Rooster Saddle Feathers….. How Silly can it get?

Update dated July 8, 2011.  I invite readers who are interested to contact me via email at and describe your interest in securing Rooster saddle and cape feathers.  I may be able to help you find a source for this commodity.

Warning! The information presented here is a thinly veiled foray into the sordid realm of blatant commercialism.  If you know what’s going on with the supply and demand of rooster saddle feathers in the fashion world (think feather hair extensions & hair braids), read no further.  If you know why you can’t find many – or any – long blue grizzly saddles for your Intruders, you can stop reading now.  If you know why the price of Hareline, Whiting, Hebert, and Metz rooster saddle patches has jumped lately, there’s nuthin’ interesting to read.  Move on.  And definitely do not watch the videos embedded here, because these are 100% geared towards selling feather products to persons seeking long rooster saddle feathers and saddle patches for completely irrelevant purposes of making earrings or feather extensions and hair braids.  Check this out and see what I mean, if you will.  The days when we had exclusive claim on a natural or dyed Euro Rooster saddle hackle feather are dead and gone.

With that caution issued, I’ll continue.

And no, this blog post does buy your saddles now not grizzly contain subliminal implanted grizzly Euro saddle suggestions help Chris pay for coffee fund for the pureHareline grizzly saddle purpose of feather hair extension fueling sales.  Not hair feather extensions even in your grizzly Euro hair feather extension dreams grizzly.

The world was once right, in harmony.  Chicken feathers were revered by and principally reserved for fly tyers.  We fly tyers could sleep soundly at night, knowing that the rack of Metz grizzly rooster saddle patches, our favorite colors of Hareline strung grizzly and dyed rooster saddles, and the Whiting Hebert rooster saddle patches and capes we admired last week would still be there, hanging on the pegs in nice neat rows, for us to admire and inspect on our next trip to the fly shop.  Hareline grizzly and dyed saddles and saddle patches.  Whiting Farms grizzly and dyed saddles.  Euro rooster grizzly saddle feathers.  Dyed Grizzly Euro hackle saddles.  Hebert grizzly and natural saddles and capes.  Metz Grizzly saddles and Metz dry fly capes.  They would wait for us, patiently, to make up our minds.  Now they go to folks making feather extensions in their hair and hair braids.

Knowing that we already had several nice Rooster capes and saddle patches in the fly tying person-room, we felt secure knowing that our supply of strung saddle feathers and saddle patches for our trout flies, steelhead flies, salmon flies, bass flies, carp flies and panfish flies was mostly secure.  Once in a while, we might pick out a new feather color, or maybe some extra narrow or extra wide saddles, and stash them away for future use.

But there was never much urgency associated with feather shopping, especially for the ubiquitous grizzly phase feather.  One modern, genetically selected natural or dyed grizzly rooster saddle feather would tie many dry flies.  We might snip off the tips of these long rooster saddles for tying our Intruder flies, and save the long butt sections of the saddle feather for our dry flies.  We always had the natural and dyed grizzly feather colors we wanted, or the security that we could get whatever rooster capes or saddle feathers we wanted, if and when we wanted.

Uh oh.  Not so these days. The world of fashion has collided with the world of fly tying.  And the results are making a mess of our thinking about feathers, especially long feathers, saddle hackles, natural and dyed grizzly.  Where once we could count on never, ever running out of dun colored saddle feathers by Hareline, Metz, Whiting, or Hebert, well, no more.

Anyone who has been sipping coffee in their favorite home-town fly shop lately has noticed a different clientage.  (Note:  I wanted to use the term clientele, but the spell checker suggested clientage.  Not knowing whut’s up, I went with the suggestion.  Oh well.)

Taking great care to be non gender-discriminatory (inside joke), the fact is that there is a new customer demographic that has interrupted the world of fly tying by messing with the principles of supply and demand for rooster feathers, especially if they have the term grizzly, Euro, saddle, long, ultra long, natural, dyed, Hareline, Whiting, or Hebert associated with the product name.  Try to find a blue grizzly saddle patch.  Same goes with a hot orange saddle patch.  Just try.

