Tucked away on a side street in the historic district of Helena, Montana, is the Orvis endorsed Cross Currents fly shop. A full service fly shop and outfitter, Cross Currents offers a little more than the average shop. They have fly-tying classes in the winter time and fly-fishing schools throughout the spring, summer and fall. Cross Currents also handles lodging and has a large guide staff of over 40 guides.
Those guides can take you to the Missouri, Blackfoot, Smith, Gallatin, Clark Fork and many other rivers. “We have people from all over the world coming to fish with us,” shop manager, Jim Stein said. “The Missouri river is such a world class fishery, we don’t have to go far to get in the water.” Cross Currents also has a shop in Craig, Montana, the hub of fly-fishing on the Missouri. Stein has managed Cross Currents in Helena for almost 15 years. He was a full-time guide in Colorado for a decade and also used to work for FWP, he says the Missouri averages about 5000 fish per mile.
The shop also takes a lot of floats on the Smith. “We do more work than any shop in the state. It’s the only permitted river. A 60 mile journey through a limestone canyon that includes 1000-foot cliffs, pictographs, camping and more,” Stein said. “It’s all about the experience on that river.” Floats on the Smith can cost $4,100 a person.
Floating the Missouri and the Smith are just one aspect to this fly shop. The unique feature of Cross Currents are the schools. Stein teaches five-week fly-tying courses in winter for $85. This includes all materials and the workshop lasts two hours once a week. In spring, summer and fall he instructs the three-day fly-fishing school. These classes are $195 and includes rod, reel and waders for the duration of the school.
The classes include, “Instruction, entomology, knots, etiquette, theory, casting, equipment, wading safety, reading water, dry, nymph and streamer techniques,” Stein said. “Everything from zero to 100.”
When the classes and float trips aren’t on Stein’s schedule he helps customers in the shop. Cross Currents is full of Orvis equipment and many more products. They also have a room entirely devoted to fly tying. Stein might help a customer find the perfect fly, like his AOF streamer, or put backing on a reel for them.
Stein’s signature fly is the AOF. The Ass on Fire is similar to a woolly bugger but it’s got rubber legs and a flashy tail that looks like it’s on fire. The next time IFlyFishMontana is in Helena we will be sure to grab a few more of these flies to hit the Missouri with.
For more information about Cross Currents or their classes you can visit their website at Cross Currents or call them at (406)-449-2292.