Today is our 10th Anniversary

Today is our 10th Anniversary

John, Julie, and Mark thank you deeply for supporting us through the first 10 years. Today is our 10th Anniversary. April 4th 2008 is when we opened our doors for the first time.

A great ride.

Thanks to all that graced us with your dollar that first year. Even your visit was important to us in the early years, certainly the first. Still is. We didn’t have too much hanging on the walls. SIMMS opened us straight away and we were so proud and excited for that strong showing of support by SIMMS in 2008. Loomis, Ross Worldwide, Buff, Airflo, Anglers Accessories, Dr. Slick, the fly companies, other fly shop owners, and the initial help from product reps was huge.

Carroll and Margaret Jenkins were a big help. They still are. Our landlords and long time friends were with us from day 1. The Craig Trout Camp helped us gain immediate credibility with a local lodging connection in downtown Craig.

Much appreciation.

A couple reps, many locals, neighboring fly shops John and I worked with for years prior to opening Headhunters shunned us in those early years. And that is OK. Why be supportive or friendly to anyone who is taking a chance? That wouldn’t fall into the American model now would it? I must confess they did not give us much any hope.

Kinda tells you what they know…

We don’t hold anything against that clan. Nope. Never have, never will. We are still attempting to create a positive fly fishing business community that includes referral’s, sharing, professionalism,  rising the tide amongst us. We are all in this together. So we encourage moving forward towards a professional balance in our Missouri River fishing world.

We’ve succeeded by providing Entertainment, Information, Education, and Customer Service. Headhunters has always been the teaching fly shop. We love to share information while making friends along the way.

John and I knew that we could compete in the local, Missouri River market by providing a high level of customer service. We were right. We really just wanted to outfit, guide, and sella. few fishing items to our guests. Then take the winters off and fish in the FLA Keys.

That didn’t work.

The first winter we were open occasionally. The second a bit more. By the fourth winter we were just open all the time. Still true today. Open everyday except for Christmas, and when it is too cold to travel, meaning below zero.

We’d like to thank a few of the fly shop anchors that mean so much to our operation here in Craig.

Julie is the glue that holds the entire operation together. We could not have survived without Julie. I remember a short story from year one…

We had just returned from a Steelhead Trip to the Snake and Grande Ronde with the original staff and guides. John, Julie, Mark, Ben, Andrew, guide Mike Kuhnert and his GF. Use rented a cool house and stayed for almost ten days. Steelhead, drinking, laughing, playing cards, cooking, and steelheading! Good times. We came home and the first thing Julie said to John and I was “Hey, I need you two to each write me a check. We need funds to get through the winter from now until we open the shop again in April 2009.” John and I calmly said shaking our heads “Oh no Julie, we own the place.” She calmly said back “Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m asking you two guys!”

John and I cannot thank her enough for the hard diligent work and get it done attitude that has allowed for John and I to focus on additional parts of the business. Thanks Julie. Can’t thank you enough!

Andrew and Ben were our first shop employees. Andrew made it into year 3 before departing while Ben Hardy is our Lead Guide and has been for years. Thanks Ben. We appreciate everything you have done for us. Ben is a talented individual. He has sold fly rods, tied flies, fixed lawnmowers, remodeled the shop, built sheds, driven the shuttle rig, raked gravel, kept us entertained through his quick wit and humor, and has been guiding some of our long time Headhunters fishing guests for a long time. Ben is now married to a local gal Christa Sprout, owns a house in Cascade, owns a contracting business, and has two beautiful children Clara and Henry.  Thanks Ben. Couldn’t have done it without you these last ten years.

Ben McNinch and Sara Roholt. The backbone of our fly shop. John and I  cannot say enough good things about these two. Sara came to us year two. She worked through the summers for two years, before making the Missouri River her home. She handles all kinds of things for us including purchasing, HR, not killing the young fresh shop kids every year, booking, and customer service. Let’s not forget that she is an accomplished angler. She loves to run her dogs, and may like hunting upland birds more than anything. Thanks Sara. Thanks for roaming through Montana so we could meet you in 2008. Sara has been with Headhunters since 2009. She is a rock.

