It wasn’t until Dr. Mike Lutes went fly fishing that he found a passion for angling.
Today, he and his best friend from kindergarten are finding innovative fly fishing methods using Tenkara, an ancient Japanese fishing technique.
Mike and Matt Sment from Badger Tenkara shared the story of their business and their passion with the Waunakee Rotary Club on March 9.
Mike said he didn’t mind fishing with a spinning rod and bait, but fly fishing was just much more engaging, and when he’s at it, he achieves a kind of mindfulness.
“It’s a calm engagement, and it quiets the mind in a way no other sport does,” Mike said.
Plus, it leads the angler to beautiful trout streams and other places. It has some medical benefits, too, particularly for those with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and is said to calm symptoms of ADHD.
Through all that wading in streams, Mike has also experienced physical benefits, particularly in balance training.
Wisconsin is a fine place for the sport, too, Mike said, with its 3,588 classified trout streams. Some of those can be found fairly close by in the state’s Driftless Area.
Each fishing outing is an exploration.
“You never know what you’re going to come across,” Mike said.
He’s also come to appreciate phrenology, the observation of the changing season.
“It’s easy for our lives to be completely disengaged with nature,” he said, adding that he’s observed the first sandhill cranes and robins of the season, along with migrating birds and bald eagles.
Tenkara is basically fly fishing, although without tons of gear. It uses a different sort of telescoping rod that’s very lightweight with no reel, so it’s easier to cast. It most likely started off with Japanese commercial fishermen using segmented bamboo rods who strove to spend as little money on gear as possible, Mike said.
A resurgence of Tenkara began in 2009, when Tenkara USA began selling the rods, and today, Tenkara is probably bigger outside of Japan than it is there.
Mike and Matt have been friends since 1979 when they were in kindergarten in Rockford, Ill. Later they were in Boy Scouts and developed a love for exploration. As adults and relocated to the Madison area, they started their own Tenkara company in 2013 and began selling the rods in March 2014. Mike said they test the limit of the platform, using the rods to fish in all kinds of waters for different species.
Both are fishing guides, and information about the rods can be found at
Other News:
-President Travis Heiser said the Rotary Board approved a number of donations at its March 7 meeting. They include: WCSD Art sculpture – $2,500; Waunakee High School Warrior Stadium upgrade – $1,500 over 5 years; Live in the Park – $500; WaunaFest Run – $750; Downtown Waunakee Mural – $500.
The board also approved two new members – Cindy Patzner and Dr. David Blanchard, and inducted “Dr. Dave” at the March 9 meeting.
Welcome, Cindy and Dr. Dave!
-Travis thanked all the volunteers who helped pick up the new Rotary Lights Display.
-Thanks went out to those who helped at the Super Raffle.
–Bianca’s Brazilian dinner for Saturday is sold out, Linda Olson said.
-John Cullen has sent out an email for March Madness brackets.
Guests: Keith Krinke, guest of Todd Schmidt (with Adam Bentley attending in Todd’s place); Betsy Watkins, guest of Tom Kennedy; Michael Bermarn, guest of Tyler Knowles; Kim Phalim, guest of Randy Herbrand.
Greeters: March 16, Bob Sachtjen and Todd Schmidt;
March 23, Jim Schmitz and Phil Simon;
March 30, Dan Statz and Harriet Statz.