on the HMH. The only problem I have with the HMH is that the Jaws dont hold their setting even if I crank down (too) hard on the adjustment screw. I have had this looked at once by HMH, but the problem is still present. If I pull down hard on thread, it is not unusual to pull down the vice jaws.
    Other then that , the vise is easy to use, beautifully made , well finished. Just wish it would not slip down. Wonder if I am the only one that has this problem?

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    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
  2. Darrrel Philbrook says:
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    I Have been using the same HMH since Bill first put them on the market. I think it was back in the 1980s, and have used it commnercially eversince.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  3. John says:
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    Mark you are not the only one with the problem. I have spent over $700.00 on two complete HMH vises and extra jaws, and they are absolutely worthless. The jaws / shaft continue to be pulled downwards by simple thread tension while. I do not even tie large flies or streamers. I tie simple size 12 to 24 Trout Flies. This seems to be a fundamental design flaw (cost cutting) when the design was changed from 2 hex screws holding the jaw stem in place on the original Hunter vises, to now just one hex screw. And it does not provide enough tension to hold the jaw shaft steady. There are no notched grooves, nor no lock washers surrounding the hex screw in place either to assist in locking or securely holding the jaw shaft in place. I need to write a long, unhappy, letter to HMH to let them know how miserable I am, and what a waste of money that I have spent. Although I will send them the two vises and ask them to resolve the problem, I do not see how they can do it with this particular design. I honestly could not be any unhappier.

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    Rating: -3 (from 3 votes)
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    Something’s up with the negative comments in this thread, the HMH standard may slip a little in places but if it were a real problem, the fly tiers who use it would have abandoned it long ago.

    I find the HMH Standard to be a beautiful piece of machinery, and the fact that it’s made here in the USA is important to me too. I’ll give one star less in Usability, because it takes a bit of a learned knack to set a nice tight jaw set on any given hook, and maybe just a little too much physical force to get it in place.

    Once the hook is in place, it shouldn’t really move. The act of fly tying should not require thread pulling hard enough to move an HMH standard out of its horiztal angle position. You might be doing something wrong if so.

    I consider the vise a bit of an heirloom, certainly it will be handed down to my son, who has no interest whatsoever in fly tying, but does recognize quality and beautiful design.

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  5. Wesley says:
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    Wel Iam looking for a new vice anybody know what jou schould by if you want a really good vice

    greetz Wesley

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    Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
  6. Rick Mai says:

    I’ve not used the HMH but have always considered getting one simply to have a classic, however, the comments on the shaft/jaws pulling down doesn’t sound good. I own and have tied with a Renzetti Master vise for several years and I love it. A precision piece of equipment. It is expensive and maybe overpriced. The other Renzetti vise I would recommend is the Presentation. I haven’t used it but have heard great feedback and is as functional as the Master.

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    Rating: -3 (from 3 votes)
  7. TGIF says:
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    I don’t have this particular HMH Vice, I had the Spartan, which recently become upgraded to the SX. I am not typically a poster on this site, but given a recent experience I had with HMH, i thought i would share.

    Given that we’re in the throws of tying season in NH, i was very bummed out that my vice had begun to loose its ability to prevent rotation and even holding a hook. I spoke quickly to the folks at HMH, who directed me to send it in. 7 days later, i recieved a completely retooled vice, fresh jaws (upgraded) and new camshaft and lever, a complete explanation of why this happened, and replacement parts in the event that i ever didn’t follow there directions and broke it again. Additionally, this was accompanied by a full 1 page letter from the gentleman who fixed the vice.

    Here’s the deal from my perspective… something will always go wrong, no matter how much money you spend, it is how people react to fixing the problem that sets them apart. I’m not proud ot say i am an HMH guy.

    It doesn’t hurt that they’re hand made in Maine, which is where i do most of my fishing…. so i think it puts a little extra mojo in the flies too. But i can’t prove that :)

    GREAT VICE!

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  8. Big Jim says:
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    Top of line vise. Used 15 to 20 different hmh vises with no problems.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  9. Jorge says:
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    I have one since the last season and I think it was a good choice.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
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    I have been tying on my hmh apl for over 25 years .I tie fly’s every day.I keep my vise clean and oiled as I would any fine piece of equipment or gun. I have never had this vise fail me.I just bought a midge jaw for it last year and was wonderfuly surprised that it fit as well as the two jaws that origanally came with the vise I tie from # 28 to 3/0 and I have no problems with hook hold.I have tyed on a varity of vises and for me there’s nothing that can compare to this fine piece of equipment.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  11. Robert Martinez says:
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    I have been tying with an HMH vise for 20 years and have had no problems with it. The materials and workmanship that go into the production of this vise are unmatched except maybe for the Dyna King. I tie on both vises and am well pleased on their hook holding capabilities. I have tied on the other big name vises out on the market and they do not compare in quality to the HMH and Dyna King. I recently purchased the HMH Spartan vise and found that only one word can explain it “awesome”.

