Dec 16, 2015

Why I Love my Burkheimer

C.F. Burkheimer 6128-4 ~ In Stock but won't be for long!

Spey fishing is a craft. It is alive and evolving, just as art, music and even yoga. 

Like many North-westerners, I started out fly fishing for trout and rather quickly evolved from single hand casting to spey casting. As the progression moves on, we evolve from learning to cast to learning to cast effortlessly. At the same time, we strive to find the best rod, reel and line to fit our personal casting style. Many of us go from fast rods to slower rods, cheap rods to expensive rods, many rods to just a few cherished rods. I feel that if this evolution happens over a long enough time frame that many steelheaders will land with a Burkheimer as the centerpiece of their collection. Some guys just pick a rod and then use it forever, but I am a gear junky, and my current position at a fly shop allows me to push it to the limit if I choose. I am constantly striving to improve; improve my cast, my rods, reels, lines, flies, presentations, gear, attitude and the quality of my fishing time.

C.F. Burkheimer 7134-4
This past summer, I began to feel that I had been spey fishing long enough that it I could finally get a Burkheimer. I wouldn’t say that I deserved a Burkheimer or that I had earned a Burkheimer, but the time has come for me to get one. I have now, over thirteen years of spey fishing, owned, or at least fished rods from every rod manufacturer out there. It now occurs to me that they were all just practice rods, learning tools so that when the time came, I could wield the Burkie with the respect that it deserves. I mean, you don’t just give a teenager a new car. Not only does the teen have to learn to drive it properly, he needs to learn how to care for, maintain, and most importantly, respect it before being given the keys.

My friend E bought his first Burkie last winter. I got to cast it just for one run and was absolutely in love with it. The 7119-4 is a beautiful switch rod, perfect for the Hood River in the winter. E fished it for a few months and then one day I noticed he was fishing his Echo again. I asked why he would sell the nicest rod he had ever cast and he said that it was partly because he was afraid that he would break it, but mostly that the rod was too nice for him. He felt that he was not worthy of having such a beautiful stick. At least he recognized it early on, and the time will come for him to buy another some day.

C.F. Burkheimer makes many different models to choose from. I chose the 7134-4. The 13’4” 7wt is a great year-round stick that has a deeper load than the 7127-4 (my second choice). This rod is perfect for Skagit casting and winter steelhead. Not that the 7127-4 isn’t great, but I prefer the deeper load and slower action of this rod compared to the quicker action of the 7127-4. I fished a few different Scandi style lines on the Deschutes, including an Airflo Rage Comapact 450, a RIO Scandi Versitip #7 and a Scientific Anglers UST Scandi 480. All of those lines were a good match to the rod and made casting nearly effortless.

While I thoroughly enjoyed fishing the Scandi lines, I am ready for the winter chrome. My rod is now loaded up with the new Airflo Skagit Compact G2, 540 grain Skagit Head and it is money! Nice, easy, steady strokes result in long, tight loops with minimal effort. Matching this line and rod makes this one of the nicest casting setups I have ever touched.

One of the nicest you ask? I thought that the Burkheimer was the end-all be-all rod, the one rod to rule them all? Well, the Sage ONE 7136-4 is an amazing rod that casts like a dream, so are the Winston BIII TH 7133-4 and the G. Loomis NRX 13’ 7/8. There is a lot of power loaded into this Burkheimer, but it takes a slow, steady stroke to unleash it, and I am still months from pushing the rod to its limits to find the perfect stroke, and then reigning in that cast to perfection. While I would give the edge in pure ease of casting to the ONE (it’s also lighter in weight), the Burkie wins in my book as the best overall rod. It’s the attention to detail, the finish work, the paint job, the hardware, and of course, the mystique that all push the Burkie into a solid first place finish.

The Burkheimer 7134-4 has a similar cast and load to the Winston BIII-TH 7133-4 in my opinion. It has a deep load that responds quickly when power is applied to the forward stroke. While the rod is very forgiving, it still lets you know when you’ve done it right. I believe this rod has a little more flex in the bottom end and has more power in the forward stroke, but it’s pretty darn similar in my opinion. The ONE and the NRX are both faster and a little bit lighter, but the overall weight is not noticeable to me when standing knee deep in the river.

The one place that I really do notice a difference is in the cork. I like a thin grip that is comfortable in hand and beautiful to look at. Burkies have the nicest cork on the market, both in the quality of the cork and the shape of the handle. This goes a long ways for me, as holding onto a rod for 8 hours a day is uncomfortable with some cork handles on the market. This one is easy to hold and helps to create a very relaxed grip. A relaxed grip leads to a relaxed cast, which is what I am searching for in a good rod.

Am I putting my Burkheimer up on a pedestal? It is just a fishing rod. It’s probably much like any other rod from an outsider’s perspective. I know this, but I feel that if any piece of gear in the fly fishing world should be put on a pedestal, it should be a Burkheimer spey rod.

About buying a Burkheimer: C.F. Burkheimer Fly Rods. Build your custom rod in our store

We forward order and Stock a few select Burkheimers: Check for in-stock Burkheimers

The Gorge Fly Shop Team


"Fly Fish the World with Us"

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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