Nissin Flying Dragon 530

I just ordered this rod from Chris Stewart and intend to use it for steelhead on Minnesota’s North Shore. Has anyone here fished for steelhead and do you have any suggestions?

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Dude i have one for sale in the marketplace.

I targeted striped bass and salmon but did not land anything over 5 lbs.


Darn, ordered and paid Chris. Did you like the rod. I assume you cast with two hands. What length and type of line did you use?

Hi David,

I own the rod as well. I had the same intentions. Honestly, I don’t fish it much. I keep it around because I want to give it another few shots in the locations where it makes sense.

I do a fair bit of lake run brown and rainbow/great lakes steelhead fishing here in the Rochester, NY area. I’ll share my thoughts with you on the rod and how I manage these fish on fixed line rods in case any of it helps.

I have only been at it a little over two years (Fixed line fishing and trout fishing in earnest – did a little as a kid but warmwater fishing (fly and spin) for most of the last 35 years before that).

There are one or two spots (~<10%) where I would seriously consider fishing this rod around here. I have tried to use it on the Genessee river and have fished it on a smaller creek.

Thoughts on the rod:
-very nice
-heavy on the wrist – you certainly will probably want to be casting two handed, but it is quite a different experience detecting strikes. It might be quite feasible to have a good experience swinging larger wet/kebari flies or streamers as you would be letting the moving water to most of the work. Due to the length of the rod/line working against wind and the weight of everything, I have opted to use a small bobber to maintain drifts a good percentage of the time using the rod when prospecting anyway…

Thoughts on fishing for these fish based on the fishing around here:
-I have caught these lake run fish on anything from unweighted killer bugs to mini-leech patterns (with a heavy bead usually).
-Much of the time, the water is cooler and the fish aren’t terribly aggressive – especially with the GL steelhead, I have the most success in modest speed broken-on-the-surface holding water, and it is primarily nymphing (whether dead drifting/swinging a leech/beadhead soft hackle, or anything that I can get to depth and maintain a good connection to).
-I have observed that whether you’re using fly gear, centerpin (not me, but it is deadly and the folks around here doing it are often some of the most effective), spinning, or fixed line, big water/lots of line out is a recipe for a long fight and less pleasant for the fish and for me…

→ I have consistently had decent success (maybe 4-5 fish in the 25-28" range, 20 or so in the 20-25" range, and another modest pile in the 18-20" range) fishing either in smaller water or in seams closer to shore. The largest fish I landed was a not-zombie, but not prime chinook of 31’ on a TUSA Hane if you can believe it – most of the work was in my pacing up and down the bank.
→ The one time I hooked a nice king on the flying dragon, it leapt into the air, bulled down-current and broke off within seconds. That made me think a bit about reach.

At this point, I tend to fish a creek that has resident trout and lake runs, so I’m not always targeting the big ones but try to prepare. This creek is mostly 10-30 feet wide, 50-200 CFS depending on conditions. I’ve landed these 24+ inch fish on the TAO scout, TUSA Sato, TUSA Amago, DT hellbender, TAO Wisco2, ONI Honryu 395, and a couple Tanuki rods. Probably the most effective rods for fighting these fish IMO are the Amago and Wisco2 – beefy and good bend, “forgiving” might be a good description as well. The Hellbender is another go-to for this small water action. Finding the right location where you’re not always going for maximum reach, where you can get a large fish turned practically before it realizes it is hooked and gets up to speed is key. I’ve had decent success landing some fish on the upper end of the size range I’ve caught even in deep water by getting them into the bend of the rod quickly … they can go down deeper but never up to speed.

If and when I go back to try and fish bigger/open water, the ONI 450 and Flying dragon would be high on my list of where I would start.

My apologies for the ramble here – but I hope there might be something useful. Best of luck with the rod and let us know how you make out. This ~24" fat lady was a surprise a couple of weeks ago fishing the scout:



Wow, interesting information @Lance_Lascari! You’ve obviously had a lot more experience with big fish than I do here in Montana. I also have the Flying dragon and I have/had a couple other rods you mentioned (Sato/Hane/Oni 450). You must have a magic touch, because the thought of a 31” chinook on a Hane or even 24+” fish on the Sato boggles my mind. Were you still using 5x tippet?? I have the Oni Honryu 450 and it is one of my favorite rods, but I certainly wouldn’t consider it in the same ballpark as the Flying Dragon even with the same tippet rating. It just doesn’t have the backbone with just 20 pennies. I’m assuming these scenarios you describe had current? How big was the water?



