Steve Hemkens came to Orvis as a Product Development Specialist in 2005. He grew up fishing with garden hackle (and worse) in the Ozark lakes and streams around his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Steve has first exposed to fly fishing as freshmen at St. Louis University High when a classmate made a bookmark out flies he’d tied that were glued to a piece of leather. After pestering the kid for a lesson, Steve finally wore him down. He has that event to blame for the basement full of fly tying materials and fly fishing gear, and for eventually landing every fly fisherman’s dream job. As a freshman at the University of Notre Dame, Steve read in the local newspaper that there were salmon in the St. Joe River. Ten minutes later he had his fly rod case taped to his bike and was pedaling to the river. Not long after, he changed his major from pre-med to English so his studies were better aligned with his life priorities.
Steve has been working in the fly fishing industry since 1997 and spent the 5 years prior to Orvis working for Ed and Bob Story at Feather-Craft Fly Fishing in St. Louis, as well as a summer spent working at the well known River’s Edge in Bozeman, MT. At Orvis, Steve is responsible for all rod and reel development. He is most proud of the work that he’s done on the award winning Helios rod and the Battenkill Large Arbor reels. Steve travels extensively for Orvis both domestically and overseeing sourcing and product development for Orvis and was able to sneak a day last year to catch wild cherry trout in the mountains of Southern Korea. Steve has fly fished all over the world from the Mexican bluewater for billfish to the Bahamas for bonefish, to the Montana springs creeks and rivers of Alaska – but right now he’s a functioning tarpon addict. In addition to managing his fishing addiction, Steve enjoys hunting turkeys, ducks and deer, and playing the guitar. Most recently, Steve got a field bred English Springer and looks forward to training her to chase grouse and woodcock around the hills of Southern Vermont next fall.