Thinking that fly tying was a big deal was silly.  Enter the world of fashion.  Apparently, (caution, Jay) persons have discovered that rooster saddle feathers look beautiful in their hair.  Many of these same persons have decided that 12″ natural and dyed grizzly rooster saddles look ultra sleek dangling from their ears.

Not saying what gender these feather-fashion persons are, but they have wreaked havoc with us fly tyers.  The never-ending and dependable supply of dyed and natural grizzly saddles we used in our Intruders has become scant.  Narrow rooster saddles we wound around hooks to hackle our finest dry flies is at risk now.  Long narrow saddles to palmer over our Chinook comet flies is – well – at best, scarce.

Must conclude now. Rooster saddle feather tutorials follow.  Ignore or watch, at your discretion.  You really should have seen the entire floor space in the back room of the Caddis Fly Shop (in Eugene Oregon) covered with Whiting and Hebert, Hareline dyed Saddles, and, and ultra-long Euro rooster saddle feathers.  Imagine extra long Euro Rooster hackle Saddles.  Imagine rooster saddles dyed by Hareline:  especially  striking stacks of purple and turquoise saddles. Wow will these make awesome feather hair braids and extensions?  Whiting Farms saddles.  Whiting Hebert saddles for hair braids and feather hair extensions.  Heck, there was nowhere to walk what with all the feathers on the floor. Now these gorgeous rooster saddles are hung neatly on the pegs.  Hareline dyed  Saddles.  Whiting Dry Fly saddles.  Whiting and Hebert saddles and Euro Rooster saddle feathers.  Hebert dry fly saddles to make feather hair extensions galore.

Chris Daughters and I were shooting videos; constantly interrupted by phone calls from Portland Oregon; Salem, Oregon; California;  Seattle; Texas; New York.  Walk-in customers pointed at various stacks of saddle patches and Chris threw them in their shopping cart to be carried swiftly out of the store, before they could even get a price sticker and be hung on a peg at the “Great Wall of Saddles.”  We saw Whiting Badger saddles, and Hebert Dyed Olive Grizzly saddles, and Hareline dyed purple saddles, and Whiting Farms natural and dyed grizzly saddle patches moving out to the shipping area in waves.  Rooster feathers destined to make feather hair extensions and feathery feathered earrings.

I’m done, almost. Been thinking about what I want done with my ashes when I leave this place.  Got some ideas.  Sort of sad to think about not being here with my family, with the salmon, and with my friends.  Might write about it, but I might not.

Jay Nicholas; posted January 30,2011

39 thoughts on “Rooster Saddle Feathers….. How Silly can it get?

    1. I just have a question. The article I read about the birds that produce these feathers said they don’t survive the harvesting of the feathers? I mean I’ve raised chickens for a long time…you could pull them out but you can also just clip them. They grow back. What the hey?

      …..I’m way curious. I mean….couldn’t we just raise birds, clips some feathers and sell to the fishing guys without killing the golden goose? I would just love to (deleted by editor) the hair fashion people.

      1. Sorry, the process of grabbing a rooster, holding it down, and shaving off it’s feathers would be traumatic indeed. There was a day when a rare eccentric fly tyer would pluck feathers from birds to meet very humble feather needs.

        No more. A hundred thousand shaved birds and a train load of loose unsorted feathers would not work these days, for the birds or for the fly tying industry. Admittedly, i have not interview roosters on this topic, but from what I know of these birds, humane termination of life function is probably “better” than a crew-cut. Research into the growing conditions of birds for fly tying feathers would, I think, show that their accommodations are superior to those of birds raised for food. As carnivores, well, let’s leave it at that, shall we? JN

    1. OK, it’s a harsh world out there. We are a tough bunch, not really cry-babies, and we will find the feathers. Somewhere. Soon. Your obvious tenderness and sensitivity to our feelings is much appreciated. the fly tyers and fishers of the world wish to propose a truce. JN

  1. Lol sorry about the lack of feathers out there my suggestion to you sell your stash and in 6 months all the lil girls will have moved onto something new might as well make money on your spares a full saddle used to be what 40 now you can buy 30 feathers for that if your lucky don’t worry Teresa a light at the end of the feather hair extension craze

  2. Looking for feathers for my hair I found this post :p You are so funny!

    I was just thinking that I *do* kind of look like a fishing lure I suppose……

    Sorry, but the feathers are sooo preety!

