Feather hair extensions causing controversy

A fashion trend has fly fishermen fuming across the country: Feather hair extensions.

Rooster feathers meant to be used to lure in fish are being fastened on locks of hair on women of all ages. Hair dressers are buying out the supplies at tackle shops driving up the price so much, some fishermen won’t buy them.

From pre-teens to housewives, women are flocking to salons to get feather hair extensions, but do they know what they are putting in their hair?

Thanks to fashion forward rocker, Steven Tyler, the look is more popular than ever.

“I want those feathers like Steven Tyler has,” said Jack Hagan, one of the owners of Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitters.

Hagan said girls started coming in about two years ago buying all the colorful saddles of rooster feathers, causing the demand to exceed the supply, driving up the price over the past 18 months by 200 percent.

At Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitters the shelves are bare. Hagan said the hair industry wiped them out.

“The price is obscene absolutely obscene,” said Hagan.

“There are a lot of four letter words dropped on occasion, especially when they see the price tag on feathers now. It’s culture shock for us,” Hagan said.

The feathers are ideal for fly fisherman because they look like bugs and they are buoyant.

“Fly tiers aren’t buying them at all right now,” said Jason Osborn, a fishing guide.

“They are waiting for the fad to end. Some of them are disgusted, others get a laugh out of it,” said Osborn.

Beyond the fly fishing industry, the fad is ruffling feathers for a different reason. Roosters are being raised in battery cage warehouses, slaughtered for their feathers, but because of strict U.S.D.A. regulations their meat cannot be used.

At Studio Thirty in Northeast Portland, an eco-friendly salon, stylists are offering an alternative: hair colored to look like a rooster feather.

“We are trying to make the fad last longer with human hair so you are not using animal products to do it,” said Jenny Kilcoyne, a hair stylist.

Kilcoyne said she thinks this is the solution that will satisfy fishermen and fashionistas.