This week’s Throw Back Thursday post is about my Thompson Model A Vise.

Thompson Model A Vise |

This was my very first vise. I purchased it from Wayne Doughton of Doughton’s Hardware in Salem, OR. I’m pretty sure it was 1970.

This vise served me well for about 20 years before I replaced it with a McKenzie vise and later with a Renzetti Traveler. I tied hundreds of flies on this vise. Certainly, the quality of my flies today are much better than when I started, but it didn’t have anything to do with the vise.

What vise did you start tying flies with?

For more information about my fly tying journey, be sure to check the About Me page.

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. My first vise was my father’s early 1950s Thompson A vise – I tied large numbers of flies on it over the years. I shared the Thompson with my father until he gave it to me when I went to college. Over the years I added a weighted base, as well as midge and ball jaws to handle size 20s to larger saltwater patterns. I still have the old Thompson – it must be somewhere around 65 years old – but years ago moved up to a Dyna-King Barracuda vise.
    The first flies I ever tied were on that Thompson vise – I probably was around eight years old. Those flies were crafted on long shank bait hooks scrounged from a tackle box, as well as feathers from our parakeet’s cage and some white pipe cleaners colored with paints from a watercolor set. All this was secured with thread borrowed from my mother’s sewing basket. That evening the crude flies were presented proudly to my father.
    After that time he always kept a small box of real fly tying materials at his bench for me to use – hooks, feathers and miscellaneous fur and other scraps from the bench. I did the same for my daughters when they were growing up. I still have several zip-lock bags full of their fanciful creations. Now when my grandsons visit, they use the old Thompson A.
    I never gave a thought to where the first flies went. Then one day years ago we were going through some of my father’s things after he had passed away. When going through the contents of an old tackle box I noticed a small pill bottle in one of the trays. Opening the bottle, to my surprise out came three flies from my first attempts. He had carried them for over 25 years in his tackle box. Those flies still reside in the same bottle 65 years after they had been tied.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful trip down “Memory lane”. My first vise as well. they also had one with a red knob, I believe. I purchased mine form Herter’s. As an 11 year old, the manger of the local Boy’s Club was an outdoor enthusiast. He let two younger fellow handle the sports aspect of the Boys club in Martinez, Calif. Nino Bellicci, was his name(May he rest in Peace), he and a long-time friend of his named Emil Marchant taught about 6 of us how to tie flies. I still have my first one. An orange hackle on a big hook. In University, a Professor in the PE Department of San Jose State by the name of Danny Glines offered a Fly Casting Course at some local casting ponds. I needed an under graduate course to finish my Master’s. He taught in the Fall/Winter/ Spring and guided on the Madison River out of Ennis, Montana each Summer.

    Tank you again, as I have met some wonderful people through fly Fishing.


    1. Andy

      Thanks for leaving a Comment. So pleased to dredge up some good memories. It’s one of the reasons I have my TBT posts.


  3. The Model A was my first too. It was gifted to me by a coworker when I started learning to tie about 25 years ago. Finally graduated to a Renzetti Traveler about 5 years ago. Huge difference, but that little vise served me well for a long time.

    1. Nick

      Thanks for leaving a Comment. So pleased to dredge up some good memories. Sounds very similar to my story. It’s one of the reasons I have my TBT posts.


  4. Foolish me! Though not recommended by Mickey Powell who then owned Buz’s Fly and Tackle, I started with a cheap Model A knockoff by Sunrise. Soon I was back to buy my D.H. Thompson Model A. Still have it and another. What happened to the Sunrise? The sun set on it soon thereafter.

    1. Wayne

      Thanks for leaving a Comment. So pleased to dredge up some good memories. I forgot about the Sunrise vise. My dad purchased one I think as a way to expand his hobbies. He wasn’t much of a fly fisher. He tried, but didn’t fish that much. And his flies were ugly. I’ll have to seen if I still have a couple of them.


  5. Same for me. My first quality production vise was from Al Price in LaPine, purchased from Joel and Kristie at the original Bend Fly Box. Finally wore it out this year on saltwater flies and still shopping for a replacement.

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