July 9, 2017

Nirvana 370z Tenkara Rod by DRAGONtail Tenkara

I recently visited Brent Auger at the DRAGONtail Tenkara home office. He had sent me a text asking me if I would be interested in taking a look at their new tenkara rod. I responded "Yes!" and zipped over.

The new rod is called the Nirvana 370z Tenkara Rod. Officially, it's the first rod offered by the Nirvana Rod Company, a subsidiary of DRAGONtail Tenkara. The Nirvana line of rods are DRAGONtail Tenkara's premium rods, with high quality materials, advanced design and actions for American waters. The first in the line is the 370z. Here is what they say on their website:

The NIRVANA 370z Tenkara rod is made for American streams and rivers with a smooth cast and good backbone. This rod will be fun whether you are catching small mountain trout, blue gills, or decent river trout. The NIRVANA 370z is a zoom rod so you can fish it full length 12.25 ft when more reach is desired but zoom it down to 11 ft when fishing tighter streams. The rod is made to cast both Level Line and Tapered Line very well with a smooth casting action. This is no entry level rod, it is a high end series rod that also looks fantastic with graphics that are made to stand out.

The rod that Brent loaned me had a cork handle, but the rod is available with an optional foam handle (for those preferring foam over cork). It is very handsome with a charcoal/red crosshatch design on the rod designation portion of the handle section. The overall rod color is charcoal, but the handle and zoom section have red accents in their tipward ends. The rod can be fished in two length configurations: 330 cm and 370 cm. The rod comes with a stretchy sock.

The handle has a camel or double hump shape, but it's subtle, and fits your hand nicely. The cork quality is high and without many defect. Cork composite rings are on the leading and trailing ends of the handle. Go ahead and stick your fly into them -- they will be fine.

The tip cap is a universal cap, rather than one of the plug-type. I like this -- most every rod I buy I store the tip plug and use a universal tip cap anyway. The butt cap is black nylon, rounded, and does not have any knurling or air hole. There are some subtle dimples, but they don't really help in removing the cap. The zoom post is a covered rubber style, rather than one with O-rings. It holds the zoom section very well, yet releases the section when you want to extend the rod.

The lilian is red and the glue joint is flawless. It is small enough for the rod to be completely disassembled for drying and cleaning.

Here are some of my measurements:

Fully nested: 57 cm
Fully extended: 332 cm, 370 cm.
Weight (without tip cap): 88 g
CCS: 20 and 21 pennies, respectively.
RFI: 6 and 5.7, respectively.

The rod is a nicely balanced. I fished it predominantly in the 370 cm configuration. There is no significant tip heaviness. The action is fast in both configurations. Yet, the tip is flexible enough to throw a #3 level line without effort. I did not fish the rod with a furled line. Casting accuracy was very good, even in a breeze.

I fished with rod using unweighted sakasa kebari as well as tungsten beadhead nymphs on a #3 level line. It handles both types of flies equally well. I caught about two dozen trout in moderately high gradient flows and the rod easily controlled each fish. I didn't catch anything very large, but the current flow added a significant amount of water resistance to each fish. Hook sets were quick and decisive.

Here is a video of some of the fish and conditions in which I used the rod:

Conclusion: This is a very nice rod. I have been fishing tenkara long enough to have seen the evolution of the tenkara rods available to American anglers from non-Japanese companies. As the years have gone by the rods have gotten better and better. This rod is no exception. Although it is a premium rod, it is still very affordable. If you are looking for the next evolution of tenkara rods, and yet one that is still affordable, consider the Nirvana 370z.

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. 
I receive advertising revenue from DRAGONtail Tenkara, but this does not imply a favorable review of their products. I was loaned the Nirvana 370z and returned it after this review.


  1. Good review as usual, Tom. I always look forward to your reviews and videos of newly released rods. The Dragontail Shadowfire has been my workhorse rod for a few years. How does the Nirvana compare to the Shadowfire? The flex/action measurements are pretty close on your RFI chart. Thanks.

  2. Wow, those hovering images were amazing... Seems like you're coming with new video ideas!

  3. How would you compare the 370z to the hellbender?

    1. Completely different rods, designed for different purposes. The Hellbender is a "big fish" rod which can handle 20+ inch trout, larger bass and some carp. Whereas the 370z is a standard tenkara rod designed for smaller to medium (16 inch) sized trout.