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Norlander Nor-Vise
Last Update: 3/05
Tackle Type:
Overall score:
Fly Tying Vise
Norlander Co.
Brian D.
Manufacturer's Description:
"Developed by professional research engineer and fly tier Norm Norlander, the NOR-VISE and AUTO-MATIC BOBBIN are truly innovative tools. Unlike other “Rotary Vises” that rotate only to position the hook, the NOR-VISE is designed to turn the hook to apply material. With the hook shank held in perfect alignment with the axis of rotation (on centerline) it works like a lathe and provides for better thread tension control and more precise material placement."

  • Anodized aluminum frame
  • Precision ball bearings
  • Heavy brass hubs
  • 90° locking positions and adjustable tension
  • 4 interchangable jaws available
  • Bolt-down design
  • Includes matching thread post

First Impression:
Wow, this vise is certainly different from others on the market! The major difference from all other rotary vises is that the rotary head actually rides on ball bearings, which allows the hook to be spun (quickly if desired), rather than just rotated. I have to admit that after tying on my Renzetti for so long it took quite a while to get used to a new vise, but after a few months I've come to really appreciate it's unique qualities. The Nor-Vise "system" also includes an Automatic Bobbin, and in conjunction with the vise it allows you to tie flies in a very efficient manner. One quick note, the model I use is a bit older and doesn't have the adjustable rotary tension a newer Nor-vise does.

Ratings: (out of 10)
CriteriaRating # 
Performance:  7
Construction/Quality:  8

A solid vise that will do everything most rotaries can, plus a few unique tricks. The standard (short in-line) jaws are rock solid, although the hook adjustment isn't as quick and easy as I'd like. One drawback is the vise is designed to be bolted in place, which can make traveling with it a pain unless you buy the carrying case, which doubles as a mounting base. The upside is that once it's mounted to your bench it's as sturdy as you could ever want.

At $245 dollars this vise isn't exactly cheap. The price compairs favorably to other top of the line models on the market though. Considering the quality of the construction, the price seems reasonable.

The quality of the materials used looks to be top notch. The hubs and spinning wheel are made of heavy duty brass. The anodized aluminum posts are thich and very solid. The jaws and adjustment screws appear to be steel and I can't imagine them wearing out. Outside of an occasional cleaning and lube of the bearing assembly (which I havn't had to do yet), I can't find a single thing prone to breaking or wear. This vise should hold up to a lifetime of heavy use.

The ball bearing design is unique to say the least. It takes a while to get used to tying on it, but once you do it really allows you to do some cool things. The hook adjustment isn't exactly the best I've seen, but it's not really awkward either. The jaws themselves are rock solid. Just for fun I placed a 3/0 heavy wire stainless saltwater hook in and applied pressure. The hook and vise never budged and the hook bent in half! The model I have is older and lacks the rotary tension adjustment. I've played with a newer model and wasn't really impressed with the adjustment feature, which went from no tension to completely locked down with only the slightest turn. The adjustment knob seems like a strange feature to include, since using it negates the benefits of the ball bearing design.

Besides the ball bearing design, the vise also includes a matching thread post. The standard jaws (small in-line) will hold any hook size securely, but if you spend a lot of time tying very long streamers or very tiny flies you may want to consider some of the other jaw options. A tube fly head is also available. Other available accessories include a tying lamp and a carrying case/mounting base. The final accessory is the equally unique Auto-matic Bobbin, which really works in tandem with the vise to allow you to tie flies very quickly.

Plus / Minus:
True RotaryNo mounting options
Rock solid jawsPoor tension adjustment
Quality construction 

For the price this should be a good long term investment. It should provide the average tyer a lifetime of problem free service, although if you don't plan on using the rotary feature there may be a better choice out there. If you're a production tyer this could be a perfect fit, especially with the addition of the Auto-matic Bobbin.

Where to Buy:
This vise doesn't seem to be very popular in the Great Lakes region. I've only come across it in one fly shop (where I got mine) which no longer carries the line. Here's a link to the Norlander web page where you can find dealer information.

Quest invites manufacturers to submit comments on this review. Comments will not change the review in any way, but will be added along side the information presented.

Additional Staff Comments:

Long Term Test:
My nor-vise is still going strong, and the more I tie on it the more I like it. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcomming article on rotary tying that will feature a few of the unique things possible with this vise, and an extreme modification that makes trimming dear hair a dream. I should mention that the Auto-matic Bobbin really is a great addition to this vise, but even if you don't have a Nor-vise the bobbin may be worth looking into. Happy tying!

Still going! Norlander came out with a new cam-jaw design and I upgraded about a year ago. It's a very nice improvement over the older wheel style jaws. It still has rock-solid hook holding power, but changing hooks in and out is SO much faster. A real bonus when you're just cranking out egg flies for a few hours. The only change in the performance of my Nor-Vise is that the rotary lock (on the rear hub) has loosened up quite a bit. The vise is now slipping out of the locked position into rotary mode at inopportune times. I understand this is quite common, and is easily remedied by removing the rear hub and placing a touch of dubbing wax on the assembly.

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