The Nissin Tenkara Level Line rods were introduced last year. The full flex "level line" action is reminiscent of the Nissin Royal Stage 6:4 tenkara rods.
If you wiggled the 360 Level Line rod and the
360 Royal Stage 6:4 side by side, they would feel pretty similar but not
exactly the same. The Level Line rod is a little heavier, and that by
itself will change the amount of inertia you feel as you wiggle the rod.
The Level Line 390 and the Royal Stage 6:4 400 are noticeably different, with the Level Line rod being heavier. That is a common theme through nearly all Japanese fixed line rods. A higher price buys a lighter rod.
The most noticeable difference, though, is not the rod weight, it is is the black EVA foam grip on the Nissin Tenkara Level Line rods. I believe EVA foam grips on tenkara rods were pioneered by Tenkara no Oni, and on premium quality rods no less. For anglers who value practicality over aesthetics they really do make a lot of sense.
A foam grip is less expensive than a cork grip, so for a given price, a rod with a foam grip can have a better blank than a rod with a cork grip. The foam feels as hard as cork, so there is no loss of sensitivity. It provides a very effective nonskid surface. I chose EVA foam for the TenkaraBum tenkara rods for those very reasons.
The Nissin Tenkara Level Line rod's action is a pleasant, slow full flex. It is well suited for small to medium streams. A size 3 or 3.5 level line would do nicely, although the rod can handle a 4 if there is a bit of a breeze. For wider streams, you can cast a line a bit longer than the rod.
The action is more conducive to traditional Japanese tenkara with an unweighted wet fly than to fishing deep with bead head nymphs. Actually, it is more conducive to traditional Japanese tenkara than most of the rods offered by American tenkara companies.
Considering the price, they're actually pretty nice rods.
However, I do not plan to carry these rods. I have one of each, which I had purchased for evaluation. When they're gone, they're gone for good.
360 - $165
390 - $170
*I am pretty sure Japanese tippet ratings merely indicate what most Japanese anglers would use with the rod. The fish Japanese anglers catch run 9 or 10 inches, and they don't break rods on 10" fish. The ratings are not an indication of the tippet strength that will break before the rod does. Replacement parts are available, but the rods do not have a warranty. Personally, I would not use tippet over 5X. Use your own discretion.
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