Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gear Review- Peak Rotary Vise

It took me awhile to decide what piece of gear to review first.  When fly fishing is your hobby, every thing you own is your favorite.  But then I thought of the one beautiful thing I own that brings me hours of satisfaction day or night, summer or winter, rain or shine- my Peak rotary vise.

When I started shopping for a vise I did a lot of research online.  What I wanted was something portable, all metal construction (no major plastic components) rotary function, for less than $200.  I looked very hard at the Renzetti Traveler, perhaps the most popular vise out there.  One thing I did find in my searching was a website called Fly Fish Ohio that had a fairly exhaustive review of dozens of different vises at various price points.  Being able to compare features and prices led me to decide on the vise for me- the Peak rotary vise, and at just under $150, it left room in my budget to buy some tying tools and materials.
Take a look at it- beautiful, simple, clean lines.  They managed to work their logo into the bobbin holder.  When you take it out of the package it feels very solid and heavy, and it is solid.  Bullet proof would be the phrase.  It features stainless steel construction with a heavy duty hardened jaw aligned with the axis for true rotary function.  According to their literature it ties from a size 2 down to the smallest hook made.  Personally I tie up to a size 3/O hook with no ill effects or loss of function.  The jaw closure and adjustment are easy to manipulate and operate smoothly.  It takes a matter of seconds to figure out how to operate, unlike some other vises out there.
When I was looking for a vise my friends warned me that I would hate the base that is included, that it would be unstable, lightweight, that I needed to get a granite base from The Granite Fly.  I did get a granite base and I love it.  I have used extensively the coated metal base that came with my Peak vise and must say that it was entirely adequate- it appears to be coated cast iron, is very stable and heavy and works very well.  I just like my granite base better.
this monster is tied on a 2/O
partridge and orange soft hackle with that classic Peak jaw

I'm going to spin a tale of customer service and hope I don't offend the fine folks at Peak.  You see, when my vise first came in the mail, it was broken.  When I opened it and took it out of the box, the pivot pin that the cam lever attaches to fell out in two pieces.  I went to my local hardware store, bought a compression pin, tapped it in and the vise has worked beautifully ever since.  I contacted Peak that morning via email and let them know, not because I was upset, but in case it was a problem with a faulty material or supplier.  I was very pleased with the vise.  What happened- how Peak handled it, was what impressed me.  They replied to my email within two hours, and within 48 hours (I think it was 24) I had a new hinge pin with their apology in my mail box.  I'd dare to say that that kind of customer service is extremely rare, even in the best of companies.  I was incredibly impressed with their handling of that situation, and continue to be impressed with my vise.  I met Al Ritt at the 2011 Midwest Fly Fishing Expo and was able to thank him.  What a nice guy.

Peak Fishing is located in Loveland Colorado, and you can feel good about buying an American made product.  Peak makes a variety of accessories and tools.  I'll eventually order the salt water jaws for all of this over-sized stuff I'm tying- I hope I'm not pushing the standard jaw too far.  So far, so good.  They make a fixed jaw (non-rotary) vise that sells for about $80 with the same rock solid construction that should be a must for every beginning tier, and I would think it would come in handy for shops to use in the tying classes they offer.  If I had one reservation about my vise it would be that they sell brass set screws for the rotary function and the bobbin holder as accessories to replace the plastic ones that come with it, instead of making them standard.  I'll order a set, but it would be nice if the brass came standard with such a nice vise.  If it's an issue of keeping the vise within a target price point then I understand.

As far as I'm concerned, Peak has hit a home run with this vise.  There are a lot of vises out there on the market, some good some bad, some of it depends on how much you want to spend. At less than $150 this vise packs a lot of bang for the buck.  I tie a lot, and I won't be shopping for a vise any time soon. 

I call this one Guido's Ferrari


  1. Great review. I have not had the pleasure to play with one of these yet

  2. Nice to have a good vise! I also thought the Fly Fish Ohio site offered some good insight. Love that base...

  3. I just started fly tying in the fall of 2011, and thankfully I was able to use the Peak Rotary Vise in my class. I totally agree with everything you have said about the Peak vise. I also tried a Renzetti Traveler 2200 and a Regal Travel Series, but the Peak was by far my much so that my wife bought it for me for Christmas! I have been tying all winter from size 6 wooly buggers to size 20 Griffiths Gnats and my Peak has performed perfectly. The sturdiness of the vice, the fact that it is American made, and the simplicity of its design are the things that stand out to me the most.

    1. Hey, thanks for reading and commenting. I just saw Al Ritt at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo this last weekend. I still love my Peak and wouldn't trade it.