RIO and Spey

RIO's association and passion for Spey casting has been around since before the birth of the company.

Jim Vincent, the co-owner and founder of RIO, "discovered" Spey casting while fishing the Dean in BC in the 1980's. There he met anglers from Britain that wielded these long rods and interesting, but difficult-to-learn casting techniques, and he saw how effective this combination was for steelhead.

Jim started on the road to learning and mastering Spey casting and in his travels he met an English fly fishing instructor called Simon Gawesworth. Simon specialized in teaching and demonstrating Spey casting techniques and he and Jim bonded over a bottle of single malt and some Spey casting lessons on the Kispiox river in BC.

When Jim founded RIO in 1990, he was determined to make fly lines that improved Spey casting and make it easier for anglers to learn the casting techniques. He started by designing the WindCutter and Accelerator lines - the first purpose built Spey lines in the world, and later on in the 1990's persuaded Simon to come to the US and work with him at RIO.

Jim and Simon wanted to make more anglers aware of the benefits of Spey casting, and help those that got interested in Spey casting get better. Together they taught Spey schools around the US, wrote articles and an instructional booklet that was included free in every RIO Spey line sold. They made videos and gave demonstrations at various fly fishing shows and events, and designed Spey fly lines that made it even easier to cast.

One of Jim's earliest innovations was to make an interchangeable tip type of Spey line that allowed anglers to change from a floating tip to a sinking tip as conditions dictated. Early Spey anglers used full sinking double taper lines to get depth, and these required a prodigious amount of effort to cast, with several roll casts required to get the line to the surface before making the final Spey cast. This was tiring, but the only way to Spey cast a line that was deeply sunk. Jim's VersiTip design made this a much easier burden to handle, as the floating section ensured anglers needed, at most, a singe roll cast to get the sunken tip to the surface, and then an effortless back sweep to lift the line and place the anchor.

By the early 2000's, many US and Canadian steelhead anglers had evolved to using Spey casting techniques. As the majority of these steelhead anglers fished in the winter months, it was essential to get deep with big flies, and traditional Spey line designs were not conducive to casting such imbalanced rigs. Initially RIO overcame this problem by making level sections of double taper 12, 14, 16 and 18, which allowed anglers to make their own line designs. However on a November trip to the Grand Ronde in Washington, Jim fished with legendary steelhead guides Scott O'Donnell, Mike McCune and Ed Ward. The three amigos showed Jim some of their homemade fly lines that were designed specifically for casting fast sinking tips and large flies. Jim returned determined to make a purpose built fly line that did just this, and negate the effort and trouble required for anglers to make their own. The end result was the Skagit line - probably one of the most revolutionary fly line designs in history. In one step RIO had produced a fly line that easily handled all the junk a steelhead angler could wish, and a line so easy to cast that a complete novice could spend 10 minutes with a guide on some basics, before launching out very fishable casts. It opened up Spey casting to anyone!
In 2005 the company released a very comprehensive instructional DVD called RIO's Modern Spey Casting and it featured spey experts Simon Gawesworth, George Cook, Dana Sturn, Mike McCune, Ed Ward and Scott O'Donnell. To date it has sold more than 10,000 copies worldwide, and is acknowledged as the best source of Spey casting instruction ever made.
The design team at RIO is never content with what they have already produced and constantly watches what is happening in the Spey world. They often find themselves on a steelhead or salmon river somewhere, researching and testing new ideas and designs. With the trend in Spey rods progressing to the shorter side, the design team at RIO collaborated with legendary Spey guide and instructor John Hazel to create a series of effortless casting heads with the shorter, lighter Spey rods in mind - Steelhead Scandis. The team also worked with Scott, Mike and Ed again to produce a shorter set of tips that weren't as hard to cast as standard 15 ft tips. These tips, the MOW tips, have taken Spey casting another step in the direction of easy casting, fish catching gear.

RIO's commitment and passion to advancing and improving Spey casting, and to making the very best Spey lines on the market never wavers; neither does the passion of the numerous fly fishers at RIO for the simple joy of fly fishing.