Tenkara plans for 2020

I’ve asked this a few times over the past few years and there are always interesting responses.

We’re now well on our way into 2020, whether we like it or not. For those who live in the northern hemisphere, Spring is anywhere from a couple of weeks away, to several months away. Some may have year-round fishing and are already enjoying the New Year; while others, fishing doesn’t start again for a couple of months.

  • What are your plans for your tenkara for the year?
  • What do you hope to do?
  • What do you hope to learn?
  • Do you want to change anything about your kit? If so, what?

For those who live in the southern hemisphere, Autumn is likely soon to begin and maybe some great fishing is in front of you. Or maybe a seasonal ban/closing happens within the next few weeks or months.

  • How have your plans for the past season gone for you?
  • What did you do (especially that you haven’t shared yet)?
  • What did you learn?
  • Did your time on the water this year push you to change your kit?

Well most of my plans fell thru last year because of medical issues. Those issues are now gone, I’m still recovering and will be 100% soon.
This years plans:
Fish bass in Florida for a week in March.
Go to the White River in Arkansas in April to fish trout.
in May I will Co host the 5th annual Great Midwest Tenkara Campout in the driftless area of SW Wisconsin. (everyone here is invited, go to Tenkara Wisconsin FB page for details).
Utah for a week in early June, mostly for hiking the slot canyons but I will have a rod with me.
Oregon for the Tenkara Bug Out in mid June.
Camping in the sand counties for a week in July.
Camping in the sand counties for a week in August.
Plus various weeK day and weekend trips to the driftless.


2020 is going to be an interesting year for Mrs Brian & I. We’re going to pay off our mortgage and need to spend some time and money fixing up some things before we sell and buy a new home. But our plans also call for some more travel as a couple in 2020. She is not an angler but likes going to places where I can fish because they are beautiful!

  1. I will continue testing my GM53 in saltwater for Sea Run Cutthroat (SRC). After the speakers chairman of a Fly Fishers International club on the other side of the state saw my presentation at the 2019 State Fly Fishing Fair he asked me to give an “Introduction to Tenkara” presentation to his club next month.
  2. I hope our travels allow me to fish in SE WA, NE OR, ID, and possibly UT. I didn’t get out backpacking in 2019 and I want to change that in 2020.
  3. I hope to learn how to use a fixed line rod to catch SRC from saltwater beaches. I want to learn more advanced casting-fishing techniques; ex. how to hook and land fish from prime lies under low hanging brush just off of stream banks.
  4. No new Tenkara rods this year. I got no response from two attempts to commission Chris Zimmer to build me a custom sling pack so I am trying an ambidextrous tactical sling pack that I hope will improve on the ergonomics of my 15 liter Patagonia pack. Initial dry-land impressions of fit, form, and function look very promising.
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Being far north, I am stuck with winter for a few more months. I have a bunch of snow shoveling to do when I get home from work tonight.

  • What are your plans for your tenkara for the year?
    Our family will be spending close to a month in Waterton, Alberta this summer, which is a good base camp to varied fishing. I am hoping to fish a bunch of small, bushy streams that no one else bothers with that hold rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout. The streams hold small fish, but I am rarely motivated by the size of fish. There is a tail water section of a highly populated (but not overly fished) brown trout river that I think a larger Tenkara rod would be great for. I would also like to try fixed line fishing from a float tube or kayak (if I can find an Ascend H10).

  • What do you hope to do?

Fish as often as possible and be grateful for every moment of it.

  • What do you hope to learn?

Improve my casting. Focus more on stealth, taking things slowly, and observing before diving in.

  • Do you want to change anything about your kit? If so, what?

I want to add a small stream Tenkara rod. I am leaning most towards the Esoteric 206/245, based on its ability to cast for its length and price point. I was considering the Dragontail Muzuchi, but had heard non-positive comments about casting at its shortest length (length I was most interested in). I am excited to utilize my new Zimmerbuilt Sling Lite and Handy Pak folding net.


I hope to catch fish in Montana and possibly Oregon for the first time. I’d like to complete the Wyoming Cutt Slam and the Nevada Native Slam. And if I do make it to Oregon, I’d like to try some salt water fishing with the tenkara rods.


2019 was a great year, except for the fishing time missed with my buddy TG, who had health issues.
2020 however is going to be exceptional. I will be able to fish in 9 states plus Italy and Spain. The start is The Great Midwest Tenkara Campout in May, which I cohost with my buddy TG followed in June with the Tenkara Bugout. July/August is for fishing out West and the Oni School. Sept/Oct is for travel to Europe and hopefully backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail. My goal this year is to acquire proficiency with 6, 7 and 8 meter level lines.

Oh, and one more thing. I want to do some true microfishing this year. I found a little sinkhole pond this past year, and it has some minnows or some other kind of tiny fish in it. I bought some micro snelled hooks and tiny little floats off of eBay last year, but it got too cold before I could try them out.

Lately my mind has been possessed by the monkey-mind, and it hasn’t jumped to the tenkara branch. So I have not given 2020 tenkara plans much thought.

It will probably include seeking out and finding small streams more often and giving them another go. Usually larger streams are closer, quicker and easier to get to.

