Monday, March 28, 2011

‘American Idol’ judge Steven Tyler is hurting hackle supplies in fly-fishing shops

Post by Dave Strege was first published as American Idol Judge Steven Tyler is Hurting Hackle Supplies in Fly-Fishing Shops on Technorati.

Attention all fly-fishermen who tie your own flies. There is a good reason why you can’t find any hackle to tie a Pheasant Tail or Hares Ear Emerger.

“American Idol” judge Steven Tyler has it in his hair.

Actually, so does actress/singer Miley Cyrus and thousands of celebrity fans who want to be celebrity cool and fashion conscious by wearing chicken feathers in their hair -- just like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame.

Cool. Except fly-fishing shops can’t keep hackle in stock. It’s been flying off the shelf, so to speak, as hundreds of hair salons scramble to keep up with the latest hair-style trend involving premium hackle as women’s hair extensions.

They are called feather extensions and, in case you're wondering, are bonded to the hair with carotene wax, according to AnglingTrade.com, which details the hackle-in-the-hair trend.

The idea took off around Boulder, Colo., and last fall spread to California and other parts of the country.

Mary Lee Wood, owner of Salon Incognito in San Clemente, Calif., told the Orange County Register that TV has played a big part in the recent groundswell.

“The flavor of the month is feathers because of Steven Tyler on ‘American Idol,’” she told the Register. “He has them in his hair.”

Also, Miley Cyrus was recently seen on a magazine cover with a feather extension.

The demand by salons is such that one owner of a specialty chicken ranch in Delta, Colo., sought refuge from his ringing-off-the-hook phone by retreating into one of his huge barns, according to the Register.

“I had to get away from the aggressive salon owners,” Thomas Whiting of Whiting Farms told the Register. “I’ve been doing this for 22 years, but it’s been almost exclusively for fishing flies.”

Whiting explained that each bird has 200 to 280 feathers that are sellable, and his company ships out 65,000 feathered bird hides each week. Yet, that isn’t enough to meet demand, and he can’t speed the process of producing more since it takes a year to grow a rooster to a suitable plumage.

Mary Lee Wood told the Register that she spent $600 at Bob Marriott’s Fly Fishing Store in Fullerton, Calif., to replenish her feather supply. She sells them at $15 per cluster of four.

One customer wanted to place a $10,000 order with Marriott’s, and you know it wasn’t for tying Pheasant Tail or Hares Ear Emerger flies. The shop relunctantly turned her down because it couldn’t fill the order.

As much as this plumage shortage might be a problem for hair salons, it’s apparently a bigger one for fly-tiers, who are having a problem finding feathers for fly-tying.

“I just went to my fly shop, and they were completely out of hackle,” Malcom Robertson of Colorado told AnglingTrade.com. “None, zip. ... I wonder what’s going on there? I can’t believe that fly shop is out of hackle.”

Marriott’s has addressed that issue. Vice president Ann Stamper told the Register that her shop has limited sales to make sure long-time customers who use feathers for fly-tying can still get them. Still...

“It’s crazy,” Stamper said. “We can’t keep them in stock. I don’t know if it’s going to be a phase, like Beanie Babies.”

Fly-tiers certainly hope it's just a phase. Of course, they also hope the next hair-style trend doesn’t involve ostrich plume feathers.

Thanks for the tip, FieldandStream.com!


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  2. Thanks for bring this to the public's attention. You know, my mother used to tell us not to play with bird feathers because they may contain lice. I wonder if any of these "trend setters' have ever thought about that. ...

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