Tackle Review – Marc Petitjean MP-TT Bobbin Holder

Ingenious…

I’ve been using several other Petitjean tools over the years: the whip finisher, dubbing twister, cdc hackle pliers and the Magic Tool clips. They’re all faultless in design and of great quality so I was quite eager to do an extended test of the MP-TT bobbin holder. As expected, it’s a high level tool with two very interesting and unusual features and also has the particularity of being a dubbing loop twister as well.
a Swiss Army knife as it where, of  fly tying tools.

At first glance my first impression was “This tool isn’t finished, they must have sent me a factory error by mistake”, but after sitting down and turning it left and right and this way and that, all of a sudden the genius started to appear.

Every single aspect of it’s design and functions is extremely well thought out and expertly crafted. In a way, and to risk an analogy, it reminds me of the single-speed track bikes of the bicycle world where everything is reduced to an essential minimum and what’s left is functionality, simplicity and elegance.

Ok, enough with the romanticism and on to what makes it stand out from the crowd.

In the order of how the bobbin holder is used I’ll list it’s features.
Refer to the images below for a better understanding of the tool’s various parts.
At the bottom of the page you’ll also find a video where Marc Petitjean himself demonstrates and explains it’s features.

Bobbin-4

Bobbin cage
The spool nubs -as the whole bobbin holder- are made of stainless steel. These nubs hold any of the dozens of spools I’ve tried firmly yet very smoothly. There’s no squeaking noises due to corrosion as with some other higher-end bobbin holders that use brass nubs. A smooth spinning bobbin is always nice but it becomes critical when using finer and weaker threads. No problems here even with a range of threads from 3/0 to 17/0 or vintage natural silks that have been spooled on to contemporary-sized bobbins.
The cage itself is a ‘box’ design instead of the more usual ‘Y’ shaped arms. Because of this shape you can fit even the biggest of spools and the arms won’t rub against the spool’s lip. There’s no need for bending the tool to shape as it’s designed to adapt to all contemporary standard-sized thread spools via the Spool Tension system.

Threading
No need for wire threaders or sucking up the thread through the tube with this holder because there’s no tube ! Once the bobbin is inserted, one takes the tag end of the thread, passes it below the entrance guide and brings it towards the Head Ring/tip of the tool where there’s a small coil similar to the end of a wire spring and we simply push it down through the little groove and the job’s done. No fuss, no muss and the whole process takes about two seconds once we’ve done this a few times. Brilliant !
As you’ll hear Petitjean explain in the video, all sizes of threads and flosses easily fit through the Head Ring. The only variable is we’ll reduce pressure when inserting the thread with finer material and use a little more force with the thicker ones while extending it into the groove.
Depending on the thread type and because of the threading groove, we’ll hear a very little ‘click’ when winding but this doesn’t affect or catch or weaken the thread in any way.

Spool Tension
There are other bobbin holders that have a thread tension system but they rely on achieving that tension by applying force through a screw along the spool’s axis. They work quite well but changing spools requires removing the screw-end, not dropping or loosing the small parts… and then re-assembling it all and re-adjusting the tension by a trial and error method each time. The MP tool has a much simpler and in my opinion, much better approach. Once the spool is in place, tension is increased or reduced simply by sliding a coiled band up or down the tool which tightens or loosens the spool arms with equal force. Once again, Brilliant !

Head Ring
As mentioned above, the whole tool is made of stainless steel and where the tool tip is concerned, this takes it away from the current trend of ceramic tubed or tipped bobbin holders. Ceramic tubes are indeed very good but if you’ve ever dropped one on the floor you’ll know that they’re not indestructible and chip easily. Now, I haven’t actually thrown this tool to see if it breaks but I can’t see how it would.
The use of metal with it’s spring-like opening is what makes the easy threading feature possible but that doesn’t affect the smoothness of the ring against the thread. Careful material selection and processing has made it just as smooth as ceramic and even after tying many-many flies, no threads have abraded or broken.

As a side note to the metal/ceramic pros and cons I’ll add that in my opinion, the ceramic elements most probably wouldn’t have come to be the norm if the metal tubes had been of good quality and properly made in the first place.

