In 1990 outdoor writer and self-proclaimed fly fishing bum Jim Vincent, decided that the only way to get the quality of leaders and fly lines that he wanted, was to make his own. With this in mind Jim and his wife Kitty founded RIO Products and began initially manufacturing custom built leaders, which eventually led to the fly lines RIO is known for.
Knowing that a rod is only as good as the line on it, Jim set out to develop and design fly lines to match graphite rods that were being produced at the time. With fisheries like the Henry’s Fork and the South Fork of the Snake in RIO’s backyard, Jim began building lines with unique tapers to meet the specific needs of local trout anglers and himself.
Jim enjoyed chasing permit and tarpon, steelhead and Atlantic Salmon, but his passion was the wily trout of the Henry’s Fork, particularly those on the Railroad Ranch section, but only if they were taking dry flies. Jim would sit for hours, waiting for a good trout to feed before he ever considered getting into the water, or making a cast. He had incredible patience when hunting trout and would frequently leave the river having never made a cast, simply because there were no fish rising.
I started working for Jim and Kitty at RIO Products in late 1999, initially as a general marketing person and show rat, and then adding product testing, line designing, and educational roles to my position. Over the years I worked for Jim, I found him to be creatively brilliant, inspirational, and innovative–someone who was incredibly enthusiastic about the sport and the products RIO bought to market. We swung for steelhead in BC together, stalked trout on the local ID and MT rivers, fished for Atlantic salmon in Quebec, chased bonefish, permit, and tarpon in saltwater. Jim was a good caster, a great angler, but always worked to be better. On these trips, he and I would break from fishing, work on his casting skills, and he would teach me about line designs, while regaling me with wonderful stories from the past.
To celebrate Jim's life and legacy, we've commemorated the latest iteration of our Elite Salmon / Steelhead with his likeness. This taper was a favorite of Jim's as he was integral in driving the final product to the finish line. One of his favorite species was Atlantic Salmon, a fish that is both challenging to catch, not only because of its leaping ability, but also due to requiring stealthy tackle and accurate casts. While fishing a two-handed line is proficient for this application, Jim found there was a tool missing for certain rivers and situations. Thus Jim, forever curious, set upon developing a new line. After diving deep into the spey rabbit hole, Jim realized you could do similar things with a single-handed line—allowing him to wake bombers, swing sunken streamers on a light set up that was both delicate and precise. The line Jim came up with, now upgraded with current RIO technology, is ideal for single-handed swinging pursuits of anadromous species for both overhand casting, as well as single-hand spey for proficient casters (which Jim certainly was).
Today, Jim’s legacy lives on, and the company he and Kitty created is still based in Idaho Falls, ID, where a team of passionate and experienced anglers continue to design and create the finest fly lines in the world.