Award-winning fly brand in tribute to founders on 30th anniversary
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RIO Products, arguably the world’s best-known fly line brand, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with a tribute to founders, Jim and Kitty Vincent.
The pioneering couple toured North America from Key West to British Columbia, fishing wherever they could and writing about their experiences.
In the days before specialised tapers, Jim, a lifelong fly fisher, outdoor writer and photographer, would make his own by cutting up and splicing pieces of fly line using epoxy.
They established the company in Blackfoot in the mountains of Idaho on July 27th, 1990, naming it after the Rio Colorado in Costa Rica where they ran a tarpon camp.
The nearby banks of the Henry’s Fork and the South Fork of the Snake proved ideal testing grounds for its early products, which comprised a simple selection of hand-tied leaders, waterproof labels and a fly line spooling/storage system.
In 1991, they attended the annual Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Denver and the following year, having decided to concentrate on fly fishing terminal tackle and expand into knotless tapered leaders and spools of tippet, set up a leader and tippet production facility to cope with the demand for hand-tied leaders.
In 1992 Jim designed the WindCutter and Accelerator specialty Spey lines. And in 1993 RIO introduced a revolutionary new tippet material called Powerflex, which was to establish a reputation for reliability, strength and suppleness and become the best selling material in fly shops throughout the world.
The company produced its first fly lines in 1994, with products initially made to Jim’s specifications by Cortland, but later it was decided to build a dedicated fly line manufacturing plant in Idaho Falls, with the first lines appearing on the market in 1997.
RIO has continued to increase its market share with niche, specialty fly line tapers that have outperformed many of the generic offerings of the day and have won multiple product awards around the world.
RIO has also chalked up a remarkable number of firsts. It was the first company to bring out interchangeable tip lines; the first to have density compensation on their sinking lines; the first to have a durable running line; the first to produce specialty Spey casting tapers; the first to have welded loops on the front end of fly lines; the first to produce a floating fly line with a tip that doesn’t sink; and the first to make a fly line with two coatings.
In November 2005 RIO was acquired by the owners of the Sage and Redington brands – and Far Bank Enterprises was created. But the brand’s ability to develop groundbreaking products goes unchecked.
Now RIO has marked its 30th anniversary with the recent launch of SlickCast, labeled the slickest, most durable coating on the market. “With developments like this, RIO is sure to be going strong for another 30 plus years,” says the company.