Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui keiryu rods are similar to the Nissin 2Way 450ZX rods but they do not zoom. That makes them simpler - and less expensive. It also makes them a lot of rod for the money.
Like nearly all other Nissin rod models, they come in a wide range of lengths and stiffnesses. For rods of the 450 length (or longer) the Fine Mode Kosansui comes in a range of stiffnesses. For rods of 390 and shorter, it only comes in stiff.
"Stiff" is relative, though, and is more of a relationship between the softer tip sections and the stiffer mid and butt sections. I might have been better off to just accept the Google translation of the Japanese notation 硬調. Google translates that as "high contrast" and that is actually a fair description in that there is a high contrast between the stiffer mid and butt sections and the softer tip sections.
Initially, I got in the 390 and the 450 (soft). I fished with both of them on the Beaverkill River in the Catskills. It wasn't a "many" day. It wasn't a "few" day or even a "two" day. I did get a lot of time to play around, casting different lines, uninterrupted by that whole strike, set, fight, net thing.
My first time out with the 270 and 320 was in mid-February, and it wasn't even a "one" day. As with my day in the Catskills the previous spring, I got to play around with the rods a bit without being bothered by pesky fish. I took the 270 to Maine with me this year, though, and it proved itself quite capable of landing nice fish.
For people who want a light weight, simple rod for small brushy streams, I think I have found the rod for you. The Fine Mode Kosansui 270 weighs just 1.3 ounces without the tip plug. It doesn't come with a fancy cork grip or a fancy zoom-zoom feature. (It doesn't come with a fancy price tag, either). What it does have is a relatively soft tip that will allow you to cast a light size 3 level line, backed up by sufficient backbone in the mid and butt sections to handle whatever fish you're likely to hook in a stream small enough to want a 9' rod.
The rod measures 19 pennies, the same as the Shimano LLS33NX or the Nissin Pro Square 390 7:3. It can handle fish larger than the smallmouth shown above (I caught a significantly larger one but ruined the photo.)
I like the rod well enough that I have dropped the Kiyotaki 27 in favor of the Kosansui 270. The only advantage the Kiyotaki has over it is collapsed length. At 20.5" the Kosansui 270 won't fit entirely within a modest daypack like the Kiyotaki does, but the rod is nice enough to more than offset that.
The Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270 is a nice complement to the Nissin Air Stage 240 and 290. The Air Stages are seiryu rods, and are wonderful rods if your smaller streams contain smaller fish. Watching some of Tom Davis' small stream videos on Teton Tenkara, though, it's pretty clear that not all the fish in small streams are 5 or 6" brookies. He noted the need for a rod with enough backbone to keep larger fish away from sticks and snags. The Kosansui 270 does well in that regard. Tom recently reviewed the Kosansui 270, concluding that "It's the perfect rod for small, tight streams."
However, if the fish in the stream are 5 and 6 inchers, because of the softer tip sections they'll still make the rod dance.
I think I'm going to have a hard time keeping this one in stock.
If you are just getting started, consider the Small Stream Starter Kit, which pairs the Fine Mode Kosansui 270 with a size 3.5 fluorocarbon level line and a pair of Fuji EZ Keepers.
The Small Stream Starter Kit can also be thought of as an upgrade from the pretty basic Kid's Kit. The Fine Mode Kosansui 270 is not too heavy or unwieldy for all but the youngest children, and is a much better rod than the Kityotaki 24. It is a more expensive rod, but if you say "Please", your kid might let you borrow it from time to time.
This rod will work very nicely for someone who wants a relatively short rod (10'3") that is a bit more capable than the Nissin Pro Square and Zerosum rods but isn't as stiff as the Daiwa Kiyose. Basically, if you are fishing smaller, brushy streams but are routinely catching fish over 12" with the potential for fish over 18" the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 320 is definitely a rod to consider. With a CCS measurement of 25 pennies, it is a more capable rod than the Iwana.
It is also an extremely light rod at just 1.7 ounces with the tip plug (1.6 without). The 20.5" collapsed length is a bit longer than the backpack-friendly Kiyose, but it is still pretty compact and is a very reasonable choice for backpackers.
Just as I was surprised last spring that the 390 did not require a size 4 line, I was surprised that the 320 did not require a 3.5. I found it cast quite nicely with a size 3 line. It is definitely a tip flex rod with lots of reserve backbone, but the tip is soft enough to cast a relatively light line. If you wanted to cast a heavier line, either a size 4 or a furled line or a RIGS floating line, the rod can certainly handle it.
If you are looking for a relatively short, relatively light tip flex rod that has the muscle to handle some good sized fish, this may be just the rod you're looking for.
Jeff R's pictures.
I first ordered a Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 360 a couple years ago when I was looking for a "longer Soyokaze," which only came in a 310 and shorter. It wasn't quite like a Soyokaze and I never ordered any more of them.