  3. Thank you soooo much for the information on the video! I have been looking all over the internet for what color feather hair extentions to buy and thanks to you I was able to find the exact color I want:) Whats more silly??? Putting a feather in your hair or putting it on a hook to catch a fish?? Either way both sides are getting creative right? I’ll tell you what! since they’re his feathers lets ask the rooster and see what he thinks…. He does’nt give a “darn”- he just wants his feathers back!!! with love, Marci p.s. My husband, father, brothers, father-in-law, mother, allll my generations of grandfathers ect.. are true blue fly fisherman- and im a hairstylist:)

    1. Actually, Marci, these feathers that they take from the roosters are deadly, and most birds do not survive the plucking. Please do your research first. Though I do like the idea of hair extensions, it’s also true that fishermen need these just as much as the women. It is a trend, and though I may jump on that trend, when it fades out, I will be more than happy to give up feathers for a better idea. 🙂

      Sincerely, a 19-year-old that fishes, too.

      1. As a “retired” pro fly tyer, i am not aware of any rooster feathers that are being harvested by “plucking” feathers from live birds. The birds are killed as is the case for the animal foods we eat, and then are skinned, the hides are cut to provide “pelts” from the Saddle area, the neck area, or the back of the deceased bird’s hide. Read on…. JN

  4. Well, it’s really simple. They are selling out like crazy which is making these companies more money which is what businesses are all about. The hair feathers is a fashion fad but it will probably pass in a year or two and you’ll be able to sleep soundly again knowing the feathers you want will be on the shelf. Once everyone has them they will go out of style.

  5. I’am lookin for any grizzly saddle and plain saddles..Do you know when you might get more in? And how long are these feathers?

  6. “Try to find a blue grizzly saddle patch. Same goes with a hot orange saddle patch. Just try.”

    I found plenty and you just have to know where to look. It’s just from a different supplier now n that’s life man.


    1. Cry you a river for taking fly tying hostage? How about for your vanity? How about respect for an ancient , honorable skill? How about respect for a way of life practiced for decades by an old fly tier ? How about respect for centuries of fly tying and the joy it has brought to untold thousands globally ? Oh, I see, the “right” to make a quick dollar outweighs all of the above. I hold all feather merchants equally accountable.

  7. So after my coffee flew outta my nose from laughing so hard….. I am amazed to happen across this blog just today after I (sparkly salon owner) went in “The Caddis Fly” looking for amazing colors of feathers to use in my daughters hair for prom. I THOUGHT I was being original going into a Fly Fishin place looking for the super sought after stuff. I figured NOBODY ever thought to go in THERE looking for hair stuff. Wrongo!!! Nuthin left in the pretty colors. (pretty colors was all i knew…oh, and long too) However now, much to my chagrin… I know all too much about Whiting full saddle feathers. By the way they are nowhere to be found!!! At least not in the super long bright colors. I did notice though that I was not exactly the NORM for the “Fly-Fishin” establishment. I do think I added a unique “sparkle” to the place. I did buy a couple of bags of shorter, not as good feathers but hopefully she won’t notice. Your article is a gem and it made me smile because I had the exact reverse of your perception of the issue at hand. Just get more in stock, and add a little corner to your place called “HAIR-FLYZ” hahahaha. Might as well take advantage of things during the downturn. Who in the world would have ever thought of Eugene as a fashion mecca??? LOL Thanks for the laugh. R-

  8. People who put feathers in their hair are (deleted by editor). It blows my mind why people are willing to spend so much on feathers. The insensitive posters who ask about the price of feathers and what not, seriously, go get an education. It’s females like you that make me embarrassed to be a female.

