Whiting Eurohackle, fashion killed the fly tyer

Articles, featured — By on February 26, 2011 9:57 am

So by now I’m sure you’ve heard of the crazy demand of Whiting Eurohackle and other various saddle hackle. Those long flowing feathers that make Musky inhale streamers and can pull a winter steelhead from it’s hold to eat and intruder…

Yup those are the ones.
These saddles have never been cheap, usually around $50-$60. But now prices are throught the roof with the latest fashion trend. Feather hair extensions

Stories of fly shops being bought out in one day and high bidding prices, have been spreading though fly tying circles for the past few weeks, but now it appears there are no more to be found. This is a welcome new business at fly shops around the nation, but has left tiers lacking supplies.

Whiting has made a change to their product line to meet this new demand, but this fix the shortage. The 2011 harvest numbers are fixed. There is no way to create more saddles to meet the demand, at least until 2012. So it leaves the question;

As a tier do you horde your supply knowing that no more full saddles will be available?
Do you cash in by selling your supply, skipping on patterns calling for this material until the fad ends?

There are now rumors kicking around that with this shortage of Hackle, the hairdressers are moving on to Yak Hair. So cash in the 401K and make a run to your local shop…. 2012 will be the Year of the Yak

Read part2 of this ongoing topic
PART 2- retail impact

From Whiting…

Dear Whiting Farms Customer,

Whiting Farms is experiencing an unprecedented onslaught of orders for our EuroHackle saddles. This is not just from the fashion world, but largely from the fly fishing pro shops that have new customers coming to them to buy our dry fly saddles for use in various fashion modes; hair weaves, ear rings, jewelry and crafts. This new traffic and business is welcome by the pro shops but we are faced with a real dilemma: orders vastly exceed supply! Understandably the shops that have put in orders to Whiting Farms, of any quantity, and are very keen to get them filled. But the number of saddles being ordered simply doesn’t exist. We wish we had as many saddles as everyone wanted. The crop of EuroHackle roosters to be harvested for 2011 is fixed and no changes can be made. Increases in production of this product line have and are being made, but the increasing numbers will be gradual and won’t really be seen until 2012! Therefore we have been intensely pondering how we can most equitably allocate what saddles we do have coming to harvest in 2011.

The only fair way, I feel, is to divide and conquer. By this I mean we are going to disassemble our EuroHackle saddles and repackage them in a new product line called the “Whiting Fashion Pack”. Sixteen long feathers of a single color will be affixed on our branded board, very much like our Whiting 100 Packs, but not sized as to hook size. The suggested retail price will be $20.00 […] Most of the customers wanting these fashion feathers are wanting to experiment and so the smaller quantities will be welcome and more appropriate. The lower price point will encourage them to possibly buy a range of colors or several packs. A full or even half EuroHackle saddle is usually too many feathers of only one color for any hobbyist anyway.

In order to do this more fair allocation of our limited EuroHackle saddles we will have to cease selling full or half saddles as a product line. We are making an extra effort to keep our flagship Whiting dry fly saddles, and the new High and Dry saddles, in good stock to supply all the fly tier’s needs.

We appreciate your understanding of these needed changes.

Sincerely, Tom Whiting

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Whiting Eurohackle, fashion killed the fly tyer, 4.8 out of 10 based on 9 ratings


  1. Ross Slayton says:

    This really sucks! Is nothing sacred anymore? Why don’t those fashion nazi’s develop their own line of feathers instead of being lazy and cleaning the tyers market out like a locust infestation?!?!

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  2. Jim Chalkley says:

    This is just a fad. Your beauty supply and hair salons will be a great place to find cheap feather, once, the fad is gone. Most will over buy and will be stuck with the extra. Keep a eye on ebay.

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  3. Murray (lykos33) says:

    So, Whiting is going to basically tell their preeminent buyers,”Oh , sorry we don’t have anything for you”, while selling short term to a bunch of flakes who want feathers in their hair. They are lucky to be the top hackle supplier to fly tiers or they might just be told to go “F” themselves. In light of their announcement, I think I may look at other suppliers who realize who their day in day out buyers are and appreciate them!

