Nissin Pocket Mini V3

Nissin Pocket Mini V3

Objective: To create the smallest, lightest most effective Tenkara system.

It has been a while since I have been this excited about a Tenkara rod. The last time was Tenkara USA's introduction of the Sato and Rhodo, two game changing rods that have profoundly affected my Tenkara. I'm really excited about the Nissin Pocket Mini because again, this rod will be a positive attribute to my Tenkara skill in it's compact size and will open Tenkara opportunities that would not have been available before owning this rod. 

The Pocket Mini is interesting because of it's size. Because it is so compact, it has really helped me focus on my Tenkara by helping me choose only what I need in building my kit. The interesting aspect about the rod is that I'll have it with me when I normally wouldn't have a rod. The purpose of the rod is pure Tenkara yet it lives somewhere between a back-up and a rod for travel and opportunity. An example would be when you travel for business or pleasure and you aren't carrying your gear but this rod (kit) is so small, there is no reason not to carry it with you everywhere you go. Especially in your carry on bag on a flight. I've had mine in my backpack on a desert mountain top 80 miles from the nearest trout stream. I didn't bring it with me to fish, it was packed because it is so light that it didn't matter, it has become a part of my base load. The rod is with me where ever I go and if a fishing opportunity comes up, I can capitalize on it.

The hardest thing about this rod is remembering that you have it with you, somewhere...

I've have now used my kit for what it was designed for, on unplanned fishing opportunities that proved to be successful and I am even more excited that it worked so well, just as I planned for an unplanned opportunity, I remembered it, pulled it out and used it to catch fish where I normally would have just wished that I could be fishing. I think in the future, as this kit is integrated into my life, I'll fish it even more and start planning more fishing time because it is so compact.

I've known about the Pocket Mini for a season or two but I didn't realize how cool it was until I began to understand that it was not a toy. It is a highly engineered nesting rod made for performance fishing. The "Mini" is my choice for travel, convenience or as a back-up rod for mountain stream trout. As I have investigated the rod, how others choose to use it, I found one user that chooses this rod to target bass. I certainly would not choose the rod for this type of fishing but I'm glad to note that someone does and has not had a problem with the rod as of yet. This is a testament to Nissin, a company that has been making nesting rods for decades now. The designer knew what he (or she) wanted to accomplish and has done a fine job in the Pocket Mini V3.

Larger than life

In creating my kit, there have been many variations, most have been in the way I carry it. The below pictures are from points in time where I had been happy with the carrying configuration yet after carrying it, baggage handling it so to speak, I realized that it was not minimal enough, still too bulky. It didn't disappear into my daypack or messenger bag like I wanted it to. So I looked at why and again realized that kit was designed with absolute minimal items for the most usefulness in catching a variety of fish. My kit needed to be small, unobtrusive and complete. I didn't need a holster although it is very useful. So I removed it. There are other items that I could remove from the kit but I see them as useful to catching fish.

My kit was specifically designed with the following in mind; to be small, compact and easy to bring along everywhere to catch fresh water pan fish and trout where I would not be planning to fish or have my chosen Tenkara equipment. The design of the kit is to be as minimal as possible so that I could carry it in my messenger bag, my backpack or bring it with me in my car, bike, train or how ever I travel. The kit also serves as a calling card in that I can show people the beauty of Tenkara, how efficient it is.

This rod and the kit have more than served it's purpose so far. On one opportunity that I had to use it to catch fish, when I normally would not have brought Tenkara gear, I was pleasantly surprised to catch fish and even teach Tenkara with it. That one singe occurrence has provided me with a great memory and a realization that this is not a novel rod. This rod is a big part of my Tenkara. The kit is like looking at my choices through a magnifying glass, focusing on each component, what works and why. The idea of the Nissan Pocket Mini V3 resonates with me and my idea of Tenkara.

I'm in my seventh season of Tenkara and I've learned quite a bit about this discipline by studying other Tenkara experts, researching history, paying close attention to current equipment and trends and most importantly, my own practice of it. The Nissin Pocket Mini kit that I've put together is born from years of Tenkara experience and knowing just how much equipment that you don't need.

In choosing a rod, I find the longest rod available to be an attribute. The 3.6m is my sweet spot for length on most of my streams. I feel it is on the longer side for some streams but right square in the middle of what Nissin offers. The shortest version is a 2.7m and the longest is a 4.5m and there are a total of 5 different sizes, my 3.6m is right square in the middle and my 4.5m is almost the longest rod I like to use. I now have a 2.7m, 3.6m and a 4.5m which makes up the core of my traveling Tenkara kit. 

There are a couple of aspects of this rod that work together to maximize it's performance. There are many more joints on this rod that are not found on other rods. Joints are typically a design problem of where to place them when creating a rod. The joints of this rod are thin and spread more through it's length and distribute the stiffer joint areas more effectively. More thinner joints over the length of the rod create less pressure on the joints and distributes the smaller, stiffer areas of the joint more evenly through it's length. Normally configured rods with fewer joints, the designer has to consider where the joints are placed in regards to the flex profile and that design affects the feel of the rod. On the Nissin Pocket Mini V3, the flex profile is smoother than regularly designed rods. You can easily cast the longer versions with the butt of the rod in your palm. This is a style of holding a rod that I enjoy and the rods diminutive size and weight creates a rod where I can cast this way with minimal effort. The rod is thin towards the tip where it is moving through the air fastest. This creates a rod that has a nice smooth stroke with very little wind resistance. The flex profile of the tip is soft and the action is a med soft tone 7:3ish in profile. There are 20 sections in the 3.6m version and 25 sections for the 4.5m. It is quite interesting to keep opening and opening the rod to it's full length and even more interesting to nest it after using it to catch fish.