More recently, though, the Kosansui 270 and 320
have been very well received and when I got a request for a 360 I
ordered several instead of just the one.
The Kosansui 360 is an extremely light 28 penny rod (just 2.1 ounces without the tip plug). By way of comparison, other 28 penny rods are the Daiwa Kiyose 43M and the Daiwa Enshou LT36SF, both of which are quite capable of landing 20" trout. The guy I sold the first one to uses it for bass fishing from a kayak, and last I heard, he was quite happy with it. I would not hesitate to recommend the Kosansui 360 to anyone who wanted a roughly 12' rod for either bass or trout that are getting to the size you start measuring them in pounds rather than inches.
Like most keiryu rods, the Kosansui 360 is very definitely a tip action rod.
Perhaps the upper quarter is relatively soft but the middle sections are
firm and the lower half of the rod is stiff. The transition between the
softer tip segments and the stiffer mid and butt segments is much
smoother and more gradual than on the Yamame, though, which is the 360 rod
most people probably think of as a big fish rod. Because of the softer
tip and the smoother transition, the Kosansui is
quite happy with a 3.5 line compared to the 4.5 that is recommended with
the Yamame. The lighter line is so much easier to hold off the water's
surface, which I truly believe is the essence of tenkara. Simplicity is nice, but it's the drag free drift that puts more fish on your line.
With the ability to cast a lighter line and the backbone to handle significantly larger fish than the one shown above, the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 360 has definitely earned a place in the TenkaraBum line-up and quite possibly in your tenkara rod quiver.
I was actually a little surprised by this rod. I had expected that the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 390 would require a size 4 line to cast well but I was wrong. The rod doesn't feel that stiff when casting and I wouldn't go over a 3.5 with it. (It casts wonderfully with a 3.5).
I am sure the 390 will prove to be a quite capable rod. On the Common Cents penny scale, I measured it at 32 pennies, right between the Amago and the Daiwa LT44SF. Other than for that one metric, the rod really doesn't compare with the Daiwa, which is a premium rod by any measure.
It does compare very favorably with the Amago, though. At only 2.8 ounces, it does not feel anything like the Amago when casting. Much lighter. Much more fluid. It doesn't feel anything like the Yamame, either (which weighs in at 3.6 ounces).
Even though it has a higher penny rating than the Yamame, it doesn't feel nearly as stiff when casting. There is a much more gradual transition from the stiffer butt and mid sections to the softer tip sections on the Nissin rod. That smoother transition provides a better transfer of energy from the rod to the line, so you can cast a lighter line much more easily with the Nissin. Considering that it is priced just about a 5 spot less than the Yamame, the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 390 may well be the best bang for the buck in a big fish rod.
On the penny scale, the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 450 (soft) is a 25, almost right in between the 450ZX (soft) and the 450ZX (medium). If you need the length but don't need the zoom capability, this is a rod that may definitely appeal to you. It is a bit stiffer than the average tenkara rod, and towards the lower end of keiryu rods. It should pretty easily handle larger waters but does not seem to be a rod for larger fish. I had thought it would easily handle fish into the upper teens, but I have one customer who has broken his twice on what he described as "big fish." In a second email he mentions carp, and this is definitely not a carp rod! I still think it will be fine for trout into the teens, but I would suggest using 6X tippet.
The rod weighs in right at 3 ounces with the tip plug and 2.8 ounces without it. It is about as much rod as you can comfortably cast one handed. Even if you aren't comfortable casting a fully extended Ito, you will have no problem with the Fine Mode Kosansui, which is only 2 inches shorter but is a full 2 ounces lighter! The Nissin also collapses to 20.5" instead of 26.25" and it has enough backbone to maneuver a good sized fish into quiet water.
I suppose the rod could be the fixed line equivalent of a switch rod, those almost-spey rods that can be used either one handed or two (and don't discount two handed casting - it is a lot easier on your arms and shoulders). When you hook up with good sized fish, because of the added leverage that the long rod gives to the fish, it really will take two hands to handle a whopper.
The Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 450 (soft) is quite happy with a 3.5 line. You can cast a 3 with it, or a 4, but the 3.5 seems about right to me. If you like the furled fluorocarbon lines that John Vetterli makes, this rod can handle them. I'm not a long line fan, but if you are this rod can accommodate you.
The grip, as in all the keiryu rods I've seen, is just the rod blank itself with a very effective non-skid covering. I have come to prefer this style of grip to the cork found on tenkara rods. It is much better at transmitting the tactile information of what your rod is doing during the cast, what your fly is doing during the drift, and what the fish is doing during the fight.
Do not be concerned that the grip is too narrow to be effective, though. For the longer rods it is actually wider than the front part of the grip (cork grip, that is) on the Shimano LLS33NB tenkara rod.
