When the Kaiman Vise I loaned from Feathermerchants arrived in the mail, the parcel also contained a selection of Stonfo Elite tying tools ... and were they a revelation!
Stonfo Elite Half Hitch Tool, Whip Finishing Tool, Dubbing Needle and Hair Packer
Dubbing Needle, Half Hitch and Whip Finishing Tools
The dubbing needle, half hitch and whip finishing tools are machined from solid stainless steel, resembling precision dental instruments rather than fly tying tools.
The half-hitch tool has three different sized barrels, which are screwed into place; and the fine stainless wire on the dubbing needle and whip finishing tool are sufficiently hardened to resist bending or kinking. Quality and weight of these tools make them a joy to use.
One recommendation I would make to Stonfo, is they consider options for attaching the barrels of the half hitch tools to the back end of the dubbing needle, thereby creating a handy two-in-one instrument.
For many years I used ball point pens without refills or half hitch tools with thick wall diameters to pack the deer hair on the heads of my cicada patterns.
It was only when I tested the Stonfo Elite Hair Packer that I realised just how much I had been handicapped.
The Stonfo Packer is constructed from anodised aluminium and has different-sized flanges at either end, i.e. for small and large flies. In the centre of each flange is a hole with plastic insert that fits over the hook eye.
Using this tool for size eight cicadas, I found I could pack the deer hair far more tightly than with the implements I previously used - simply because I could apply a lot more pressure without cutting through the hair. This resulted in a substantial improvement to the durability of my flies.
Stonfo Hair Stacker
The hair stacker consists of a solid brass base and two tough plastic barrels, one for longer and the other for shorter hair. (So no need for multiple stackers). While the plastic barrels initially seemed cheap and out of place, I later discovered that together with the heavy base they result in a well-balanced tool that feels good in the hand, and also sits stably on the bench.
A generous hexagonal rubber pad protects the bench, dulls the thuds, and ensures the base will not roll when on its side. This is by far the best hair stacker I have used.
Elite Drag Bobbin Holder
The Elite Drag Bobbin holder has an ultra-smooth adjustable disc drag that helps the fly tyer maintain maximum tension without breaking the thread (and the tighter the wraps the more durable the fly). It accepts a range of bobbin sizes and has a stainless steel tube with a polished hardened steel bushing to prevent thread wear and fray. This bobbin holder is an absolute pleasure to use.
The main drawback being that the bushing creates a small internal ledge within the tube, making it impossible to thread the instrument without a bobbin threader. It also takes a little longer to fit the spool, as one has to unscrew and then re-attach a side plate to do so.
On the plus side, one does not experience thread break-offs when attempting to apply maximum tension, or the irritation of spools popping out of the calliper system used on standard bobbin holders (usually when squeezing the bobbin to create additional thread tension).
I plan to order three of these fantastic bobbin holders, loading each one with a favourite thread.
I was extremely impressed with the Elite range of Stonfo tying tools and would recommend them to anybody in the market for high end fly tying tools. Given their exceptional quality these tools are very competitively priced.