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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Griffin Montana Mongoose Vise Review

Bring your hooks... any hooks.

We just filmed a video set-up guide and review.

griffin montana mongoose vise
Griffin Montana Mongoose vise

If you have been following our articles and videos you will see that the vast majority of our tying is done with
the Griffin Montana Mongoose vise so I though it would be a good time to tell you all why.  As a fairly afflicted fly tying addict I know that most of you will agree that there was a time in your fly tying "career" that you decided that you needed a better vise to help you tie better, more comfortably (or you can just insert whatever justification you used to buy a new vise here.)  Some might have started with a top-o-the-line vise, and never had vise envy, but let me assure you...  Vise envy is real!  Curtis and I have tied on pretty much all of the commercially (and readily) available vises out there, and we basically can have our pick of any vise we want.  We choose the Mongoose.

After tying with the Mongoose since about 2006, here is my list of pros and cons about the vise.


Hook holding 
#32 Bunny midge from the Mongoose
As I have ranted before, I think that the purpose of a vise is to hold a hook at 100% strength with minimal any hook that I throw at it with 100% positive lockout, and with minimal adjustment.  The Mongoose is the best of the best when it comes to hook holding power with minimal adjustment because I can take 7/0 trokar out of the vise, turn one knob a few times, and then seat a #32 hook and get tying. I'm not saying that I make this transition very often, but the fact is - I can do it... easily.
effort and minimal adjustment.  My definition of a hook is also a bit more broad than some might use, because it includes 7/0 heavy wire Trokar
6/0 Musky fly from the Mongoose
hooks that I tie sailfish flies on, to 4/0 jig hooks that I use to pour lead onto for bass fishing, to the standard tout fare of #2 to #20, to the micro #32 TMC 518 hooks that we use on Utah rivers during the winter and early spring (yes, they are effective and very necessary at times).  There are very few vises that I have tied with that can hold

One Jaw
There is no "midge" jaw or "super tough big boy" jaw that I need to install to get that holding power - it's all done with the same jaw.  The point of the jaw is fine enough to accommodate the smallest hooks, and with the twist of a knob the jaw is ready for a much bigger hook.  All you have to do is seat the larger hook a little bit further back in the jaw to get it to hold.  This, is a huge deal in my opinion because I don't want to have to take the time to change jaws in a tying session, and I don't want the extra cost of having to buy two of arguably the most expensive piece on the vise.

Material Clip
Material clip being used as a drying rack
This vise has probably the best material clip that I have seen on a vise.  It has a wide spring that can be easily adjusted and used with one hand.  If i'm tying midges I can easily slide it right up next to the hook, and if I'm tying bigger streamers, I can move it back far enough to be out of the way.  It can also be used to keep the back hook of an articulated fly out of the way while tying them.  When I tie with other vises, this is usually the first thing that I miss about the Mongoose.

These vises are made in Montana by people who understand what it takes to meet the demands of beginner tyers all the way to production tyers who tie thousands of dozens of flies per year.  I have beat this vise to death.  It has been thrown in the bottom of my wader bag, It has been checked with my luggage, and it has suffered the abuse of tying huge saltwater flies.  It works the same today as it did when I got it out of the box.

Even Curtis can figure this vise out
I really only have had to call Griffin once about one of the screws that broke, and instead of trying to
troubleshoot how, and why I did it, they just asked me for my address.  No questions asked, they sent me the stuff I needed to get up and running again.

Whole package
The Montana Mongoose comes with more goodies than any other vise on the market for the price.  With the Montana Mongoose you will get a carrying case, pedestal base, c-clamp with extension rod, supreme ceramic bobbin, and a hackle gauge.  The most critical part of this is the fact that they add a stem extension if you want to use the c-clamp.  This is something that many other companies overlook.


Pedestal base
Because the rotary hub on the vise is offset from the stem, and doesn't sit directly above it, the vise can tend to rock toward you while using the rotary function.  There are many fixes for this all the way from using a different pedestal base (which Curtis and I both do), to welding the current base to a bigger hunk of metal.  You can either add weight to it, or make it wider.  Both work.