    At least a fly fisherman can catch fish to put on their dinner table.

    I feel sorry for the poor roosters whose feathers are plucked out for the purpose of it being used as temporary hair extension. At least the fly fisherman respect the feathers they purchase, compared to chicks who simply think “oooh! how pretty!! me want pretty feather in my hair!! ”

    25 year old female (author unable to verify)

    1. The ignorance in this is hysterical. Just because a girl puts feathers in her hair does not make her incapable of caring for herself, nor does it make her an idiot. Unlike the useless banter in your post, I fish, I hunt, AND (God forbid) having a few saddles on the side I put some in my hair, as well as friends and family. If you have them, you might as well. I don’t see why people like you get bent out of shape over it – what is it doing to you? If you were a REAL outdoorsman, why couldn’t you raise roosters and then get the saddles and hackles yourself instead of ranting about how much you despise a person for their choices. Really just ignorant.

      And BTW, I do have an education, a bachelors at that.

      1. OMG. Honestly, I do not remember what I wrote in the original post many months ago. I do remember my friend Chris at the Caddis Fly with a dump-truch load of saddles littered around the shop, in a panic, wondering if he would ever be able to sell the things. At that time Whiting Farms had a HUGE supply and was HAPPY to get rid of them. I think my original post was a pure effort to stimulate sales for my buddy and have a little fun at the same time.

        Little did I know that my innocent fifteen minutes of free association writing would generate so much angst. Fly tyers and fly fishers (men and women) who are miffed at the use of feathers as a fashion accessory. Animal rights activists. Cranky old men. A much wider range of folks than i usually correspond with on my blog.

        Please people, let’ not get this out of proportion. Actually, it is out of control already, judging from the comments. Fly tyers are an odd bunch. Please have a laugh and get on with our lives, whether we fish, tie flies, or wear feathers, and whether we are men or women, young or old, let’s let each other have the freedom to see feathers as we choose.

        And no more finger pointing and name calling please. You would be amazed at the number of comments i have deleted because they were just too mean.

        I chose to post most of them simply so others could see the passion and alternative ways of seeing the world, but if this continues to spiral out of control, i may just delete the post and try to pretend that this never happened.

        Peace to all out there in the blogosphere, tolerance, smile and laugh your way into the day.


    2. I put lots of dinner on the tableevery night putting all those purrdy feathers in girls hair! You should be embarrassed to be a female when you talk about other women like that, because of these pretty feathers make me a lot of money. I don’t fish and I don’t knock it [*%#$@]!

    3. The women putting feathers in people’s hair are doing so for a living which, by the way also puts food on the tables of their families. Think.

  9. Well my gosh you poor, poor things. I don’t have any feather hair extensions, but I have recently been laughing pretty hard at how much of a fit you men are throwing about it. It’s a fad – as such it will come and go. I don’t see how it’s silly for women to find a different purpose for something than men. …just because it’s women doing it, I suppose? Suck it up, geez. I’m so tired of you guys’ childish whining. Makes men look like the silly ones.

  10. I think fashion and fishing can be counted as equally irrelevant.
    You enjoy using these for fishing, others enjoy them for creating art. I don’t see the problem.

  11. I hardly see how it makes much of a difference what an individual uses the feathers for. Bait, hair, it’s very irrelevant in the end. These animals are slaughtered so their saddles can be strung up in a shop for profit. I very much doubt the roosters care about what their feathers are being used for. Hair or bait, the bird is dead regardless. And I very much doubt the people turning a profit worry about whether the feathers are flying off the shelves for fashion or sport.

  12. Until this trend finally dies off I’m going to be doing a lot less tying. Last week I finally found a grizzly 100 pk and it was almost $30?! Whole saddles going for $400?! No thanks, I’ll just wait until the non gender specifics find something else to decorate themselves with and our world returns to normal.

  13. Haven’t men and women adorned themselves with feathers since….. the beginning of men and women? And don’t at least the cranky men who posted here get a small chuckle at the thought of women across the country who just have to have a [rooster] feather dangling from their head?

