Cf Burkheimer 7115-4 Two-Hand Fly Rod Review, February 2011.
In the traditional CF Burkheimer fashion, this two hand fly rod is designated as a 6-7-8 wt. Spey rod. At 11’ 5” it is light in hand and powerful beyond what the numbers alone suggest.
I think it appropriate to ramble a bit about how I came to add a Burkheimer 7115-4 fly rod to my Spey rod line-up. Think Sandy Spey Clave, 2010, and imagine me and my son hanging out with Kerry Burkheimer, his family, and a handful of close fly fishing and rod building friends. We are sitting on the grass, chatting with folks wandering by to admire a full line of Burkheimer fly rods ranging from 3 and 4 wt. trout rods up to an 18’ Spey rod.
My mind was set on purchasing two fly rods to fish Oregon King salmon. I wanted a single hand rod and, get this, a two-hand rod adaptable to overhead casting with traditional shooting heads and a variety of weight forward taper and integrated head shooting fly lines; these are the lines I had been most accustomed to fish for Chinook in tidewater reaches of Oregon rivers.
Deciding on the single hand Burkheimer fly rod was pretty straightforward. I fish traditional shooting head and integrated fly lines in our bays and tidal reaches. Under normal conditions, fishing from my Pram, Drift Boat, or Jet sled, overhead casting is the ticket; actual Spey casting with tips is not; or I should say, has not been thus far. (I reserve the right to be arbitrary and change my mind on this at any time, thank you very much.)
Kerry makes single hand rods suitable for Chinook and about any imaginable saltwater species, a fact that many Spey rod addicts overlook or ignore. After casting several rods and discussing options, I settled on a 9’ 5” nine wt single-hand rod with DAL (Deep Loading Action). A previous review of this rod is at https://fishingwithjay.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/jay-nicholas-cf-burkheimer-salmon-fly-rod-995-4-10112010/
Next task was to choose a two-hand rod for my Chinook fishing.
Here is what I wanted.
First, a two hand rod under 12’. Fishing a longer rod from a boat is possible but I have found that rods in the 9’ – 12’ range are preferable for my tastes when fighting fish from the boat and when bringing the fish close to release. Longer rods are OK, but I just feel more comfortable with a 12-footer than a 14’ rod.
Second, and this seems a small thing, I wanted a two hander with a handle proportional to the rod. Not too long, not too short, just right, as the saying goes.
Third, I wanted a two hand rod capable of loading properly overhead casting fly lines in the under 300 gr. To over 400 gr. shooting heads and integrated fly lines. I fish Airflo, Rio, and SA fly lines of both types, and many Spey rods require a lot heavier lines than I fish in order to load properly when overhead casting.
Finally, and this was almost a contradiction to condition #3 above, I wanted a Two hand rod with sufficient power in the butt section to allow firm hook setting and the ability to apply reasonable pressure to tire Kings in the 15-30 lb. class, in Oregon bays and tidewater river reaches.
I put my Spey rod wish-list to Kerry and Nate Koenigsknecht. They pondered. They looked at each other. And then they spoke. Almost simultaneously, the words sprang forth into the spring air of the Spey Clave. You want a 7115-4. That’s it. Yeah, the 7115-4 will be just the rod you’re looking for.
Ok, I said, build me a 7115-4 when you roll-up my 995-4. How’s that for decisiveness?
I want you to try something first, Nate said, a big mysterious grin on his face. Common over here and let’s get a Scandi compact to cast on that rod, he said. Nate selected an Airflo Scandi Compact, strung the rod, and pointed down the trail to the Sandy.
As we trekked riverward, Nate expounded on the 7115-4. We call this a 6-7-8 rod, he said. This is not my favorite rod for true Skagit casting, because it has such a stiff butt that it takes a more experienced caster to feel the rod load. But the relatively light tip makes it perfect for overhead casting shooting heads in the 300 gr. Class, and, you better believe that this is a fantastic dry line two hander for tight quarters like the Siletz, Klickitat, Grand Ronde, and John Day.
Ok. Fine. I wasn’t looking for a dry-line steelhead Spey rod, but sure, I was willing to make a cast or so, and off across the gravel bar we went. Well, long story short (as if) Nate was right. The Burkheimer 7115-4 casts Airflo and Rio Scandi heads with authority.
I hear that my application of the 7115-4 as a two-hand rod to target Chinook salmon has a few of the folks at Kerry’s shop muttering under their breath.
But here’s the situation. This Burkie is really a unique fly fishing tool owing to the combination of a firm butt and responsive (not limp) tip. This is a formula that many rod makers have flubbed-up. But this Burkie is a winner. It is light. Overhand casting with this rod gives my right shoulder a rest during 4-straight months of casting shooting heads in the bay. The Butt of the 7115-4 will not flex to the cork and has plenty of power, to fight modest size king salmon in the bay. Using 12# Maxima Ultra Green leader, and keeping a low rod angle, I feel like I have plenty of power to fight tidewater Kings.
Dry line Spey casting with Scandi Compact heads, Muddlers and damp flies is a pure joy. And guess what? I have also found that this rod is a pleasure to fish with t-11 MOW tips and Skagit Compact heads. I have fished tight quarters and wide-open runs, caught little fish and big fish, and had fun everywhere with the 7115-4.
The key, I think, to fishing Skagit heads with tips on the 7115-4 is to maintain smooth acceleration during development of the “D” loop; accomplish this and the line rockets; pause mid-cast and things will get messy.
The Burkheimer 7115-4 is a specialty two hand rod, and in my opinion, is an extremely versatile Spey rod.
Is the 7115-4 a Switch rod? No. Let me quote Kerry. “ Jay, please don’t call my 7115-4 a Switch rod.”
Fly line recommendations for Burkheimer 7115-4 Spey fly rod.
I listened to the line recommendations issued by actual expert casters, then I went fishing to see what felt right to me. Here is what I found. Please remember that I am basically a casting hack (full disclosure and all that). The actual grain wt. window for the 7115-4 is wider than my preferences indicate. Kerry vouches for this.
|Fly Line||Favorite Line wt.||Next Favorite wt.||Tips|
|Airflo Skagit Compact||480||510||10-12’ MOW T-11|
|Rio Skagit Flight||475||500||10-12’ MOW T-11|
|Airflo Scandi Compact||450||480||Airflo/Rio 10-14’ Floating|
|Rio Steelhead Scandi||Not tested||—||Airflo/Rio 10-14’ Floating|
|SA Skagit Extreme||480||—||10-12’ MOW T-11|
|Airflo Skagit Switch||480||510||Airflo Polyleaders; Rio Versi Spey leaders; 10’ MOW T-11|
|Rio Switch||6/7||—||Airflo Polyleaders; Rio Versi Spey leaders; 10’ MOW T-11|
|Shooting heads (30-35’)||#10||—||N/A|
|SA Streamer Express||300 gr||350 gr||N/A|
Hope this completely personal review helps anyone interested in this Burkheimer 7115-4.
Jay Nicholas, February, 2011.