Initial calibration
This is a very minor con, because once it's set up right it requires very little maintenance.  To get the vise to rotate silky smooth, I had to tighten the rotary assembly (with the bolt on the very back of the rotary assembly) just right.  Not too tight, and just loose enough so it doesn't wobble.  Once it is just right, the rubber gaskets still touch the sides of the rotary assembly that causes them to stick a little bit.  Just add a tiny bit of reel oil to those bad boys and you will be silky smooth.  I re-apply oil to them about every 6 months and I tie a lot.

To sum it all up... This is, in my opinion, the best vise on the market due to the things listed above.  It has all the features I'm looking for in a vise, but the most important feature is that it will hold ANY hook with 100% positive lockout.  That means no slipping ever... EVER.  (sorry for yelling).  In my opinion a vise should be designed around the jaw - everything else is just gravy.


We have the Mongoose (for a steal at $185) and many other vises available HERE.

Here are some videos using the Mongoose.


  1. What base do you guys use on the Mongoose?

  2. I use a custom Wasatch Fly Tying Tools base because I like the tool caddy and a few other things. When I travel, I use the normal pedestal base it comes with. The other nice thing is that it ships with a very nice traveling case.

  3. Would you recommend this over the Muskoka? I have a Muskoka and have yet to receive positive lockout and it appears the hook tends to slide. Although less expensive the mongoose really looks like it holds a hook tight...

    1. Hi Robert, you seem to be having the same issue we understand (ourselves included) a lot of people are having with the Muskoka. We've talked to the owner there and I'm hopeful they'll address the lock-out issues. But for now, yeah, the Griffin is far superior in hook holding. I'd love to see the Muskoka get an upgrade and change that, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. It's a great design and an awesome looking vise. Just not so great holding hooks.

  4. Agreed Curtis and not so enthused with the customer service their either. A number of emails were not returned and when I did hear back they claimed it was the first time they heard of it... Shame bc I spent good money on the vise and looks like it will go to the closet and not be used....

    Sounds like an order to you guys is on the way! I could care less anymore about the aesthetics of a vise anymore and really just want the hook to be held tight as possible. Great review and tight lines!

  5. Great review- I was thinking of upgrading my vice and I was actually considering this one as a candidate.

    I have a quick question about fly tying storage- I fish a lot of terrestrials, and I always have problems storing them. What box do you guys prefer for your terrestrials? I have tons of big hoppers, cicadas, etc. and loads of little ants and I can never compromise between a box with tons of slots for my ants, beetles, etc. or a big box for holding large foam hoppers.

    Thanks, Troy

    1. I actually have switched over to the Tacky Fly box for my terrestrials. For all but the biggest hoppers and a few big cricket patterns, it works great. There's quite a bit of head-room in those boxes, so you're not smashing the flies down. All the bigger patterns I store in a C&F Box that's deeper, but that box has only a handful of patterns and I didn't really carry it much this year. Hope that helps.

  6. I can attest to the tacky boxes... They are great and have become my go to boxes....

    Cheech... Just ordered the vise too from you guys. Keep up the good work

    1. Excellent Robert. Glad to hear the feedback.

  7. Guys, I'm a 3rd year fly fisher & tier and have got "vice envy" so I've read your reviews on this and the Peak rotary. How big a deal is the standard base rocking? I'm in a budget and don't want to also invest in a separate pedestal and not a welder. I tie a lot of midges down to size 32 (until I run out of the 518s) and rarely go bigger than a 14 except to tie a bugger or streamer up to size 8. Clear you prefer the Griffin but could you live with the standard base or is the Peak better if using the standard setup? Dave

    1. We usually recommend starting with the standard base because it works fine for most tying scenarios. Then if you find you require something different, you can go that route. Hope that helps.

  8. The base rock isn't really a big deal. I have a hard time getting it to rock to be honest. Regardless you don't buy a vise to rotate it around all day. You buy it to hold hooks without fail and this vise is insanely good at that. No need for other heads or convoluted stuff to adjust. It just works for anything and that is really the big highlight.

    Nothing is perfect, especially at this price but damn if this isn't perfect at holding hooks. The material clip is truly a wonder too. You can solve the base problem a number of ways. One guy on the net simply added small rupper pads (little round nubs) that stuck to the bottom. This increased the PSI on the particular area (his words) and thus made it harder to rock than the simple flat rubber bottom. I'll try that or just get a heavy magnet and place it on top of the plate. Ideally we should all have one of those fancy caddys though :).