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  12. Wesley says:
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    Okey Thanks for the advice than it wil be an HMH Professional vice!!

    Greetz to Al readers good tying!!

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    Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
  13. Will says:
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    I also have the same problem of the hook pulling down when tying..No matter how tight you try and make it just a little bit of downward pressure and the hook drops down..It really gets to be a pain after awhile..If it wasn’t for that i would be completely happy with this Vise..

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  14. hummmoss says:
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    I’m confused by the negative threads as well. I have no idea why their vise would slip. I tie bass bugs on the HMH vise and have never had any slippage. I have never heard of this (I’m a member of the HMH message board I would have thought this would have come up if it was a real problem). You can’t go wrong with this company!

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    Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
  15. Overall
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    I’ve owned and tied with a Standard since 2004. I use both the standard and midge jaws and have had absolutely no problem with slippage. Dave Roberts showed me the new locking kam last Sept at the FFF Conclave in West Yellowstone. It looked like an improvement over the kam on my vice do to the increased speed of locking hooks, but aside from that, for non-rotary functions, the Standard is tops in my book.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  16. Dick Brown says:
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    I’ve tied on the HMH standard for about 30 years and consider it a solid workhorse of a vise for the saltwater patterns I tie on size 6 to 6/0 hooks. No problems with slippage as long as you dial the adjusting knob to set the cam pressure–a convenient feature that gives you infinite control over the hook grabbing ability of the jaws. A well- made, easy-to-use, reliable product. Also have an HMH Spartan for travel.

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  17. Mark says:

    Must add another note of concern for tyers considering the HMH standard. I purchased this vise , because I started on the Thompson vise and the hand position is similar. But I have never resolved the shaft slipping problem , even though I have sent the vise back for “adjustment”. Rather not have to start tying on another vise design (Regal , Renzetti) , but it is actually a constant problem , even with small flies.

    Beautiful material , but as mentioned in prior posts , an apparently defective design

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  18. Jim Williams says:
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    I bought a Standard in 1981. The only vise I’ve ever owned (Yes, It was my “starter” vise at the advice of a pretty famous western tyer). Anyway, I’ve tied thousands of tiny midges, tarpon streamers, bass bugs, and even saltwater lead-head jigs in the HMH. Never once a problem. Easily adjustable. Durable. Perfect.

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  19. TedK says:
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    I also started on the Thompson 1A, upgraded to the Thompson Ultra, bought the Renzetti when the opportunity presented itself. Even though I love the Renzetti’s hook spin features, I’m just not as comfortable with it. I got the Renetti because the Thompsons were slow and crude but worked. After playing with a number of display vises I bought the HMH standard around 2006. This sucker is terrific! Even though I should, I avoid the tiny flies, thse smaller than 20. The HMH has tied dries, nymphs (my favorites) to saltwater streamers and bucktails. With the right jaw set, this vise will do it all.

    To those who have problems. If your hook is swiveling down (not the arm), then you are likely clamping the hook in incorrectly. For the hook to be held tightly, you must clamp the hook in so that a substantial part of the bend is in the jaws. Yeah, clamping on the edge of the bend gives you more room for tying, but you are sacrificing clamping strength. This is true whether you’re clamping hooks or clamping a car bumper in your garage work vise. When the vise is clamped on a small center the clamped item can swivel.

    Don’t believe me? That’s ok. However, next time your hook swivels, reclamp it so that more of the hook bend is in the jaws.

    The HMH does start to have difficulty with saltwater hooks at about 2/0, especially the cadmium plated hooks and tying deer hair. That’s ok, I bought the monster hook jaws for my Thompson Ultra and it isn’t like I need a hundred bucktail jigs quickly.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  20. Chris B. Fye says:
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    While this is not my first Fly Tying Vise I have 3 others and my HMH Standard makes 4. It will probably be my last. The quality of this vise is superb. I am a retired machinist and the machining is very nice fit and finish on all parts. I bought the vise for one purpose and that is for tying midges and trico’s size 26 thru 32. With the vise fitted with the Micro Jaws the vise is perfect for tying very small flies. Great accessability to the hook with the Micro Jaws. I bought it with the pedestal base only. I also have a Dyna-King Barracuda Jr., 2 Regal Vises one with the traditional jaws and one with the stainless steel jaws. THe vise is a great deal and quality is excellent and it is 100% made in the U.S.A. by Americans.

    Chris

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  21. Jay M. Levell says:
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    I started with the D.H. Thompson Ultra Vise. When i moved to Eagle River in 1981 I met a dude that had a HMH Standard for sale, brand new vise. He let me make payments on the vise. What a beautiful vise HMH Standard. It is what the Thompson Ultra Vise wishes it was! I have about 8 Regals, 5 Dyna-Kings, 2 HMH, and some others. I alwaays grab a Dyna-King or a HMH. I like Non Rotary tying. I got killer deals on the Regals that is why I have so many. Regal is a killer vise too! I only tie large patterns for Alaska.Bright deadly looking flies! I love the looks and feel of the HMH and MADE IN USA. The folks at HMH seem real friendy. Yeah!

