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 rod 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 for smaller fish. Watching some of Tom Davis's small stream videos on Teton Tenkara, though, it is 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 should do well in that regard.
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.
I think I am going to be disappointed that I was only able to get five of these rods. Japanese rod companies decide how many rods they're going to make and then take orders, and the orders were in months ago. There are often a few extras, but sometimes only a few. I will be able to get more eventually (but "eventually" is likely to be some months away). This rod has a definite niche and I know of some people who will want it.
The rod will work very nicely for someone who wants a relatively short rod (10'3") that is a bit more capable than the sieryu rods or Nissin Pro Square and Zerosum tenkara rods but isn't as stiff as the Daiwa Kiyose or Shimano Kozuka. 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 or Kozuka, 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 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 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).
Although the one fish I did manage to catch that day was with the 450 rather than the 390, 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
Rods made in Japan.
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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 your 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
|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