Monday, February 28, 2011

A run on feathers...

Oh, this can't be good.  With a pseudo fly fishing theme, I thought it necessary not to pass up commenting on a recent news article I came across regarding chicken feathers, or "hackle" used in tying fishing flies.  It seems fashion has invaded the local fly and tackle shops.  Women's beauty salon owners are buying up entire supplies of hackle feathers, normally sold as the construction material for fishing flies, and causing dramatic rise in prices and stock-outs.
The feathers are being used in a new hair fashion--  hair extensions with the colorful feathers.  It began in Boulder Colorado, and is spreading worldwide.  With Miley Cyrus and other celebrities taking up the style, there will be a crush of teen emulation, and a bigger run on the fly shops for hackle.
What does this mean to the fly tyers and anglers?  Undoubtedly higher prices-- both for the raw materials for those anglers tying their own flies, and the flies supplied in the shop for those that don't.  Premium hackle feathers used for fly tying are expensive to begin with (as much as $60 or more for one high grade chicken cape), as they are from chickens bred specifically to produce feathers ideally shaped for tying the flies.  Prices are reportedly doubling overnight as a result of the run on the fly shop's supplies.
And I can only assume this can't be particularly good for the chickens out there either.

Update:  10 March   A video showing the new feather fashion.


  1. Jim....
    We have a boatload of chickens - and you are more than welcome to come 'harvest' your own feathers when the bad girls are to hit the road.....

  2. Hi Andi--
    I've been negligent about both writing frequently in the blog, and attentive to the posted comments. Yours are very welcome.

    Thanks for the feather offer-- I may take you up on this. Although the standard farm chicken (I presume this is what you raise) has good feathers, the chicken feathers for fly tying are now coming from chickens bred for that very purpose, producing very long, fine feathers. As there are really only one or two producers doing this, it might be a lucrative venture, with the sudden feather craze. Tom Whiting Farms (Oregon?) has done a lot for this industry. See more recent article in the Financial Times.