i haven’t tried this yet but this little home-made gizmo found on In The Riffle’s Fb page gets a doubleplusgood for creativity and ingenuity. how does it stack up to pre-existing leg-knotting options is anyone’s guess which i suppose will be more down to personal preference rather than all-out efficiency but variety they say, is the spice of life or, as Americans would have us believe the popular (yet completely unheard of in France) french term: Vive la Différence !
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Images and video provided by Petitjean Fishing Equipment SA
© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2013