Why use eyeless hooks?
Eyeless hooks are hooks without an eye or a spade end. They have a straight shank and are used for tying the traditional Tenkara flies. Why should we stick to tradition though? Are there any advantage to these hooks. I am not sure there is any huge advantage to eyeless hooks. Following are some of my thoughts on eyeless hooks.
Without an eye or a spade end there is nothing to get in the way of forming the loop of silk, braid or mono. The loop is thought to give more movement of the fly but I do not necessarily believe that. Tenkara Talk did some tank tests and the results were marginal. I could wish myself to see it.
What I do think is more relevant is that once a fish is hooked the loop acts like a flexible transition between the hook and the line. I'm sure I have lost fish due to the levering effect of flies tied to an eye. To my mind I think the loop acts as a dampener to the effect promoting a more positive hold that does not work itself free as easily. Perhaps this is why the silk is stiffened with a fruit juice by some of the recognised Japanese tiers so it can act as a buffer. If the loop was much more flexible then perhaps it would allow more movement of the fly. A flexible loop would not be as effective as a buffer to the hinge effect. I believe there is a compromise to be made. This is very much my own thinking and open to discussion.
The wire in these hooks is finer than on any western style dry fly hook I have come across but it still maintains the strength needed. A fine wire and sharp point make penetration of the hook easier. A Tenkara rod and rods used for leader to hand techniques, with their very flexible tips and the use of very fine tippet material means that you can't put much hooking power into the strike. The fine wire makes penetration and therefore hook hold easier. The result, fewer dropped fish.
Care does have to be taken not to bully the fish too much. Putting a full bend in the rod is going to straighten any dry fly hook, let alone a fine eyeless one.
With such light wire there is no weight to get a fly down. For a dry fly that is great, but as a wet fly hook that's a bit of a problem. I'm looking at ways of adding weight. Small tungsten beads (down to 2mm) a few turns of lead in the thorax. It's not a disadvantage I am too worried about because I can add weight easily.
The shape of these hooks is different to our eye, but similar to bait hooks in the coarse fishing world and klinkhammer hooks. Once dressed the thorax is slightly kinked away from the body so the hook can hang in a better hooking position for a dry fly. My feeling is that coarse fishing has put more thought into the shape of their hooks than the game fishing world because they, in some cases, use very light tackle with minimum hooking power. To have a similar shaped hook must have some advantage. This Japanese hook was developed for Ayu fishing and the shape has been perfected over a very long period of time.
Maybe there is not a huge advantage to this style of hook but perhaps a lots of little things that make up a significant difference. You'll have to make your own mind up which of the points I make you believe and what significance they have. One thing is for sure. I am very confident in the hooking and holding power of these hooks compared to western style hooks.
(Above: Comparison between A Gosen Torrents Ace hook and a Knapek size 12 Dry Fly Hook.)