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First Outing With The 390 Ex-Stiff Nissin Air Stage Rod

by Karl
(Fresno, California)

Well I got the EX-Stiff Nissin Air Stage rod out for a couple of hours last evening, and a dozen or so nice bluegill were caught and released. I also had a couple of wet releases on some better sized bass, and I landed one somewhat better than the bluegill sized crappie, as well. Although this rod is described as "Super Hard" in its rod action, it is a Seiryu rod after all, so how hard can it really be? Hook sets were positive enough to hook the fish and the rod had enough backbone to guide the fish in the desired direction most of the time with out over powering them. Weighing in at 1.5 ounces for a 3.9 meter rod, it was a total delight to fish with.

The line I used on the rod was a 12 foot long length of Sage 000 tapered fly line, with a hand-tied tapered leader made up of: 24" of 12# test Amnesia; 18" of 10# Stren Nylon; 12" of 8# test FC fishing line; 9" of 6# FC line, and a 3.5 foot long tippet of 5# FC tippet material. The rod cast this line and leader combination more than well enough, even in the at times pretty strong breeze that was blowing over the pond that night.

The fishing was pretty slow. The only fly pattern I fished with was an experimental Floating Sparkle Yarn Damselfly Nymph, with a mono loop tied in at the back of the hook to (hopefully) keep the yarn tail from fouling the hook, which proved to not be worth the effort it took to tie the loop on to the fly. I first tried this pattern last summer tied on a TMC 212Y hook. The trout I fished it to really responded well to it but I was only hooking about 50% of the fish that took it, so this time I tied up 2 using the TMC 900 BL (barbless) hook, which produced a much higher hooking average than the 212Y hook did.

John, my fishing partner, tried a different sinking damsel pattern, a Gurgler, and an ant pattern with no success. So I gave him my other Floating Damsel to try, and he was soon into the fish. So, sometimes at least, the fly pattern fished can make a big difference.

Comments for First Outing With The 390 Ex-Stiff Nissin Air Stage Rod

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Mar 21, 2014
Why Fluorocarbon?
by: Paul Arnold

Since you used only a floating fly, I wonder why you fished with a leader that included a significant amount of fluorocarbon (sinking) leader material. Or does FC signify something other than fluorocarbon. Maybe I'll learn something from all this.

Mar 21, 2014
Leader and Fly Pattern Explaination
by: Anonymous

I use nylon in the leader butt for more flotation and visibility on the heaviest part of the leader than FC can provide. But in the midsection and for the tippet, I prefer FC (fluorocarbon) because it is harder for the fish to see and because line slightly under the water causes fewer shadows and less surface disturbances than an all floating leader would. Also, for stillwater Tenkara fly fishing, I fish a lot of subsurface fly patterns, pupa patterns and emergers. The floating/sinking leader combination is the best compromise that I have been able to come up with for fishing all these different fly patterns effectively.

While the Floating Sparkle Yarn Damselfly Nymph is tied with closed cell foam in the thorax and head areas of the bug, it is not a true dry fly in the same way that a popper would be. Its more of a very shallow running wet fly. It will float in the beginning well enough, but once it gets completely water logged and has caught a few fish, it tends to sink very slowly.

There is a foam lip that angles up just above the eye of the hook, in front of the nylon nymph eyes, that plains the fly up toward the surface as it is being retrieved, which will cause a surface disturbance if you retrieve the fly fast enough to make it do that. I find that I have the best luck in catching fish by slowing down the retrieve just enough that it does not break the surface of the water.

It is a very entertaining pattern to fish with because all of the action takes place so close to the surface that you can usually see the fish approach and take the fly, even in pretty discolored water.

The Sparkle Yarn abdomen and breathing gills are formed by tying an over hand knot in a single strand of light olive Sparkle Yarn (most yarns are 4-ply), which hangs two shank lengths to the knot long off of the back of the hook, and really wiggles up and down on the retrieve very convincingly.

The thorax under-body and head are made out of wrapped FL-chartreuse ostrich herl, figure eight wrapped through the nylon nymph eyes, and then tied off behind them.

The shell back is made of a strip of the black spot wide cut, 2mm thick, olive Frog Foam, tied in before the under-body and tied down behind and in front of the 1/8 inch diameter black Nylon Nymph Eyes, to form the wing case, head segments and the elevating up lip at the front of the fly, which is trimmed to size with scissors on completion of the pattern.

The thread is 6/0 FL-chartreuse, and the hook is a size 12, TMC 900 BL, which is a black, barbless dry fly Tiemco Company hook.

