Matt Sment and Mike Lutes, co-owners of Badger Tenkara, first met in 1979 in the kindergarten class of Whitehead Elementary School in Rockford, Illinois. Within the first week of class, they made their first, but certainly not last, trip to the principal’s office together. In first grade, Mike moved to the other side of town, and it seemed their friendship would come to an end. The following year, he was quite surprised to see Matt in his classroom on the first day of school. Matt’s family had moved to a neighborhood about a mile away. They were fast friends once again.
Matt and Mike spent a good portion of their childhoods together. They played outside until the street lights came on. They rode their bikes to each other’s houses even though they had to cross a busy street to do so. They camped in the backyard and turned everything they could find into a weapon. They were perhaps the last generation to have this kind of childhood. Outdoor adventure, wherever they could find it, was a big part of their friendship.
After high school, Matt and Mike slowly drifted apart. Mike was quite serious about his studies, and Matt took some time to find himself. Mike immersed himself in professional school, and eventually Matt found his way into the Army, where he served proudly as a Paratrooper. Yes, he jumped out of perfectly good airplanes for a living.
After leaving the Army, Matt eventually settled in Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked as a military contractor. Mike took a job change and found himself in Madison as well. Through the magic of social media, they found each other and met for coffee. They found they both still shared a love of adventure and the outdoors, and quickly resumed their old ways and started planning outdoor adventures together.
At this point, Mike was a pretty serious fly fisherman, but he had grown frustrated by those fisherman who wanted to make it complicated. He really did not like nymph rigs, indicators, split shot and all the other stuff that seemed to just take away time from fishing. He discovered Tenkara (where else?) on the internet, and was immediately sold. He introduced Matt to Tenkara on one of their hiking trips and Matt was immediately hooked, too.
Matt was a very quick study of Tenkara, and soon they were testing the limits of the Tenkara platform, as they are still doing today. They both think Tenkara is a great way to introduce people to fly fishing, get them outside and get them to care about the environment. They envisioned Badger Tenkara as way to introduce others to the sport and share the ways they have adapted Tenkara to the many fishing opportunities Wisconsin and the surrounding region has to offer.
The BT Blog will be a place where we share our experiences and ideas about Tenkara and many other aspects of outdoor adventuring. Here, we will post trip reports, pictures, videos, surveys and announce contests. Feel free to contact us if you have something you'd like to share, because we are also happy to feature content from guests. Our goal is support a positive, respectful, and inclusive community of Tenkara anglers who each bring their own unique style and contribution to the table.
So, thats a quick look at how Badger Tenkara got started, and what we are about. We are heading out tomorrow to fish for trout on a Driftless region creek that is new to both of us, so we'll have a trip report for you soon!
Catch you soon, Tight lines!
- Mike and Matt