Werner Junior goes fishing


Jul 6, 1999
Business has taken me from my home in Vermont to the high country in Colorado. I will be spending the next two weeks more or less in Aspen, making some modifications to a slate roof that I installed originally about 17 years ago.

One of the real advantages of being here, aside from being paid fairly well, is that there is a lot of good fishing to be had close at hand.

I stopped at a sporting goods shop in Glenwood Springs on my way up valley and was pleased to see a small collection of Spyderco knives. I vacillated for a while, and came out with a Werner Junior 60/40 edge. Up to this point my entire Spyderco collection consisted of one old all steel Worker which was made before lanyard holes became standard, and one Ladybug II.

I have been carrying the Werner Jr. every day for the last week, and I am more impressed with it every day. The knife came out of the box with an very good edge, Better than my recent Benchmades. Light to moderate use through out the week has required occasional touch up of the edge on a crock stick and light stropping on the back of my belt to keep the edge in like new condition.

This is a small knife to my thinking. The two most similar knives in my kit for this trip are a Benchmade Leopard Cub, and a Benchmade 705 Axis lock. One of the most noticeable differences between the Werner and the two Benchmades is that although the werner is thinner overall, the blade is noticeably thicker. The thinness of the Werner is accomplished partially by using a single thin steel liner rather than the double, thicker steel liners in the 705. The single liner in the Werner causes the blade to be slightly, although noticeably offset to one side. I will admit that the single liner bothers me somewhat, mostly I think because of the unsupported G10 scale on the other side. I can however find no functional defecate. The unsupported G10 scale shows almost no flex. The Leopard Cub uses a single liner as well, although with the thick aluminum scales on the Leopard Cub, I had never considered this to be an issue.

Lock up on all three knives is functionally perfect. All three knives easily pass the whack test. The Axis lock engages with a quiet snick. The Leopard Cub with a louder click, and the Werner liner lock engages with a fairly loud and almost hollow sounding pop. The Werner's liner lock engages on the left third of the blade tang. while after years of service the Leopard Cub's liner lock engages just past the center of the tang. The action of the Axis lock is not comparable to the liner locks.

There is no fore/aft play in any of the three knife blades when open. The Leopard Cub has barely perceptible side to side play with moderate pressure. The 705 has minor side to side play at somewhat greater pressure. The Werner has no perceptible side to side play at any reasonable pressure.

Opening action on all three knives is good. The 705 is the smoothest. the Leopard Cub is the lightest. The Werner is noticeably the stiffest. The two Benchmades have been adjusted for pivot action, where the Werner has not. The pivot on the Werner has an Allen head screw, but no attempt has been made to adjust it to date.

All three knives are roughly the same length at about three and one half inches closed. Open the Werner is the shortest of the three, and the Leopard Cub is the longest. The difference in length between the Werner and the Leopard Cub is on the order of 1/32".

The Werner is wider than either of the other two either open or closed. This is due in part to the hump in the blade at the Spyder hole, and in part due to the hump back curve of the handle.

As already mentioned the spine of the blade on the Werner is noticeably thicker than the other two. General blade geometry on the three knives differ substantially even though all three blades are essentially drop point designs. The 705 is saber ground with a primary bevel about 1/3 down from the spine and a false edge running out the top third of the blade. The
Leopard Cub is flat ground from the spine with no primary bevel. There is no false edge. The thickness of the spine tapers gradually toward the tip. The Werner is hollow ground with the primary bevel about 1/3 down from the spine. There is no false edge on the Werner, although the hollow grind intersects with the spine about 3/4" from the tip effectively thinning out the blade at the tip while maintaining full spine thickness well out to the tip. The tip of the blades are similar between the Leopard Cub and the 705 in that they both trade belly, in the blade for sharpness in the tip. The Leopard Cub has the sharpest tip and the least belly. The 705 has slightly more belly and less tip. The Werner has by far the most belly and the least tip.

All three knives are equipped with pocket clips. The Werner and the 705 carry tip up, the Leopard Cub carries tip down. I will not enter into the tip up Vs. tip down debate except to say that for left hand carry of a right handed knife, the tip up Werner is easier to deploy from the pocket than the Leopard Cub. As the Werner is withdrawn from the hip pocket I can simply move my thumb to the inside of the knife, roll the knife about 45 degrees into my fingers and flip it open with my thumb. The Leopard cub carried in the same position must be rotated 90 degrees then rolled 180 degrees before it can be opened.

Lincoln Creek runs down from Independence Pass to the east of Aspen. About 10 miles out of Aspen then five miles up a gravel Forest service road following Lincoln Creek brought me to the area I intended to fish. The creek is fast and deep, and in many places has cut deep gorges in the rock. The Werner, being the newest addition occupied the place of honor for the trip. The weather was a little unsettled, and getting cold as the day progressed. There was ice on the rocks at the edge to the creek and snow in the air. After a slow start a deep pool was found which seemed to have no end of trout. My closest approach to the pool was at the top of the gorge about 20 feet straight down. I managed to take seven fish, though three or four others managed to slip the hook on the elevator ride up to the top of the gorge.

Progress was slow trying to remove fish and bait the hook with numb fingers. Replacing hooks lost in the rocks below was the real challenge. The Werner performed all the tasks asked of it in the field from trimming overhanging branches to trimming left over line after knots were tied. In spite of the thinness of the handle, and the small Spyder hole in the blade the Werner was easy to work with even with cold wet hands.

I drove back down the pass in an early season snow squall and went to work in the kitchen with the Werner cleaning fish. The obvious choice for this task would have been the Leopard Cub with it's sharp point and thin sharp blade. I have used the Leopard Cub more than once for this very thing.

The Werner again however proved to be more than able, and cleaned the fish easily and quickly, handling the rather fine work like a scalpel blade.

In summary, I am extremely pleased with my new Werner Junior. It would be nice if the pocket clip could be mounted for left hand carry. That would require a steel liner on the other side as well, but all things considered, I would just as oon have a double liner anyway.

A friend from home and I were discussing the upcoming deer season, and arrangements for deer camp last night on the phone. Maybe I will have the opportunity to try the Werner Jr. out on larger game in a month or so. . . Maybe by then I will have a full size Werner to take to deer camp.

Great review, Mike, and the full size C48 should definitely be on your short list. It's my all time favorite! - One small thing, though - it's Wegner, not Werner. Tim designed this knife in large part for skinning, so you should be just as impressed working on game as you were on fish!

The C48 is actually a production version of Tim Wegner's Custom "Pro Hunter" knife. Try Tim's site (sorry, the URL escapes me), and there's a detailed explanation of how the knife is designed and used in specific applications. It's hard not to come out of it without a true appreciation for just how well the Pro Hunter is designed. Don't know for sure, but that might also be a way to get a custom lefty model made.

WRT the single liner, I've never had any reason to be less than confident in the handle's strength. In fact, I've come to see double-lined handles as big and clunky since first acquiring my Wegner. Knives like the Spyder Starmate use an imbedded liner for a lock, so in effect, they are totally unlined, and still quite strong.

[This message has been edited by Brian_Turner (edited 21 October 1999).]

Thanks for the correction on the name. I didn't even bother to take the knife out of my pocket to read the name, I thought I knew it.

I will find Tim's site and take a look. For an old Benchmade fan I am definitely impressed with the Junior model.