Mar 21, 2014
Learned something
by: Paul Arnold

Thanks, Karl, for the very full and informative response, and as I expected, I DID learn something (as I almost always do with you). I am curious as how you compare the Nissin Air Stage with the Suntech Kurenai (I have the HM 33R). I know that the Suntech is one of your favorite rods. ~Paul

Mar 22, 2014
EX-Stiff Air Stage VS Kurenai Rod Comparison
by: Karl

Paul, I have the HM 33 Kurenai rod, which is a little over 11 feet long. The 390 Ex-Stiff Air Stage rod is about 12 feet and 10 inches long, so the length difference alone makes it a little difficult to make any kind of valid direct rod comparisons. Also, I chose the 390 rod for a high lake T-style of fly fishing and the Kurenai as a small to medium sized small stream fishing rod.

But having made those qualifications, the first time that I cast the 390 AS with a level line on it, it reminded me very much of casting and fishing with my HM 33 rod. So much so in fact that a few days later I did a back-to-back casting session with both rods using the same line just to see if it was my imagination or if these two rods do have very similar casting actions. And they do to the point that I wondered if Suntech is having its rod blanks made for it by the Nissin Rod Company.

The line I cast was made up of 9 feet of size #3 orange Sunline T-line, 1 foot of size #2.5 pink TUSA T-line, then 6 inches of 6 Lb. test Cabela's NoVis 100% FC fishing line, with a 3 foot or so long tippet of Orvis Mirage, 6X, FC tippet material. The Kurenai is a 9 penny rod and the 390 AS is a 16 penny rod, but they both feel very much the same in their casting actions to me (but your millage on that may vary), with the same lack of rod weight, the same lack of tip-heavy-ness, and both rods lacking over shoot and bounce at the end of the cast. And this weight of line and its relatively short length should have favored the HM 33 rod well over the Ex-Stiff AS rod. There is an action consistency here that makes for a very enjoyable and efficient angling experience in my view. I hope this helps to answer your questions, Paul....Karl.

Mar 24, 2014
A very interesting comparison
by: Paul Arnold

Karl, that is a very interesting comparison. I sounds as if the Nissin could be considered a longer version of the Suntech notwithstanding the common cents rating differences. At least that seems to be true from the standpoint of casting; from the catching standpoint there may be significant differences. Perhaps that is material for later post for you. ~Paul

Apr 07, 2014
AS 390 super hard.
by: Blatt

Nice review.
This is a seiryu rod i intend to buy in the future.
Can you tell me how it behaves casting in the wind?

Apr 11, 2014
Casting The 390 EX-Stiff Air Stage In Wind
by: karl Klavon

I have yet to fish with this rod in a substantial wind - trout season here will not open for a couple of more weeks, and then we have to wait for the high lakes to thaw and what little snow we have this year to melt at the higher elevations befpre I can fish some of those lakes.

Be that as it may, since this rod is about midway between the Nissin SP 390 rod and the Diawa 43 MF Keiryu rod (a 28 and a 33 penny rod depending on whether it is zoomed out to full length or not) on the power scale, and I have been able to handle a lot more wind casting with the SP 390 (an 8 penny rod) with a 12 foot long Rigs Floating Tenkara Line than I ever thought I would be able to do. So I have every reason to believe that a 15 to 16 penny rod like the EX-Stiff Nissin Air Stage Seiryu rod should do considerably better than the SP 390 can do, but probably not nearly as well as the 43 MF rod does.

To a great extent the weight of the line you are casting is a stronger determining factor in the ability to cast into the wind, and the wind resistance of the line that you are casting in terms of its cross sectional area compared to its weight, than the casting action and strength of the rod that is throwing that line influences the casting distance and drive.

But the ability of a faster action rod to generate more line speed will always help things out a lot, providing that you can cast that rod comfortably and competently. I don't know if this answers your question in any way or not, but I hope it is of some help to you until I can put in more time fishing the rod under actual field conditions.

Apr 11, 2014
To paul Arnold
by: karl Klavon

Paul, if you do not mind, I would be very interested in hearing what you think about your Suntech rod. Is the rubber grip any less sensitive than a standard grip? I believe you liked softer rods better in the beginning, didn't you have and very much like your AYU rod? So I was also wondering how you are adapting to the Kurenai's faster rod action? I hope you look in again and see this....Karl.

May 12, 2014
by: Blatt

Yes, your explanation answers my question.

I have other tenkara rods in the 15 penny range that do pretty well with a #4 line in the wind but they are not as light and, I guess, not as sensitive as seiryu rod.

Maybe this one can be the closest to a perfect rod for small quarry in my area.

Many thanks Mr. Klavon.

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"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
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