We all need good tools of the trade. The best kind of pruner is truly a matter of opinion. My favorite is a bypass pruner. They work well for a variety of plants. I would highly recommend that you choose pruning shears that fit your hand. It's very hard to control pruning shears that are too big for you. My best advice is to stay away from anvil pruners. They are bigger and tend to smash the stem at the cut. (Feel free to use them on dead wood.)
I'm not going to lie...knowing when to prune clematis can be confusing. The key to proper clematis pruning is knowing when your plant blooms.
1. Vines that bloom in early spring should be pruned after all the blooms are spent. These early blooming varieties bloom on the previous years growth...which means do NOT cut it back in the fall. If you do, you will have to sit out a blooming season. Just remember this rule: "If it blooms before June, do not prune."
2. Clematis that blooms in late spring or early summer should be cut back by a third from the top in early spring. Look for live buds and cut ABOVE them.
3. Late blooming clematis should be cut back hard in the spring. Every vine should be cut to about a foot tall. The plant will have all spring and most of the summer to grow.
Original article and pictures take http://www.ebay.com/gds/Garden-Pruning-Guide-/10000000208671504/g.html?roken2=ti.pQW5uIERyYWtl site