December 14, 2018

Nirvana 400 review

Some weeks back, Brent at DRAGONtail Tenkara let me know that they had a new rod in their premium tenkara rod line, the Nirvana 400.  I drove over to his office and borrowed one to do some measurements and fishing. I didn't pickup a rod tube, so I can't comment about it.

Nirvana is a subsidiary company of DRAGONtail with the rods being of a higher overall quality. These rods are IM12 graphite, and have a fit and finish a little better than the DRAGONtail line of tenkara rods. The Nirvana 400 fits these descriptions perfectly.

The rod is handsome with an overall dark charcoal glossy finish. Near the rod designation there is a section of cobalt blue coloration that is quite stunning to say the least! The graphite weave is visible on the rod designation portion of the handle section. These make the Nirvana 400 a very aesthetically pleasing rod.

The handle is very good quality cork with leading rings of cork composite. The overall shape is the classic camel or double hump shape. The length of the handle is 26 cm. The winding check fits tightly to the leading rings of the handle. There isn't any gap or slop.

The tip cap is a universal cap, not the usual tip plug that is so easy to lose. 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. It can be slightly difficult to remove the butt cap with gloves on.

The lilian is red and joined to the tip segment with a very nicely executed glue joint. The tip segment can be removed through the second segment so that the entire rod can be disassembled for drying and cleaning. The rod I used had a knot in the lilian, but I don't know if all rods will come that way. I don't normally use a lilian knot, but since this wasn't my rod I left it in place.

Here are my measurements:

Fully collapsed (with universal tip cap): 61 cm
Fully extended: 399 cm
Weight (without universal tip cap): 93.2 g
CCS/RFI: 19.5 pennies/4.9
Rotational Moment: 6.8

Rod Flex Index comparison chart. Click to enlarge. 

As one would predict from the Rod Flex Index (RFI), this rod has a softer, more mid flex action than its sibling, the Nirvana 370z. (I would personally like to see the 370z with this same flex profile; that would be some rod!) Because of its length, the Nirvana 400 does have some startup inertia, but this is to be expected. The action is rich and smooth without any clicking or wobbling. The end of cast dampening is very good. I can't detect any dynamic rotational symmetry either.

I fished the Nirvana 400 on a medium sized mountain stream with tungsten bead heads. My water is now pretty cold, and so the trout are all hugging the bottom. They will not come up for a unweighted kebari, so I have to go to them with competition style nymphs. The Nirvana 400 handled these heavy flies without any griping. I used a #3 fluorocarbon level line with the bead heads, but I also cast the rod with the #3 line and an unweighted kebari. There were no issues whatsoever.

Despite the RFI of 4.9, the Nirvana 400 has nice stiffness in the lower segments. Fish were easily controlled in faster water and with the length of the rod, lack of leverage over the trout was never a problem.

Conclusion: I like this rod. I also really like where DRAGONtail Tenkara is going in development of their product line. Both Brent and Brandon (of Moonlit Fly Fishing, a sibling company to DRAGONtail) listen to customers comments regarding their products, what they like and what they would like to see changed. Also, these guys are trying hard to push their products in a way to advance tenkara but still keep tenkara affordable. The Nirvana 400 is an excellent example. It is a quality tenkara rod that can hold its own against any 400 cm tenkara rod out there. Sure, the Nirvana 400 is not an Oni Type-I, but it's a whole lot more versatile than the Oni T-I, and I bet it will cost a lot less, take more of a real life beating, and fight larger fish better too!

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 was loaned the Nirvana 400 and returned it to DRAGONtail Tenkara after this review.


  1. I am struggling to search specific rod reviews. Can you assist me in where or how I can do this? Thanks in advance.

    1. Unfortunately Blogger doesn't have a good search engine feature. The easiest way to search for specific rod reviews published on Teton Tenkara is to use Google. In Google type Teton Tenkara, followed by the rod you are looking for. If I've done a review for that specific rod Google will show the review link in the search results.