The C.F. Burkheimer shop is not a large one, nor is it staffed with dozens of workers. The five of us here are skilled craftsmen and passionate conservationists, but most of all we’re anglers. We bust our tails all day building the finest fly rods on the planet, but when the bell rings and the work is done, we go fishing!
So it was no surprise when Kerry and Chris and I were chatting one Friday afternoon and the conversation turned to winter steelhead. Chris had found a new run; walking speed, 4-6 deep, with chunky boulders strewn throughout. You know, perfect steelhead water.
“10′ of T-11 and a lightly weighted bunny leech.” I said, “Broadside it in front of the nuggets and hang on!”
But Chris wanted a challenge, he wanted to do it with a dry line and an unweighted fly.
Kerry gave him the primer: Fish close, cast upstream and stack-stack-stack mend for the slack to sink the fly. Lower your rod slowly and bring the wet under tension, swimming it up and away from the rocks.
“It’s not a high numbers proposition.” Kerry warned, “It’s as difficult as steelheading gets.”
Monday came and we compared notes after the weekend fishing trips. Rob had taken a couple of hatchery fish swinging weighted leeches at his secret river, I had hooked and lost a pair on a type VI and GP’s in the big valley. Chris waited politely until we were done, smiled, and pulled out his phone to show us a picture.
He had pulled it off on his first try ever. Dry line winter steelhead with an unweighted fly and a C.F. Burkheimer 7100-4. Chris had floated into the run, identified the holding lies and worked them methodically with a 2/0 Winters Hope. As he neared the tailout, after dozens of casts, his fly was just barely under tension and starting to swim when he watched the line jump. He lifted, felt the weight, and came tight to a beautiful wild hen. It doesn’t get any better than that, and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
Chris Corbett is the C.F. Burkheimer production manager and one of the finest rod builders anywhere. He takes care of business from 9 until 5, and takes steps in a steelhead run from 5 until dark.