Dubbing Loop Twister
Trying to explain this feature with words wouldn’t do it justice so I’ll refer you to Marc’s video below. Fast and extremely simple, once we’ve done it a few times to get the method down right, I find this feature to be a great help specially if I’m tying series of smaller flies because less tools means less distractions and I can stay in the ‘rhythm’ better. Subjective indeed.
Since I’ve been trying hard to find something about this tool I don’t like, I’m left with having to say that although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the twister feature and it works very well, I still have a strong preference for the MP dubbing twister because it gives me more possibilities and one of them being; as I don’t use the rotary function of my vise for wrapping materials around the hook shank and prefer to wrap them myself.
It’s still brilliant though !

Pros and Cons
Pros
I can’t find any negative aspects to this tool. As you might have gathered by the review it’s a fantastic design and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do and does it all very well.
Cons
Priced at about 45€  (or 37£ or 59 US $)  it can understandably be above some people’s budgets.
It’s an object for the person who enjoys cleverly designed and well made tools and doesn’t mind paying a little more for it but that’s not much of a ‘con’ I’ll admit. I have the strong impression that it will last a long, long time and won’t break. If we add the other features to this, that all brings the price down considerably.

Conclusions
As with my other reviews I’ll conclude with a few questions and answers.

Is it necessary ?
No, but it might become addictive so, in that case it just might become necessary…

Is it nice and would I recommend it ?
Very and Yes, highly.

If this was the only bobbin holder I could have would this one be it ?
As a main bobbin holder, yes.
I’ll for sure want to have at least another bobbin holder for times where I want to use two threads simultaneously or want to use wire or other less usual materials like chenille with it but it’s easy to say that the MP-TT would suffice for more than 95% of my needs.
Definitely one for the traveling kit or for tying at shows.

Bobbin-5

The MP-TT Bobbin Holder for this review was submitted by Peer Doering-Arjes of Springforelle  in Germany. Be sure to check out his online shop for a fine selection of exclusive fly fishing equipment, books, videos and courses by clicking the logo below.
Springforelle logo

Images and video provided by Petitjean Fishing Equipment SA

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2013

6 thoughts on “Tackle Review – Marc Petitjean MP-TT Bobbin Holder

  1. You are right — it is a fantastic tool. However, it does squeak. This does not in any ay detract from the tool, but it is distinctive enough to know when a tyer on utube is using one. The little click you mention can be avoided by turning the bobbin around in your hand so the channel in the tube is away from you.

    Like you, I don’t use the dubbing loop twister feature. Unfortunately, it does get in the way — well, worse then in the way; it gets hopelessly tangled in hanging materials. When leaving the bobbin to hang, it spins. If there is any material like flash hanging, it will twist into the holder for the loop and there you are. stuck until untangled or cut off and started over. My solution is to remove the part of the small wire sticking out into the gap where the loop thread is to be put for spinning. This leaves nothing to grab the hanging material, and all is fine. One must be very careful removing, and clean up metal around the area after. I use a small Dremel tool with a magnifier/light.

    If you drop the tool on a herd surface just the wrong way, it can bend the wire so the thread won’t slip through. One can very carefully bend it back to accept the thread. Having four of these bobbins allows for having experienced everything that can go wrong. It is in my Marco Polo travel kit so a threader is not essential.

    Some large old sewing threads (really rope, so it doesn’t flatten to get through the gap in the wire) won’t get threaded. Not to worry — it is easy to push the tag end through the hole. This way almost anything can be used in this bobbin.

    One suggestion is to place the spool in the bobbin so the line comes off the top of the spool on the side with the threading channel. This way the line does not contact the frame parts used to adjust tension.

    Cheers! <

  2. I find that threading new thread often shreds it – using 70 denier and that winding dubbing loops is an issue as the loop falls out of the tool unless one maintains firm tension during the winding of the loop around the hook. I’m still looking for the optimal bobbin holder.

    • hi Arthur, sounds like there’s either a manufacturing defect or that the opening where thread is slipped through has been damaged. might be worth looking at this area closely with a powerfull loupe to see what’s up. in the first case, i’d simply bring back the bobbin holder and ask for another one.
      as for winding dubbing loops, i can’t think of any other system/method where we wouldn’t be winding under tension so maybe its just a matter of practice with this particular tool.
      as mentioned in the review, this is my less favourite feature but it works very well.

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