Ben arrived year three. John called me up when I was out of town and said he had a fellow in the shop we may want to hire. At that time, we did not need another shop employee. John said this guy might fit well in Craig. John hired him. He was right. Ninch has developed into our full time fly procurement expert and handles the accessories as well. He fishes his ass off. Both he and Sara are accomplished two handed anglers. They each have their own drifters and love to fish…when the conditions are right. If you live on the river, you really don’t have to fish in the worst of conditions. Unless, the fish are eating streamers! Ninch’s quick mind keeps us on or toes. It only took us 5 years to figure out his often dark humor! Thanks Ben McNinch. You are a strong. We thank you. Ben has been with Headhunters since 2010.

Jim, Dewey, Nichole, Braden, Marty…and many more have helped immeasurably. Thanks to you all!

Headhunters has survived. We are still here amidst the constant change, turmoil, dusty roads, unpredictable Mother Nature, and rampant small town rumors about anything and everything that rarely hold a shred of truth.

Headhunters has risen above the local politics while becoming the community leader in giving, support, and volunteerism. Our financial support of veterans, women, children, and conservation efforts separates us from the rest. Our continued deep support of the Craig Fire Department, the Craig Caddis Festival, UMOWA, and statewide conservation programs will continue. Giving back is a big part of Headhunters of Craig.

We have proven that it is the people, the personalities, the customer service, the friendly smile and greetings, the free BBQ’s, the devotion of providing blogging content and fishing reports like no other as well as sharing beers with you our fishing friends that get us through each and every day.

We finally that you the Headhunters customer, guest, and friend. We thank you for supporting us from day 1. And if you arrived on day 2, that’s cool too. We love you all.

Ten more years ahead of us?

Yep, we’re not done yet.

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  • Congrats to all of you!
    Looking forward to the next 10 years! Love that your success hasn’t changed your model.
    See you again in two weeks!

  • To all Headhunters staff–Keep up the GREAT customer service and positive attitude!!!

  • It’s a people business and that’s what keeps all of us coming back!

  • Allen Gideon
    April 4, 2018 8:16 am

    Congratulations and Happy Anniversary. Looking forward to our trip this fall.

  • And then there is Mark… Mark you have taught countless people about flyfishing in general via your blog posts. You have broken the “old” model of flyfishing where no one shares anything/jack shit. (Of course you have your secrets… we all do). BUT you TEACH and EDUCATE and I have learned so much from you about fish, behaviour, casting, how to approach fish, different techniques, rig set ups, etc etc.
    From all of us on the web and in person who have learned from you – thank you for doing it differently and sharing how to be a good angler and learned about the mighty Mo. I know all of your efforts are a HUGE reason why Headhunters is what it is – but it’s worth it. You guys have gained a lot of respect by typing countless hours a blog in WordPress… but it got my attention – and thousands more. Plus I love in general, (except for your occasional rants which are really funny and honest), you do keep it positive and like you said “rising the tide” on the Mo and in flyfishing culture in general. (We are an odd bunch aren’t we)… So thanks Mark – we appreciate you. You even spent time with my wife who is NOT into angling at least appreciate it and respect it – which is really cool. And lastly, thanks for greeting your customers BY NAME… who does that? That is customer service. People pay attention to that. I don’t expect it if I’m not a local or regular (which I’m not) but that stuff matters in today’s busy world. And as a small business owner I REALLY pay attention to when I’m treated kindly. Okay, I’m done… I just think it’s a big accomplishment what you’ve done in 10 years. We are 3.5 years into our business and it’s inspiring you can go from fledgling business to the LEADER on the Mo – that gets me fired up. That’s what we want to do as well in our industry. We are on the path, but it comes down to simple business skills that most people forget: treat every customer like gold and gold will flow back to you. Real customer service – a truly lost art. Okay, now I’m really done. Congrats guys. Keep it up and see you this June.

