I've owned the PEAK rotary vise for nearly 2 years and have tied perhaps 600 flies on it. Where exactly those 600 flies have got to I'm really not sure!
I bought the vise in its "Pikes Peak" package which comes with both a pedestal base and a C-clamp. That package no longer seems to be available and it now comes with either the pedestal or clamp. The reason I got both was that I had two places I tied, one of which was a table where I could leave the clamp attached and another where I couldn't use the clamp. As it happens I've used the clamp perhaps twice and the heavy steel pedestal ever since. The clamp is perfectly good, but the pedestal does everything I need so I don't bother messing about with Allen keys to shift the vise from pedestal to clamp. The pedestal has proved stable even when spinning deer hair on big flies. I use the optional riser on my vice, which lets me fine-tune the height.
The vise is functional but you couldn't call it a jewel. The word "agricultural" springs to mind. It is sturdily constructed from brass, stainless steel, tool steel and aluminium. All the moving parts work smoothly. The finish is good enough and no better. There are what look like a few file marks on it. My pedestal base, white powder coated steel, arrived rather the worse for wear with several chips in the finish. My vise has a knurled collar for the jaws but more recent ones don't have the knurling. Apparently that's to keep the price down. That's ok, because it's also good value for money. Those who want their vises to be things of beauty and a joy to behold may need to look elsewhere.
The jaws are a draw collet design. The gap in the jaws is controlled with a collar under the vise head arm and the hook is clamped in using a cam lever. The lever is quite large and solid and only occasionally gets in the way.
PEAK claims the standard jaws are good for 2/0 to size 24. I can certainly vouch for 2/0 to size 20. That full range of sizes can be gripped firmly. It's quick enough to adjust and the only slippage I have is my fault. There are saltwater and midge jaws available. I think you'd probably want the midge jaws if you were tying lots of smaller flies, but the standard ones are fine for the odd size 18 and smaller I tie.
Size 1/0 (ran out of 2/0) hook on left, size 20 on right, both securely held in standard jaws
The jaws are reasonably tough but I have managed to chip them. The chips were from trying to clamp hooks too close to the jaw edges. The worst chip was from a stainless 2/0 hook which pinged out of the vise when I applied tension while winding on a thread bed. That actually ruined one side of the jaws. Luckily it was easy enough to remove the jaws and flip them over.
Changing the jaws is fairly straightforward if you're handy with tools. You slack off the collar and remove a clip on the pin holding the cam lever. It isn't something I'd want to be doing all the time though.
The vise is of course an inline rotary design. The rotary action is nice and smooth. The end of the shank has a metal dowel for a handle. There is a wee bit of a lurch as you come over the top but I think that's me rather than the vise. You can get an optional right angle handle called the "D-Arm" to attach to the main handle. I imagine that makes turning the shaft smoother but I haven't felt the need to get it.
The tension can be adjusted by a thumbscrew under the barrel. It's been easy to adjust to the required tension. As standard the vise has Delrin thumbscrews but mine is upgraded with brass screws with Delrin tips. For as much I use them the Delrin ones would probably have been fine.
One thing which bugs me a bit is that the vise has a fixed arm from the shaft to the head. This means that you can't adjust the arm so that the hook is in line with the axis of rotation. When tying with smaller hooks, say size 12-14 and down, this makes using the full rotary ability rather awkward. As you turn the the shaft the hook shank moves towards then away from you, instead of just rotating in place. It's particularly annoying when winding more fragile materials as it's hard to keep constant tension on them without breakage. The rotary capability is still very handy for things like positioning the hook for tying in materials on either side of the hook, starting dubbing and looking at the "back" side of the fly. It does make up for not always being able to use the full rotary facility and is a lot better than using a non-rotary vise or even a semi-rotary Regal style vise.
Access to the tail end of the fly is reasonable until you get down to size 14 or 16 hooks. That's when I find the head arm starts to get in the way. I also find the head assembly doesn't suit the way I like to tie parachutes.
A bobbin rest comes standard with the vise and I have no complaints about it. If you've never used a bobbin rest I'd really recommend it, even for non-rotary vises. They're very handy for holding the thread and bobbin out of the way when doing things like winding ribs or hackle.
I bought the optional material clip. This is a sturdy piece of plastic which clips over the vise arm and has two prongs you can attach one of the supplied fine or coarse springs to. It's useful for holding materials out of the way, especially when rotating the arm. You can easily rotate it to the underside of the arm to keep it out of the way. It works fine.
The PEAK is a good vise and I'm very happy with mine, but I am looking to replace it with something which has an adjustable arm. I can't blame the vise for something it isn't designed to do. It's not the prettiest vise but it works well, is well made and robust. It's good value for money and has a lifetime warranty. I can imagine having to replace the jaws at some point, but aside from that I don't see why it shouldn't give years of service. It's definitely worth consideration if you're looking for a vise.
Reviewed by Jo Meder
PEAK Rotary Vise
Made by PEAK Fishing ( http://www.peakfishing.com )
PEAK Riser (RSR-1)
PEAK Material Clip (CLP-M)
PEAK Brass Screw Kit (BRS-1)
MSRP for PRV-G2 set (vise, pedestal, bobbin holder, standard jaws) is $143.95 USD
Jo Meder (email@example.com) lives in New Zealand's South Island on the side of a mountain. Since rediscovering fly fishing a few years ago he's become a hopeless addict and can often be found roaming the banks of both rivers and lakes, supporting his habit through work as a software developer. One day he will catch a fish from his kayak. He likes to cast just because and seeks to pass on the enjoyment of casting in his capacity as an FFF Certified Casting Instructor.