Lucian Vasies from Troutlinekindly sent me a bunch of bobbin holders to try out. If you have not gathered already I do a fair bit of tying and see it as part and parcel of being a fly fisherman. Tying your own flies can become a bit of an addiction as it has with me. You can spend an extraordinary amount of money on the tools to start fly tying but is it worth it? When you look at a basic bobbin holder what does it actually do? It holds the thread that you use to lash various feathers, furs and synthetics to hooks. It is a very personal thing and out of the numerous bobbin holders I have, I often find myself changing threads just so I can use my favourite holder. Will any of the ones Lucian sent take on that mantle?
Let’s have a look at the difference in prices; for a basic holder you can expect to pay between £6 -£12 which is reasonable. Then there is the mid ranged holders between £12 -£20 then you can just start to get silly. The Petitjean MP-TT has a very clever tensioning mechanism but with a price tag near £60 it would need to be tying flies for you for my money! There are others of course - the C&F standard bobbin holder comes in at nearly £35. So, there are ample designs to meet the needs of most budgets, it boils down to personal choice. Is more expensive better? Well in my humble opinion absolutely not!
I tried various threads flosses and silks through each of the holders and to be fair they all performed pretty well. The holders that did not come with a tensioner as part of their build were easily manipulated with a bit of pushing and pulling on the legs to make them right. Below are my thoughts and some pictures of each of the holders that I tried.
Tiemco Ceramic Bobbin 17.79 Euros
This has long been my favourite, it’s simple and practical. The tension is just right on most threads I have used with this holder. The most important thing is it feels right in your hand and is comfortable, changing threads is easy you simply stick a centimetre of thread down the hole suck the other end and the thread appears no problem. It’s a wee bit more than I would like to pay but once you have it barring disaster it’s yours for many a year of reliable service.
I really wanted to like this, the idea of a tensioner that you could simply turn the knob to get the correct tension really appealed to me. It works very well what was not so good for me was the one leg it takes a bit of getting used to and seemed rather foreign in my hand. That said it operated brilliantly and performed particularly well when using light threads and silks. I will happily persevere with this and down the line it may become natural to use. The price is excellent for what you get.
Troutline Bullet Ceramic Fly Tying Bobbin Holder 11.29 Euros
This feels like a solid bit of kit in the hand and is a pleasure to use; it has that feels right factor. There is a nice weight to it that makes it more suitable for my reservoir patterns which is fine. On the odd occasion I have been lazy and slipped a thinner diameter thread into the holder I have had the odd occasion when the thread has snapped. Operator error rather than there being much wrong with the bobbin holder.
Troutline Spartan Ceramic Fly Tying Bobbin Holder 10.49 Euros
This is Troutline’s own design and they have sourced the materials from Japan to construct it. It’s a simple design that works really well. There is a disk near the front that fits between your thumb and forefinger. The tube the thread passes through is top grade ensuring that the thread is not nicked while tying. Of course, as with all things, price is a consideration and this comes in bang on the money as far as I am concerned. It is used by the Pro Staff at Troutline who tie in excess of 300 flies a day which makes it worth your consideration if you’re on a budget.
C&F Design Bobbin Holder £34.99
Arguably the sexiest looking bobbin on show today and it’s certainly one of the factors when it caught my eye some years back. The truth is though I don’t like it. The tension is not right despite a long session pushing and pulling at it. The most annoying thing though is when you want to change threads. There is a foam insert that you have to navigate and this can only be done using a bobbin threader. It may sound petty but if you are paying over thirty quid for something that holds thread it should be doing it with no fuss and really well.
So in conclusion and as I said at the start, there is a big difference in what you can pay. Troutline do not offer the C&F holder but if you are of a mind to try one you can purchase one through the link. Do not be sucked into the ‘more expensive is better’, it’s simply not the case for bobbin holders. I would suggest trying several to see what style you get on with. If you are in a fly tying club ask your friends if they would let you try their tools if you do your homework you will get by the rest of your fly tying days with three or four good quality bobbins. Troutline pride themselves on delivering quality products and it is certainly worth checking out their wares at https://www.troutline.ro