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  4. Lori says:

    Fashion is fickle. This too, shall pass.The hackle producers will breed more birds and when fickle fashion falls from favor fellow fly fishers find feathers frugally priced. Sorry couldn’t help it! :)

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  5. Paul Prentiss says:

    The short term economic benefit Whiting is enjoying may well have a long term negative impact. I was in Mexico recently and ran across an American gal peddling these feathers outside her salon in a resort community. I asked her the price of the saddles and was informed they were at a bargain basement price of $150 to $200 each. The old wholesale on these was something like $22.95 with retail from $35 to $40. I asked her where she got them…”oh I called a number of friends all over the US and had them stop by any fly shop in their area and buy what they could find. We actually found shops that would give us a discount on amounts over $100. We tried to buy direct but they were asking premium prices!”

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  6. Jersey says:

    We have recently instituted a fashion-feather buy-back and recycle program. In order to alleviate suffering and predatory fashion-niesta practices, our company will buy used fashion feathers for $0.01/ea in premium condition. Lesser condition feathers will be downgraded accordingly. Contact us at http://www.you-are-stupid-so-we-are-taking-advantage-of-you.com

    Go Green or better yet, just go home!
    Noe Foresight
    CEO Ysataoy Ltd

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  7. beth says:

    Alright, guys…

    I’m totally going to get flamed for writing this..

    Not all of us are trying to exploit the fly fishing industry to make an EXTREMELY profitable dollar from unsuspecting women. The girl you mentioned in your post seems like a jerk, as well as this girl, who sells her earrings for over $100 a pop:

    I am a feather artist who has been selling earrings and hair clips made of rooster and grizzly rooster feathers since 2007. I have been using your feathers for a long time and all my earrings sell for under $25 apiece. I feel your pain that currently supply < demand, and my own sales have been tremendously impacted with the beauty stores buying out all the feathers in the past few months.

    Throughout my journey as an artist, I have perfected the art of wire wrapping groupings of feathers, which has drawn me into an interest in learning how to tie flies. I am enrolling in a fly tying class next semester. I'm an outdoorsy type and have been fly fishing several times times. So please don't stereotype all of us as fashion-obsessed trend following divas. You have probably drawn several women towards the sport.

    My art is my passion and I will continue to use feathers even after the trend has passed. I can't wait for the trend to end so I can get back to business as usual.

    So flame away :)

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  8. Zach says:

    This is just what Whiting needs…..another reason to raise prices! In my own opinion, his capes are so far over priced that I quit using them years ago. It’s really messed up when someone can control a market and price everything at whatever they want. I’ve noticed that other hackle farms have raised their prices accordingly over the past few years just to keep their more sanely priced genetic hackle from looking like it must be junk due to it’s having a much lower price. Tom Whiting….it’s time for a reality check!

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  9. Jim Magee says:

    Three Letters: CDC

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  10. Chuck Collins says:

    I don’t understand why everyone is whining here. These hackles have been on the market foe years. You should have had time to build a sufficient supply to weather the fad. Tom Whiting and others have invested a lot and taken quite a gamble to bring these wonderful items to us and have had some years that were real tough. Now they have a break and a chance to maybe get a little extra and eveyone screams. I started tying years ago when there wasn’t anything this wonderful to tie with. If it isn’t worth it or you haven’t prepared, don’t cry, adapt.

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  11. JOshua Olson says:

    SOLUTION: Date one of those “featherheads” and take the feathers. Its a WIN WIN. Gotta think outside the box boys.

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  12. Steelie says:

    That’s what I plan on doing.

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  13. annarbormartin says:

    Who calls themselves a feather artist? When someone gathers feathers with hot glue and sells it for hundreds its call scam artist! Honestly what’s next? And for the guy whining about everyone whining about this issue, you know better. Any issue that potentially prevents a bunch of grumpy old guys from fishing its a big deal. It had to of been a big enough issue for you to post something on here!