  14. How many Turkeys are killed each and every year that end up on our tables for Thanskgiving dinner or Christmas dinner? Anybody stop to wonder where multi colored Craft feathers come from? They are TURKEY feathers. ALL OF THEM. Pink Orient, Lime Green, Hunter Green, Plum, Purple… where would all the crafters of the world be without those feathers? But you don’t think about the turkey as you’re using the feathers. Raising a Grizzly Rooster for its feathers versus raising all those chickens and turkeys for their edible value on our dinner tables is one and the same. The only difference is that the turkeys give us feathers as a bi-product of the polutry industry just as cows give us leather as a bi-product of the beef industry. Me, I’m hoping someone ate the Grizzely Rooster as then there was no waiste to the process.

    Think of that when you stop at McDonalds and pull the $4.00 out of your leather wallet to pay for your hamburger and fries. We are meat eaters folks, and I for one, like it that way. For those that don’t, can you imagine not using anything made of leather? No purses, no wallets, no tough as nails shoe laces….no leather interior in that spanking new car… no Suede coat…

    And as for “Cruelty free feathers”… yeah right. Every time I see that phrase — usually in a listing of feathers for sale – I think, “how dumb can people be? A person raising birds and managing to sell 500 supposid ‘naturaly shed’ feathers each week is lying their butt off — or they’ve got over a 1000 birds they they keep & house & feed… just as a hobby….? I don’t think so.

    But the fishermen, hey, I can feel for them. The price has shot up in response to the demand.

  15. I didnt know that those big, tough fisherMEN could whine so much! Girls, keep buying your feathers, no matter how hard they are to find. FisherMEN, try Esty. Plenty of chicks (pun intended) re-selling your dear feathers on there for about 8 times the price. SUPPLY AND DEMAND, fellas.

  16. I think this is great! I started tying flies 2 years ago and love it! I have a couple of saddles and now I can use the feathers that I was not going to use on flies for jewelry and hair accessories! I figure that if I can tie them onto a hook I can just as easily tie them onto earings and hair! Best of both worlds!

  17. Dear Jay, I’ve read through your post and I’m sorry that your hobby/passion is being tampered with by a new phase of fashion. However, Saying that using feathers for “completely irrelevant purposes” I have to disagree with. I’m a jeweler personally and I think that it is effecting all of us who didn’t anticipate this crazy blowout of feathers. My business is really effected by this and it’s made me quite sad. I am receiving orders and cannot fulfill them. I feel bad for everyone who is suffering from this and I think that claiming that your needs for something that you love is more important that others is an unfair statement. Just wanna throw it out there. Hope you can still find feathers….cause I can’t.


    1. Thanks Nici. Please understand that the blog post was a huge and will rant that was not meant to offend or judge fishing or get deep at all. This blog post has generated a zillion comments, many of which I have deleted because they – well – they were better off deleted than posted. The use of animal parts – feathers – for anything other than our survival calls some ethical questions into light. I eat meat, fish, and tie flies. All of these choices have consequences to animals. It simply is. I appreciate your effort to level the playing field and offer fair perspective. JN

      1. Tell you what….I just had to cancel a feather order that I’ve been waiting for since april. If you can give me a reliable source for saddles I will learn how to tie flies and send you some. I’m quite crafty. :>)

  18. Jay, How can I order some of your feathers? I am a hairdresser and these are the most beautiful ones I have seen! Please let me know how to order some. Thank you, Kathy

  19. Just laughing at the original post (stumbled upon it while looking for…uhh…well…hair feathers). I have enough sportsmen and fashionistas in my life to appreciate the angsty conflict. But mostly I appreciate a funny piece of “free association” when I read it. However, the picture on the blog header is creeping me out. Is it a fish? Is it a man? It’s like you are looking at me with a fish eye. Wierd.

  20. I dont see why you think that your hobby of fishing is more revelant than a craft/jewelry making one. We no longer depend on eating fish to survive. So your hobby is as useless as getting pretty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s