Fly Shop Review – Headhunters
Craig, Montana, USA
Of course my first review would take me to front steps of arguably the best trout river in the lower 48 — The Missouri River and to one of my favorite hang out spots in July, Headhunters.
Headhunters goes head to head with the incumbent Trout Shop in Craig Montana as the two shops worth mentioning. There is an Orvis shop Cross-Currents in Craig as well and it might be good, but I wouldn’t know because I refuse to entertain anything Orvis. The headhunters shop itself is small relative to the competition, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in rock solid product lines that represent the best and only gear you’ll need while fishing the Missouri.
I’ll usually rival anyone on the river for the largest assortment of flies on the boat that you don’t need, with the few flies that actually are working thrown in for good measure. And while I really get into the entomology of it all, there are only a handful of flies you actually need while fishing the Missouri and frankly 90% of your catch will come down to location and a drag-free presentation. Still I find myself loading up on hundreds of dollars worth of new patterns just to feed my addiction while in Craig. The Headhunter’s assortment is not as large as the trout shop simply due to lack of square footage, but they have the best patterns with all the bugs you’ll need that have netted me hundreds of fish so far on the Missouri. Even better, Mark and the guides keep the shop staff informed as to the day to day patterns that are working better versus the trout shop where at times I wonder if some of the shop help has actually cast a line on the river in years. See Missouri river posts under ‘advice’ for pointers on which flies to use when, or even better spend a few minutes talking to Mark or John and they will set you straight.
Both owners Mark and John pride themselves as being some of the biggest “gear heads” I’ve ever met. Their combined 40 or so years of fishing the Missouri have resulted in only the best, most practical, and dependable gear being sold in their shop for use on the Mo.
Several years back I enlisted the assistance of Mark Reisler co-owner of Headhunters to show me what the Missouri had to offer with an introductory day on the river. Let’s just say the hooking and catching is easy when you have one of a true handful of Missouri river sages toting you around. I pride myself on the ability to spot a quality vs. not so quality guide and Headhunters has some of the best. Mark, Skidmore, and Cooner are solid recommendations, but they have some young up & comers with the passion that flat get after it which is what I rate first. You really won’t go wrong with any guides employed by Headhunters .
Service & Lodging:
The trout camp cabins are top notch, some of my favorite in all of Montana and very convenient. Julie & Sarah keep the logistics sound and shuttle service is never an issue. They go super late on shuttles for those of us who live for the evening rise. I think I got my third shuttle in a day at 7:30pm last year.