December 11, 2014

Nissin Royal Stage Tenkara 400 7:3 rod -- review (part I)

I have really liked my Nissin rods, the main one being the Zerosum 360 7:3. So when I saw that Chris at Tenkara Bum was now carrying the Nissin Royal Stage rod I really wanted to test one out.

Nissin is a well established tenkara rod company from Japan. Their rods are high in quality, very functional, beautifully designed and built. Nissin does use the 5:5, 6:4, 7:3 flex ratings for their tenkara rods but I have always felt that they over estimate the rating for any given rod. My Zerosum 360 7:3 feels much more like a 6:4 than a 7:3, and the 6:4 tenkara rods I have used feel much more like 5:5 rods. This is not a bad thing, but it just emphasises that one company's 6:4 rating is not the same as another company's rating. A Daiwa 6:4 is totally different than a Nissin 6:4.

The Royal Stage Tenkara is true to the Nissin standard -- beautiful in design and form and very aesthetically appealing. I have the 400 cm 7:3 rod, so that is the one I'll be talking about.

The rod comes in the standard clear plastic carton so typical of Japanese rods. A black fabric rod sleeve is provided. The finish of the handle section is clear coat glossy, the carbon fiber weave is very evident and the coloration is blue to aqua marine. Gold painted bands provide accent. The upper sections of the rod are glossy black accented with a single thin gold band. It is not as ornate as the Zerosum line of tenkara rods, but it is still very attractive.

The handle is 27.5 cm long and has high quality cork with little filler. The overall shape is the same as the Zerosum tenkara rods; a very well executed gourd or camel shape that fills your hand well and provides multiple different hand positions depending on how you want to cast the rod.

The lilian is dark red and is attached directly with a perfectly executed glue joint. This connection is smooth and small allowing the tip section to be fully withdrawn through the 2nd section for complete disassembly of the rod for drying and cleaning.

The tip plug is knurled gold metal with a plastic insert. It is quite ornate when compared to most other tenkara rods and is similar to the Zerosum tenkara rods. The butt cap is black plastic nylon, is rounded for comfort and has a rubber bumper insert. It is slightly knurled and there is no air hole.

Here are some specifications: Collapsed length is 57 cm. Fully extended it is 412 cm. Weight without the tip plug is 84.5 g. The Moment (mathematical estimation of perceived tip heaviness) is 6.9. Common Cents System rating is 20 pennies. The Rod Flex Index is 4.9 . This puts the rod right in the 6:4 flex range. See what I mean? Nissin rods are softer than their advertised flex rating, and the Royal Stage Tenkara 400 demonstrates that again.

Casting the rod is a joy, as with all Nissin rods. Since this rod is very long, 400+ cm, it does have some tip heaviness. This tip heaviness is predicted by the rod's Moment measurement, but it's really not that bad. Anything under a Moment of 7 is well tolerated and puts little pressure on your wrist and forearm muscles. Sure, it's not near the magical Moment of 5.2 that the Oni Type I rod has but no 400 cm rod comes close to that measurement. Still, a Moment of 6.9 is very respectable for a 400+ cm tenkara rod and it definitely better than most.  The Tenkara USA Ito has a moment of 7.84 at 390 cm, the Ayu II is 8.55, and the Tenkara Rod Co Owyhee is 7.9.

The rod has an easy, relaxed casting arc. It mates well with a #3.5 fluorocarbon level line. Casting precision is wonderful.

As for waters, this is a long rod. It is designed as a main stream rod, that is, large open streams and small rivers. I suspect it would also work well on ponds, lakes, bayous and all such open waters. I did not fish it on still waters however.

Coming up in the near future is part II of this review.  At that time I'll talk about it's function on the water; how it hooks, plays and fights fish.

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