CF Burkheimer Salmon Fly Rod: 995-4 Single-hand Fly Rod
Kerry Burkheimer builds outstanding Spey fly rods. But you should know that’s not the full menu of magic Kerry wields in his modest Fly Rod Shop in Camas. Kerry just happens to be a master designer and builder of the single-hand fly rod too. In fact, Kerry was building what he refers to as “superb” one-hand fly rods long before he developed his first signature Spey fly rod with John Hazel’s coaching.
My friendship with Kerry Burkheimer has grown throughout the year and has included the technical aspects involved with fishing his two-hand rods and experiencing the Burkheimer “feel” that took me several steps up from my actual Spey casting ability level. No kidding.
Kerry Burkheimer tried to educate me about the technical aspects of “lay-ups” in rod building. Nice try, Kerry.
My closest friends know that I am a salmon nut, purely stated, and so it was natural for me to ask Kerry to build me a single hand salmon rod. We talked options, rod weights, rod actions, lengths, and so on, and then decided that a 9′ 5″ Deep Loading Action rod would most likely be right for my Chinook fly fishing needs.
Little did I realize just how right this rod would be.
I ordered the Burkheimer 995-4 as much out of friendship, Burkheimer loyalty, and curiosity, as anything else. I have been fishing several “brands” of the major single-hand fly rods for King salmon in recent years. Honestly, I liked them all and every fly rod performed well for me. We are blessed these days with the availability of very good nine and ten weight fly rods in both modest and high-end price range. I fished Echo, Sage, Winston, Loomis, Thomas & Thomas, and Scott fly rods and had fun with all of them.
But I wanted a Burkie to fish king salmon this fall. Had to have it. Ordered it. Waited. Watched the rod making process, several days running, chatting with Kerry and his rod-crafting artisans.
Mandrills. I saw the mandrills that would form the core of my new salmon rod.
Corks, courtesy of the “cork mafia” in Portugal.
Tattoos. Lots of tattoos.
Work stations with designs taped to the wall.
Glued handles ready to shape.
Finally, I had my 995-4 in the boat, ready to fish. I cast the rod. I was surprised at how well I (the rod) cast. I was on the Alsea with my friend Rob. He asked if he could give my new Burkie a go, and naturally, I handed him the rod. Rob didn’t exactly giggle, but he made some sort of unclassifiable sound when he made his first cast. Then another and another. He shook his head and went into a rant about Kerry Burkheimer the master rod builder and how he was instantly impressed and would need to order one of these rods for himself, and maybe, just maybe, he would order an 11 or 12 weight rod with a fighting grip half way up the butt section.
Two days later Rob e-mailed to continue his complimentary Burkheimer fly rod rant. All this made me feel really good, because Rob is head-and-shoulders a better caster than I, and his reaction made me feel like it wasn’t simply my friendship with Kerry that was influencing my evaluation of the rod.
So I fished, and fished, and fished, with the grab here, the pull there, the head-shake before low slack, and the “nuthin’ goin’ on here” days ticking by. Finally, I hooked a nice Chinook on Tillamook Bay on a Dry Line in about five feet of water. Finally! The trollers stared and wondered what the hey we were doing fly fishing for trout in T-Bay and how odd it was for us to have hooked a King on a fly, and naturally the fish came un-pinned before we could officially release it. But – – – wow, that was fun.
This Burkheimer 995-4 is responsive, has a deep loading action, which I like and which could probably be described as medium fast; it casts shooting heads and integrated head fly lines like the proverbial rocket.
Might add this: my other 9-wt. fly rods stumble over shooting heads above about 350 gr, but the Burkie makes the cast for me with a modified 250 gr head as easily as with a 400-plus gr head. This single-hand Burkheimer 995-4 makes the close cast and the long cast. Now that, I think, is what Kerry means by a “superb” fly rod.
PS: This Burkheimer fly rod has brought several Chinook salmon to hand for release this season. Oh-my-gosh. Two hundred yards into the backing. Good thing I had a friend to free the loop of mono running line from the middle finger of my right hand, or I could have been cut to the bone.
Post Script: Expect me to review my experience fly fishing for Chinook with a Burkheimer 7115-4 two-hand fly rod. I fish this two-hander casting overhead in tidewater with shooting heads and integrated-head fly lines. This 7115-4 fly rod is a beauty and has seen some great days wrangling flies and Chinook salmon on the water this year.