Editors’ Note: In 2014 we announced the official Vagabond Fly Jvice and also published a review from Jan Korrûbel who spent a significant amount of time behind its jaws. We then ran a reader competition, “What it felt like to be a bare hook that was about to be dressed”, and the winner, Matt Haden, finally got to experience his prize. First some private fly-tying lessons with Jan and then a day with Jay Smit, creator of the maginificant Jvice, at his workshop. To read any of these review or the winning article, simply click on the red words above.
In an effort to ensure continuity, I offer you the same view of Jay Smit’s workshop bench as that which headed up the previous article…now in a somewhat more disorganised state, testament to the busyness of the man, and the JVices flowing out of the workshop. I am pleased to report that I am now the proud owner of JVice #1285, a gift from good friend and avid fly-tyer, Terry Andrews, who was not only sick and tired of me posting images of flies in my ‘non-local’ vice, but I was also due to do a tying demo at Durban Fly Tyers (South Africa) and it just would not do to pitch up with anything other than a JVice.
You will also recall that we ran a 100 word essay competition on “What it felt like to be a bare hook that was about to be dressed” – the winner was Matt Haden, who got to spend some time tying with me, and we also paid Jay Smit a visit to hear and see more about the manufacturing of the JVice.
I’ll let Matt take the story further from here:
I’ll never forget my first view of a Jvice. I was working at a fly fishing venue in the Dargle, Natal Midlands, South Africa, in June 2013 and had local fly-tying master Gordon Van Der Spuy visit to do a venue review. I sat with Gordon and watched him tie flies on this really cool looking vice. I learned a lot from Gordon that weekend and even got to tie on his JVice (#761) – talk about jumping out of an old VW beetle and into the latest Bentley. Gordon invited me to attend a Durban Fly Tyers meeting in Durban shortly thereafter and as I got to the meeting and had a look around at the 25 odd guys …JVice, JVice, JVice, JVice and so forth. Pulling out my unknown brand C-Clamp vice I knew I was alone. During the session I broke my bobbin but this gentle man behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Here, use one of mine.” It was Jay Smit and it was a JBobbin he so casually handed to me.
Fast forward a year, I moved to the Kamberg Valley, now tying up a storm of pretty terrible flies, but I loved my new hobby. Armed with my “wannabe JVice” – an old roll board for under car inspections and a second hand lever vice – I started getting a little better. By then I had met Jan Korrûbel at Wildfly in Nottingham Road (I think I have shares in the shop’s fly tying section). Jan started giving me advice and my tying started getting better and so my visits at Wildfly got longer and LONGER, much to my wife’s dismay.
I entered the Vagabond Fly JVice competition with much enthusiasm as I’ve always wanted to see how the J-Vice was made and I was in much need of a fly-tying lesson with Jan, so in went the entry and I won the competition. After much trying to get our schedules to correspond I sat down with Jan on a chilly Saturday morning at in March this year. Jan corrected some basic mistakes as well as teaching me some of the technical “stuff” – we covered theory far and wide that day, including the Elk-hair Caddis, Rubberleg Stimulator, Papa Roach, nymphs, wrapping hackle and spider’s legs; a morning never to be forgotten.
Jan is a brilliant teacher and I learned more than my fair share in that relatively short space of time.
My tip to any beginners reading this is before you start buying expensive materials and hooks go for a fly-tying lesson or two and learn the basics from the start.
The next part of the prize was the visit to Jay Smit to see the JVice factory. Jan and I again had our usual dance with schedules but eventually managed to set a date and make it happen. Before we got the factory tour, we experienced Jay’s Coffee. If I can put it this way, Jay has ruined Nescafe’s cappuccino sachets for me. Instead of asking if you want sugar, Jay will ask “Do you want to ruin my coffee with sugar?”
Peter Brigg also arrived for the tour of the factory. We went through the workshop and witnessed a JVice being put together, start to finish, complete with wooden base (the JVice base is also handmade by Jay himself!) – the workshop is filled with metal working machines and an impressive array of DIY machines, tools and jigs Jay has developed. He went through each process which is something everybody needs to see to get a real appreciation for the final JVice.
Jay makes parts in bulks runs, and stores them ready for picking – the office is where the final assembly and packing happens. The evolution of JVice can be seen on display and how it changed into the vice everybody loves today.
We finished off with another round of coffee and there and then I made the commitment to buy my own JVice and have already started saving.
I must express my sincere gratitude to Jan, Jay and Vagabond Fly Mag for this incredible Journey.
Afterward: The JVice has a slightly longer than usual stem tan other vices – so designed for tying on your lap in front of the TV explained Jay – but I found it a bit too tall for tying comfortably at my station, so I “sunk” the vice into the station using the “under desk“ stand, and simply pull the vice out when going mobile.
For more information, and ordering, visit the JVice website at www.jvice.com
Jan Korrûbel runs Anglerfish Fly Fishing Services, a successful custom fly tying and guiding service out of Nottingham Road Village in the Natal Midlands. You can contact him on email@example.com or via www.facebook.com/AnglerfishFFS