Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod

The Nissin Flying Dragon carp rods offer two significant advantages over the Red Dragon rods - they collapse to a convenient 22" compared to 40.5" and they are much lighter. I've had a few customers who wanted the capability of a carp rod but the long collapsed length was a deal breaker. I have another customer who bought the Red Dragon and absolutely loves it, but on a recent trip for which it would have been ideal he ended up leaving it home. It wouldn't fit in a carry-on bag or a checked suitcase, and checking another piece of luggage these days is $25 - each way!

The Nissin Flying Dragon carp rods are rated for 3X tippets. Although that is less than the 2X rating of the Red Dragon and the 0X rating of the Nissin Kyogi, it is stronger than the 4X tippets that the Tenkara Guides in Salt Lake City routinely use for carp. I think it should be sufficient.

The Nissin Flying Dragon is capable of handling fish larger than this.

Interestingly, the new Nissin Zerosum Oni Tenkara Honryu 450 is also rated for 3X tippet, but that does not make it a carp rod! It is a 20 penny rod - right in line with the other Honryu tenkara rods and nowhere near the 68 pennies of the Flying Dragon 530 carp rod! To fight a big fish, you need more than just a strong tippet, you need a rod that is stiff enough to resist the pull of a strong fish - that still has "bend" left - right up to the breaking strength limit of the tippet. The Oni Honryu is a strong rod, but it is much too soft for carp.

A real carp rod, whether the Red Dragon or the Flying Dragon, has the stiffness (and the length) you need to get the leverage to turn a carp. You can't stop one, but you can turn one if you hold your rod nearly horizontal and put side pressure on the fish. Instead of stopping a run, you make it run in a semicircle, first one direction and then the other until it gets tired.

The Flying Dragon 530 feels stiffer than the Red Dragon 540, but their penny ratings are almost identical. They just have very different bend profiles. The Flying Dragon is much more of a tip flex rod and has a firmer midsection. The tip flex makes the rod a bit easier to cast, and allows you to use a lighter line. I found the Red Dragon 540 did well with the Nissin SP PRO 6m tenkara line. With the Flying Dragon 530 you can use a size 4 level line.

The Nissin Flying Dragon 530 and 620 both can cast an unweighted wet fly with size 4 level line. A bead-chain-eyed carp fly (with or without a few lead wraps) is even easier to cast. Casting a weighted fly is not silky smooth (with any rod), but it is effective.

Speaking of weighted flies, I have not yet tried Czech nymphing with the Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod, but I will soon. I think the 530 would make a dynamite Czech nymphing rod for bigger, deeper waters.

22"+ rainbow caught with carp rod

One of the guys who bought a Red Dragon Carp Rod sent me an email saying it was great for nymphing (and included a photo to prove it). The Flying Dragon should be even better. It is significantly lighter and has a stiffer midsection.

I was very surprised at how sensitive the rod is, and how well it transmits even the tiniest tap. While carp fishing for the first time with the rod, I clearly felt the take of a 3" bluegill in still water. Feeling the take of a trout in current will be a snap. For nymphing, I'd use keiryu markers, but if you wanted to fish a tight line by feel, you could.

The Nissin Flying Dragon is sensitive enough to detect subtle hits.

I'm sure the average fly fisherman would never think of Czech nymphing with a 5.3 meter rod, but if you are fishing any river that is 30 or more feet wide and doesn't have low overhead tree branches, a longer rod is going to give you better drifts. If you are fishing a wide, deep, fast river, the Nissin Flying Dragon carp rod has the backbone you'd need to fish the heavy flies required to get down to where the fish are.

Largemouth bass caught with Flying Dragon Carp Rod17" Largemouth Bass caught on a Muddler Minnow

The other side of that coin, though, is that the Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod is designed with big fish in mind. It will be overkill for the 10 or 12 inchers. If you catch big largemouth bass or big trout, though, the rod can handle them.

Equally important: When considering this rod for Czech nymphing, understand that this rod is NOT a one-hander. You will need both hands for casting the rod and for holding it during the drift.

Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod
Stats and Features

Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod
Length extended
Length collapsed
Weight without rod cap
Tip Diameter
Grip Diameter

5.3 oz
1.0 mm

7.6 oz

If you focus your attention on the rod rather than the fish, you'll notice that the grip is just a nonskid coating on the end of the last section. (In this case, section #14, NOT section #1!)

The Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rods come with Fuji Rod Caps. The Flying Dragon 530 takes a KTC-25 (shown) and the 620 takes a KTC-28.

The Meiho small tenkara line holders will not fit over the ends of these rods, and the Fuji EZ Keepers will not fit either. In practice, I have not needed to move from one spot to another very frequently. When I did move, I removed the line, replaced the Fuji rod cap, wound the line on a tenkara line holder and slid it into a vest pocket. I am sure I would move a lot more using the rod for Czech nymphing in a river than fishing for carp in a pond. Still, taking the line off the rod and replacing it at the next spot takes only seconds.

The grip screw cap has a split ring, as does the Red Dragon Carp Rod, which I am sure is so you can clip on a rod leash. I suppose it would help you retrieve your rod if you threw it in the water (which I would not recommend). I suspect it is more likely there so you can tie the rod down and thus prevent a carp from taking it if you are fishing from the bank with the rod propped up with a rod holder or forked stick. If a carp happens to take your bait, feels the hook and bolts, the rod had better be in your hands or tied down. Use the split ring any way you want, but it is nice to know it's there.

Because they are so much more compact and convenient, the Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rods will allow more people to enjoy fixed line carp fishing. As John Vetterli of the Salt Lake City Tenkara Guides says, "It is just too much fun."

What's more, I am pretty sure my customer who uses his Red Dragon for nymphing and for stripers is on to something, carp rods are going to be used for a multitude of species and a variety of situations - anywhere you'd want a big rod to go chase big fish.

Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod 530 - $235
Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod 620 - $280

Rods made in Japan


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Those carp are tricky Devils for sure. And brutes. I've found a new passion, soooo addictive. I've been turned to the dark side by the Nissin Dragons.

Craig P, Australia

I got a Flying Dragon 620 from you a month ago, finally got out to try it. Wonderful rod, had a easy time reaching over the Lower American River even at 4500 cfs flows. Thank you very much!

Charlie W, California