Many beautiful brook trout can be found on them. But around here most small streams are frustrating for me. They are often bushy. I spend more time trying to get a stuck fly off a high tree branch, and end up tying on a new tippet and fly than fishing. If I get past that the fish I see and want to try to catch, is often sheltering in a pool, that has a long tree branch over it that is only 12 inches (30 cm) above the water surface. Practically impossible to present a fly to them that doesn’t spook the fish into hiding for 20 minutes or longer. Maybe I can find more cooperative small streams, that are also close by and I don’t have to expend gas money and time to get to them.

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I hear you David. There’s a CA blue ribbon river within half an hour of where I live, but it at the very least would be considered Honryu. With a regular Spring runoff level that is 15x-20x that of Summer flows, all large boulders are long since gone. It’s not uncommon after a big flow year, to see the river channel move 50 yards from where it was the Autumn prior. So in many cases you’d be needing to fish heavy flies 4-5 feet below the surface, in moderately quickly moving water, to fish 30-40’ away. Get closer, spook fish. It is a VERY popular river.

Or, there’s a little creek 20 minutes up the road. Perfect for my western 6’6" fiberglass fly rod. Not so perfect for anything else. I have done Tenkara/artificial Keiryu on this river, but as you say, spend a lot of time with fly in tree syndrome.

Want something better suited for Tenkara - figure on at least an hour drive.

Or I can fish warmwater a couple minutes bike ride from the house. Bluegill, Redear and Green Sunfish that fill the hand. Bass to 12 pounds, though my PB is only 8.

Needless to say, those darn Tenkara trout don’t get much action from me. But I am planning on some Honryu and zero style Keiryu action this year. On top of that, maybe this April I’ll be road tripping through some of the intermountain west - NV, UT, WY, ID? Who knows, maybe I’ll try to catch some new species.

My only angling goals are to continue to have fun. Really, every year my goal remains the same. It seems to be a good program.


For me there are of course small streams nearby, big streams come from small feeder streams. it’s just that they are difficult to get to.

There is one place I have thought it might be a good place to fish, a small stream that runs parallel to a foot path, (what they call locally Rails-to-Trails, an old railroad bed) but the drop to the stream is very steep, maybe 20 feet down. I would need a rope to get down to the stream.

Other nearby small streams that look inviting run through some farmer’s pasture fields, and since I don’t know them they may not appreciate me walking through their fields. And a few others along state roads, but no safe place to park, and I’ve been leery walking to where the stream is near the road. Too many people drive with their attention everywhere but on the road a head of of them. Mountain roads tend to be narrow. Not much room to park or walk between mountain on one side and guard rail on on the other side next to the stream.

A few others I see on topo maps are only about 4 miles from the house. No trails through the woods to get to them. Maybe a chance to hone my navigation skills. And combine a walk of a couple of hours with fishing a place no one has likely fished. But it’s a bit of a gamble. No idea what the stream is like until I walk there.

Plus hopefully any encounters with black bears will be from a distance. And there are a lot of black bears with cubs around. One marked a tree up six feet high on both the east and west side along highway 92 a couple of years ago. Right at a good place to park. A similar bear marking was on a tree at the edge of the woods behind our vacation house a few years earlier. Indeed last summer we saw one looking at us on our back porch last summer from 30 yards or so back in the woods. Walking through places that lack trails, where bears may not expect to see a human, might become exciting. Hopefully any and all encounters are with the 98% that run away at the sight of you. :open_mouth:

My 2020 plans for pretty simple.
Spring - casting practice as much as possible. Will have to deal with the “catch anything yet?” question from people as I cast in a local field.
Summer - lots of camping in the mountains, so daily opportunities for fishing in various situations, such as small to large rivers, and alpine lakes
Fall - hoping to try fixed line fishing from a kayak.

Largest goal for 2020 is casting confidence.

After not fishing over the winter I sometimes do some casting practice in the spring. Casting into the small creek that runs along the south side of my lawn. I find it best to not have to deal with catching fish. Then after the weather warms up, the fish become active in the creek, and I get annoyed at the small sardine sized fish that grab my hook, when my focus in only on honing my casting skills or just getting my arm used to casting again. :roll_eyes:

Lol David. We understand, but it must be funny for non-fishers to see you getting annoyed catching fish while out fishing.

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labyrinth hook, David.

That also would not work. When to many small fish start getting hooked. I switch to just having a bit of bright colored wool on the end of the tippet. Often the little buggers swallow it.

If they just bite and hold on they go flying somewhere into my yard on the back cast. If they swallow it sometimes they stay on the line till I drag it out of their stomach. They are in a hurry for calories to fuel rapid growth, and aren’t very choosy about what they swallow.

In a few weeks when larger fish show up, a few good sized sunfish or creek chubs (and schools of large spawning red horse in late March, but they never seem interested in flies), I will switch back to flies and catch a few of them, till I feel sorry for the ones I think I have already caught three times.

Shorty afterwards it becomes time to go find a better stream with more fish somewhere. But having a small creek in my front yard is handy quick fishing in the spring. About the only small stream I regularly fish. By mid summer the water level is low, a few dry summers the only thing in the stream bed is grass.