Jay Smit of JVice interview!

Jay Smit on the Pongola River

Jay Smit on the Pongola River

Can you give a description of what JVice is?
The Jvise is a fly tying vise I developed for my personal needs.
http://www.jvice.com

 

Original Jvice

Original Jvice

What made you decide to go into the vise making business?
When my friends saw my vise they also wanted one. The nagging got too much and I got a friend who ran a CNC Engineering shop to do 100 sets of parts for me and I did the assembly, made the bases and developed a simple website for marketing.

 

First production Jvice

First production Jvice

How did you design the JVice?
In the beginning I wanted a rotary vice that would fit a wooden base approximately laptop size so that it could fit in a laptop bag for travelling to fishing destinations on weekends. I also wanted to be able to tie while sitting on the couch with my wife while she watched TV. This also came in handy at fly fishing venues where suitable tables for tying are not always available.
The Jvise has evolved a lot from that original model as I incorporated many ideas from friends and customers.

Is the JVice a true rotary vise?
Yes it is and it can quickly be stopped in any position with the big thumbscrew using only the left hand. With ones hand in the GooseNeck one can twist the vice jaws through approx 180 degrees while holding material in place. I have found this a very useful feature.

Why is JVice based in South Africa?
Because this is where I was born and educated and now live near Durban in KZN.

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What species do you fish for locally in South Africa?
We have both Rainbow and Brown trout in our rivers and still-waters. We also have 5 species of Yellowfish, these are strong fighters and challenging to catch on fly. There are also Bass, Tigerfish and plenty to catch in the salt like Bluefish and Trevally.

 

940 Dave Evans

940 Dave Evans

Has producing fly tying products taught you anything particular about fly tyers as customers?
Yes, they are discerning and demand the best quality. I love dealing direct with my customers and advise them as best I can for their needs and budget. I have found them honest and very appreciative.

Have you learned anything by being in the fly tying industry?
Lots! I keep learning everyday and believe one can learn something from everyone, one must have an open mind and think out the box. ( once you think you know everything you may as well give up.)

Do you have any new products or revisions of products that you are currently working on?

Fly line spooler

Fly line spooler

I am working on a new version of the midge jaw that does not rely on spring steel to hold the hook and can be made from materials like knife makers stainless and Damasteel. There is also the Fly Line Spooler I showed you for winding fly lines back onto their original spools for easy identification and safe keeping.
Last weekend our club,Durban Fly tyers, went to instruct young disadvantaged children in the Kamberg area of the Natal Drakensberg. The problem was what would they tie on. I did a very quick entry level non rotary vise that would hold a hook securely. Tendela Jvise-800This was such a hit I am thinking of making a few improvements and offering it as an entry level $30.00 training vise.

Do you have any certain process you follow when designing new products?
I go into design mode, eat dream sleep what I am working on and often the best ideas come to me late at night when I should be sleeping. I like my designs to be robust, functional and practical. I usually dish out the prototypes to fly tying friends who thoroughly test them before I start marketing a product. I like everything to be serviceable, easily stripped and maintained.

 

830

830

If someone wanted to purchase a JVice from you, should they be worried about the price of shipping?
Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about the cost of shipping. I have approached DHL, UPS, and all the big players and the prices they have quoted me are all more than double the postal charges that I am using.
The other aspect is that if one orders a Jvice with G clamp and bobbin rest, even with the postage it is still much cheaper than other top level vises. The oak base unfortunately is heavy and pushes the shipping cost up a lot.
Having said that the Jvice kit with oak base still accounts for more than 70% of sales.

Do you still tie flies? If so, what do you like to tie?
I still tie a lot of flies, much more than I could hope to use and am Chairman of the Durban Fly Tyers.
Ds02bI like most forms of fly fishing and am fortunate that less than 3 hours from my home there is everything from mountain trout, yellowfish, bass, tigerfish and plenty of salt water species, so I tie everything from tiny size 30 dry flies to large salt water flies.

Can you explain the various jaws available for the JVice?
Originally there was only the standard jaw but Ed Herbst a Cape Mountain stream fisherman encouraged me to develop the midge jaws for tying really small flies and finally the Midge Jaw was born. This uses spring steel to hold the hook and one of my US customers did not like this and I turned down a standard jaw to a fine point for him, this worked really well. I did a redesign job on the standard jaw to give it a slimmer profile and introduced 5 hook pockets so it could take a full range of hooks all in one jaw. (The standard jaw also does this but gives less working room around small hooks)

What accessories do you highly recommend for the JVice?
A lot of the accessories are for specialist fly’s like tube fly’s and unless one is into tube fly’s I would not recommend this type of accessory. Most tyers buying the Jvice are experienced tyers and have all the goodies like dubbing spinners and hair stacker’s. But for beginners who don’t have them I would recommend them.
I normally ask what type of tying a customer is into, it’s no use selling a small stream fly fisherman a brush maker unless he also ties saltwater and bass fly’s.

Jay with yellowfish

Jay with yellowfish

5 Comments

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5 Responses to Jay Smit of JVice interview!

  1. Eric

    Thanks for interviewing Jay, Paul. I’ve seen pictures of the early Jvice designs but never one of Jay’s original vise. What an evolution it has had. I don’t know where Jay can improve upon his current offerings. Nice bit about him constructing an entry level vise for the kids. On a different note, I think there’s too much griping about the shipping cost from South Africa. As Jay explained, it’s not a flat rate shipping charge.

    • Paul Beel

      Thanks Eric!
      I completely agree about the shipping charge. It really isn’t that bad, if you ask me.

  2. Piker20

    Having dealt with Jay and being the proud owner of a Jvice I have nothing but praise for the man and his creation. As he says above, he works with you to deliver what you want and doesn’t charge you a rip off price doing it. If I had to start all over I would buy Jvice again without a doubt.

  3. Hi – You have a FANTASTIC website. Thanks for this great interview – Jay is living the dream and helping others in the process. Looking forward to more of his awesome innovations! Best regards – metiefly