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  14. RF says:

    To echo the comment about adapting, I found that going to craft stores saves me a ton of money on fly tying material (http://reelfly.wordpress.com/).

    Most of it is synthetic materials, beads, marabou, and small feathers, but it sure beats paying extra at fly shops or by ordering directly from the supplier.

    I hope hackle companies, like whiting farms, can work this out so they can benefit without hurting the end consumer. The same consumers that have keep them going for so long. I know of a bunch of people and retailers that are smart enough to find a different hackle company if it came down to it.

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  15. Robert says:

    This will only be short term gain for them. Allot of money at first yes. Fly shops in a struggling economy not able to get supplies will feel it’s affects & claim a few dealers. Which will be there fault. Less fly shops mean less dealers. Fashion comes & Goes & when that happens there won’t be shops buying there stuff cause they won’t exist.

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  16. FLYTRAP says:

    I have spoken to several groups of women in my association with a few clubs and organizations and the general opinion is that they have no interest in spending the type of money necessary to purchase feathers for their hair and jewelry. I totally believe that it is nothing more than a fad which will dry up as others have. Bigger cities will cost tyers some feathers but small towns with poor economy equals “NO SALE!”.

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  17. Star says:

    Evening all, I’m with Beth above. I have been making feather earrings for the past two years, when it was still kosher to share the hackle supplies with our fly tying brothers. This trend has put me in a bad postion too and seriously thrown a wet towl over my little upstart jewelry biz. I never started this to take advantage of any flash in the pan trend, I did it because the feathers are beautiful and this is something that is special to me. I stand with you, I’m peeved too and I cant wait until this blows over. In the meantime I guess we’ll all take up a new hobby and/or find new and inventive ways to make it work. Neccesity is the mother of invention after all.

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  18. Doug says:

    Let’s look at the bright side of this. In a year or two, when this hair style trend has waned, fly tiers will be able to find these feathers at yard and garage sales. The price will be pennies on the dollar. The suppliers should be encouraged to sell as much as they can now because that will make the trend, “old fashion,” much quicker.

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  19. FeatherGURU says:

    Hey all, I too am absolutely pissed that these divas and queerdressers are jacking our saddles! What a ridiculous trend at all, and they have zero consideration for what is an important material for us fly tyers. Not surprised that Whiting has sold out- money is too good not too. Look on ebay- saddles of any kind of good quality are going for $300 to $500 each! And it’s certainly not just the Eurohackles as Uncle Tom would have us believe- ANY saddle that has good long feathers will NOT escape the clutches of your local hair diva!

    Now for the bad news…. I have talked to a number of people in the fashion and fly fishing industries about this very subject as of late… and while I agree that it IS a fad and will end, I don’t think it will be anytime soon. First, the trend started more than 5 years ago on the West Coast, and has just now hit full saturation across the country. Except for the fact that so few salons actually can get the feathers for the demand created by potential customers. When you have something like this in such high demand and in LOW supply, it only fuels the fire!

    Many fashion industry insiders agree that this trend will have legs for years to come- it’s more of a question with how the few suppliers in the world responds to it, whether they will continue to keep screwing the fisherman who literally financed the birth of their entire industry. Another problem is that this trend is already going GLOBAL, and we all know that most of the quality hackle is produced in North America and for once not in China! You have countries in South America, Central America, and Europe that are typically a year or two BEHIND us in following fashion trends. So when it finally dies down here in the homeland, it may just flare up all over the world, giving no rest to the serious shortage of saddles.

    And finally- EDITED BY ADMIN

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  20. DOUG STOUT says:

    HOLY COW!!!!!
    200, 300, UP TO 650 BUCKS FOR A SADDLE!!!!!!!


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  21. disgusted says:

    Disgusting. Roosters are raised and killed so that you can go fishing. You are no better than those purchasing the feathers for fashion.

    Get a life.

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  22. Dave Hise says:

    Honestly, I only tie and fish with nymphs and streamers so this doesnt bother me much. The hair weaves and jewelry makers are artists just as fly tyers so they have all the right in the world to use the feathers for their craft.

