February 6, 2013

Nissin Zerosum Tenkara 360 7:3 rod -- review

As you may know, I have tried a lot of rods. Not as many as some, but more than others (I have not fished with as many as Chris Stewart -- it seems like he has fished with almost every rod out there and is such a great resource). Since being introduced to tenkara I have found a fascination with the design and use of these delicate, telescoping rods.  Like many of you, I love the tactile response that these rods give and the increased utility they provide on the water. It is because of this fascination that I have tried all sorts of rods. Well, I have another to introduce to you.


Tenkara ZEROSUM [zero-sum Tenkara]
Tenkara rod finest bears the "zero-sum" is born.

Funny Japanese translation and image from http://u-nissin.co.jp/product/item/id/010090275

I recently took ownership of the new Nissin Zerosum 360 Tenkara 7:3 rod.  This rod is new to the market this year and mine might possibly be one of the first in the US. This is my first Nissin rod and I must say that I am impressed!

The Zerosum is a fixed length rod, 360 cm when fully extended, 57 cm fully collapsed, weighing 67 gm (without tip plug) that is made in Japan. It comes in the traditional plastic carton usual for Japanese tenkara rods. It comes with a plush black rod sleeve as well.

Rod with rod sleeve

The rod is beautiful. I think it is the most aesthetically beautiful rod that I own. There is a dark red graduated coloration on the tip ends of the larger sections. These in turn have a thin, gold ring adornment to add to the richness of the design. The label section has a carbon fiber weave pattern underlying the stamped designation. The handle has a pronounced gourd or camel-back shape that is pleasing to hold. The cork appears to be of very high quality with little filler. The lilian is red and attached directly to the tip, not with a micro-swivel as with some rods. All of this makes a stunningly beautiful rod.



Of special note are the tip plug and butt cap. The tip plug is knurled gold metal with a nylon-plastic insert. It fits snugly into the tip end of handle section and because the nylon insert has very fine circumferential grooving, the plug grips the inside of the graphite tube making spontaneous dislodgment of the plug unlikely. The butt cap is also black nylon plastic with subtle knurling and a gold ring enhancement.  It screws into the butt of the handle and completes the handle's look by being rounded, instead of the traditional flat design.

Tip plug (note the grooving on the black insert)

Tip plug in the rod

Butt cap

The casting action of this rod is advertised as a 7:3, but when compared to my Daiwa 7:3 rods, such as my LT36 SF, the Zerosum feels just a little softer -- it has a little more flex when casting. I like that. I can easily feel the rod loading even with a level line, but unlike a 5:5 rod, this rod has more lower section stiffness for fighting fish. The cast is effortlessly smooth, without oscillation or over-shoot. It has excellent in-hand balance and being just 67 gm is wonderfully light (for a cork handled rod especially).

Stretch of the river fished: rapid, ice compressed current

The beginning of the "on the water" testing

On the water, the rod performs wonderfully. It is so light that you don't even appreciate its 360 cm length. Now, I know that tenkara rods are very light when compared to western rods, but this rod feels so much lighter than the usual tenkara rod that it is amazing (BTW, when I say tenkara rod, I mean a cork handled rod made for tenkara fishing). Only a few of my cork-less rods weigh equal to or less than the Zerosum!

The casting is buttery smooth. I used a #4 line today because of some wind, but a #3 line would be great with this rod -- even though it is billed as a 7:3. Slight movement of your forearm and wrist are enough to load the rod. To me, the Zerosum's flex and loading feels similar to, but smoother than my Tenkara USA Iwana 6:4 360 cm than my other 7:3 rods. Again, this is different than my Daiwa 7:3 rods or my Suntech Field Master. These rods require just a little more rapid upstroke to load; not much more but enough to tell the difference when casting. As far as targeting precision, I think the Zerosum is equally as accurate as these other two rods.
First brown of the day

The second brown

Now we come to a difference -- that is fighting a fish. Today I caught a fair number of smallish fish, 8-12 inches.  Since the fish were not very large I had no trouble controlling them despite a pretty brisk river current (fast enough in places that I needed my wading staff to keep from being pushed downstream). The rod bends nicely with fish of this size, but if I would have hooked a large trout, say 16-18 inches, I'm not sure that I would have been able to control them very well because of the current. Don't get me wrong, I think this rod could handle a 16 inch brown just fine, but the current of the stream may make all the difference. If I was routinely going after 16+ inch trout in a current like I experienced today I would choose the Daiwa LT36SF over the Zerosum.

