My Favorite Tenkara Rod (not really but really)

Nissin makes great tenkara equipment. The company is based in a long history of tenkara and looks into the future of tenkara while designing rods that serve the present.

About 7 years ago, I found out about the Nissin Pocket Mini V3. I had a trip to Japan coming up and I wanted all of my gear to fit inside my bag. I bought one and used it exclusively. It was my thought that if I was going to depend on a rod so petite in stature, that I should use it hard prior to traveling across the globe to fish with my peers. 

I used the rod for a complete year before I went, and it worked out nicely. I caught small and large fish on it, and it handled the task beautifully. In order to cover the wide range of tenkara and streams that I might be fishing, I bought a trio of lengths. This small quiver of rods would also serve as a parts department in that if I broke a rod, I had two other rods to use to fix the one. Needless to say, I didn't break one and the trip was quite successful. Each one of my friends on my genryu trip took turns in casting the Mini V3, the lines I designed for it were complimentary to the action and everyone liked the balance of the system. Even in Japan, these are special rods for unique application.

That was the first big test of Nissins compact rod.

Later, Nissin came out with a gripped version of the Pocket Mini V3 and called it the Tenkara Mini. To make a long story short, I still have a Pocket Mini V3 in 270cm size that slips into the small custom rod sleeve that I designed with Chris Zimmer at Zimmerbuilt. Chris has helped me with almost all of my onstream carry equipment and it is by far my favorite. Anyway, the Tenkara Mini is built on the same mandrels (taper) as the Pocket Mini however, Nissin, in its nomenclature for the rod says it can handle a stronger tippet than the Pocket Mini V3. In my history of using the Pocket Mini and now the Tenkara Mini, I am staying with what I know, I exclusively use .4 or 7x tippet. Nothing stronger than that and only one brand, Seaguar GrandMax FX.

The Pocket Mini is actually my favorite tenkara rod.

It is my favorite rod because it has consistently made non fishing trips into the best fishing adventure I can imagine.

I've been fishing all my life. It is something that I am. I take fishing trips for weeks across the globe and I go on day fishing adventures in distant mountains of my state. I also fish the urban impoundments and in short, my family supports me but knows I get distracted at times when on a non-fishing family trip.

So, I developed a kit that is ultra-minimal in design, ONLY what I need. A succinct kit that gets straight to the point. 

My tenkara has three components, Keiryu fishing which is simply mountain stream fishing, Honryu tenkara which is river fishing for big trout and non-fishing trips, which is my kit that is designed to sneak away into my bags so that if I find a fishing opportunity, I can fish.

My non-fishing kit is by far my favorite equipment to tinker with. I've been focusing on this kit for many years and Nissin has definitely made my efforts successful in their focus on compact design rods. 

Part of my writing about tenkara has been writing versions of this story and this is just the latest in my efforts.

Each portion of my kit has had many hours of thought go into it. I would list each project, but I try to keep these articles brief and it just takes a little searching to find everything in the CONTENTS section of the site.

I've looked at other rods by different manufacturers, they could not possibly come close to what Nissin engineers have designed. Each aspect of the Nissin compact rod line has been well thought out. If you are a guy that has big oven mitts for hands and breaks things easily, this rod is not for you. 

The Pocket Mini and the Tenkara Mini are precise, compact, light, delicately strong and tough when used with correct technique. If you do not handle the rod with experience, you will break it quickly, probably the first time you open it. Don't buy one if you don't know what you are doing. The first section is mechanical pencil thin. The walls of the sections are nearly construction paper thin too. You can easily flex them out of round when handling an individual section.

These rods are designed for experienced tenkara anglers.

There are so many other compact rods to choose from that are well suited for beginners or casual users. Do not buy the Nissin rods if you are new to tenkara.

Look into one of these rods if you would like to try a compact rod.

The Pocket Mini and the Tenkara Mini are meticulously designed. They are strong where needed and petite everywhere else. I've fished everywhere with mine and have even taught new anglers with them. They demand correct technique in all aspects however they are not tricky to cast, as a matter of fact, they cast very nicely and are super accurate by design.

100% tenkara rods if you know what you are doing.

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.

If you love tenkara and obsess on the idea of nesting rods. I suggest taking a look at the Tenkara Mini. There are a couple of different lengths to choose from. I choose the 3.6m for most of my tenkara fishing. I use the Mini V3 as a short rod and for a parts bin (just in case) but I have never broken one of these rods. The last time I fished mine was a few weeks ago and I hooked into several fish up to and over 18" I was able to land two. I had been invited to a wedding in Colorado that was on a lake where the owners had stocked trout and feed them regularly with trout chow. The trout were HUGE and I fished for them in my wedding suit. It was such a fun thing to do to pull the rod out of my pocket and in two minutes I was into super fat and healthy rainbow trout. One of my favorite non fishing trips turned into a fishing trip that I will never forget.

The Nissin Tenkara Mini is my absolute favorite tenkara rod. 

It has made so many memories that it has created a new genre for my fishing. A completely different approach that is still in the same way I fish tenkara that actually helps with my regular tenkara. It is a practice in ULTRA-MINIMALISM in that I actually only use one fly and it works, everywhere.

It is my favorite rod by far however, it is not my first choice by any means. Not even close. If you are interested, the Gamakatsu Suimu EX 400 is and that is another story to tell.

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