I’ve certainly lost a lot of fish. Some due to tippet breaking and a poor rod angle, some due to bad knots, some due to (especially browns) getting into wood in the creek. I made a quick album now of my first nice lake run fish of the fall, this one on the Sato before I was really prepared.
I had just lost one smaller ~20" or so, but “feisty” – using 7x --got close to landing it. This fish was in the 25-26" range I think, it was cumbersome in my net. I did tie on 5x after losing the first fish and got this one on the unweighted (other than the hook and the silver plated copper wire for ribbing) killer bug shown.

In any case, hopefully, the link below will work – it shows the water type (creek was at around 75 CFS according to the gage data)… and it shows some angles of the fish. This spot is open from this view but has trees overhanging and can be a pain to keep the rod out of the trees.

This run has a nice riffle feeding into a little trough – the steelhead are so invisible in here it is pretty amazing – I had 7x on because I was hoping to catch the wild resident fish and working on my “less weight on the fly” practice… after this outing, I put the Sato away for a while. I like tenkara, and look to learn from it…but I am far from a purist. I have rods I’m willing to break and repair that I fish hard (Wisco2, hellbender, scout, Amago if necessary), and others that I reserve for encounters with fewer trees where I can keep the rod safe. I had a large lake run fish strike while fishing my Amago in close quarters and the rod tip got stuck in a shrub and it snapped it quickly once. For these “beater” rods during lake-run fish season, I tend to revert to cheaper fluorocarbon line as tippet- - usually 4 and 6lb, so in the 5x/4x, on rare occasion 3x ratings.

I only fished the 450 a few times. It is a nice rod – I did have a nice fish on at one point but the tippet snapped all too quickly, which sent me down the “why on earth are you still using tippet rings when they’re all crap” investigation --which is a separate topic. I may try it on more open water for smallmouth this spring as well.

there are two scenarios that I’ve had enough success with that I can share some more notes, both benefit greatly by having a long-handled landing net:

  1. water like shown/described here: Kind of small water with shallow shoals – you let the fish go only so far but as the opportunity presents itself you can glide them into shallow water where they don’t have leverage. It pays to know the spots for wood/rocks/etc, so you can pick your battles.

  2. deeper water where you have clear room to swing the rod around, letting the fish dive, but ultimately being able to coerce them to the surface, glide them near you and reach down with a net. One spot where I’ve landed several 20-27" fish has a steep bank with a 2-3’ dropoff depending on the water level. Surprisingly, I have had success here… the vantage point might be key, if I were on the far bank it might not work as well.

But the Hane- - was a case where the creek was 10’ across and had a shallow riffle at the head, 30-40’ of a run, and a shallow riffle below. I wasn’t targeting kings, I was hoping for the other lake run fish that hang around them slurping up eggs. But, since I had lost at least 3 kings (one shockingly close to landing with a helper trying to net it, another on the flying dragon) already that year, I was determined to try and land it…and harvest and ate it. In any case, the name of the game here was to just run back and forth with the fish… as long as my arm was extended, the fish could be in the bend of the rod. It leapt, bashed itself into rocks, etc – and in the end my rod got in a tree as the fish was trying to water-slide on it’s side through shallow riffles to the next pool after 20 minutes or so, so I finally reached out with my net and got it. I even had a hard time slowing the slide of this maybe 11lb fish. It was insane and I hope it is the last time I do it. Again, the key here was that the fish could never really get up to speed. I absolutely never play a fish this long I plan on releasing, often it is 2-3 minutes, rarely over 5… I think probably faster or on par compared to other tackle based on what I’ve seen in the right conditions. It simply goes well or badly, never for long.

Assuming my tackle holds out, over the past year, I’ve gotten to the point where once hooked I can land maybe half the large fish, way better than my first year. The hiccups I’ve had this spring have mostly been when fishing smaller nymphs – where the hook gape really doesn’t provide a sufficient opening to get into the jaw of the fish (I’ve seen this in modest fish and theorize this is the problem with the bigger ones)-- so during the fight even with good pressure and angles, I’ve had hooks just pull out.