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  23. Bud says:

    I have a good friend that has a fly tying supply business for over 25 years. I have been buying from him since 1994. we were disuccing this situation this week, prices are ridiculous, some times double or more, it is not just Tom Whiting, they are all doing it. I have only one thing to say to them, “fashions change year to year, this business could end overnight.” fly tyers last a lifetime and so do their memories” My grandfather always told me U always stay with the one U brought to the dance.

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  24. Joe A. says:

    I have been tying for over 28 years and have a very good stock of feathers so I feel for you new guys who are just starting out. I was in my local fly shop yesterday and was discussing this topic with the manager. I had noticed that the price on the saddle packs were twice as high as before. When I commented on this, I was told this was the price for “non tiers” and my cost would be 1/2 that. An interesting solution. They make more profit from the fad, and keep customer loyality from the fly tiers. I could always sell off my stock of feathers and use CDC or a synthetic method to float flies if push comes to shove. Or go wth wet flies.

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  25. Grim Reaper says:

    I think the guy in the fly shop at the 1/2 off deal has the right idea. But Breaders are showing how loyal they are to us! Yea Right!!!
    Or you can ask a buyer what is your favorite pattern and they won’t have one then I would just say don’t let the door hit ya in the ass. Problem is I can’t get them to sell to anyone. I did check out ebay what a sad joke!! It’s Pure BS.

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  26. Rod Grant says:

    Hey, everyone….there was fly tying before Whiting saddles. We used capes for dries and chinese saddles for saltwater flies. Sure, we only got one fly out of one or two neck hackles, but that was fine. I was discussing this whole thing with a customer and he said, “You have to realize there is a whole generation of tyers out there who haven’t tied with anything else. They’ll just have to adapt…they will survive….fly tying will survive.” How would they like it to go back to picking out the best dry fly quality India gamecock necks?

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  27. Mike Pierce says:

    Why do women have to constantly invade a mans’ territories. Is anything scred now?

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  28. Chuck C. says:

    I don’t understand some of the comments on here and I wonder how many of these overly negative commentors are died in the wool fly tyers. Haven’t you guys heard of necks? They are even better than ever and the pro grade Hebert’s (from Whiting ) are avaialble from $30 to $45 still and can usually be found if you look. I even found a brown saddle for $54 in Ennis, MT. So sell a saddle for $500 and buy 10 or 12 of these necks, which also have a better size selection to boot. And FeatherGuru should have enough left over to buy some Prozac also.

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  29. icetrout says:

    That’s OK, just wait till this FAD run’s it’s course & the chicken feather dealers will be giving them away! lol 😛

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  30. mt says:


    Funny how I just looked at your website and you now have your earrings priced at $52+ to $298.

    On another note, we recently had some friends stay with us for a few days and their 13 year old daughter was rummaging through my feather boxes with lots of envy in her eyes.

    The way I see it is this: fishermen are generally more picky about their materials than the fish that they are fishing for. Use something else, come up with new methods or materials, try different patterns you’ve never fished.

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  31. KPitt says:

    I have no problem with the Hackle Farms actually making some real money for a change. It is not going to be long term and the Farmers, have put a lot of time, effort and money into producing a very good product for us. I live just a short drive up the highway from Canada’s only true Hackle Farm and they have been spending time and money building there business the last few years, right now you can buy most any cape you want but he is out of saddles. Should I be upset because he is making money?
    It is pretty selfish of us to expect them all to just stick with fly tyers most of who are too cheap to buy good quality anything without whining about it, so if you don’t like the prices from a couple of years back, then you shouldn’t have paid them, or did you do it so you could complain.
    The Hackle Farmers no this is a short term market and when it is over the prices will find their happy spot and we can move on, but for gosh sakes your whining is embarrassing!

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  32. Don Bastian says:

    Here’s what really sucks: Not the hackle-hair-fashion trend, but this: My comment that I posted back in May – June, whenever – was deleted by admin I presume. When or why I don’t know. I can only surmise. I made two remarks – basically these:

    First, when looking at women with feathers in their hair, our (fly tyers) comments will change from the normal observations referring to “attractive” female anatomy to, “Hey would you look at the hackles on that!” I love the double entendre`. Why not?
    And secondly, I suggested we (fly tyers running short of hackle) should date women wearing feathers and “pluck them.”