Here are some of the other fish:

Bonneville cutthroat

Largest brown of the day

Largest fish of the day: another cutthroat

Conclusion: This is a very nice, premium tenkara rod. I really like this rod. I like its smooth casting, light weight, and Ferrari-like aesthetics. For tenkara fishing, targeting trout 6-14 inches, this rod is perfect. If I was targeting larger trout, however, I'd personally go with a little stiffer rod (so that I could control the fish a bit more) but that is just me; you may think this rod is just fine for large fish.

I think Nissin has a real winner with this rod. It will take a spot near the top of my rod collection! If you want one I suggest you contact Chris at Tenkara Bum.  I bet he could get you one.

Here is a video of the fish being caught:


  1. Nice report/review and pictures, thanks.

    1. It was an easy review since it is such a nice rod!!


  2. Enjoy your videos. Sure would appreciate you showing in the videos the flies you are using.

  3. Very good revisión. thanks for sharing

  4. Astonishing beauty!
    Congratulations Tom!

  5. Great review, Tom. I've already tried Zerosum 360 6:4 and totally agree with you.

    1. Thanks, Oleg. I bet the 6:4 is a nice rod as well!


  6. After fishing with a Zerosum seiryu rod and seeing the Zerosum tenkara rods at the Osaka Fishing Show, I'd have to say Nissin has some amazing rods with the Zerosums! Can't wait to get the tenkara rods in and fish with them. I think all three lengths 3.1m, 3.6m and 4.05m will be hits! (The rods don't zoom, they come in different lengths).

    1. So far, I think this rod has the potential to be one of my favorite or primary rods. I hope that even though it is very light weight that it will be durable over time. I guess time and fish size will tell!


  7. Tom your reviews are a great service to the tenkara comunity.
    Reading this and the one you made about the hirame 3.9 made
    me want to give a try on the hirame 3.6, 7:3 .
    My last rod with that configuration was the Yamame and i sold it cause it was way too heavy for my liking.
    I undestand tha the hirame may be not a big fish rod as the yamame was but as i prefer a light and more confirtable rod over any big fish catching, i wrote to Alla and jumped in!

    1. Hi BLATT,

      I really like my Hirame-ML-3909. When you receive your 3.6m carefully examine the handle end by removing the butt plug and looking inside. Make sure that the graphite blank comes all the way down to the plug. I have heard one report where this was not the case and so when casting the rod the butt cork broke off.

      My rod has had no issues whatsoever and has handled fish up to 20 inches in a brisk current.


    2. Thanks Tom.
      As this rod will travel overseas, I just emailed Alla and asked to carefully inspect the rod for any flaws before packing it.
      Anyway, when it arrives i'll pay attention to what you said!

  8. Hi Tom,

    Sorry to drum up an old post. I was considering this rod as a complement to my Nissin Pro-Spec 2way 360 7:3. I was also looking at the fujiryu 360 6:4. I especially like the way the pro-spec casts at the shorter length and was looking to replicate that 'feel' at a 360 length. I target trout in similar water maybe at times a little wider and deeper though not as fast. Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks always for doing your reviews. Dave

    1. The Pro Spec 7:3 360 has an RFI of 4.8 in its shorter configuration. The Fujiryu 260 6:4 has an RFI of 5.9. The Fujiryu will feel stiffer. The Nissin Zerosum 360 7:3 has an RFI of 5. It will "feel" much more similar to the Pro Spec's shorter length.

  9. Hey Chris, I'm wondering which of the two rods would be your go to between the Zerosum 360 or 400 in 7:3 and the Daiwa LT36SF??

    Or would you go for the 6:4 in Zerosum 400? I ask asthis is myvbnarrowed down choices for my first rod..

  10. Sorry Tom, Chris Stewart recommended those rods I may have called you Chris and my typing got ahead of my thoughts... I apologize..