The Nissin Air Stage Seiryu Rods are wonderfully light, extremely sensitive rods very well suited for tenkara fishing in smaller streams for smaller fish. Seiryu is generally translated as "clear stream" and these rods are about as nice as you'll find for fishing the crystal clear headwaters in the Catskills, the Smokies or the Sierras.
And if you happen to live too far away from little streams teaming with hungry trout, you'll find these are also wonderful rods for little streams teaming with hungry sunfish. They're not big fish rods (to be perfectly honest, tenkara is not a big fish pursuit) but for smaller fish these are just delightful little rods.
The first thing you'll notice when you pick one up is that it is almost unbelievably light. The shortest (which really is a bit too short for tenkara fishing except in the smallest, most overgrown streams, but would make a dandy micro fishing rod), weighs only half an ounce! Once you get to the 2.4 meter rods, which at 8' are about as short as I would recommend for tenkara fishing in except for the very smallest of streams (and for small fish) the weight jumps up to .6 ounce.
The 2.9 meter rod is a wonderful little small stream rod. For little wild brookies you may not find a rod you'd like better. The rod only weighs .9 ounce and is extremely sensitive. The 3.4 meter rod at 11'2" is longer than some tenkara rods. It is lighter than any tenkara rods, though, at just 1.1 ounce. Sure, it has a narrow grip but you're not going to get blisters! You can cast this rod all day and not feel like you've had a workout.
With a penny rating of 12, though, the Nissin Air Stage 340 硬調 is right in with the softer Nissin tenkara rods. The purists would not consider any one of these rods a tenkara rod - lack of a cork grip, I suppose (which of course traditional bamboo tenkara rods didn't have, either). There is no reason, though, why they should not be considered for tenkara fishing by anyone who wants a very light, very responsive rod. Although these are headwaters rods, they're really not backpacking rods. The collapsed length on all of them is a relatively long 23 5/8".
In addition to being light and responsive, the Nissin Air Stage Seiryu rods are really pretty. The finish is a clear coat over blue speckles and is unlike any other rod I've seen. In the sunlight, the rod changes from blue to green depending on the angle of the sun.
The color is carried into the grip section, which, as on all the other seiryu rods I've seen, is just a widened section of the rod blank, to which has been applied a very effective nonskid finish. The lack of cork between you and the blank gives you tremendous feel for what the fly is doing (and what the fish is doing).
I truly do not understand why some of the Japanese anglers, who do use seiryu rods like the Nissin Air Stage for tenkara fishing, cover the wonderfully sensitive grip with the rubber wrapping used on tennis racquets. You need it in tennis to cushion the shock from hitting line drive serves. In tenkara? I don't think so.
The tip plug is plastic and has minute ridges either molded or machined into the part that goes into the rod tip. It is a very snug fit - much more so than on the perhaps more common wood / rubber plugs. It is definitely not going to slip out by itself. The grip screw is also plastic and seats securely in an aluminum insert in the end of the grip. The knurling on the screw cap allows you to tighten it securely or remove it easily.
For any these rods, I would recommend size 3 or 3.5 line and 7X tippet.
Like a set of fine china, replacement pieces are available but there is no warranty. Handle with care and you'll be able to pass it on to your grandkids.
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Nissin Air Stage 190 硬調 - $160
This rod is really a bit short for tenkara fishing other than in the smallest, most overgrown streams. Even there, it will place an extreme emphasis on stealth. Stay low, move slow. I'd use 7X tippet, because occasionally you will be surprised at the size of fish that live in even the smallest of streams. I know that there are streams that just cannot be fished with longer fixed line rods. For them, it may be this rod or the Kiyotaki 18, period (and this rod is a lot nicer.)
The rod is also a dynamite little micro fishing rod. It can handle larger fish than the tanago rods and is just about as sensitive.
Nissin Air Stage 240 硬調 - $170
In my opinion this 7'8" rod is about as short as you'd want to go for effective tenkara fishing in all but the most overgrown streams. At only .6 ounces, it's also about as light as you can go. The 6" headwaters brookies will give you a fight on this one.
Nissin Air Stage 290 硬調 - $180
At only .9 ounce, this 9'8" rod is almost unbelievably light yet it is long enough for small headwaters streams, and more than capable of landing the fish you'll catch there. These rods are mid flex, as opposed to the tip flex of the Kurenai HM30R rods, and are just a little bit firmer. Truly a wonderful little rod.
Nissin Air Stage 340 硬調 - $190
This rod is is similar to the Suntech Kurenai HM33, but is a bit more mid flex (and a little bit stiffer). You get a bit more reach than the Air Stage 290 yet it is still only 1.1 ounces. This is a rod for small wild trout in wild streams that are just a bit more open to accommodate the rod's 11'3" length. Very similar feel to the excellent Air Stage 390 in a slightly shorter rod.
Nissin Air Stage 390 硬調 - $200
I really, really like this rod. It reminds me a lot of the Oni Rod. At least to me, it feels very similar when casting and it will cast the same light lines just as effectively. It isn't the same, though. It weighs half as much, has a balance that is closer to what you are used to in a seiryu rod and costs about 2/3 as much. I wasn't able to get as many as I wanted, so I expect to run out.
Nissin Air Stage 450 硬調 - $215
On a stream that is a bit wider and a bit more open, I don't think I have ever been able to pick apart a stream so efficiently. If you have casting room for a 450 rod and if you don't also need big fish capability, this is the nicest rod I've found.
Rods made in Japan.
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Tenkara has no strict rules. Enjoy tenkara in your own way.
- Eiji Yamakawa
|My oh my oh my! A lovely thing - only cast to lawn trout in the back yard with 9' of #3 but - my oh my oh my!
.....fished two rivers and one pond today with the Air Stage . The Air Stage works. I like where it bends but I felt it was underlined today [with a size 3 line].
I like the rod a lot. The grip is perfect for the rod length. It has authority with a fish on even though the grip is slim and the fish didn't push the rod much. It can handle 12"+ trout easily I feel, though I wouldn't take it to a tailwater.
Dry flies went right where the were supposed to. An accurate rod. It reminded me something we often forget.....all you have to do to cast is get the line moving. You don't have to backcast unless you want to. The rod did all those circular casts Mr. Sakakibara does in the vids easily. The rod has vocabulary, if you know what I mean.
Stephen M, Massachusetts
| This rod  is one of the best casting Tenkara rods I have ever had my hands on. I love it.
John S, New York
|I took the rod  out today on a small stream in eastern WV with mostly brookie natives. The rod handled remarkably well for such a short length and is substantially fuller working than the Kiyotaki.
I am amazed at how close I can get to the fish in the faster sections of the stream. I had numerous strikes and did manage to land about a dozen in 2.5 hours of fishing with the largest brookie being around 12 inches but most in the 4-8 inch range.
It does take a while to get used to such a short rod but it allows me to place some real tight casts and that is how I got the 12 incher under a tree on a quick bend. Really a very small pool. I think this rod will be very nice when things get really overgrown. The rod is so light and small one hardly knows you're holding anything and I can still get 6-36 inch drifts with it easily.
Roger H, West Virginia
|I was very pleased with the feel of this rod both in the casting and in the "fighting" with the fish. The Air Stage 190 is the perfect rod for close quarters fishing on tight mountain streams for smaller fish.
John C, Massachusetts
|You were correct, this is one sweet rod. After hours of use all I can say is you can't make a bad cast with this rod.
Bob H, New Jersey