    Nothing more than humorous redneck, blue collar humor.
    “That’s funny, right there. I don’t care who you are, if you don’t think that’s funny you need to get out of here…Larry the Cable Guy.

    My comments were deleted, and yet someone else can write his comment and conclude it with “F*** you Uncle Tom.” (Whiting). And it’s still here. That is what sucks more than expensive feathers. Sorry, I am getting less tolerant and more determined in my older age.

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  33. Kevin Hospodar says:

    Don- Your post was not deleted. You posted on this thread- http://hatchesmagazine.com/blogs/Hatches/2011/03/05/fashion-hackle-and-its-retail-impact/

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  34. Kevin Hospodar says:

    Also, I missed the 4-letter word and that comment has be editted

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  35. Don Bastian says:

    OK Kevin, time to eat crow. Which I need to do in this case. I apologize for my over-reaction…sorry…I’ll try to me more careful in the future. I had sort of a bad day today…

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  36. Kevin Hospodar says:

    no worries… thanks for bringing the innaproriate comment to my attention

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  37. Really? says:

    Wow, I always thought girls were drama queens but you people make guys look like little pussies. You’re being so dramatic over some FEATHERS. Seriously? Do you realize the hundreds upon hundreds of ways that you can tie flies? I’ve NEVER touched a rooster saddle and I’ve caught plenty of fish just fine. Not to mention ONE SADDLE has hundreds of feathers and can probably last you a few years. The truth is you all are upset because you don’t understand or like the fashion industry, so you spew all this sexist BS that makes me sick to be a guy. I know it sucks that Whiting basically sold out, but you should be angry at HIM not at these girls. I agree that the prices for a saddle are literally insane, so do the sensible thing and tie your flies with something else, it’s not like you don’t have literally thousands of other options to choose from. Bitching gets you no where, it only makes you even more pathetic than those girls you’re complaining about so much.

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  38. Harald says:

    The prizes are simply where the balance strikes between demand and supply. I really don’t understand why fly tiers believe that they have a fundamental right to cheap petrol. Or do I mix things up? All commodities with a long time-to-market can experience large price swings. Anyway, without joking, I also heard that the same thing happened to Marabou feathers last century, which suddenly became extremely expensive because they were in fashion. Now, a hundred years later they have come down in price…LOL

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  39. Baughb says:

    Uh… I just received the online article today (Jan 19th 2012)and there are no shortage or price gauging of hackle and even the junior high school girls AND cougars consider this trend passe’. So why is anyone talking about this and why waste space on you site for it?

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  40. Kevin Hospodar says:

    You will notice the publish date of (Feb 26 2011)almost a year ago.

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  41. Shawn says:

    Ok, right now supply is lower than demand. If production is bumped to compensate then supply will be greater than demand shortly. As far as Toms prices…well if you look at feed and fuel, that could explain a lot. I don’t think he is really screwing anyone. I would question someones desire to tie that didn’t have a few extra hackles laying around anyway. This fad will be gone before next fall or even summer. Hell they may be wearing skunk fur hats next. Just hang in there and keep ur lines tight.

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  42. erik wayne says:

    AS far as Europe doing anything rational,they are hung up on fake fur fake every thing for fishing (SEA KITTIES AS PETA SAYS) But will gladly use our feathers for nonsense. if we could convince them that cow dung was hip to harden and ware that would take care of this. In my own dealings with doing business with Europe, I find it was the right thing to do LEAVING there in the 1600’s. I lived there two times for about a year each, Sweden,then Italy. the people you meet daily are wonderful but somehow that get lost in a group. Nobody has any balls there!

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  43. scottiesflies_original says:

    If you aren’t tying #16, 18, and 22’s then you castill get suitable hackles at resonable rates, and I agree with who ever said that it is a passing fad, a couple of years and the fad will be on to some thing else (fingers crossed)

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