February 20, 2014

Nissin Air Stage Honryu 380 -- review

There are tenkara rods, and then there are tenkara rods. The first type are made by anybody, telescope, have a lilian, and can cast a line. The second type are works of divine engineering, that make your line sing, almost cast themselves, and take the art of tenkara to a whole new level. I have reviewed a lot of rods over the past two years, but I have not reviewed one like this -- the Nissin Air Stage Honryu 380.

The Nissin Air Stage Honryu 380 (NASH 380) is a tenkara rod designed for "mainstream" fishing. In contrast to mountain stream fishing, in which tenkara sized fish max out at about 12 inches, mainstream waters are wider, lower gradient, and have larger fish -- in the 14-18 inch range. Mainstream rods are designed to have the extra reach and ability to handle a little larger fish clientele.

The NASH 380 comes in the classic Japanese plastic carton with rod sock. No tube and nothing fancy. The first thing you notice is how long the shipping tube is. Then next thing your notice is how long the rod is! Unlike most of the tenkara rods that I have, excepting the Shimano Mainstream ZE, the NASH 380 is crazy long when fully collapsed. At first I thought there had to be a mistake, but no, it really is long. Notice the picture of it along side the Mainstream ZE (another long collapsed rod) and the Shimotsuke Ten (a more typical 380 cm tenkara rod).

Left to right: Shimano Mainstream ZE, Nissin Air Stage Honyru 380, Shimotsuke Ten

The NASH 380 has a glossy dark brown finish with lighter, terracotta colored accents on the tips of the 3rd and 4th segments. This rod is only four segments, compared to the usual 7-9 for a typical tenkara rod. The handle has good to very good quality cork, is a reverse-half wells shape, and is 30.5 cm long. The winding check is silver.

Rod designation

The four sections of the rod

Photography enhances the cork defects. It looks better in real life.

Winding check

The lilian is red, is knotless, and is attached directly to the tip of the 1st segment. The glue profile is smooth and tight. The tip plug in black nylon and fits snugly. The butt cap is stainless, knurled, and has a small drain hole. There is a rubber bumper.

The rod fully extended is 383 cm. Fully collapsed, with tip plug, the rod is 111 cm. Without the tip cap the rod weighs 74 gm. I measure the rod at 15 pennies, which gives it a Rod Flex Index of 3.9. This puts the rod in the 5:5 action range, and when you feel this rod you'll agree. The COG is at 71.5 cm. Thus the Moment is 5.3, a very respectable number. This number shows that although the rod is 380 cm long it has no perceived tip heaviness.

Rod Flex Index comparison chart

Casting the Air Stage Honyu 380 is quite the experience. It is a tenkara rod that is right up there with the best casting rods that I own. This rod loads so smoothly and then unloads the line so perfectly that it is one of those rods that seems to cast itself. I prefer using a #3 level line with it. There is no overshoot, unless you push it too hard, and no tip oscillation. It is a joy to fish with.

Because it is a full flex rod, effort of fighting the fish is dependent on the size of the fish and the current speed. I fished this rod in a mountain stream that has a moderately high gradient and moderately fast water speed. Hooking the fish is easy; just lift the rod tip. But because the rod flexes so easily I found myself loosing more fish (long line release) than I usually did with a stiffer rod. You have to keep full pressure on the fly during the fight or the tip may flex or bounce and allow slack to form in the line. This reduces the pressure on the fly and out it comes (I fish barbless)! It's not a big deal; it just takes a little practice and adjustment in how the rod is manipulated during the fight. That's one downside to fishing many rods with different flex profiles. They all fight fish differently.

Conclusion: I really like this rod. The Air Stage Honryu is a finesse rod that is fun to use, casts silky smooth, and fights fish well. It is balanced about as good as any 380 cm rod that I have used and is lightweight in-hand. It responds to a light level line perfectly; I did not fish it with a furled line. One caveat when fighting a fish: keep steady pressure on the fly or due to rod flexibility you might "long line release" a few more fish than usual. This pressure does not have to be very much, but it must be there to ensure the ability to bring the fish to net.

This is an amazing, premium, Japanese tenkara rod that is pure fun to use! Want one? You can get one from Chris at Tenkara Bum. Chris is your premium Japanese tenkara, keiryu, and seiryu rod supplier with 5-star service.

I've already posted the video but if you want to see it again, it is in this post.


  1. Tom, very nice review. I've often thought the best casting rod would be one piece. But it would be impossible to transport. The next best option would be fewer but longer sections. If you can tolerate a collapsed rod that is 12 to 16 inches longer than other rods it would be interesting to experience the difference in casting. DW

  2. Very good review, thank you very much for sharing

  3. Tom, you might find these measurements for the Royal Stage Honryu 390 interesting.
    Since according to Tenkarabum it appears to have replaced the NASH 380.
    Wt .086kg, COG= 60.8cm, Moment= 5.23