In the past year I have experimented with fly fishing via bicycle within the city limits of Sapporo. Slowly I began assembling the gear necessary to get me from apartment to stream as swiftly as possible. It has been a slow process, filled with trial and error.(See my previous post about what I started out with) Recently I pulled together some of the final elements of my kit that take me into an entirely new realm of fishing. Gone is my 9 foot 5 weight fly rod and reel. Instead, I made the plunge into Japanese angling and purchased a Nissen Pocket Mini. This is a 360 centimeter (11’8″) telescoping keiryu rod that can also be used as a tenkara rod. No reel, long rod, light line.
When I unfurled this 20 segment rod I was astounded! It weighs next to nothing, and is extremely delicate. I will be treating this piece with utmost care. Because it is technically a keiryu rod, I have the option of using it as such by rigging a very light monofilament line system with split shot and colored indicators. But that’s for another mid-life fishing crisis. For now, I’ll be rigging approximately 3.60 meters of #3.5 tenkara level line and about 3 feet of 7X tippet (as recommended by Nissin).
Before deciding to go with this particular rod, I researched heavily into tenkara and all the manufacturers currently on the scene. Tenkara is one of the rare instances of an element of Japanese culture being exported/discovered in the U.S. and re-imported back to Japan.(逆輸出, gyaku yushutsu – reverse export) Many Japanese tenkara anglers have taken advantage of this and can be found speaking on the American fly fishing lecture circuit and YouTube. U.S. companies like Tenkara USA and Tenkara Rod Co. make attractive kits with everything one needs to get started on the river. I considered a few such rods. Their easy to use websites with online forums make understanding the nuances of tenkara much simpler than having to parse my way through some Japanese text. The rods produced by these U.S. startups are much cheaper as well. But most of their rod manufacturing is simply farmed out to China and lack the quality control that I require from a fishing rod. So I started looking at the selection of fine telescoping rods made right here in old Nippon. Eventually I went with Nissin, a company with a long history of making rods in Japan.
Nissin’s Pocket Mini, and most telescoping rods made in Japan, usually come without any frills. Just the rod and some simple instructions. Everything else is up to the angler. And as you can see, the Pocket Mini lives up to its namesake:
Now I am ready to hit the stream via bike, subway, train, and/or bus. Of course this is a warm weather thing, and as soon as Autumn sets in I will have to go back to waders and a reliance on automobiles. Until then, I’ll be exploring Sapporo’s many waterways with a rather light ecological footprint.