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  22. Rob says:

    The problem with the vice head slipping under pressure is not a design problem but a Q.C. problem. I had the same problem with my HMH Spartan. I called the manufacturer and he had me send it back and promptly took care of it. The HMH is a great vise. I’ve been using mine for 5 or 6 years now and don’t plan on buying more vises. This is the 4th vise I’ve owned since I started fly tying 34 years ago. This is now my vise for life.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  23. Gene L says:
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    This is a top notch vise. I initially had slipping problems too, but it was due to me and the way I clamped the jaws. You have to adjust the jaws so the cam lever, in locked position on the hook, “breaks” and rests very close to the shaft of the vise. Adjusting the jaws before hand, the vise is properly set so with the cam lever in the horizontal position, it will loosely grip the hook. Then cam it down so the cam lever is parallel with the shaft. Being used to Renzetti Traveler, which is way different in the way you lock the hook in, it took a bit of time to get the cam handle down right. But once you do, it’s no problem. Those having problems with the HMH should watch the video which shows how to do it right. If you’re used to using a vise that locks any other way (Renzetti, Peak, etc.) you’re most likely not locking the cam properly. Also, note, especially with smaller flies, say switching from a 14 to a 16 hook, just a small amount of change is needed to accomplish the jaws locking. And vice versa. A little bit of change is all it takes.

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  24. Loren Kroeker says:
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    I have purchased this HMH vise and absolutely love it. I have had none of the problems that others have spoken about here. I have used a Regal vise for years and a Renzetti for several years. The HMH is very comfortable to use. I tie mostly trout flies (small dries and nymphs)and it is perfect. The pouch makes it easier to transport and use on trips in my trailer. This HMH vise has become my go to vise!

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  25. Robert Brong says:
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    I started with a Cabellas fly tying kit and wanted to upgrade to a better vice. Went to one of the fly tying shows and decided on the SX model made in the USA by HMH. After using it for a couple of months the cam pin came loose. Called HMH and they quickly replaced it with 2 new pins – problem solved I would recommend a single drop of blue thread locker on the cam pin. other than that small problem I think I got a quality vice that I will have for a lifetime. I tie flies from 4/o saltwater to size 24 and have had no other problems. They are also great company that appreciates their customers with very quick and good customer service. I would recommend the SX vice to anyone and HMH as a company that values their customers.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  26. Sarge says:
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    If the vise head is moving when you set pressure on the cam lever to set the hook in the jaws, you are over tightening the the adjustable knob. To acquire the required tension on the adjusting knob, your cam lever should be parallel to the vise stem when the hook is set in the jaws. If you struggle with the cam lever reaching the parallel point to the vise stem, then you have over tightened the adjusting knob. The jaws will hold a hook secure and does have to be over tightened to prevent slippage.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  27. Paul says:
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    Great vise been tying on it for some time now.

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  28. Bill Smith says:
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    I started tying approximately 14 years ago (I’m currently 61 years old). My fIrst vise was a Griffin Superior 1A. It was a great vise to start tying with. Moved to a Dyna-King Kingfisher which I subsequently gave to my eldest son who still uses that vise to tie salmon flies (I should have kept that vise). My wife bought me a Renzetti Traveler for Christmas about 10 years ago, but I have never really grew particularly fond of that vise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great little rotary vise, but I never learned how to use the rotary feature to is fullest abilities. About 7 years ago I bought an HMH Spartan.

    I love it. My only complaint is that I wish the jaws were of the same design as the Dyna-King. The HMH standard jaws have never “slipped”, but I think the Dyna-King jaw design is superior. I tied with the Spartan for about 4 years and then I bought an HMH Standard and purchased the Magnum jaws. Now those suckers have some clamping power! The Stabdard is now my “Go to” vise and the Spartan is my travel vise.

    I love my HMH’s. I do not think there is a better vise for the buck out there.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  29. Michel Dumont says:
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    A few years ago, I was shopping for my first Vise, and settled on the Spartan. Love it. Some of our fly Tying Club members asked me why I did not settled for a rotary vice instead. Showed them that it can be used as a rotary vice. As for the grip, I have no problem and it has taken lost of pressure/beating from me (6’4″ 240lbs) when I don’t make the perfect adjustments with the tension wheels (Hey! I’m just a man after all). LOL

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  30. Jackson says:
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    Love my HMH Vise. I live in the town and know the old owner (John) and know the new owner (Jon). To all the people who say the vise is awful and slips, chances are you’re probably not using it correctly. There is the possibility you tried to clamp it too tight and broke a jaw.
    HMH is made of the highest quality and hand made. Each vise is checked by the owner to make sure it can hold a range of hooks. There is such a thing as wearing out the jaws, in that case just call HMH. They are easy to talk to and love taking care of their customers.

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

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