THE DAMASEAL VISE
FARUK EKICH

A limited number of DamaSeal Vises are available for purchase each year. A custom box is also available. For more information, please click on the General Information link in the left sidebar menu.

As a child in Bosnia, I tied flies freehand without tools, more out of penury than a sense of tradition. Back then, what I coveted most were hackle pliers, but unfortunately, my many attempts at making a pair proved unsuccessful. It wasn't until I came to Canada in 1966, that I acquired my first vise, hackle pliers and the standard wishbone shaped bobbin. While these three tools were simple and inexpensive, they had their limits.
     My background is in mechanical engineering and I have a passion for tool making. I was convinced I could make a better vise and made several prototypes employing high quality materials, which resulted in vises with a higher degree of jaw hardness, better finish and longer life. One of the last vises I made was based on the old Regal

vise adapted to include rotary jaws, an articulated clevis as well as a modified stem profile. I used this vise for over thirty years as it met my needs, holding the hook firmly; basically what I expected a vise to do (see “Faruk Of The North”).
     My attention was then focused on improving the bobbin. From my freehand tying days and throughout the following years, I knew that a bobbin had the potential to play a most significant role, perhaps the most important in fly tying. A ten year obsession resulted in a radical redesign and the Ekich Ultimate Bobbin was born. I was more than pleased with the outcome. With my automatic bobbin now controlling thread tension and eliminating slack, I was content to work with my modified Regal vise.

     By this time, rotary vises had started to make inroads into fly tying, and, while I was intrigued by their benefits, I did not have time to look into them further. A late friend, Jean-Guy Cote, who had many rotary vises but tied on his old stationary vise, lent me a LAW vise to test drive. He subsequently gave me this vise as a gift just before passing away. I was very impressed with the LAW vise and it was, back then, the best vise I had tied with. Soon, I was “wrapped” up in rotary tying and my passion for tinkering once again rekindled.
     I started by positioning a heavy ring 180 degrees from the

rotating arm so as to offset the mass of the jaws when the loose frictional brake is used. This gave me positive control of rotation, reversing and stopping. Then, I asked Mr. Waldron to create a flat, horizontal surface on the jaws so that I could hold smaller hooks without their point being exposed. I prefer to have the hook point buried between the jaws for thread protection and to prevent involuntary acupuncture.
     In my view, traditional vise designs had to hold hooks at the bend, because the technology employed in hook manufacturing back in the day created a swelling at the barb root which made a

solid grip at this point very difficult. Today’s hooks, in contrast, either employ a barb creating process that does not change wire diameter, or they come completely barbless. Thus, it is now possible to hold the hook on the top surface of the jaw’s edge with the hook point buried. And this is my preferred method.
     Mr. Law obliged my request and the jaws were modified, but the flat surface was limited to the existing jaw profile and there was not enough room for the hook point to be buried in the range of hooks I tied with (see photo below).

     I based the design of my latest vise on two concepts that appealed most to me: LAW's modified jaw clamps and the Jvice's Goose Neck. The latter offered a clean, functional solution to the problem of transferring the curve of the jaws to the rotary head. In addition, it also serves as an ergonomic "saddle" on which to rest the palm of the non-bobbin holding hand.
     I focused my efforts on producing a vise that had a low ex-center for the mass of the jaws, a positive grip for rotation (no

bar), a jaw profile that held the hook firmly with the hook point hidden, good access to the hook, and an adjustment feature that achieved a true axis of rotation for the majority of hook sizes I intended to use.
     The basis for my true rotary vise is a size 10 hook, which is the lower limit of the articulated knee joint of the jaw/rotary head. The upper limit can accommodate large gap hooks such as those used in tying classic salmon display flies.
     In order to get the true center of

rotation for my base hook, I set the inner face of the stationary jaw one half the thickness of the average size 10 streamer hook away from the axis of rotation.
     The jaws were carved and finished by hand. In working the metal, the shape of the jaws started to approximate the shape of a seal and I just ran with that concept. The first Seal Vise was made out of a carbon tool steel bar and is now the property of my friend, Alex Crane.

     The second Seal vise was fashioned from Damascus stainless steel forged in Sweden. I christened it the "DamaSeal", a play on the metal origin of the vise, and after those damn seals that stole my hooked salmon during my time fishing in BC. It possesses a trillium star wheel, the three spokes of which represent the wings of a may fly, caddis fly

and stone fly.
     You can view the vise in action in the two videos on this site: the short one on the Home page and a longer version on this page under "Ekich bobbin from concept to completion". Two roller bearings, a hardened ground shaft and two Teflon discs, provide infinitely smooth rotation tension adjustment.

     It is pleasure to tie with the DamaSeal and the Ekich Bobbin. These two tools represent my ultimate fly tying system.
     My next project will focus on developing the ultimate hackle pliers and thus complete my holy trinity of fly tying.

Best Fishes

Click on any of the pictures below for a closer look.

DamaSeal Vise


© 2008 F. Ekich
Flytying Enhancements
732 Mud Creek Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario K1V 1W3 Canada
T: 613.822.1930

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