Baits, Lures & Flies photo

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›


Saddle hackle hair extensions are a hot style… for now. And that has a lot of celebs like Miley Cyrus and Aerosmith front man and American Idol judge Steven Tyler sticking chicken feathers to their flowing locks. Don’t laugh…it’s big business.

With many thousands of fashion sheep flocking along, and hundreds of hair salons scrambling to find feathers to meet the demand, we’re seeing a run on fly shops and hackle growers like nobody expected. Good news for fly shop guy? Well that depends.

You see, there are only so many chickens to go around, and while the cash register might ring short term, the ardent fly tier is seeing prices spike, and in some cases, can’t find feathers at all. And that (ahem) has plenty of hackles up.

This is not a joke. We’ve been following the story in some detail at Angling Trade and here’s what we know…

Feather extensions are bonded with carotene wax. Cost is $5 for one feather, and up to $25 for 5-7 feathers. You do the math, and figure out what a cape of hackle feathers might be worth to a salon.

We also know there are at least 364 salon owners (and counting) who claim to have started the trend. We do think it started around Boulder, Colorado, and has since quickly spread to California and other major fashion meccas, including, we are told, Hudsonville, Michigan.

We know that mere mention of price gouging makes hackle growers recoil. We also assume that, by the time everyone in the fly fishing industry figures out how to handle the problem, the trend will be over.

And we know if we see a man fishing in the river with feather extensions in his hair, we’re going to throw rocks in the run he’s fishing.