Fly-fishing has a hairy problem

There’s a new threat to one of our favorite pastimes. Fly fishing is facing some troubling competition, but not from a direction you’d expect.

My dad and I are planning a fly-fishing float trip down the Hoback River in September, and Dad recently stopped at a fly shop in Casper to pick up some fly-tying supplies. He wants to get a bunch of flies tied up before we head for Jackson, and hackle material is at the top of his list.

Unfortunately, this was the fifth or sixth fly shop he’d visited, and not a single one had any hackle left on the shelves. He finally asked the guy behind the counter at the shop in Casper if there was a shortage of hackle birds or something.

The guy told him there’s no decline in supply, but the demand has gone through the roof lately. Dad figured that meant there were probably more people fishing than ever before, but the guy corrected him again. He said all their hackle feathers were being sold as quick as they got them in to women. It turns out they’re the latest rage in hairstyles.

This has serious implications for fly tying. It seems if this continues, we’ll have to either raise our own birds for hackles or – and I hate to even suggest this – buy them at hair salons.

They couldn’t possibly use all those hackle feathers in hairdos. I mean, unless a woman wants to walk out of the salon looking like an extra from Hitchcock’s The Birds, she probably doesn’t want to have more than a few feathers in her hair. I could be wrong, though. Maybe women have finally figured it out. Maybe it’s a new strategy women are using to get their husbands’ and boyfriends’ attention. I know if my wife came home from the hair stylist with a hackle’s worth of feathers in her hair, I’d take notice. I’d probably even follow her around like a puppy dog, gathering up hackles as they got loose and fell out.

If this trend continues, that may be the only way we’re going to get our hands on them, anyway.