The only reason I use somewhat heavier tippet at times is for cases like that fat fish on the TAO scout – that fish went under a log I didn’t know was there, I was able to walk over and gently pull the fish from under the log and fight it a bit more before getting it in the net. Forcing the fish with heavy tippet or brute force on the rod is probably never going to work – it is a matter of breathing, taking your time to maintain pressure, mind the rod and angles relative to the fish position and current, and looking for opportunities to play mind games with the fish… It really helps to go into it with exceptionally low expectations, while considering it as an opportunity to try what you think should work.

I’m still a noob, but it is fun, so I will not be stopping anytime soon. With regards to the fish out west – I suspect there is a big difference in the fish. These do put up a good fight, but at least the browns are couch potatoes that come in from lake ontario after gorging on alewives …not fighting the current all the time. The rainbow/steelhead can be feisty, and I think they’re pretty dumb, but they are a lot of fun. They seem less “oafy”, but still…keep that in mind when you see hero shots of great lakes fish. Just my opinion.


Thanks for the added info! That makes more sense now. That is fascinating, and probably a great workout:) Some folks I run into here think I’m nuts for catching decent fish in our rivers (20”+/-). Some have been on rods comparable to the Sato, but I usually prefer the Oni 450 or Daiwa LT H44, or some of my two handed Keiryu rods when current or stream width is large, wading, or limited shoreline to maneuver. It’s a great reminder how capable the rods can be with practice.



I totally expected to run into fixed line limitations and switch back to rod/reel, but it is rare that I conclude that I would enjoy myself more that way. I do think that a switch rod or long euro rod might be fun and beneficial – in wind and in wider water being a couple of key times.

I have really pushed to try and dispell the “you’ll play a fish too long” or “you’ll snap that rod like a twig” BS that I have either heard directly or heard through the grapevine from visits to Orvis stores among others. People mean well, but everyone knows that aside from a divine act, tackle breaks because of the angler, not because of the tackle…

Having fewer “knobs to turn” definitely changes the focus. I look forward to fishing the Oni 450 more, as well as some of the other long rods I have for inland trout (over 20 inches would be rare) this season. I’m still learning a lot about technique (western and tenkara, all with fixed line rods), and more importantly… what I find to be more pleasant. Big/Beefy/long if we’re being honest, isn’t always the most pleasant, but it can be.


Lance, great info. I’m probably missing it but what are you using for tippet? Level line I assume but what is the size and length. I’m guessing rod length. Fascinating posts. I’m going to send you a PM with my phone number.

Sorry I didn’t answer that part…
I am mostly using simple level lines. 3.5 is my go-to; I don’t normally go below 3.0, but 4.0 is also common or a 4.5. I have started to experiment with clear fluorocarbon on occasion (Seaguar invisx, abrasx?) with 6-12 " of “tenkara” level line with a loop on it as a sighter and connection point . I have experimented with long lines, but most success I’ve had has been with lines equal to or as much as a foot shorter than the rod (when on the shorter side, I may opt for a little more tippet).

For tippet, I sometimes use trouthunter 4x/5x/6x fluoro (occasionally 3x) but when targeting bigger fish, I often just use fluorocarbon lines (seaguar invisx (4/6lb), seaguar STS (4/6 lb), now experimenting with Berkeley vanish (2/4/6 lb)). Most of the “lines” have a diameter about 1mil (0.001") thicker than the fancy/expensive trout tippet for the same rated strength, but they seem quite capable, generally are a little more supple, and come in nice big spools for a lot less $). I typically use 3-4’ of tippet. Dumping sharp tippet rings and improving on my knot game, I believe I am getting closer to rated strength on tippet. The two times I’ve started using tippet rings for a period, I’ve found that far more breaks were at the ring instead of the hook. Some of the tippet rings were cheapies, but the more I look, the more I find that many of the more expensive ones have still have some sharp edges.

