Published Mar 1. 2018 - 5 years ago
Updated or edited Mar 1. 2018

Tom’s bobbin holders

Get ready to meet the “Hummingbird”, a very different bobbin holder designed and made by Dutch Tom Biesot

Tom's bobbin holders
Tom's bobbin holders
Tom Biesot

In my previous article "Tom's complete vise project", I announced that there was an article on its way about my bobbin holders, especially on a prototype that is very different from what we were used to and which was at that moment in a developing state. Now the design has been further developed and the design is customized so that it fits the other accessories of my vise.

Classical bobbin holder

But first of all I would like to refer back to the bobbin holder which I presented in my last article "Tom's complete vise project". In the design of this bobbin holder I have taken into account the shape and dimensions of my hand, so it feels very comfortable in my hand, which is important if you have to work with it for a longer period. After some trial and error designs I have chosen for the design that you may already have seen but is shown here again.

New design
Tom Biesot

The drag system

For this bobbin holder I have developed a very fine adjustable drag system. After making a number of prototype drag systems and testing them, it turned out that a very simple design in materials gave the best results. After experiments with springs, rubber rings, and other materials it turned out that a special "felt" ring in combination with "Rulon" plastic rings created the finest adjustable drag system. In the lightest drag setting, the bobbin holder slowly rolls down when it hangs on the thread without significant shocks.
Normal felt is too soft to make a disc for this purpose. I have found a strong thick felt with in the middle a layer of fabric mesh. Actually, there are two layers with in the middle a layer of fabric mesh from which the felt gets its firmness. Because of the elasticity of the felt the adjustment knob can be turned 2 turns between minimum and maximum drag strength, which gives us a very fine setting.

Drag system
Tom Biesot

Desired drag setting

To make sure that the adjustment knob will “stay” at the desired drag setting and during tying when the bobbin is turning, I have placed a little hard rubber disc at the back of the adjustment knob. It gives enough resistance on the threaded shaft, so that it will stay on the desired setting. The dimensions of the holder are chosen with taken into account the dimensions of the most widely used tying thread bobbins, so they can be used without problems.

Tom Biesot

Meet the “Hummingbird”

During the design and making of the previous bobbin holder, I came up with the idea to re-design the common bobbin holder and to throw overboard the old appearance with a new approach. In the new design I placed the bobbin in extension of the tube centerline. But then you create a major problem, how can the thread run freely without any significant resistance through the tube?

Some sketches
Final design
Tom Biesot
Tom Biesot

After some trial and error designs, I came to the conclusion that a little guiding ring from a rod did the trick in combination with the delicate drag system. To place this in a holder is another story of trial and error, but the design on the photos is very pleasing to hold in your hand due to the shape it has. After creating a number of prototypes I had a bobbin holder that met my requirements and expectations.

Tom Biesot
In the hand



Nice fit

At first sight this new bobbin holder has a totally different look in comparison with the normally used ones, it looks most like a “ Hummingbird”, due to its special shape. It also has some nice advantages. Due to the shape of the holder, it is very comfortable in the palm of the hand. The tube is ceramic. The bobbin holder can be held in two ways (see the pictures below). The first grip is with the thumb on top, good for normal tying, due to the shape of the holder the grip is very sturdy. The second grip is the most delicate grip, with the thumb and index finger on the soft rubber pads, which I use for tying small flies. This prototype bobbin holder is small and makes it ideal for tying small flies. The holder can be made larger if needed. To create more tension during tying, just squeeze your hand around the bobbin.

The fine adjustable drag system is the same as the previous model and works very well for this type of holder. As is shown in the pictures, the thread is guided by a Fuji rod eye, so there is little resistance when pulling thread out of the tube. By using a line threader, the thread is easy to pull through the tube.

Exploded hummingbird
Exploded hummingbird
Tom Biesot

Another nice advantage of this model is winding up a long tying thread on the bobbin with one hand instead of two!!!!! With your ring finger you can turn the bobbin very easily, so that with the other hand tying material can be held. A very useful gadget! A couple of weeks ago another well known author for the Global FlyFisher, Korrie Broos from South Africa paid me a visit when he was in Holland for a short family trip and saw the “Hummingbird” and immediately fell in love with it. When he was back in South Africa he wrote me an e-mail and said “Tom I am tying flies at the moment and I see now how many times you must wind up your bobbin with two hands to shorten the tying thread”. Please make a “Hummingbird for me”! Thank you for the compliment Korrie.

One hand
A nice gadget
In use
Tom Biesot
Tom and the Hummingbird
Tom and the Hummingbird
Tom Biesot

Final conclusion

More and more I find myself using this new bobbin holder instead of the usual type. It’s very comfortable in my hand and it is also very pleasant to be able to wind up the tying thread with one hand when you are tying.
I will certainly make a few more for my own use. The shape and the material of the holder is still open to changes using the same principle. I am not sure if this new type of bobbin holder in the future will replace the currently popular ones (they work well). I do not expect it, but it does make tying easier and it gave me more fun. And for sure it will give some nice discussions.

Tight (tying) lines!
Tom Biesot

Related articles


Eugene Borovin's picture

Bobbin holder...

Hello! Nice bobbin holder! is it possible to buy that one?

Martin Joergensen's picture

Not propable...


I don't think it's likely that Tom will sell any of his tools. He makes them for himself, and people have asked before and been kindly turned down.
I will convey your question to Tom.


Eugene Borovin's picture

Bobbin holder...

Thank you! Realy interesting decision with construction.


Log in or register to pre-fill name on comments, add videos, user pictures and more.
Read more about why you should register.

Since you got this far …

The GFF money box

… I have a small favor to ask.

Long story short

Support the Global FlyFisher through several different channels, including PayPal.

Long story longer

The Global FlyFisher has been online since the mid-90's and has been free to access for everybody since day one – and will stay free for as long as I run it.
But that doesn't mean that it's free to run.
It costs money to drive a large site like this.

See more details about what you can do to help in this blog post.