The grip screw cap is plastic and is knurled for easy gripping. There is a rubber insert to make it quiet and a ventilation hole to help in drying out the rod. I would still recommend that the rod be completely disassembled to dry thoroughly between uses, though. Moisture does get inside during a day on the water, and it can ruin the finish of any telescopic rod if it is put away wet.
The tip plug is rubber, and like many of the Nissin plugs has aggressive fluting. This not only allows you to keep the line attached when you collapse the rod, it also insures that the tip plug is not going to fall out when you least expect it. You will find that it helps to screw the plug in rather than trying to push it straight in. When taking the plug off, be careful not to pull it to the side. The part that is inserted into the rod is hollow, and the tip and lillian will occasionally come out with the plug. If you pull the plug straight out, though, it will never be a problem.
Please note that the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui rods do not come with a rod sock. The medium rod case fits the Kosansui rods.
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|I have the greatest wife. She got me the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 450 (soft) for my birthday. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning taking the rod out of the package and extending it. This feeling hasn't gone away.
I got out the next day and tried the rod w/ 15' of 3.5 LL and a weighted fly. The cast was fly first every cast and so easy to control. The rod casts every line from the 2.5 LL to heavy homemade furled lines with either dry or heavily weighted flies easily and keeps the lines off the water. A 24' size three line has been my favorite so far, but lines the same length of the rod can be controlled superbly while manipulating the fly.
I've so far only caught small fish around 6 to 10" with the Kosansui. The bend placed on the rod is very nice, it really does feel as though there is a tremendous power reserve. Also every fish has made the rod sing. I can't say enough good things. Thanks for finding great rods and products!
Jeremy C, Tennessee
|LOVE THE NISSIN FINE MODE KOSANSUI 390!!
Vern H, Virginia
|I just got back in from fishing the rod  and even in a quite brisk wind the rod cast a 15 foot 3 line okay although the wind gusts would pull the line from the water. Our aspen are dropping their leaves so hooked quite a few of those. Did manage to catch a few trout and can readily see the length and stout advantages especially with the 12, 14, & 15 inchers I was able to horse in rather quickly. What a ball, as even the smaller guys still felt great with that rod!
Bruce R, Montana
|The soft tip on the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui [450 soft] makes pulsing the fly almost instinctual so I was pulsing away. The first fish I hooked was a hand size Crappie and I have big hands. Let me tell you with the soft tip section on the Kosansui even pan sized fish make you feel like you're on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. There were a couple guys fishing across the bank from me and later they swore I was catching giant bass, they must have seen the rod bend like I had hooked a whopper.
Never overpowering the rod I caught quite a few decent sized fish. Between the length of the Kosansui and that tip every fish seems like the catch of a lifetime. The Killer Bug in one outing has made its way into my top three GO TO flies list and I've fallen in love with giant soft rods. Sing line, Sing!
Jimi H, Missouri
|Caught 7 fish on rod  today at EB. Love the rod.
I caught a total of 26 fish on Sunday.
John K, New York
|What a fun lil' rod! 
Cheryll F, Colorado
|The 320 is a great little rod! Its combination of lightness, backbone and smooth casting make fishing almost too much fun. This model's length was chosen for smaller streams but with slow, careful wading it works very well on larger waters, too.
Herb S, Michigan
|My son loves his Kosansui 270! He is 6 and it's such a joy to see how much fun he has with Tenkara. Creating memories one Bluegill at a time. Just wanted to say thanks again for all you do.
Jeff R, Texas
|Had a chance to introduce micro and tenkara to my cousin today. He loved it!! It's awesome to see the face when someone catches their first micro. Lol. We caught bluegill, longear, and hybrid sunfish with a few 5-10 inch bass. Awesome trip hooking another person on tenkara. Pic is of an awesome colored Longear.
Jeff R, Texas
|The 320 handles good size trout! I'll send pictures.
Jeff R, Texas
|We just got some rain here and was able to take the Nissin 270 out to some local creeks. Many redbreast sunfish were brought to hand, all in fast current. The rod casts great and downright performs with a fish on!
Have to say that I am really blown away by how sensitive this rod is! Puts my "lightweight" 4wt fly rod to shame when fighting small fish. BTW used a Ishigaki fly today from the "one fly" tying kit. The sunfish were not complaining.
Thanks for the rod and the help.
Greg B, Texas
|Got to take the 320 to a stocked trout pond to try it out. It casts the no. 4 line well in my opinion - it was very windy but I still was able to cast across the wind. Had to use a small indicator to anchor the line in the water - it was that windy. The rod protected a 4lb tippet as I brought a few 20 inchers plus to the net - really exciting stuff Chris.
Nick C, Ontario