In the future, I will likely share more specifics and name names, but here is a snapshot of some microscope camera shots I did of some hooks and tippet rings:


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I’ve had good luck with the tippet rings from Chris Stewart. I’m probably one of the few people in the world not on FB, Instagram or Twitter. :roll_eyes:


Looks like he carries the stonfo rings. Just this morning, someone offered to send me samples of them to capture.

I use tippet rings quite a bit and swear by them. I have rarely seen a break at the ring. I’ve read that having a ring size too big relative to the tippet size can cause problems and I use the smallest I can find (usually no bigger than 2 mm). I use name brand rings from RIO or SA typically.

The rod is great. The only reason I am selling it is because I also have a Kyogi which more or less is the same thing except goes to 0x and also is longer nested. I figured selling the Nissin would be easier as portability and shipping is more attractive on the Nissin.

I fished it single handed most of the time. Occasionally double handed. Single requires some level of strength. Fighting fish is definitely a two hand endeavor.

I have used moonlit oudachi lines and some lines I made from 4wt fly fishing lines. The taper profile of the rod would be considered fast and very tip centric, so loading the rod on longer line, like say 30’ takes a bit more weight. I mostly fished it in the salt and in general pound for pound fish in the salt fight harder for their size. I think if you are throwing larger streamers the heavier lines will work better for turning them over and will perform better in wind.

Most tenkara tactics fly out the window with the above rig, but that is not what this rod is about. It is about fighting a large fish on a fixed line rod, which is always a point of wild fun.

Anyone looking to buy one…let me know. There are also a couple of links to some of my outings fishing the nissin and kyogi…the heavy action rods.


Lance Stonfo and rio are ones I have been using and they are great.


If you look at the pictures in the Instagram link (they are viewable without an Instagram account) you can see some that I sampled. I have more since then – I did not show the real cheapies, and I have at least two more brands I’m waiting to get for the sake of rounding out the picture.

I stopped using them for two reasons: 1) they don’t solve any problems that I have, and 2) they reduce reliability compared to a stopper knot in my experience.

I once had some Rio rings but can’t find them.

I have not been naming names from my photos yet, but the best I have seen were just photographed today – these are from SA. This is purely based on looking for sharp edges on the inside of the ring and/or the outside, and seeing whether the finish seems smooth or badly pitted.

I don’t know how consistent these are from ring to ring or batch to batch, I have seen some that are far from uniform (i.e. irregularities on a particular part of a ring).

I did see the pics briefly and found them helpful. Not sure what to say other than the rings are a carry over for me from my western/euro techniques and I’ve had good luck with them. It started out as a way to preserve my western leaders. I also use a touch of UV knotsense on mine (on the line side, not the tippet side). I like hearing others’ experiences…it gives me something to think about and to look out for if I do start having issues with them at some point. There are many variables: brand of rings and tippet, size of rings and tippet, type and quality of knots and materials, etc. That’s why I think your pics are objective and helpful.

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I think that for those making purpose-designed leader systems (for themselves or others), tippet rings make good sense, or can, if you get decent ones. Of all that I’ve sampled , it is primarily the super-cheapies that I would name “mr. sliceypants”. But I was disappointed to find some that were almost $1 each still had noticeable sharp edges.

I think I wanted to try them again because I had exactly one case of a stopper knot wearing through (probably tying 6x to 3.5 level line one time too many), luckily not on a fish… and I also figured that I was a lot less likely to nick the level line when cutting off the tippet.

In my “day job”, I used to get criticized for adding parts to a system that I couldn’t justify, and for me, that’s what these are for the way I fish. I do think that if you had an oval or odd shaped “ring” made of truly round wire like even the cheapest hooks, you could be better off.

In my stuff, I use a loop to loop connection on my line so that The stopper knot and /or longer tippet/leader combo can be swapped easily. This seats about as firmly as I can hope for, but it will make some people cringe…

It is always good to put a branching subject on a similar thread.

I found a similar thing when i started…failures at ring. I feel the culprit was very much the ring, followed by the knot and the tippet choice. Some knots are more likely to slip when tightening down or when there is pressure on them. The davy and improved davy are what I use now and without issues with stonfo and rio rings.

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Wow – I did a quick scan through that other thread and also the one on the TUSA forums, good stuff. Lots of the same conclusions/previous discoveries of the same thing I went through here.