I try to learn something from each trip. On this trip I learned the importance of bringing a change of clothes when fishing in the winter. I don't fall much (having a wading staff deployed at all times helps in that regard) but I fell on this trip and was instantly soaked to the skin from the neck down. I didn't have a change of clothes, but luckily the guy I was fishing with did - even more luckily, he let me have them! Dry clothes, a bit of time in a car with the heater cranked up, some hot coffee and lunch and I was good as new.
The only thing I lost was the chance at a photo of what proved to be the best fish of the day for either of us. I netted the fish all right. It was getting the rod tip caught in a tree while doing so that proved my undoing. I guess it was also lucky that I got the tip unstuck just before the shifting sands on the edge of the sandbar I was standing on slid out from under me.
A cold, gray day on the water
Overall, though, the day was a success. I got to fish some new rods and caught fish on all of them. I like the rods. The new rods are by Nissin - their Pro Spec 2Way Tenkara rod and three new Zerosum tenkara rods.
"2Way" is Nissin's designation of what Shimano calls a "zoom" rod. The Pro Spec is a rod that can be fished at either 3.1 or 3.6 meters - 10'3" or 11'9" by actual measurement. That makes the Pro Spec both a "mountain stream" rod and a "headwaters" rod. The 6:4 version is slightly softer at the longer length measuring 11.5 pennies at 10'3" and only 11 at 11'9". The 7:3 version is 15 pennies at the shorter length and 14.5 fully extended. These levels correspond pretty closely with the 7:3 and 6:4 measurements for Nissin's Pro Square tenkara rods.
For tenkara anglers who fish where there is any overhead canopy at all, or who fish both small and smaller streams, this rod takes the place of two rods in your quiver. It reminds me a little bit of the Sagiri, but it's a bit shorter. It also reminds me of Rocky Mountain National Park, where the North St. Vrain is tight and technical and the Big Thompson is wide open. I think this rod will be one of my biggest sellers this year.
The Zerosum rods are wonderfully light rods. I find that as I try more and more rods, ranging from short seiryu rods well suited to 4" brookies to long keiryu rods well suited to big browns, the ones I like the best are the lighter ones. It is a personal preference, but I just can't see fishing with a rod that weighs over 3.5 ounces when there are excellent rods that weigh so much less. The Zerosum 400 is a 13'5" rod that weighs 2.6 ounces without the tip plug. The 360 weighs only 2.1 ounces and the 320 is a surprisingly light 1.9 ounces. And they're not just light - they feel well balanced and you can actually feel the rod load as you are casting. I fully agree with Tom Davis at Teton Tenkara when he said "I think Nissin has a real winner with this rod."
Nissin Zerosum 360 Tenkara
It will take me a while to get full reviews done for the Pro Spec and the Zerosums. I do have the rods in stock so I'll try to get a page with "add to cart" buttons for people who want the rods without waiting for the full review. I do like the rods, though, and for people who want light rods with cork grips, I can highly recommend them. The Zerosum 360 that Tom reviewed was a 7:3 and the ones I have in stock the 6:4 (I saw both at the Osaka fishing show and preferred the 6:4). I will be getting 7:3 versions of all the rods later.
The fly of the day was one of Alan Deutsch's Green Goddess tungsten beadheads. I tried killer bugs and an Amano Kebari, but even with the help of plunge pools, they couldn't get down to where the fish were holding. This was definitely a one fly day - and that one fly was a tungsten beadhead! (Alan does not tie commercially, so you'll have to tie your own).
I stopped carrying the Nissin Pro Spec rods because they had a higher breakage rate than the other rods I carried.