Ruffled Feathers

First it was coyote fur on everything. Then it was camouflage couture. Then we found out about the cashmere Carhartt line and that New York restaurants were actually using hay in cuisine. Now, thanks to Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and a bunch of other people we don’t care about, the latest bullshit fashion trend to deform Western cultural icons is chicken feathers. In your hair.

This feather trend isn’t news; the media has been covering it for months. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still complain about it. Because when some teeny-bopper hair fashion makes fishing more expensive, people should complain. Hollywood’s bright idea that life is better when feathers are sticking out of your hair means that hackle feathers now sell for $5 to $10 a piece online, and at least one site,, is selling feather extensions... for dogs (3-5 feathers for $20 plus shipping).

“This trend is total madness!” says Bozeman fishing guide Gary Jones. “Many fly patterns are completely back-ordered with no foreseeable ship dates, as there is no hackle to tie the patterns.” Jones says he’s also hearing rumors about people trying to import and smuggle birds from foreign countries.

Montana Troutfitters manager Kris Kumlien says the trend has had an effect on his business, too, though he says he’ll take a pass on the growing temptation among fly-shop owners to approach hairdressers directly with feathers to sell. “We’re experts at fishing, fly tying, and everything fishing related,” he says. “We’ll let the shops that don't know about that end of things approach the salons about ‘fashionable feather packages.’”

The feather-brained fashion industry may need to rethink the fad anyway. “A majority of the people wearing the feathers in their hair don’t realize that these bird feathers are coming from chickens that are genetically altered and bred specifically for the long hackle that they produce,” Kumlein adds. “The chickens are then ground up and resold as feed for barnyard animals—not exactly what you’d picture a lot of the fashion-trenders being really into, if you know what I mean.”