  • Congratulations. Looking forward to meeting you all in September.

  • As an infrequent guest and patron since year one, my thanks goes out to you. I’ve seen high and low waters, scorchers and sub zero days. One things have never changed though, the way you make a wayward foreigner feel welcome and somehow at home. That has never changed. For that, and much more, I am grateful.

  • Richard Raisler
    April 4, 2018 9:48 am


  • Congrats to the HH crew! Being a small business owner for over 30 years I know how tough it can be. Because of you all I have fallen in love with Craig and the Mo. Keep up the great work! You are doing something right, mostly all of it!

  • Carroll Jenkins
    April 4, 2018 10:08 am

    Headhunters Rock! Happy Anniversary !

  • Good stuff squeaky, you guys deserve all the success you’ve had and much more to come.

  • Well I for one am very happy to have picked the right place to go on my first trip last year. Studied and dreamed for years before it came true. This very blog told me this was the right place and I was right (for a change). Congrats. See you the 10th.

  • John, Julie, Mark, Sara, Ben, Dewy and crew, thank you SO much for being the best fly shop I have ever set foot in. I have worked in a few and visited shops all over Montana, BC, and New Zealand, and have to say there is no comparison…You make it special every time I come and I will always continue to support your excellent business and wonderful people. You know you have it right when customers/clients (like me) put off purchasing boat nets, glasses, lines and hoards of flies just so that we can get them from Headhunters. You are the Best! Thank you for everything you do !! Dallas Hoffman

  • Steve Ruszczyk
    April 4, 2018 12:16 pm

    Congratulations to you all. I’ve fished a lot of places, but nothing beats all of you folks at Headhunters. Simply the best, hands down. Thanks for making my trips to Craig and the Mo so enjoyable. See you in October.

  • The Mo is one of my favorite rivers around…large in part because of the wonderful people at Headhunters. We are always greeted with a smile, plenty of fishy tips and tricks, and of course, a fresh cup of hot coffee (goes a long way in January in Craig, MT)! Headhunters is the gold standard when it comes to fly shops. Thank you for inspiring and educating me to be a better fly fisher woman and cheers to you all on 10 years!
    – Cassie

  • dan from ohio
    April 4, 2018 12:53 pm

    Thanks for all that you guys (and gals) do out there, your blog keeps me going through the winters here, and the shop guys (and gals) have always been generous when I stop in on my summer safaris…Thanks again- let’s go get another 10 years!

  • Stephen Nagy
    April 4, 2018 12:56 pm

    Congratulations to all of you for persevering! Mark, you should get a special “golden tongue” award for your creative ability to come up with stuff to say, often important, day after day on the blog. Best wishes and thank you to all of you.

  • Well done, lads and lassies! Keep the blogs, smiles, education, tips, and customer service flowing.

  • Thanks for all that your crew has done for the non local local Guide croud !!! Back in the day we were like the plague around Craig. Aways a smile and a wave from you guys on the water. We all owe MOTHER MO for all that she has given to us over the years.
    Congrats to Headhunters on the 10 year mark.
    Great people ….Great shop
    Justin Lawrence

  • The Mo is one of my favorite rivers around, in large part because of the wonderful folks at Headhunters. We are always greeted with a smile, plenty of fishy tips and tricks, and of course, a mug of fresh, hot coffee (goes a long way in January in Craig, MT!). Headhunters is the absolute gold standard when it comes to fly shops. Thank you for inspiring and educating me to become a better fisherwoman. Cheers to you all on 10 years!! – Cassie

  • I’d love to hog your blog with a comment or sage old guy stuff , but, I’d rather hear the story where you partied so hard that you crawled home , and woke up wearing someone else’s shoes. Congrats

