Earlier this season I had a chance to try out the Nissin Pro-Spec 2-way 6:4 Tenkara rod. It’s a zoom rod that goes from 10’3″ to 11’9″. And to cut to the chase, I liked it so much I just had to buy it (at TenkaraBum)
Being a short zoom makes it a unique tenkara rod option here in the US. I’m not aware of a similar tenkara rod domestically available (I could be wrong and please feel free to correct me on this point.) Is it a big water rod? No it is not. But on those brushy streams, you know the kind, tunnels of rhododendron, low hanging branches, no room for back casts, this rod feels perfectly at home.
Its flex profile is a 6:4 but don’t let that mislead you. It is a very soft 6:4. If you look at the Common Cents Database on the TenkaraBum website, you’ll see the Pro-Spec is the softest tenkara rod listed. It will cast #3 tenkara lines very nicely and allow feather light casts. I used it only with unweighted flies – and though I’m sure it could handle small beadhead flies – there are better rods for you if you like to fish heavy flies. There’s no accounting for personal preferences, and some folks may use this rod with weighted flies, but In my book this is a pure tenkara rod best used with unweighted flies.
I have used this rod solely for small stream brook trout fishing. And I have not caught anything bigger than about 8″ with it yet. And though it could bring in bigger fish (especially in small streams), I wouldn’t want to use it if I were expecting to catch big fish. I’d say fish up to 12″ or so in small streams would be my ideal upper end. Maybe a bit larger if you’re careful. But I would not recommend this rod for larger fish on larger streams – you could do it – but I think you’d be pushing the limit of what the rod is designed for.
What about the zoom? Well – I have fished several other zoom rods and they are all similar in that they feel different at the two lengths. This rod is the same way. You will notice a different casting feel when going from the short length to the longer. I think that this is probably unavoidable in a zoom rod. At the shorter length the rod feels very crisp – in spite of its soft tip. At the longer length the rod feels a bit slower and you’ll need to adjust your casting stroke accordingly – but it’s pretty easy to get used to.
When I first tried this rod I didn’t realize how much I’d use the zoom feature. Even on the smallest brushiest streams there are occasional open areas where you can use a bit more length. So on the smallest streams I fish mostly at the short length and then zoom out for that occasional larger pool. On other streams I fish mostly the longer length and then shorten up here and there. It’s pretty cool actually.
Fit, finish, etc…The color is gloss black with blue highlights. I like the grip shape. Some tenkara rod grips don’t have enough of a contour for my tastes – this one does. The rod “clicks” into the shorter zoom length pleasingly – with a nice positive feel to the connection. Overall a nice looking rod. However I do have two complaints. Firstly the tip-plug is a soft rubber jobbie that is difficult to insert. Big deal? Not really but a little annoying. Secondly the cork itself is not great. It has a bit more filler than I’d like to see. Doesn’t it seem like it’s hard to find a really nice cork grip anymore?
The short of it is this. This is not an “all-around” tenkara rod to take from the tiny mountain stream to the large trout in that valley river – if I claimed that I would be fibbing. What it is is a superb small stream tenkara rod. It’s wonderful for small streams and small trout – that is what it is designed for. If most of your fishing is small streams – especially brushy small streams, then this rod could be a nice fit. Think Appalachian brookie streams, small mountain stream brown trout, or tumbling mountain cutthroat streams in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Details (taken from TenkaraBum)
Length Extended: 10’3″ or 11’9″
Length Collapsed: 22 1/8″
Weight (6:4 version): 2.7 oz (with tip plug) 2.6 oz (without)
Recommended Tippet: 3# – 5# test (Japanese line size .8-1.2号)
Pennies: 11.5 at 10’3″ and 11 at 11’9″
Made in Japan.
Nissin Pro Spec 6:4 – $195 @ tenkarabum
Disclaimer: I was originally loaned this rod for review – but ended up purchasing it.