Getting Your Hackles Up

Video by Great Big Story

If you tie dry flies, chances are you have Whiting Farms hackles in your tying kit. This is a fantastic piece from Great Big Story on Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms and the raising of his roosters to provide the beautiful, high quality feather products.

A Brief History of Whiting Farms Inc

In the 1960’s good quality feathers for tying dry flies were nearly impossible to come by, and tiers had to rely on rather poor quality capes imported from India or China – basically just pelted village chickens.

Henry Hoffman set out in the mid 1960’s to find himself some grizzly chickens to raise for his own tying needs and potentially to develop into a marketable genetic hackle line. Because Henry Hoffman was a commercial fly tier, using the hackle in his own work, he brought an end-user’s perspective to his breeder selection. This tying performance criteria put Henry’s breeding program in a league of its own and earned the Hoffman Hackle rave reviews and a devout following. By the 1980’s the Hoffman Grizzly was world famous, almost legendary, and very coveted expanding his range.

Hoffman later sold his business to Thomas Whiting of Colorado. Whiting was then finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas, specializing in his particular areas of interest – poultry genetics and husbandry. Whiting had considerable industrial poultry experience, i.e., managing a commercial egg production complex in Colorado that produced 3 million eggs per week. Whiting worked with Hoffman on developing the Whiting Farms breeding program growing production from about 5,000 birds that first year (1989) to over 60,000 birds harvested in 2015.

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