Fly Ties: Fish Bait Goes High Fashion

Fly fishermen reeling as women snap up rooster feathers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 8, 2011 10:00 AM CDT
High Fashion or Bait? Fly Ties Now Hair Extensions
Emilee Rivers, 16, Brandi Wheeler, 16, and Kim Shanks, 23, pick out feather extensions for their hair at MiraBella Salon and Spa in Boise, Idaho on Tuesday, May 24, 2011.   (JESSIE BONNER)

For every trendy lady you see running around with long feather extensions in her hair, a fly fisherman somewhere sadly goes without a lure. Hackles—the long, skinny rooster feathers fishermen use to make lures for bait—have been selling out nationwide. Hairdressers have gotten desperate to follow the craze that was fueled, in part, by American Idol judge and rocker Steven Tyler, who began wearing the feathers in his hair. Fly fishermen are not happy, bemoaning the trend in online message boards and sneering at so-called "feather ladies."

"It takes years and years and years to develop these chickens to grow these feathers. And now, instead of ending up on a fly, it's going into women's hair," said an assistant manager at an Idaho tackle shop. But it’s not all bad—some feathers sold online are fetching hundreds of dollars more than the usual prices. About three weeks ago, a Maine fly shop owner dusted off a rooster neck with feathers that had been set aside for fly tying classes at the shop. The neck would have normally cost $29.95, but the shop sold it for $360. "I'm looking around the shop thinking, `Hmmm, what else can they put in their hair?'" the owner says. (Read more American Idol stories.)

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