Understanding Hook Eyes Part 2: Types of Eyes
Tapered, Ringed, Loop… How do hook eyes differ and does it even matter in the long term? Our aim is to break down the function and purpose of hook eyes for the tyer and the angler. The second section will be on type of hook eyes.
Tapered eyes are most commonly found on trout hooks. Tapered eyes generally are round in shape. The wire for the eye terminates either into the eye or the end of the shank. The wire at some point, either at the end of the shank or just into the eye the diameter gets progressively thinner. The big advantage of tapered eyes is the deduction of bulk, which makes the hooks less front heavy and in the case of dry flies, easier to float. Tapered eyes are generally the weakest eye design, but are rarely ever used in large enough hooks that it would be the point of failure. Often a tapered eye on a trout hook is far stronger than the bend of the hook.
Ringed eyes or ball eyes (from a manufacturing standpoint) are extremely efficient to produce and are very strong. They have no taper coming off the shank and terminate into the eye or end of the shank. They are a staple predator, saltwater, stinger, straight eye steelhead and salmon, any application where hook strength is a must. Their downside can be their bulkiness (for some trout wet, nymph and streamer flies this is an added advantage) and they are not the most visually appealing for some fly designs.
A loop eye can be in a variety of shapes, but their common trait is rather than turning into itself, the return wire, as it is called, runs parallel to the shank before ending. It is considered a very strong type of eye, because when the return wire is tied tight to the shank when the fly is tied, and the pressure on the eye is split between both sides of the eye. Loop eyes are produced in tapered or untapered, with tapered generally representing higher quality hooks. The taper can start just before the start of the eye and ends at the tip of the return. Although there is extra material to create the return wire, it is minimal for the amount of strength the design offers. Loop eyes are available in any orientation, but are most seen on up or down eyes as the best way to increase strength. They are rarely used for straight eyes as a ringed eye is often the most efficient design choice, if less visually appealing.
When all is said and done, it is hard to day and design is best. It all comes down to application and angler preference. The variation of hook eyes serves in both practical application for fishing flies as well as a design and style perfect for tyers who like to dabble in the art of fly tying and presentation.