Fly fishermen, fashionistas fight over feathers

Wed Jun 8, 2011 10:02pm EDT
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By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - For the first time in 40 years, Philip Greenlee cannot obtain the choice feathers he ties into fishing lures to tempt trout from the West's blue-ribbon streams.

A new nationwide trend of attaching feathers to hair, known as feather extensions, has spurred a run on the decorative plumage of designer roosters produced at just three farms in the United States.

Until this year, the long, skinny and spine-free feathers were the almost exclusive province of fly-fishing devotees. Now the multibillion-dollar beauty industry is hawking feather extensions, triggering a shopping frenzy that has pitted fishers against fashionistas.

Hair stylists are snapping up feathers at a rate that has exhausted stocks at fly fishing shops at the peak of trout fishing season from the Rockies to the Appalachians.

In the laid-back and historically genteel culture of fly fishing, throngs of feather-seeking, cash-flashing hairdressers are causing consternation.

"We've got these blond gals attaching feathers to their hair, we've got people from California and Colorado calling us; it's like we're sitting on a pot of gold," Duane Schreiner, owner of Bighorn Fly and Tackle in Montana, told Reuters.

Since January, demand for the specialty feathers - a fad fanned by the stars of TV series such as "American Idol" and "Glee" sporting the extensions - has left anglers high and dry even as it has boosted profits for farmers who raise the fowl.


<p>A model presents a creation by Mexican designer Gianfranco Reni at the Mercedez Benz DFashion show in Mexico City, October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Henry Romero</p>