What are a chicken's hackles?

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A chicken's hackle feathers are the feathers around the neck. These feathers can sometimes be showy in roosters. People that "fly tie" (for trout fishing) usually use long, slender hackle feathers from a rooster. Hackles are actually differently shaped in hens and roosters. Rooster hackles are longer and pointier.

But don't be fooled. Hen hackles can look a little pointy, too. However they're not as thin or as long as rooster feathers. Take a closeup look at hen hackles:

Now here's a closeup of rooster hackles to compare:

Notice that you can really tell more of a difference in the slender shape of the hackles further up the neck toward the head, rather than where they meet the body feathers.