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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dyna-King Barracuda vise review

A vise built for generations

Dyna-King Barracuda

When it comes to quality vises, I think it's very clear that Dyna King is almost in a league of it's own in regards to craftsmanship and durability.  When you buy a Dyna-King vise, you are really buying the vise that your grandkids will use.  Dyna-King is a family run company that has been producing vises for over 30 years, and continually seems to get better.  One of the things that impresses me the most about Dyna-King is that they use the same high quality jaw in all of their vises.  In my opinion, the jaw should be the focal point of a vise - nothing else really matters if the jaw isn't a hook holding workhorse.  Not only is the bone crushing jaw the focal point of the barracuda, it's the focal point of all of their vises.  After spending about the last month and a half religiously tying on the Barracuda, I think I have a pretty good idea of how this vise performs.

The Jaw:
  • So I'll jump right to the best part of this vise.  The jaw holds essentially everything that you can throw at it.  When I review vises, I always like to tie something in the range of #30 all the way up to 5/0 to get a picture of how versatile the jaws are.  The Barracuda held solid on a #30 bunny midge, even though such a tiny hook looked out of place in such a rigid jaw.  The key is to not over-tighten the jaw, because it will smash small hooks.  I'll talk about the sweet spot a little bit later.  There is a midge jaw that allows for a bit more operating room around small hooks, but after a short while, I got used to tying the micro stuff on the normal jaw.  For flies in the #20 to #12 range, normal jaw is perfect.  For large flies, there are two notches that allow you to seat the hook with the most solid hold that you will find in any vise.  In all, the jaw is nice... really nice.
The Sweet Spot:
Proper hook positioning
  • The Dyna-King's jaws are kind of like a fine hot beverage (my preference is Yerba Mate).  If you try to drink it while it's too hot, it will burn you, and if you wait until it's too cold, it's not very tasty.  Like my yerba mate, the Dyna-King has a sweet spot that I found to be very important for tying flies in the #12 to #8 range.  This range of hooks is still barely too small to fit in the notches, but big enough that proper tension can take more time to find with the forcing cone.  If you over tighten the jaw you will either smash the hook, or damage the jaw.  If the jaw is too loose, it simply won't hold the hook properly.  The sweet spot is a perfect amount of pressure that will firmly hold your hook using a minimal amount of pressure.  Here are a few pointers to find the sweet spot.
    1. Make sure the hook is placed so the point of the hook is extruding from the jaw right about in the middle of the front of the jaw. (see picture)
    2. Loosen the jaw slightly, and place the hook in the vise.  The hook should slightly slip with downward pressure.  
    3. Take the hook out of the vise, and make tiny adjustments, and repeatedly clamp the jaw until the hook doesn't slip very easily.
    4. You will realize that it takes surprisingly little pressure to hold your hooks nice and snug.  The worst thing you can do with a Dyna-King is crank the jaw super tight hoping to get a tight hold on the hook.  This will cause damage to your vise and cause it to lose holding power.
    5. Over time, you will know how to adjust the vise very quickly, but it can take some practice.

The Rotary Function:
  • With most of the rotary vises that I have tested, the rotary function had to be adjusted and tweaked until it fit my style.  The Dyna King came ready to rock-n-roll right out of the box, and I was able to truly plug-and-play with this vise.  I did find that the rotary tensioning knob would back out as I tied, and If this were my every-day vise, I would just add a bit of lock-tite on the threads to get it to stick where I like it.  The jaw can also be lowered and raised to ensure 100% true rotary (if you are in to that type of thing).  The consensus on the rotary feature is that it is smooth right out of the box, and very low maintenance.
Overall Workmanship:
  • You will be hard pressed to find a vise that is as well made as a Dyna-King.  I think this is what sets them apart int he fly tying arena, and it's also what justifies their prices.  As I said in the heading of this article, this vise is made to last for generations.  Everything on this vise is made from top quality materials from the base, to the accessories, to the vise itself.  I like that they put oversized knobs on the vise to ensure easy adjustment and the ability to crank down on them if you need to (especially on the pedestal).
Overall, This is an excellent piece of workmanship, and would be a good choice for anyone looking for a vise to last forever.  My only criticisms are with the material clip and seating size 8 and 10 flies.  The material clip seems to be too far back, and can be hard to get to if you are tying smaller flies.  I guess I'm too used to the adjustable material clip on the Griffin Montana Mongoose that allows me to move it forward and back on the fly  In regards to tying size 8 and 10 flies, it really just depends on the diameter on the hook wire, but the sweet spot can be a bit harder to find in that size range.  That being said, you won't have any slippage unless maybe you tie some deer hair stuff.  

Kudos to Dyna-King for creating a lineup of really excellent vises! 

~ Cheech 

See the Barracuda in action:







6 comments:

  1. Thanks for a great review. I am looking hard at vices at the moment as my older one I feel I have just outgrown. PS enjoyed the blog. First time visitor. Check me out at "The Rogue Outdoors" if you like.

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    1. Thanks for the visit. Your blog is cool... It looks like you get out quite a bit.

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  2. Thank you for a great review. My local fly shop sells these vices and I'm thinking of supporting them. My only query, why should such a great vice have a 'sweet spot' shouldn't it be consistent through the hook sizes?

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    1. That's the kicker... The Griffin Montana Mongoose holds any hook very easily (no sweet spot needed) for $200.

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