A Special Vise

Red Goofus BugBack when the Pat Barnes Fly Shop in West Yellowstone, Montana was going strong in the mid-40s through the early-70s, his wife, Sigrid tied a lot of flies for the shop while Pat was out guiding. The fly-tying machine she used was very special. A man from California sold them the vise after watching Sig tie in the shop one day. He claimed with the machine his son built, she could tie two flies faster than she could tie one.

The vise was built on a sewing machine base. It was the old treadle kind. You know, the kind you operated with your feet. This was a rotary vise and the treadle was used to rotate the fly while the tyer would guide the materials. The treadle was split so it could be rotated in both directions. This was really something to see back in those days.

In the photo above you can see the jaws of the vise holding a red Goofus Bug. As you can see, the jaws were quite different as well. To the best of my knowledge the vise is now in a museum in West Yellowstone.

Speaking of Goofus Bug. Sometimes you will hear the term Humpy. This is the same thing.  In the book, Ribbons of Blue – The Life and Lore of the “Old Pro” Pat Barnes, one of Pat’s former guides, Paul Roos says in his memories he can still see Sig. “She’s sitting at her tying bench in the tackle shop and she’s tying another Sig Barnes Ginger Goofus—the kind that I have caught 35 trout on without having the fly fall apart. As I walk in, she looks up and says, “Good morning, Paul!”

5 Comments

Filed under Pat Barnes

5 Responses to A Special Vise

  1. I’m fascinated by fly fishing history in general and vintage gear in specific. I enjoyed this little history lesson. Thanks Frank!

  2. JERRY ROHDE

    MY MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER BOTH TIED @ HOME FOR GLEN L. EVENS FLY CO. IN CALDWELL IDAHO AND HERE IN SALEM OREGON. THEY BOTH TIED ON TREDLE SEWING MACHINES REPURPOSED TO FLY TYING MACHINES, LKE THAT IN YOUR BLOG ARTICAL “A VERY SPECIAVISE” I HAVE BOTH OF THIER MACHINES. ARE THE WORTH ANYTHING? I CAN’T TIE ON THEM AS THEY ARE LEFT HANDED. THEY WERE BOTH RIGHT HANDED, BUT, LEARNED LEFT HANDED! MY GRANDMOTHER KEPT BOTH OF THEM ALIVE DURING THE 30’S BY TYING FLIES.

    • Paul Beel

      Hi Jerry,
      To be honest, I have no idea if they are worth anything. They may be, I’m not sure. Maybe an antique dealer would know.
      I would love to see these. Could you possibly take photos? You can click the contact link on my “About” page to email me. It’s in the green part of the text on that page.
      I would be glad to post the photos here on FrankenFly and someone might want to buy them if you offer them for sale.
      Let me know.
      Thanks!
      Paul

    • Eric

      Jerry,
      Congratulations. I think you have something of worth, certainly of great sentimental value. To look at those machines and know that your ancestors put food on the table during the country’s most troublesome economic period must be quite something.

      I believe the Glen L Evans Co was a notable player in the production of commercial fishing flies during that period. I think you should contact Al Beatty. His father-in-law and possibly another relative worked for the same company with similar machines. Al should be able to tell you more about what you have and what one may be worth should you wish to part with it. One of the fly fishing museums or a private collector may be interested.

      I think it would make a very interesting topic on Antiques Roadshow!