Rotary Fly-Tying Techniques Fly fishing book reviews 

Rotary Fly-Tying Techniques
Al Beatty and Gretchen Beatty
Softbound:   116 pages.
Frank Amato Publications   $24.95
ISBN  978-1-57188-418-3

Rotary Fly-Tying TechniquesT he grand couple of fly tying have another title to grace our coffee tables, book shelves, and tying desks. Now, you wouldn't think a book that focuses on a single tool would be as interesting as the usual books about patterns, materials, and presentations. But such is not the case. The Beattys have put together a wonderful presentation of the power of rotary vices to enhance our craft.

This book arrived at the exact right time for me. I'd been thinking about retiring my ancient vice, which was beginning to look like someone had been bending nails with it. I was considering buying another "one-dimensional" vice, one that doesn't rotate, when I saw this on my desk. My first thought was "What is this? Rotary vices?" Initially, I was a little skeptical. But after thumbing through the book and reading the tying procedures, I began having images of woolly buggers rolling off my vice in seconds, palmered flies zipping off at breakneck speed, and great fun all around.

The book begins where all good books should begin, at the beginning--err, with an historical perspective. The opening chapters tell a story of how rotary vices began as a modified Singer sewing machine operated with a foot pedestal. It is a pleasure  to see pictures of Gretchen at work on this ancient tool.

I especially like the explanation of the differences between full-rotation and true-rotation vices, an important theme throughout. You'll want to get this straight if you wish to own one of these babies.

Fortunately, the bulk of the book is devoted to illuminating the important differences across the many styles of vices. Each chapter in the book is devoted to a different style vice. The fly patterns are chosen to illustrate specific tying procedures that can be done with a particular vice. Pay close attention to these chapters, because there is a great deal more that can be done with a rotary vice than just firing off woolly buggers all day long.

The authors make clear, however, that the rotary vice tyer will need to teach his or her fingers a few more tricks that may not come naturally--or fingers could end up tied to a fly. But this is part of the fun for most flyfishers. If it were too easy, at lot of the appeal would vanish. Fortunately, the illustrations and photos are well chosen to send us on our way to fly tying rotary nirvana.

My vice hasn't arrived yet. And, No, I'm not going to tell you which one I ordered. You'll have to read the book and decide for yourself which vice suits you. And, No, they aren't all as expensive as a fine fly reel. But you can be certain, you'll have the text you need to decide for yourself which vice you want and which techniques to use. When the vice arrives, I know where I'll be--twirling feathers and fur at breakneck speed, with the right book at my side.

--Toney J. Sisk


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