April 29, 2019

Nissin Tenkara Mini - review

The other day I decided to try to fish a stream that is usually not blown out during the spring run-off. Most all the other streams in my area are running very high and are chocolate brown, as the record snows we reviewed this last winter are now melting. This creek that I chose is spring fed and is relatively protected from such seasonal fluctuations in water levels.

It's up a trail a ways, however. So to get there you have to drive into the mountains and then hike into one of the canyons. Because of this, I thought it would be the perfect place to test out the Nissin Tenkara Mini tenkara rod.

The Nissin Tenkara Mini is a recently released packable rod designed to go anywhere with as little of footprint as possible. It is related to the Nissin Pocket Mini, but unlike the Pocket Mini (a keiryu rod) the Tenkara Mini has a cork handle and is designed to handle a heavier tippet. The Pocket Mini is rated for a 6.5X tippet, while the Tenkara Mini is rated for 5X to 3.5X tippet. The two rods are the same in nested length but the extended lengths are different. The Pocket Mini comes in 270, 300, 360, 390 and 450 cm lengths, but the Tenkara Mini comes in the 320 cm length only.

The Tenkara Mini comes in a standard, albeit very short, plastic carton with a rod sleeve. The rod is charcoal black in coloration and glossy in finish. There are a few simple silver accent painted rings on the lower sections, but other than that, there's not much adornment. There is a gold anodized metal ring near the tipward portion of the handle section. It has a white star on it.

The lower sections are thinned walled, like the Pocket Mini, and deform slightly under squeeze pressure. I don't think they deform as much as the Pocket Mini's segment do, however. I don't have a Pocket Mini anymore so I can't measure the deformation. I'm going by my memory and it seems that the Tenkara Mini has a little stiffer wall.

The handle is very good quality cork and is 18.7 cm in length. It does have a slight camel or gourd shape but the upper part of the handle is not nearly as prominent as the butt end. The handle is more pear shaped IMO than camel or double humped shaped. The winding check is gold anodized metal and has a white oval noting the front of the rod. On the back it has printed "Made In Japan".

The tip plug is black nylon plastic and fits snugly into the handle section. The top of the plug is thin enough in profile that it would be more challenging than usual to drill a hole for a lilian loop. The butt cap is also black plastic with a gold ring. On the ring are the words "Hyper Tool For Active Angler". The butt cap is slightly knurled and looks similar to the butt cap on the Zerosum and Oni Honryu line of rods, but it is a different size so they are not transferable. There is no decompression hole. BTW, this rod won't accept a universal (Fuji-style) rod cap, due to its design.

The lilian is red in color and thin. It is attached to the tip section with a perfectly executed glue joint. The entire rod can be disassembled for cleaning and drying. BTW, there are 18 sections in total.

Here are my measurements:

Fully extended: 330.5 cm
Nested (with tip plug): 24.5 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 52.4 g
Wall thickness of tipward end of segment 17 (the one next to the handle section): 0.28 mm. I don't have a Nissin Pocket Mini 360 available to me, but if you do, and if you have a micrometer, please measure the wall thickness of segment 17 (the end near the paint accent ring) and let me know. I'd like to know if the Tenkara Mini has a thicker wall.
CCS/RFI: 15 pennies/4.5

Casting this rod is fun. It is very lightweight in the hand and has excellent balance. The action is stiffer than most Nissin 7:3 rods that I have felt. Even though the RFI is in the low 6:4 range, the rod feels stiffer than what it measures at. I suspect that might be due to the large number of joints and it's aggressive taper. Still, it's a great casting rod. I used a #3 level fluorocarbon line under breezy conditions, and I had no trouble controlling the line and getting the fly to its intended target.

I don't perceive any rod tip overshoot or oscillation. Dampening is excellent as well.

I have fished the rod on the small creek I mentioned above. I caught native cutthroats in the 8-12 inch range. It easily handled these fish even when they shot into the current and ran downstream. Hook sets are quick and decisive. Fish control in tight quarters is excellent with only a little arm movement to direct the rod tip.

Fly: #10 Killer kebari

Conclusion: I really like this rod. I'm hoping it is more robust than the Pocket Mini, but time and fishing will tell. Even though it's rated for 5X-3.5X tippet, I'll be using mine only with 6.5-6X tippet. That should be more than ample for the size of trout I usually catch. I do look forward using the rod on some hiking excursions. It's so small that you'll barely notice it's there! It's even shorter (and lighter) than the Tenryu TA39TF, but the Tenryu gives you more length options (and is more robust in build). I like the action of the Tenkara Mini better than the Tenkara USA Hane and the Nissin Ramon 360 7:3, and the quality (and flex profile) is much, much better than the Tenkara Rod Company's Mini's.

Nissin Tenkara Mini and Tenryu TA39TF

So, I think it's a great rod. It's durability has yet to be proven but it's made in Japan by Uzaki Nissin and it has the potential to be an outstanding pack rod. The Pocket Mini has been received well, despite it being quite fragile. I think the Tenkara Mini will be an even better choice for those looking for an ultra compact tenkara rod that actually has a pleasing action.

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. Don't just take my word for it.
I have no affiliation with Uzaki Nissin. I purchased the rod at full retail price. 


  1. Sweet rod Tom but my gosh 18 sections! I'd take it apart for cleaning and never get it back together again.

  2. I am glad you reviewed it. Wish I had a way to measure the wall thickness of my pocket mini... I have snapped that thing twice, both on snags... first time I fell, second time was my fault, snapped on a cast, it had snagged the back cast but I wasn't aware. If this is more durable I'd love to have one... if not, well then I can do without :) Looks great. Just curious, why weigh without the tip plug? Any chance you can tell us what the tip plug weighs so I can get an accurate weight on the rod all in?

  3. Seems like the reason to weigh without the plug is that is the way you actually will fish with it.

  4. Seems it comes in 2.7, 3.25, and 3.6 m long now.