  • Art Bartholomew
    April 4, 2018 2:48 pm

    It has been a hoot fishing with the Headhunter’s guys over the last several years! Love the blog… Congrats on your well deserved and hard earned ‘overnight’ success. See you in July!!!
    Art B

  • I have fished the mo for close to 20 years and like to call it my Hume river even though I live far away in VT. I say that because it feels like home whenever I am there be it alone or with some if the many friends I have introduce to the river. My sons fishing has matured on the Mo thanks to Mark and now he is a promising guide in UT. HH raised rather bar in Craig which has benefited all concerned. What was a unique approach to the sport is now the norm – Sharing, teaching and creating relationships through a shared passion and commerce.

    Congrats Mark, John, Julie and crew (and Danielle for surviving). Keep doing what you’re doing and thanks for all you’ve done for me and my boy

  • Mark LeGrand
    April 4, 2018 4:05 pm

    Congratulations on your first 10 years!!

  • Richard Sprague
    April 4, 2018 5:21 pm

    Headhunters is a 6 hour drive for us. We pass a lot of “famous trout waters” and a LOT more shops on our journey up I-15. Your shop is by far the best shop I’ve ever…shopped. I fish the MO once a year but find myself reading your blog every day. You guys get it. No other shop on any other river is so forthcoming with information on how to catch fish on “their” water. Thanks for all of the tips, information, and entertainment. Congrats on 10 years!

  • Terry Armstrong
    April 4, 2018 5:42 pm

    You guys are the greatest I so appreciate all you have done for me over the years. Hell Mark even laughs at my jokes. See you soon!

  • Congratulations on your first ten and thanks to you and your staff for all the help and advice that has helped me to become a better fly fisher. I hope to see all of you soon.

  • Thank you for ten years of awesome. I found Craig the year you opened. To me, there’d be no Craig without you.

  • Congratulations!! Headhunter’s the best!

  • Headhunters, congratulations and thanks for putting the fun back into fly fishing including classic events like Bikini Boat Wash and Drift Boat Theater.

  • I grew up in Helena and loved fishing nearby including the Missouri. Now I have lived in southern Idaho the past thirty years and look forward to floating the Missouri at Craig every summer. I read the blog every day and truly have learned so much from all the information they contain. While in Craig I stop in to buy shuttles, flies, tying material, leaders, tippet material, hats and shirts. I bought my Sage Method fly rod through Headhunters. After the first time I floated the river in my “new” drift boat we caught very few fish. We checked into the shop at the end of the float and happened to visit with John Arnold. He asked how we did and what we were using. He suggested a fly that we had several of but hadn’t used yet. The next day that fly made all the difference and made an OK trip into a spectacular one. Once when we were waiting to take out at Stickney we struck up a conversation with Mark Raisler and after several minutes he offered us a card for a free shuttle which we used the next day. Those two events have made a lasting impression on me as far as going the extra mile and genuinely caring about people. A sincere thank you for all you have done and congratulations on your first ten years. I can’t wait to be up this summer at the shop and see all of you.

  • Great crew, great business plan, here’s to ten more!

  • Kelley and Diane Arnold
    April 6, 2018 12:19 pm

    Couldn’t be more proud of your hard work, dedication, and customer service.
    Mom and Dad Arnold

  • Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary! It’s not easy operating in the shadow of the Missouri River Fly Fishing Juggernaut know as Headhunters. We’ve marveled at your social reach, we’ve admired your dedication to your customers but more importantly your customer’s loyalty to you, we’ve tried to follow your lead, we’ve maybe even cursed you a time or two for the challenges you present to us but through it all we appreciate what you have done to build the industry on the Missouri. Thank you for raising the bar again and again and for making all of us work that much harder to do our jobs that much better. Thank you for being kind and helpful (for the most part) to us for these past four years. As we embark on our fifth season we wish you the best for the next ten years.

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