I believe that this configuration of rod is the future of Tenkara rods, especially for anglers looking to maximize the attributes and minimize the bulk of a Tenkara system. Rods that are light in hand, easy to cast, catch and carry, rods that will go anywhere in your pack or traveling with luggage, their compact size no longer an issue of how or where to carry them.

I asked Keiichi to contact Nissin for more information on the Pocket Mini V3. Below is what Nissin sent to him. I would like to know the name of the angler or the team of angler/engineers involved.

1. Portability: Firstly, the main design concept of Pocket Mini V3 was the portability. At that time all the portable keiryu rods were not compact enough to house in a Japanese standard sized bag, always the top part of the rods were out from the bag. Nisshin wanted the dependable fishing rod that we can put completely into the bag, and they launched the product development from there. 

2. Action: Normally the rod action becomes stiffer if we make the rod with more number of the sections. Besides in case of the ultra-compact rod, folded length is only 25cm, this phenomenon become even more conspicuous. Designers have been very distressed to this part, but they finally made up very smooth first action 4.5m keiryu rod with surprising 25 sections with the technology and know-how Nisshin cultivated over the years. Also Nisshin made 25 rod sections fit into only 22.7mm base-diameter rod end with special technology of carbon mixing.


Contents of my kit

1 Nissin Pocket Mini V3 2.7m - 3.6m - 4.5m with rod sleeves
2 Small + Micro Pack with string strap
3 6 Compartment plastic box with hair tie
4 Kebari
5 Stuck section pads
6 Nipper on a fly line lanyard
7 Needle holder
8 Yamawa card spools with line
9 7x Tippet

As far as carrying the components of my kit, I choose a small pack that I can hang over a shoulder. My Kaizen pack is very small already and I knew that I could trim down to ONLY what I needed so I picked out a small pack that has a zippered opening and an outside slip pocket. I like this configuration but I had to adapt a small pack that is made to attach to a larger pack. So I made a nice strap out of some 1.5mm cord. I braided a small length where it goes over my shoulder to prevent it from slipping around. It is not necessary but lends a little customization. I allowed myself to do this out of function.

My fly box is a small plastic six compartment that I received from Yuzo Sebata, a friend in Japan that I admire and learn Tenkara from. This type of box is not hard to obtain but the fact that it is from my Japanese mentor, it is special to me. The lid is held tight by friction so I use a hair tie to secure it if it drops. 

For my line spool, I use a plastic Yamawa card spool, you can't get any more simple or light than this economical spool. I use them even as a first choice when I am carrying my usual Tenkara gear.
I carry an additional line in a small zip lock bag. Just in case. I use Sansui "Pink" #3 for the Nissin Pocket Mini.

For tippet, I choose 7x fluorocarbon. This rod is petite and I want to protect it. Having a fly go into the trees or hung up where you can not reach it, you can break the tippet and that will prevent you from sticking the joints together on this rod. 7x also loosens the kebari up in the flow and helps to catch fish that are line shy.

I carry an old favorite nipper attached to the strap on my pack. Craig Thoreson gave me a gift of a Abel nipper and that is what I use when I am planning to go fishing. My favorite old Anglers Image nipper is petite and I've carried it for years so it lends some familiarity to my opportunistic kit.

I find that a needle driver (hemostat) is as necessary as a hook is to fishing. I've used a "Derf Needle driver" for 20 years. For my kit, I bought a new one off of eBay, it was less than ten dollars for a nice stainless steel made in Germany version. 

I carry a little more than a dozen kebari which I have chosen from experience. The patterns that I have chosen have proven effective to me in a wide variety of streams and situations. The Ishigaki style kebari, Amano kebari and a couple of my own design as well as a white Sakasa kebari are quite a selection. I also carry three of each pattern. I allow myself a couple of beaded caddis nymphs. I have saved so many fishing trips by having a couple of these along that my minimal kit deserved to have them.


The creation of my minimalist kit has been fun. I am now in my seventh Tenkara season and the reason why transitioned into Tenkara was efficiency. Building this kit has been like the early days of realizing how well Tenkara works. The exercise of looking at each component of this kit has re-invigorated my Tenkara. I started this project with the decision of having just one rod length, the 3.6m and now I have added a second length, the 4.5m. Where I fish in tight overgrown streams, I need a rugged rod like the Tenkara USA Rhodo. I am constantly hitting my short rods against trees, snagging a kebari high in a tree. The Nissin Pocket Mini V3 is not that type of rod. It is a precisely engineered rod for casting and catching fish. In it's precise design, it will not tolerate heavy handed mistakes.


Early development of my kit.

Further refinement.

Another version.

Bluegill opportunity while traveling.