Sunday was my first time fishing the new Nissin Royal Stage Tenkara Rods. By now I've fished with a lot of tenkara rods from a lot of companies. In my experience, and in my opinion, these are the best mid-priced tenkara rods, period. They are light, they are sensitive, they can handle the fish. They are just a joy to use.
With very, very few exceptions, when I go fishing I take a number of rods to evaluate or to compare. Sunday may have been a record. I had all six of the new Royal Stage Tenkara rods, I had 5 Zerosums, plus 5 Nissin Pro Squares, plus four keiryu rods in case I had time to get to them. I was changing rods more than a western fly fisherman changes flies.
I had new rods, though, and I needed to fish them. What's more, I needed to compare them to the other rods in the Nissin line-up. You can read about the rods on the Royal Stage Tenkara page.
Sunday was not a "many" day - unless I was counting fishermen. I saw 13 other fisherman on the stream. That's more than I usually see in a month. Given the number of footprints in the snow, there had been a lot of fishermen there over the previous days as well. I guess that's what should be expected when there is only one stream in the area that is open all year long. I suspect I will be spending more time in CT or NJ, where streams are open through the winter and the fishing pressure is more spread out.
I managed to put two fish in the net, had one LDR, one splashy missed strike and one bump that was pretty clearly a fish rather than a rock. The first came from right where I was casting at 3:27 in the Roamads TenkaraBum video.
It is just deep enough and has just enough current that it is very hard to get a fly down to where it needs to be. Given the structure on the shore and tree branches above and behind, you cannot effectively use the plunge pool technique to get deep enough.
I find the bead head technique works pretty well, though. This bead head Green Rock Worm yarn-bodied fly did the trick. If you want to get fancy, put a turn of partridge hackle between the bead and the yarn. With a few scraggly hackle barbs slanted backwards over the body, it completes the picture of a caddis pupa and has been a good producer for me with Killer Bug yarn and Nymph yarn in addition to Green Rock Worm yarn.
The brown taken from that pool, right at 13 inches, was the better of the day's two fish. I caught it on the Royal Stage 7:3 400, which handled it beautifully. Looking at the bend in the rod as I was bringing in the fish, I felt it could have handled this fish's poppa without a problem. Nissin makes a great "main stream" rod in the Air Stage Honryu 450, but if you wanted a main stream rod that collapsed to a traditional tenkara length, the Royal Stage 7:3 400 would be a good choice.
With that many rods to fish, I then put away the 7:3 400 and went to a tighter spot on the stream. As on any stream, anywhere the streambed narrows the current speeds up. There is a section I've taken a few good fish from where the the current is relatively fast but the rocks along the outside of a bend break up the current just enough to produce a number of good lies. I'd be lying if I said I caught any fish there on Sunday, though.
Just above there, though, and in only modestly less current, I caught the only other fish of the day with a Killer Bug tied on a Daiichi 1120 #10, the same fly I'd used in my "Go Long" trip report. It was caught with the Royal Stage Tenkara 6:4 360. The fish was only 12 1/2", but with the fast current it gave the 6:4 rod a workout. I had to follow the fish downstream a bit, not because the rod couldn't hold it but because I needed a spot without tree branches overhead and behind me so that I could maneuver the fish into the quiet water at the inside of the bend.
Once I had room to point the rod back over my shoulder the fish was in the net in no time. I'm sure I've said this before, and I'm sure I'll say it again - people underestimate the ability of a softer rod to land good fish. The rod may indeed bend to the cork, but you can still put enough pressure on a fish to get it into quiet water. Once the fish is in quiet water the battle's won as long as you don't lose the fish trying to net it.
I'm sure I've said this before too: if you fish with a line plus tippet only a foot or so longer than the rod, netting a fish gets a lot easier! Using a longer rod rather than a longer line does make things simpler (not to mention giving you better drifts).
After that I fished with the 320 length rods but had no fish to show for it. I will say, though, that after fishing with the 400s and the 360s, the 320s were almost unbelievably light. I did think they were just a bit short for the stream, though. I'm going to have to take them when I next go blue lining.
I didn't really have time for the keiryu rods, although I did cast the Suntech Kaname 54 for a little bit. Following the Nissin Royal Stage 6:4 320, it was of course a bit heavier, but as a 17' two handed rod it is surprisingly light. If the very idea of a 20', 6.3m rod is too much for you, consider the Kaname 54! It is a seriously nice rod and deserves a lot more time than I was able to give it on Sunday. After just a few casts, though, the light was fading and the temperature was falling. I was working my way upstream and I saw a couple guys working downstream not far above me so I called it a day.